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 once we have created the registration in our new software. 

* 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.  

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Resources for Helping Students Wear Face Masks/Coverings and Other Information

Learning to Wear A Mask

I Can Wear A Mask - A Social Story

Wearing A Mask - A Social Story + Video Story

How to Wear My Mask - A Social Story

How Can I Teach My Son to Cooperate with Wearing a Face Mask? - includes sample teaching steps

How To Get More Comfortable Wearing A Mask - Video

Tips for Caregivers: How to Make Mask-wearing Easier - Video

Wearing A Mask and Communication - Tips for Desensitization, Tolerating a Mask, Tips for Communication and How to Make a Mask with Clear Panels

Teaching Your Child to Wear a Mask - -Tips and Guidelines

Wearing A Mask Toolkit - Tips

Being in Public Places

Seeing People Wearing Masks - A Social Story

Social Distancing - A Social Story

We Wear Masks - A Social Story explaining why people are wearing masks

Tips for Supplementing Communication When Wearing A Face Mask

We Wear Masks - A Social Story

Wearing a Mask to School - A Social Story

Other Information

A Parents Perspective: Navigating Face Coverings - Article with good tips.

Getting Tested for COVID-19 - A Social Story

Getting an Oral Test for COVID-19 - Two Social Stories

Getting a Saliva Test for COVID-19 - Two Social Stories: clinic and drive-through

Getting a Nasal Test for COVID-19 - Two Social Stories: clinic and drive-through

Handwashing - Visual Steps Poster

Wash Your Hands - Visual Steps Poster

Teaching Handwashing - Video

Keeping Friends Safe - A Social Story

10 Face Masks People with Chronic Illness Recommend - Article

Riding the Bus Will be Different - Social Story

Navigating a Socially Distanced Classroom for Students with Autism - archived webinar

When a special education student wears a face mask or face shield solely to prevent the spread of COVID-19, that is not considered an aversive treatment procedure (ARM 10.16.3346(4)(e) Aversive Treatment Procedures.​) 

The determination of medical necessity as included on page 118, question 18, of the Montana Special Education Guidance document is not necessary when state or local governments require individuals to wear face masks or coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Monday, November 23, 2020

I’m a parent of a child with autism. What should I look for in an ABA organization?

As a parent, I thought choosing an ABA organization was similar to choosing a pediatrician or a dentist: they are board-certified, so they must know what they are doing. Surprisingly, because the field of ABA is new (unlike the general medical profession, which has been around for more than 25,000 years), just because someone is board certified in ABA does not necessarily mean he/she is a seasoned clinician.

Did you know more than 50 percent of Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) have been certified in just the last three years? This means there are many new people hoping to help newly diagnosed children and their families.

Seeking certified staff is a great first start, but there are other indicators of a quality service organization:

1. Who are the BCBAs on staff, and what is their experience?

    • How many years of experience do they have?
    • What types of settings have they worked in?
    • What age range of children have they worked with in the past?

2. What are the backgrounds of the direct care staff who will be working with your child?

Read more here at Autism Parenting magazine. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Inheritance plays different roles in autism with and without intellectual disability

 Autism with intellectual disability is less heritable than autism alone, according to a new study of how the conditions run in extended families.

About a third of autistic people have intellectual disability (ID) — an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 70 or less. Autistic people with lower IQs are more likely to have spontaneous, or de novo, gene mutations than autistic people with higher IQs, studies show, suggesting that the genetic underpinnings of autism with ID differ from those of autism alone.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

20 Tips to Help De-escalate Interactions With Anxious or Defiant Students

 Tip 6: The teacher can give students an in-between step to make the transition more palatable. Go from recess, to two minutes of coloring, to the spelling quiz. The intermediary step gives that non-compliant student behavioral momentum. He’s already sitting down, quiet, with pen in hand, so the jump to spelling isn’t as jarring.

See more tips from Jessica Minahan here

Monday, November 16, 2020

Online ADOS Booster Training - 2020 December

We have scheduled the online ADOS Booster training for December 4th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.* This is a one day review of the ADOS 2 training complete with scoring practice and practical question review. The training is available only for Montana public school educators who have previously completed a two-day ADOS administration training. 

