Friday, June 29, 2018

FREE Online Autism Training from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering 55+ hours of online training in Teaching Procedures, Behavior Interventions and Focused Topics to public school staff in Montana who educate students with autism spectrum disorders. A listing and description of the training content can be found here. The training can be taken for OPI renewal units and ASHA CEUs.

You can find more information and register for the online training here. New groups start the middle of each month and you will be sent information then. 

These are some of the results of our post-training survey:


Information for Speech-Language Providers

ASHA members and/or MT state licensed SLPs are qualified to earn ASHA CEUs for completing the online Relias Learning curriculum. In 2011, a MT licensed SLP completed the ATS training as an "Independent Study" course and earned ASHA CEUs.

ASHA requires that Independent Study activities are approved 30 days prior to the start of the learning activity.

Independent Study forms should be dated at least 30 days prior to the date of the first certificate for completing a module. Below is a link for the ASHA Independent study form. Independent study plans are limited to 20 hours. 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.  

The link below will take you directly to the Independent Study form:


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Managing Frustration, Anxiety, and Teaching Social Skills

Montana Association of School Psychologists Summer Institute
June 5-6, 2017

Students on the autism spectrum and those with behavioral challenges often present with difficulty regulating their feelings and interacting socially. This workshop describes how to handle meltdowns and design effective behavior plans to prevent these moments and reduce frustration and anxiety. 

The second part of the presentation details strategies to motivate students to learn, ways to teach social skills, how to generalize skills into the natural setting and increase acceptance and tolerance from peers. Information will be imparted though lecture, interactive exercises, and video clips.

You can find more information and register here.

Social Thinking Returns to Montana!!

August 17th and 18th, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn - Missoula*

Speaker:  Kari Zweber Palmer

August 17th:

ZOOMING IN: Strategies for Concrete Learners (kinder - young adult)

Delve into the needs of our more literal learners who may have diagnoses such as ASD, ADHD, language learning or sensory integration challenges. They are often perplexed by the abstractions of the school curriculum, show marked difficulty in reading social cues, and are often aloof and less organized. Discover how best to teach individuals based on their age and how to enhance learning in the inclusion-based classroom. Explore lessons that translate abstract social concepts into concrete ideas that can help improve social understanding over time.  Audience members love the many video examples and treatment tools! Read more
What You Will Learn
  1. Describe four core characteristics of Challenged and Emerging Social Communicators and explain why these students struggle to learn social and academic concepts in groups and as a result require different social thinking lessons from Nuance Challenged Social Communicators. 
  2. Develop a lesson for an individual with characteristics of an Emerging Social Communicator. The lesson will include visual support(s) and/or worksheets to translate abstract concepts to more concrete ideas. 
  3. Describe at least one additional treatment approach to use in conjunction with Social Thinking for individuals who function as Challenged and Emerging Social Communicators. 
August 18th:

ZOOMING IN: Strategies for Individuals with Subtle but Significant Social Problems (kinder - young adult)

Explore the needs of nuance-challenged social communicators who may have diagnoses such as Asperger's syndrome, ASD, ADHD, or social anxiety. They are often in mainstream education and struggle with the intricacies of social relationships, homework assignments, and working in peer-based groups. Discover effective strategies that encourage nuanced perspective taking and executive functioning while attending to the person's mental health. Take with you nuance-based social learning lessons for use in both treatment plans and in the mainstream classroom.

What You Will Learn

  1. Describe four core characteristics of those considered to be Nuance Challenged Social Communicators and how to consider those characteristics in group planning. 
  2. Describe how to develop strategies for use in school and home settings, differentiating cognitive behavioral treatment from applied behavior analysis. 
  3. Develop lessons or a group of lessons geared toward students with more nuance-based challenges. The lessons will include the creation of worksheets to translate abstract concepts into more concrete ideas. 
  4. Create a social learning activity that can be used in an inclusion-based learning environment to engage all students in the classroom.
OPI renewal units (6), ASHA CMH (5.5) and SWP/MFT/LAC CEUs (6) per day will be available. 

* A block of rooms will be available at state rate. Contact for more information on this room block. OPI will not pay for lodging. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Positive Behavioral Strategies for Students with Autism - Bozeman

May 2nd, 2017

After attending this session, participants will:

1. Identify why difficult behaviors are occurring, and what to do to change the inappropriate behaviors.

2. Gain knowledge about autism and what positive behavioral interventions can be most effectively utilized with which types of disabilities.

3. Apply positive behavioral interventions to children and adolescents with ASD to make permanent behavior changes.

Shawna Heiser is a board certified behavioral analyst (BCBA) who has worked and developed her own practice Special Learning 1-on-1 LCC for 21 years. She has instructed juniors and seniors at Montana State University Bozeman as a Senior Lecturer of Psychology for 15 years.

Register here. (account creation required)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Autism's Drug Problem

Many people on the spectrum take multiple medications — which can lead to serious side effects and may not even be effective.

It’s not unusual for children with autism to take two, three, even four medications at once. Many adults with the condition do so, too. Data are scant in both populations, but what little information there is suggests multiple prescriptions are even more common among adults with autism than in children. Clinicians are particularly concerned about children with the condition because psychiatric medications can have long-lasting effects on their developing brains, and yet are rarely tested in children.

In general, polypharmacy — most often defined as taking more than one prescription medication at once — is commonplace in people with autism. In one study of more than 33,000 people under age 21 with the condition, at least 35 percent had taken two psychotropic

Read more here on Spectrum.

Podcast - Why don’t we have better drugs for autism?

You can listen to the podcast here on Spectrum.