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, 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.

Practical Strategies to Help Make Transitions Easier for All

We all make transitions many times a day. Transitions are when you must change from one activity or setting to another. They require a certain level of understanding of expectations, along with the ability to shift attention from one task or routine to another.

Here are some practical strategies to help make transitions easier:

1. Plan and Discuss Transitions
Just like us, children do better when they know what to expect. If you know they only have a half-hour to play in the playground, discuss that with them before you get there. Similarly, if you know you will need to go and get groceries after picking them up from school, let them know the plan before dropping them off in the morning. If they know what to expect, they will be less surprised by the transition. For young or non-verbal children, the “plan” can be shared using pictures of what to expect.

2. Use Time Warnings
To help your child know when to expect transitions, provide him/her with warnings ahead of time. The child may need you to say when there is 15, 10, and 5 minutes left to play at the park. When possible, use a clock or timer to teach how to check how much time is left. You can buy or download visual timers that show time elapsing visually without needing to understand numbers (, vis timer app).

Read more here.

Supporting vs. enabling your student

What does it really mean to enable versus support your student?

Generally speaking, enabling refers to the practice of over-helping, as in rescuing your student from uncomfortable or challenging situations without considering if they are able to handle it themselves.

When you support your student, you provide space for them to learn from their mistakes and build the necessary coping skills to handle life’s twists and turns. It is your job as parents and caregivers to provide positive encouragement along the path to independence but not to pave the road for them before they get there.

Read more here.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Practical & Effective Strategies for Students with Anxiety - Great Falls - March 26

March 26, 2020

With up to one in four children struggling with anxiety in this country, over- whelmed adults are in need of a new approach as well as an effective and easy-toimplement toolkit of strategies that work.

Through the use of case studies, humorous stories, and examples of common chal- lenging situations, participants will learn easy to implement tools, strategies, and interventions for reducing anxiety, increasing self-regulation, accurate thinking and self-monitoring in students.

More information here. 

Register here.