Thursday, July 4, 2019

FREE Online Autism Training from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering 84 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. The training can provide 79 OPI Continuing Education Units.

A listing and description of the training content can be found here. The training can be taken for OPI renewal units and ASHA CEUs and SWP/MFT/LAC/ CEUs. 

New groups start the beginning each month and you will be sent information then to begin your training. You will have 90 days to complete the training.

You can find more information and register for the online training here.


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:

Friday, December 14, 2018

Why autism at 2.5% isn’t surprising.

Let’s get one thing out right away–autism prevalence studies undercount. Not all autistics are diagnosed. That’s just a fact. Consider the recent CDC study. They look at school and medical records. In many cases, they find children are autistic based on their records–but the schools and doctors hadn’t diagnosed those children.
Combining data from all 11 sites, 81% of boys had a previous ASD classification on record, compared with 75% of girls (OR = 1.4; p<0.01). 
Yeah, more than 20% of the kids counted in their prevalence had no diagnosis. They and their families didn’t know.
And, if there isn’t enough in the records to show a kid is autistic? That kid gets uncounted altogether. 
So, when people look at the CDC prevalence estimates from over the years and cry “epidemic”, well, there’s a reason why those people usually have some causation theory that they believe in. The irony is that they are usually wrong that their theory needs an epidemic to support it. But, heavily biased people are not usually the best sources of reliable analyses.
What would be a better method of counting how many autistics are in a population? Sounds obvious–test all the kids in a given population. Equally obvious–this is a much more expensive and difficult task. One such study was published in 2011. Yes, 7 years ago. In Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in a total population sample, the autism prevalence in Korea was found to be 2.63%.  A study performed in South Carolina and reported at IMFAR last year found a prevalence of 3.62%.
This all said, we had another autism prevalence come out this week–The Prevalence of Parent-Reported Autism Spectrum Disorder Among US Children. This study found a prevalence of 2.5%.
Now here’s a nice thing about this recent study–OK, two nice things. First, they don’t just look at kids of one age. Second, you can obtain the data. Which I did. Let’s look at the autism prevalence broken down by birth year.

1985 paper on the theory of mind

Read the full article at Spectrum. 

Autistic children, parents may shape each other’s language

Parents speak to their autistic children using fewer words and less complex sentences than do parents of typical children, which in turn shapes the children’s language skills, a new study suggests1.
The findings contradict the recommendations of some autism therapies, which ask parents to speak in simple sentences, says lead researcher Riccardo Fusaroli, associate professor of cognitive science at Aarhus University in the Netherlands.
Fusaroli and his colleagues tracked language learning from about age 2 to 5 in autistic and typical children. The two groups started out with similar language abilities.
As they got older, however, the autistic children became less talkative and used simpler sentences than the controls did. Their parents also began to use less complex language; over time, the parents’ language at one visit predicted that of their children at the next, and vice versa.

How to Improve Emotional Self-Regulation Among Children with Autism and Attention Disorders

Before beginning the lesson, it’s important to note that the child should already be capable of identifying and labeling emotions. The activities should be initiated when a child is in a good mood. This lesson is also meant to be taken in stages with the child moving to the next step after they have successfully developed a mastery of the preceding step.

1. Create an emotional levels chart.

Create a visual aid that depicts the different levels of emotions that a child may feel, allowing the child to create their own labels for each level. For example, levels can be labeled “feeling good,” “a little upset,” “upset” and “very upset.” The chart should have two columns with the emotional levels in one column. Title the other column, “I feel this way when…” and leave the rows blank for the child to fill in.

YETI Groups Spring and Summer 2019

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sex differences in brain hint at roots of ‘camouflaging’ in autism

Autistic women’s activity in a ‘social’ brain region tracks with the extent to which they mask their autism, according to a new study1.
Their activity in this and another social brain region when they reflect on themselves or others resembles that of their typical peers. Men with autism, by contrast, show less activity in these regions than typical men do.
The new findings reinforce the idea that autism manifests differently in women than it does in men.
“Maybe the idea of a hypoactivated social brain doesn’t apply universally to everyone on the spectrum,” says co-lead investigator Meng-Chuan Lai, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto in Canada.
The findings represent the first attempt to pinpoint brain areas that may be involved when autistic women ‘camouflage,’ or mask their autism traits.

