Sunday, July 12, 2020

The OPI has a New Criteria for Autism

You can see the new criteria here, along with some Frequently Asked Questions. The new criteria checklist is now in the AIM system and on the OPI web page.

If you have questions, please send them to Doug Doty at We will update the FAQ questions periodically.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

FREE Online Autism Training from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering 80+ 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. 

* 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, February 27, 2020

Sensitive Bunny - Missoula

This is a free event designed for children with sensory sensitivities and allows these children to meet the Easter Bunny in an inviting, sensory-friendly environment. This event is on Sunday, March 29th from 5-7 pm, when the mall is closed. This means no overhead music or crowds. Many children may have never had the opportunity to meet the Easter Bunny, purely because of the sensory conditions during regular mall hours. We will have fun activities designed especially for these families, plus the first 25 attendees will receive a free gift from the Bunny.

You can find more information here on Facebook.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Free Workshops - Teaching Communication Skills // Managing Challenging Behaviors

You will learn how to teach critical communication skills that lead to greater independence in the home, work, school and community settings. We review nine specific skills: requesting reinforcers, requesting help, requesting a break, indicating yes and no, waiting, following directions, schedule-following and transitioning. Through lecture, demonstrations, video and participatory activities, you will acquire specific teaching strategies that are relevant for anyone who has limited communication skills, regardless of their communicative modality (e.g., Picture Exchange Communication System [PECS], signing, device use, speech).
Great Falls    March 23      Crystal Inn Hotel and Suites - 3701 31st St SW
Missoula        March 25      Wingate Inn - 5252 Airway Blvd

Beginning with key concepts of applied behavior analysis, we focus on the conditions under which behavior occurs. We discuss the importance of designing supportive learning environments that address skill deficits prior to or while simultaneously addressing unwanted contextually inappropriate behaviors. Through discussions, video examples and hands-on activities you will identify and define unwanted behaviors, analyze why the behavior is occurring, determine alternative skills to replace unwanted behaviors, review differential reinforcement procedures, and discuss proactive strategies and reactive strategies. The workshop concludes by showing how you and your team can evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of your behavior plans as you put your new strategies into practice.
Great Falls    March 24      Crystal Inn Hotel and Suites - 3701 31st St SW
Missoula        March 26      Wingate Inn - 5252 Airway Blvd

The workshops will be from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day.  

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Links Secondary Workshop: Linking Assessment and Instruction for Independence

Links Secondary Workshop: Linking Assessment and Instruction for Independence

Bozeman          March 9   Comfort Inn    1370 N 7th Ave #2512
Billings           March 10    Quality Inn  
2036 Overland Ave
Missoula         March 30    WIngate Inn  
5252 Airway Blvd

This one-day workshop provides participants with information on how to implement evidence-based practices for secondary students using the Links Curriculum. Participants will learn to use a process for assessing and teaching functional routines that has been documented in the research. Extensive information will be given on selecting and individualizing routines and teaching specific skills to support success during routines. 

The Links Curriculum includes extensive data collection systems and participants will learn to collect and use data for instructional decision making, tracking student progress and writing IEP Goals. Video examples and video practice activities will be incorporated into the workshop. An on-line computerized system will be demonstrated with hands-on practice by the participants.

Attendees of the Links workshop will also need to bring their laptops or tablets to the workshop. 
Attendance at the workshop will include access to the Links Curriculum until 6/30/2020. Attendance is limited to 30 people. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Saliva test for autism hits market

A saliva test designed to quickly diagnose autism in toddlers has hit the market after seven years of research at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Penn State.

The researchers hope the test will help doctors detect autism faster and get children help sooner, when it can be most effective.

Read more here.

Webinars - Executive Function Series :

Part 1: Planning Phase - Schedule & Task Management

Date: Thursday, January 23, 2020
Time: 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Learn about a variety of tools and strategies for managing schedules and tasks using calendars and task lists. Presented strategies and tools may be appropriate for middle to high school, college students and beyond who are able to use mainstream calendars and task lists. The first hour will be a fast-paced presentation on strategies and demonstrations of a variety of tools on various platforms such as Chrome, Web-based, iPads, Android, etc. The last half hour will include an in-depth demonstration on Google Calendar, Google Tasks, and Trello.

Register here.

Part 2: Executing the Plan - Time & Focus
Date: Thursday, February 20, 2020
Time: 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Learn about a variety of tools and strategies for managing time and attention (including task initiation and follow-through). Presented strategies and tools may be appropriate for middle to high school, college students and beyond who are able to use and navigate mainstream clocks, timers, alarms, time tracking, distraction blocking tools, etc. The first hour will be a fast-paced presentation on strategies and demonstrations of a wide variety of tools on various platforms such as Chrome, Web-based, iPads, Android, etc. The last half hour will be used for an in-depth demonstration on a variety of tools (including Time Timer, MultiTimer, and others).

Register here.

Webinar - T for your Child with Complex Cognitive Needs: Adapted & Online Curriculum

January 21, 2020 | 12:00 PM CST | 60 minutes

Part 1 or a 3 part-series

For students with significant intellectual disabilities and physical and/or complex communication needs, the classroom has a multitude of barriers to learning. With AEM, AAC and other Assistive Technologies available, educators have often pieced together opportunities for "participation". Several publishers and manufacturers have been creating universally designed curriculum from the ground up approach.
This webinar will include a brief introduction of what a curriculum should entail and what we should be looking for in an accessible and universally designed curriculum when we are talking about students who have a first disability in the intellectual realm. There will be overviews of several curricular options.

Register here.

AT for your Child with Complex Cognitive Needs: Communication Supports

February 11, 2020
Tuesday12:00pm to 1:00pm  Central Standard Time

Part 2 of a 3-part series

Communication implementation supports at home or school don’t come with a download. Whether your child is using a free or simple AAC App or one that is complex or costs hundreds of dollars, child and partner strategies probably aren’t as easy as the click to “install” button. This session will take you through five steps to AAC success that are used in real classrooms and at home. These strategies have been blended from a variety of implementation approaches and updated for today’s AAC apps.    

Register here.

AT for your Child with Complex Cognitive Needs: Behavior Supports
February 25, 2020 | 12:00 PM CST | 60 minutes

Part 3 of a 3-part series

During this fast-paced presentation we will explore the features of behavior and memory support tools being used with students and adults with developmental disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, cognitive and learning disabilities, as well as an intervention for people who have sustained a head injury. They can be used for creating schedules, task supports, behavior cards and other visual strategies. We will demonstrate the features that should be considered during assessment and selection of schedule and task supports.

This session is not about what product we think is the best, this is about sorting through the options available so that you can be more informed when making decisions.

Register here.

Webinar - Living on Your Own Series : Part3: Taking Care of Meal Planning - Technology for Grocery Shopping, Cooking, and More

Date: Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
This third workshop in the ‘Living on Your Own’ 3-part series will demonstrate apps and devices for meal planning, making a grocery list, and following cooking instructions to help adults with disabilities live more independently.

Register here.

Severity of autism symptoms varies greatly among identical twins

Identical twins with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience large differences in symptom severity even though they share the same DNA, according to an analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers determined a 96% chance that if one twin has ASD, the other has it, too. However, symptom scores varied greatly between twins diagnosed with ASD. The researchers estimated that genetic factors contributed to only 9% of the cause of trait variation among these twins. In contrast, among pairs of identical twins without ASD, the scores for traits were very similar.

Read more here.