Thursday, June 28, 2012

iPad Apps for Behavior Tracking

Only a few iPad apps are designed specifically with board certified behavior analysts in mind, as of the date of publication. BehaviorTrackerPro, Skill Tracker Pro, Preference & Reinforcer, and Behavior Breakthroughs are among the highest-rated and most-downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Store.


BehaviorTrackerPro is an app designed for board certified behavior analysts who work with children with autism. The app supports an unlimited number of observers and children. Its features include optional video recording of behaviors and interventions, functional behavior assessments, full customization of included app behaviors, the ability to create your own behaviors, and the ability to upload intervention results and graphing data to a Team Portal where you can get assistance from other board certified behavior analysts. BehaviorTrackerPro is 5.1MB, costs around $30 and requires iOS 4.0 or later, as of the date of publication.

Skill Tracker Pro

Skill Tracker Pro is an app that fully automates Applied Behavioral Analysis instruction for autistic children. Like BehaviorTrackerPro, a board certified behavior analyst designed Skill Tracker Pro. The app features four skill data collection methods, including Cold Probe for Mands, Rate of Manding, Cold Probe for Skill and Trial by Trial Data Collection. Skill Tracker Pro lets you customize elements like the number of daily probes, individual targets and skills, and the number of correct responses per day. The app has a built-in skill library as well as the ability to let you design your own skills. Skill Tracker Pro is 1.7MB, costs around $30 and requires iOS 3.1.3 or later, as of the date of publication.

Preference & Reinforcer Assessment

Preference & Reinforcer Assessment lets board certified behavior analysts run paired choice preference assessments on an iPad, iPhone or iPod. The app’s features include descriptions of all preference assessments, a built-in timer and fully customizable colors. After assessments are run, Preference & Reinforcer Assessment analyzes the data collected and calculates relevant scores. Scores are presented on a bar graph. Preference & Reinforcer Assessment is 2.1MB, costs around $15 and requires iOS 3.0 or later, as of the date of publication.

Behavior Breakthroughs

Behavior Breakthroughs is an app that helps parents, behavior analysts and caregivers learn strategies that affect positive behavioral change in children. The app displays a 3-D child in a virtual environment and takes you through a training simulation that helps you learn how to effectively implement various behavioral strategies. The screen displays an “agitation meter” that shows how well your reinforcing skills are working with a child, based on proven clinical evidence. Behavior Breakthroughs is a free application that’s 16.2MB in size and requires iOS 4.0 or later, as of the date of publication.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to Talk to an Aspi ֠Asperger's, Autism, Labels, Stereotypes andStrategies

My child is extremely engaging, interesting and (in a way) interested in people. The differences are more subtle and hard to pin-point. You’d know there’s a problem somewhere with the way he interacts with others, but you would find it hard to pinpoint what. But, if you meet a kid that: Is very welcoming and friendly. Almost assuming right off that you are a friend. Is very polite on the phone. Assumes that you are interested in what he is talking about. Assumes you want to participate in the things he wants to do, and maybe gets angry if you don’t. Interrupts your conversations with others. Gets upset over basic requests or instructions. Asks surprising questions and offers amazing insight on a wide range of topics. Will do a speech as if he were defending a thesis, but then fail at answering basic open-ended questions about the same topic. Is surprisingly slow at getting ready for going outside etc. Will repeat certain behaviors and actions over and over again. That might be my kid. If you happen upon a kid you might think is an aspi, here are some things you could consider:

 Click here to read more. 


Friday, June 22, 2012

Three New ATN Tool Kits

Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) is pleased to announce the publication of three new tool kits for parents, available for free download on our website. They are: * ATN/AIR-P Parent’s Guide to Applied Behavior Analysis * ATN/AIR-P Introduction to Behavioral Health Treatments * ATN/AIR-P Parent’s Guide to Toilet Training in Autism All three tool kits are from the ATN, through its participation as the HRSA-funded Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P). The three new kits add to the growing catalogue available on the “Tools You Can Use” page of the Autism Speaks website. Developed by ATN/AIR-P experts, this series features practical advice for parents and practitioners working with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It also includes titles on sleep, medicine for challenging behaviors, blood work, visual supports and dental visits.

 Click here to download the tool kits.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

For Young Children With Autism, Directing Attention Boosts Language

An intervention in which adults actively engaged the attention of preschool children with autism by pointing to toys and using other gestures to focus their attention results in a long term increase in language skills, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health. At age 8, children with autism who received therapy centered on sharing attention and play when they were 3 or 4 years old had stronger vocabularies and more advanced language skills than did children who received standard therapy. All of the children in the study attended preschool for 30 hours each week. Click here to read more. 