Support Through Education & Planning Topic: Behavior at Home - Missoula

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C:\Users\jennifer.closson\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\BH78VJ3L\Rural Institute brand mark - For Inclusive Communities.jpg
Support Through  
Education & Planning
Topic:  Behavior at Home
Audience:  Parents

Dates: 2/19, 2/16, 3/5, 3/12, 3/19

Time:   Tuesdays 6:00-7:30

Location:   Curry Health Center, 634 Eddy, U of M
Remote Computer Access Available

Childcare: Available with Registration

Format:   Parents will engage in group education for the first half of the session.  The second half will target individualized programming for behavior strategies in the home.  The program will be enriched by support from a Social Work Graduate Student and follow-through with Graduate Student Clinicians in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Registration  $20 Fee to hold your spot. For more information, or to register for YETI STEP, call the Clinic Manager, Meghann Schroeder, at 243-6105.  Six families are welcome to join this semester

Follow-up study: Microbiota Transfer Therapy’s behavior, GI benefits still evident after two years

This artilce also appeared in the 2018, Volume 32, No. 3 issue of ARI's Autism Research Review International newsletter. 
A new study reports that the positive behavioral and gastrointestinal (GI) changes seen in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) following fecal transplants appear to be lasting.
Fecal transplants are currently used as a treatment for C. difficile infection and inflammatory bowel disease. A research team headed by James Adams at Arizona State University has been investigating the potential of this approach for treating children with ASD, who have a high rate of diarrhea, constipation, and other bowel problems that may be connected to their behavioral issues.
In their initial study (see ARRI 31/1, 2017), led by Dae-Wook Kang, 18 participants with ASD and GI problems underwent Microbiota Transfer Therapy, or MTT. Participants first received two weeks of antibiotic treatment and a bowel cleanse to prepare the GI tract. Next, they received one high dose of microbiota administered either orally or rectally, followed by a lower oral daily maintenance dose for 7 to 8 weeks. The researchers used a standardized product containing more than 99% bacteria obtained from healthy individuals and tested to ensure safety. The children also took an acid pump inhibitor to reduce stomach acidity and increase the survival rate of the microbes.
In the new study, led by Rosa Krajmalnik Brown, the researchers followed up with all 18 participants two years after treatment stopped. “Notably,” they say, “gastrointestinal symptoms were significantly reduced compared with the beginning of the original trial, and autism-related symptoms improved significantly after the end of treatment.” In addition, they say, “DNA-sequencing analyses revealed that changes in gut microbiota at the end of treatment still remained at follow-up, including significant increases in bacterial diversity and relative abundances of Bifidobacteria, Prevotella, and Desulfovibrio.”

Insurance Mandates and Out-of-Pocket Spending for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder


BACKGROUND: The health care costs associated with treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children can be substantial. State-level mandates that require insurers to cover ASD-specific services may lessen the financial burden families face by shifting health care spending to insurers.
METHODS: We estimated the effects of ASD mandates on out-of-pocket spending, insurer spending, and the share of total spending paid out of pocket for ASD-specific services. We used administrative claims data from 2008 to 2012 from 3 commercial insurers, and took a difference-in-differences approach in which children who were subject to mandates were compared with children who were not. Because mandates have heterogeneous effects based on the extent of children’s service use, we performed subsample analyses by calculating quintiles based on average monthly total spending on ASD-specific services. The sample included 106 977 children with ASD across 50 states.
RESULTS: Mandates increased out-of-pocket spending but decreased the share of spending paid out of pocket for ASD-specific services on average. The effects were driven largely by children in the highest-spending quintile, who experienced an average increase of $35 per month in out-of-pocket spending (P < .001) and a 4 percentage point decline in the share of spending paid out of pocket (P < .001).
CONCLUSIONS: ASD mandates shifted health care spending for ASD-specific services from families to insurers. However, families in the highest-spending quintile still spent an average of >$200 per month out of pocket on these services.