Wednesday, June 30, 2021

FREE Online Autism Training from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering 40+ hours of online training in Teaching Procedures for students with autism/cognitive delay, Applied Behavior Analysis and a variety of Focused Topics. These online trainings are available to public school staff in Montana. A listing and description of the training content can be found here.

New groups start the beginning and middle of each month and you will be sent information at that time on how to begin your training. You have 90 days to complete the training. 

OPI renewal units are not available* for this training. The training can be taken for ASHA CEUs. 

You can register for the training HERE. 

* The training content provider now allows learners to fast-forward through videos to reach quizzes. Because there is no longer a specific amount of time that must be spent in each course, we can no longer offer OPI renewal units for this training.


ASHA members and/or MT state licensed SLPs are qualified to earn ASHA CEUs. Independent study plans are limited to 20 hours. ASHA requires that Independent Study activities are approved 30 days prior to the start of the learning activity. It works best to get the ASHA approval BEFORE registering for the courses.  

Participants fill out the form and send it to the Montana MSHA rep. Contact Doug Doty at for information on whom to send it to. You can find the Independent Study form here.  

Thursday, June 24, 2021

PECS Post-Training Survey Results

We conducted a survey of educators who had previously attended PECS Level 1 and 2 trainings sponsored by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project. The survey was conducted after they had been using PECS for three months to two+ years. 

Here are some of the results: 

(Doug - I think the *only* person who said, "No" might have had a slip of the mouse, since they also said they use PECS daily and PECS help them to better educate students.)

Additional Comments:

PECS has been extremely useful for students with limited communication.

This training has been of great help to me. Something that was applicable the day I returned to work.

I think all of our Special Ed staff should attend this training! We have multiple kids that use PECS and I think everyone that works with them throughout the day should know how to work with them in an effective way.

 Last year I had a three year old with autism who started the year with almost no ability to communicate other than to run and scream and flail. We introduced PECS and that beautiful little girl not only learned how to use PECS to communicate in sentences, she began speaking in sentences within a few months. Her progress was so rapid , and generalized throughout her day at school as well as home and within the community. I moved her from a self contained STAR class to my highest functioning class for kids with much less significant delays and she was the social and communication role model. All within a few months. I truly believe PECS changed the trajectory of her life!

If you want to know when we offer future PECS workshops, you can subscribe to the OPI Montana Autism Education Project mailing list here

Break Cards for Students Learning the Zones of Regulation

 Teaching How To Ask For A Break 

Compliments of Dawn Kindberg, Lima Public Schools. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Webinar - Treating Severe and Challenging Behaviors: Behavioral and Sensory Support

NCSA Webinar: Thursday, June 24, 2021

10:00-12.00 Pacific / 1:00-3:00pm Eastern

Robing Steinberg-Epstein, MD, UCI, will present 30 minutes on the neurological/sensory processing experience, underpinning of challenging and dangerous behavior in autism (30 minutes)

John Guericio, PhD will talk on his assessment tool for managing adults with severe behavioral challenges (30 minutes)

Erik Jacobson, PhD will talk on the cultural approach he and his team have embraced with the emphasis on their clients with severe and challenging behaviors by being happy, relaxed and engaged (30 minutes)

Indiana Resource Center for Autism - Virtual Conference

 IRCA staff are thrilled to announce our Inaugural IRCA Autism Conference: Learning Together. This year, the conference will be held virtually on September 29, 2021. Speakers will address a range of topics relevant for those across the autism spectrum and across the age span.  

Breakout Sessions

  • Positive Behavior Supports, Perception and the Pursuit of Happiness
    Presented by: Kelly Hartman, M.A.
  • Let Me In... I Can Learn Too! Strategies That Are Not A One Hit Wonder
    Presented by: Kris Baker, Special Education Coordinator; Leslie Brown, Autism Specialist and Sarah Reaves, M.S., CCC-SLP, Autism Specialist
  • Anxiety and ASD: Adults on the Spectrum Share
    Panel Presentation by: Kat Muir, M.A., CCC-SLP, Alexander Perry and
    Abe Shapiro
  • ASD & Assistive Technology Supports
    Presented by: Kelli Suding, PATINS Specialist
  • It’s Not One or the Other: The Excitement of Incorporating Mental Health and Behavioral Supports for Children on the Autism Spectrum
    Presented by: Kelly Dora, M.A., Behavior/Autism Specialist
  • ASD AND MORE: Autism and Co-Existing Conditions
    Presented by: Dr. Julie Steck, HSPP
Find more information and register here. 