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Navigating College - A Project of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network

Leaving high school and going to college is complicated for everyone. But if you’re a student on the autism spectrum who is about to enter higher education for the first time, it might be a little bit more complicated for you. Maybe you’re worried about getting accommodations, getting places on time, or dealing with sensory issues in a new environment. Maybe you could use some advice on how to stay healthy at school, handle dating and relationships, or talk to your friends and classmates about your disability. Maybe you want to talk to someone who’s already dealt with these issues. That’s where we come in. Navigating College is an introduction to the college experience from those of us who’ve been there. The writers and contributors are Autistic adults, and we’re giving you the advice that we wish someone could have given us when we headed off to college. We wish we could sit down and have a chat with each of you, to share our experiences and answer your questions. But since we can’t teleport, and some of us have trouble meeting new people, this book is the next best thing. ASAN was able to get you this book with the help of some other organizations. The Navigating College Handbook was developed in collaboration with Autism NOW, and with funding from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. The University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability is helping us with distribution. We’re really grateful for all of their help in getting this book out. Good luck, and happy reading!
We hope it helps.
More here:


Friday, June 15, 2012

When your special needs daughter gets her period (menses)

From the time my daughter was born with Down syndrome thirteen years ago, my biggest concern was what would happen when she got her period. I have learned over the years that I am not alone when it comes to parental worry on this subject. Let me stress up front that I am not a medical professional in any capacity so what I am going to share with you should not trump your doctor’s recommendations; I am simply sharing my journey and providing some helpful hints.

 Click here to read more. 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Safety First For Children with Autism

All parents worry about their children’s health, happiness, and general well-being, but parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities must often make extraordinary efforts to ensure that their sons and daughtersare safe both inside and outside the home. Children with ASD and other special needs may be more likely to act impulsively—to run away or wander—than their typically developing peers. This puts them in greater danger of becoming lost or getting hurt. If their families are in active military service, frequent relocations may make it even more difficult for them to be familiar with their surroundings or to distinguish a stranger from a friend. For these children, basic safety skills may some day become critical life-saving skills.

 Click here to read the article from Exceptional Parent magazine. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Autism: Life Transitions from Pre-School to Adulthood - Billings - Aug.2-3, 2012

Autism: Life Transitions from Pre-School to Adulthood - Billings - Aug. 2-3, 2012 What:Families and educators need continued assistance with resources that teach life skills to assist individuals with autism as they negotiate important transitions in their lives. This two day conference will provide information and hands-on experience that will help you assist children and young adults on the spectrum to discover their unique interests and abilities. Fostering self-identity that will prepare individuals with autism for lifelong inclusion in the community that will maximize their independence, productivity, and enjoyment. Successful early transitions will help pave the way for future transitions. Some individuals on the spectrum will pursue higher education and competitive employment opportunities while others are more limited. Beyond their varied abilities and interests, limited social skills for nearly all individuals with autism make it difficult for them to adjust to new school environments, different living arrangements, college and the workplace. With proper support and services from teachers, mentors, co-workers and job coaches who understand these special needs, we believe all individuals can be supported to lead happier, more productive and independent lives. In addition to information about transitions, educators and family members attending this year’s conference will be able to participate in activities often used in therapy and successful educational environments. This will give you a unique opportunity to experience life from the perspective of a person on the spectrum and give you skills to help calm, teach, and care. Where:MSU-B Main Campus1500 University DriveBillings, MT When:August 2 & 3, 2012 Register:Call 406-896-5890 to register for this event.


Autism Quiz

Description Whether you know a little or a lot about autism, test your knowledge in one of our four challenging quizzes. Our "Beginner" quiz examines basic information about autism, from diagnostic criteria to common behavior patterns. For our readers with advanced autism knowledge, the "Advanced" quiz asks up-to-date questions about the latest advances in autism research.Perhaps you simply want to identify any misconceptions you have about autism spectrum disorders. In our true/false "Misconceptions" quiz, you can learn about autism issues that are commonly misunderstood in the community. Finally, review your familiarity with the latest autism news using our "In the News" quiz. You might just learn something new!

 More information here. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adults on the Autism Spectrum talk about the bleach "treatment."

When Emily Willingham started seeing tweets about the use of Miracle Mineral Solution to “treat” autism, she almost couldn’t stand to read about it. Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), when prepared according to instructions, is chlorine dioxide, a chemical used in treating wastewater and in bleaching wood pulp for paper. It is an industrial-strength bleach. “I read the headlines and couldn’t stand to click,” said Dr. Willingham, who holds a Ph.D. in biology and is the science editor for The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. “I mean, the headlines say it all, and just reading them was painful. But finally, I read a thorough breakdown of the presentation at AutismOne that started this current brouhaha and the history of applying MMS–a.k.a. industrial-strength bleach solution — at Science-Based Medicine

.Click here to read more. 