You can register for the training here. The registration includes an opportunity to ask questions before the training and to choose which ADOS modules the training should focus on. Please have your ADOS manual with you during the training. We will send links for the log-in and materials prior to the training. 

    * Includes a one-hour lunch break. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

2021 General & Special Education Conference

March 10, 11 and 12.  2021

(Doug Note - I attend this conference every year and it is awesome!) 

Selected sessions are below, you can see the full conference schedule and register here. 


Practical Applications of the SCERTS Model to Create Classroom and Individual Supports and Enhance Emotional and Energy Regulation by Amy Laurent, PhD, OTR/L and Jacquelyn Fede, PhD


Achieve Success with Defiant, Emotional, and Disengaged Students  by MaryAnn Brittingham, MS, Family and Child Counseling


Using the Power of Play to Create Calm, Grounded, and Engaged Learners by Janine Halloran, MA, LMHC


Every Move Counts, Clicks and Chats: A Sensory-Based Approach to Communication and Assistive Technology – part 1 by Jane Korsten, MA


The Challenge of Challenging Behaviors! Understanding and Effectively Addressing the Behavioral Challenges of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Susan K. Lewis Stokes, MA, CCC-SLP


It’s All About Independent Functioning! Practical Strategies that Foster Independence for Students with ASD by Susan K. Lewis Stokes, MA, CCC-SLP

Interventions for Executive Function Difficulties: Changing the Brain to Change Behavior by George McCloskey, PhD

Trauma Responsive Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention Planning – part 1by Lynne DeSousa, MS, School Psychologist

Every Move Counts, Clicks and Chats: A Sensory-Based Approach to Communication and Assistive Technology - part 2 by Jane Korsten, MA

Embedding SEL in Daily Instruction to Improve Student Engagement and Academic Success - part 2 by Mike Anderson, MS

Teaching Social Skills Remotely by Rebecca Moyes, MEd



Integrated Technology Tools to Support Dyslexia and Other Language-Based Learning Disabilities by Sharon Plante, MA

The Neuropsychology of Emotional Disorders: A Framework for Effective Interventions by Steven Feifer, DEd, ABSNP

Trauma Responsive Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention Planning - part 2by Lynne DeSousa, MS, School Psychologist

Grading Smarter, Not Harder: Building an Assessment Strategy to Empower Struggling Learners by Myron Dueck, MEd

“Yes, and...” Using Improv to Promote Academic and Social-Emotional Success for Students With (and Without) Disabilities by Jim Ansaldo, PhD Ed

Fostering Equity in Special Education by William White, EdS

Opening the Doors to Students with Moderate to Significant Cognitive or Developmental Delays by Kathy Morris, MEd


Registration at []

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

New study links autism traits and eating disorders in moms of autistic children

 A July 2020 study in the journal Autism Research found that mothers with eating disorders and a child with autism showed more autistic traits than mothers without an eating disorder, leading researchers to suggest that overlap between disordered eating and autism could contribute to underdiagnosis of autism in females. 

Read more here at Autism Speaks. 

Special Education Community of Practice

The Special Education Community of Practice meets the first Thursday of each month from 3:30 to 4:30PM.  Each session has a 10 to 20 presentation op a topic followed by a discussion around the topic.  Topics are:

November 5, 2020- Assessment- Yvonne Field

December 3, 2020- Preschool Transition - Danni McCarthy

January 7, 2021- Twice-Exceptional- Allyson Chance

February 4, 2021- Best Practices with Parents- Chris McCrea

March 4, 2021- HS Transition- Marla Swanby and Sara Bailey

April 1, 2021-Data Collection-TBD

May 6, 2021-Inclusive Programming-TBD

June 3, 2021- TBD

To access the meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting []
Meeting ID: 968 223 3568
Dial by Telephone +1 646 558 8656 or +1 406 444 9999 Meeting ID: 968 223 3568 Find your local number: []
Join by SIP
Join by H.323 (Polycom)
Join by Skype for Business []

For more information contact Jennifer Nettleton at or call 406-444-5848.