Listen - A Short Film

A short film in which nonspeaking autistic people talk about how nonspeakers are represented in books, theatre, and film. They provide guidance for changing the narrative. Learn more and access transcripts, translations, and a toolkit here:

 You can view the 5 minute film here. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Over the Rainbow: Getting Kids with Autism to Try Colorful Foods

Feeding a child on the spectrum with picky eating can be challenging for a variety of reasons. To name a few:

  • Your son/daughter may be more sensitive to taste, texture, smell, or temperature
  • He/she may have skill delays that make using utensils, or even chewing or swallowing, difficult
  • Your child may crave predictability and want the same meal night after night
  • Your child could experience discomfort related to eating such as heartburn or tummy aches

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) Clinical Training - Virtual

Thu, Jun 17, 2021, 9:00 AM – Fri, Jun 18, 2021, 5:00 PM MDT

I just found out about this ADOS training in June. We will not be offering scholarships, as we had our own ADOS training this spring.

Friday, May 21, 2021

2020-2021 Data Report for the Montana Autism Education Project (MAEP)

Educating students with autism requires specific skills and knowledge beyond what is acquired through teacher preservice programs. The goals of the MAEP are: 

• to increase district-level knowledge of how to educate students with autism through in-person training, interactive video training, on-site technical assistance and peer-to-peer collaboration; and

• to develop inter-agency collaboration between the OPI, school districts, Part C Agency providers, Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Montana Empowerment Center, and Institutes of Higher Education

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project (MAEP) provides public schools with free autism and/or behavior consultations for students who are qualified under the IDEA. OPI part-time consultants include Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Speech-Language Pathologists and experienced educators. 

Note:  On-site consultations for students with severe problem behaviors have continued under COVID-19 restrictions, though at a greatly reduced rate.  

Chart 1.1 shows the total number of consultations visits completed each year since 2010 and the number of different districts those visits happened in.  In the 2020-2021 school year, 13 virtual and 8 on-site consultations were provided to 15 school districts statewide. Students to whom consultations were provided included students with autism, cognitive delay, deaf/autistic, emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, speech-language impairment and visual impairment. 

The OPI MAEP provides in-person trainings statewide to all school staff, including general education teachers and administrators. The trainings are provided by MAEP staff and through contracts with Montana education professionals as well as national-level trainers in specific areas/curriculums (communication, behavior, educating students with autism).

The OPI MAEP has continued to provide trainings virtually, with over 800 people attending trainings in identifying students with autism, teaching communication to students who do not use verbal language and teaching social skills to all students. 

These trainings were attended by 800 educators from 114 Montana school districts and special education cooperatives. MAEP trainings had an average score of 4.7/5 on the post-training evaluation question of, “Would you suggest this training to others?”  More information about the MAEP trainings can be found on the MAEP blog. 

The OPI MAEP offers 49 hours of online training (33 courses) in applied behavior analysis and educating students with autism and cognitive delay. The training is offered year-round. Since the MAEP began offering this online training in 2012, 1174 educators from 184 school districts have completed over 27,000 hours of training.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Virtual Training - Supporting Communication Across the Lifespan: Creative Strategies for Your Client, Student, or Family Member


(NOTE - The OPI Montana Autism Education Project will be offering a limited number of scholarships to this training. You can request a scholarship here. Be aware that we cannot provide a scholarship/reimbursement to anyone who registers directly with MonTECH.) 

August 12th, 8:30-5:00, Online.

MontCOMM 2021 is a one-day online immersion into the world of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Whether you’re a seasoned speech-language pathologist, a professional providing direct support to an adult with a developmental disability, or the parent of a young child who is not developing verbal communication, you will leave MontCOMM 2021 with new ideas for implementing AAC, supporting progress, and obtaining buy-in from other team members.

MontCOMM features two dynamic speakers with expertise that will benefit your work or your family, no matter where you are in the communication continuum. Mo Buti will cover behavior and communication, aided language stimulation, positive reinforcement using nonverbal approaches, a look at the total communication approach, and an introduction to low-tech and high-tech communication systems (There are so many! Where to start?). Brandon Eddy will present a more clinical track focused on starting young children on AAC (including children who are not yet pointing or pressing buttons), data-driven AAC assessment, goal writing, evolving to a new device, access strategies and cognitive demand, obtaining interdisciplinary buy-in for successful implementation, and succeeding with AAC in rural environments.

Great topics, and guess what? You don’t have to choose between our speakers! Your registration entitles you to access both speakers. Jump between them as your interests dictate, and access the recorded sessions later.

See more information here.