Apps for Autism: The Apps That Can Make A Difference And Why

Date: Tue, Jun 19, 2012 Time: 02:00 PM EDT Duration: 1 hour iPads are quickly becoming the “go-to” communications device for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Popular for its features and apps, it offers dynamic and cost-effective tools to both children and adults with autism. Join our speakers as they discuss how iPods, iPads, & apps can be useful learning, therapeutic, and leisure tools for individuals!
 Register to learn more! 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Montana's Educational Criteria for Autism

10.16.3011 CRITERIA FOR IDENTIFICATION OF STUDENT AS HAVING AUTISM (1) The student may be identified as having autism if documentation supports the existence of a developmental disability that was generally evident before the student was three years of age and if the student has communication difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction. (2) Assessments shall document the presence of significant delays in verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction. (a) Significant delays in verbal communication are manifested by at least one of the following: (i) delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime); (ii) in students with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others. (b) Significant delays in nonverbal communication are manifested by a marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye to eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, or gestures to regulate social interaction. (c) Significant delays in social interaction are manifested by at least one of the following: (i) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental levels; (ii) lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., lack of showing, bringing or pointing out objects of interest); (iii) lack of social or emotional reciprocity; (iv) lack of varied, spontaneous, make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level. (3) Other characteristics often associated with autism may include restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by one or more of the following: (a) Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus; (b) Apparently inflexible adherence to specific nonfunctional routines or rituals; (c) Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements); (d) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects. (4) A student who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria in (2) and (3) are met. (5) The student may not be identified as having autism if the student's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional disturbance. The criteria checklist is attached.


Download file "Criteria for Autism OPI.doc"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Your child with ASD strengthening social abilities - Missoula

Social difficulties are at the core of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Children with ASD often have difficulty making friends, understanding social context, and communicating with others. This can lead to difficulties at school, in the community, and feelings of isolation. This program will use scientifically tested methods of teaching children social skills and providing parents with behavior management strategies and social support. The program incorporates Children’s Friendship Training, video modeling, and opportunities to practice in natural, community settings. Who can participate? Boys ages 8 to 12 who have been diagnosed with ASD and have trouble with: Recognizing social expectations, Getting along with peers, Social communication, Playing with peers . When & Where? Twice a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) for 6 weeks: June 12 – July 23 (Tues. children’s group and Wed. caregivers) Clinical Psychology Center 1444 Mansfield Avenue Missoula, MT 59812 How much? 6 week program will cost $220. Check or cash only. Option for a sliding scale. This program will help your child learn how to: Have conversations with peers Make friends Accept “No” for an answer Increase play skills with others Make positive social statements Listen to adults Manage competition Increase communication skills Identify and express feelings

 See the attached flyer for more information. 


Feds Approve ABA Therapy As Medical Benefit

A recent change in federal policy could lead many more families affected by autism to gain insurance coverage for applied behavior analysis, advocates say. In a major shift, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management said that it has determined there is enough evidence behind the use of ABA therapy to deem it a medical rather than an educational service. The office is responsible for managing benefits for federal government employees, so the announcement paves the way for health plans offered to government workers to include coverage for the popular autism therapy for the first time. What’s more, autism advocates say it sets an important precedent since the U.S. government is the nation’s largest employer. “The OPM decision directly contradicts a long-standing insurance industry claim that ABA therapy is not ‘medical,’ but rather ‘educational’ — provided by the schools at taxpayer expense,” said Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks. “Now, tens of thousands of families will have better access to more affordable, critical ABA treatment.” Currently, 30 states require that health insurance plans include ABA therapy, according to Autism Speaks, which has lobbied heavily for such legislation. Under the new rules, coverage for ABA therapy may be included in health plans provided to federal workers starting in 2013.



You Say 'Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder,' I Say 'Autism'

It used to be that ten years ago, for every 156 eight-year-olds, one would have autism. In 2004, that figure had risen to 1 in 125. By 2006, 1 in 110 children had it, and according to data released this March by the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in every 88 kids in America had the disorder in 2008. And that's just the national average. In some select places, such as Utah and New Jersey, the rate approaches an alarming 1 in 47. The CDC report paints a picture of a rapidly expanding autistic population. But it doesn't tell us why so many more children are being diagnosed with the developmental disorder now than before. One obvious possibility is that the rate of autism really is increasing -- whether through factors in our surroundings that we can control or thanks to genetic factors we can't. But it could also be that the rise in autism diagnoses has nothing to do with the actual disease so much as the way we talk about it. As Dorothy Bishop, a professor in developmental psychology at Oxford, notes on her blog, what we're seeing may just be a matter of "diagnostic substitution." "The basic idea," she writes, "is that children who would previously have received another diagnosis or no diagnosis are now being identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)."
 Read more here.