Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Autism Eats - A Very Cool Idea

Going to a family restaurant should be an enjoyable experience. A time to relax, enjoy good food and spend time with your family. Let someone else do the cooking and cleaning.

Unfortunately, for those of us who have a child with autism dining out can be anxiety provoking and stressful. As parents, we may feel that "all eyes are on us" when our kids exhibit certain behaviors, have outbursts or refuse to sit still. Other diners may be disturbed and the well intentioned wait staff doesn't really know the best way to help out.

Many of us decide it is just not worth the effort and that is unfortunate.

We created Autism Eats to bring the fun back to eating out.

Our dinner parties are held in private rooms of restaurants or function facilities. Food is served buffet or family style so there is no waiting. Music and lighting are adjusted to accommodate those with sensory sensitivity. These are family dinners and all attending have a loved one on the spectrum so there is no need to apologize, explain or feel uncomfortable. It is an opportunity to enjoy a night out and socialize with others who have many of the same joys and challenges in common.

Read more here. 


Skepticism About Study Linking Antidepressants And Autism

Over-hyped, overstated and probably just wrong. That’s my summary of the latest high-profile study of autism, which reports that mothers who take antidepressants increase the risk of autism in their unborn children by up to 87%.

The new study, which appeared this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, received widespread attention, both uncritical (Washington Post, Huffington Post) and more cautious (CBS News). But it was that 87% increase that caught most people’s attention. Many scientists, including me, read this news with skepticism. It seems particularly unlikely given that exactly two years ago, another large study reported exactly the opposite conclusion. The 2013 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that antidepressant use during pregnancy was NOT associated with an increased risk of autism. What’s more, the 2013 study looked at exactly the same class of antidepressants, selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), as the new study. 

 So what’s going on? Was the 2013 study just wrong? It seemed the only way to answer this was to read the new study, written by Anick Bérard and colleagues. Looking over the new numbers, my conclusion is that Bérard simply tortured the data until she got the results–and the press headlines–that they wanted. Let’s look a bit more closely.

    Read more here.


Autism Advocate Magazine

Click here to read the latest issue. 


Autism: Extremely Premature Babies At Higher Risk

A new study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden examined the differences in the brain's of children born very premature compared to those born full term. "We were surprised by how many -- almost 30 per cent -- of the extremely preterm-born children had developed ASD symptoms," said Ulrika Ådén, researcher at the Department of Women's and Children's Health at Karolinska Institutet and neonatologist at the Neonatology clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, in a news release. "Amongst children born after full term pregnancy, the corresponding figure is 1 per cent."

 Read more here. 


Do Girls Have 'Protection' from Autism?

Despite having fewer ASD diagnoses, girls with the condition tend to have more of its genetic mutations than boys do. In particular, girls have more large duplications or deletions of DNA, called copy-number variations, in their genome. Older girls diagnosed with autism generally have more severe symptoms than boys, including lower IQ scores. So, if females have more of these variations in their DNA, and genetics are a risk factor for autism, why would fewer girls be given a diagnosis of autism? There may be something protecting girls against symptom severity — a concept that's come to be known as the "female protective effect." But what is this protective effect? Is there a gene that blocks the effect of other genes, or turns on compensatory genes? Does some sort of environmental factor in females, such as the presence of specific hormones, alter the way the autism genes are expressed? Are the genes that control for brain development in boys and girls regulated differently?

Read more here. 


Monday, December 14, 2015

About That Study Linking PCOS and Autism in Kids

For the uninitiated, polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects as many as one in ten women and is marked by irregular periods, acne, excessive body hair, and weight gain. It's also the leading cause of female infertility, so when new research suggested that women with PCOS are more likely to have kids with autism spectrum disorder, many might have thought, This is a joke, right? Here's what everyone should know about this study. Researchers in Sweden looked at children born between 1984 and 2007 and, using their country's National Patient Register, compared diagnoses of PCOS in mothers with records of autism spectrum disorder (or ASD) in children. Writing in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, they found that women with PCOS are 59 percent more likely to have a child with ASD than women without the endocrine condition. The risk increase for obese women with PCOS was even higher, at 113 percent. Cue alarm bells across the internet. But there are several things to consider here, perhaps the most important being that this is the first study to find such a connection. Even the authors acknowledge that the results need to be replicated before we all get concerned. Next, the research highlights the relative risk of having a child with ASD — the absolute risk is still pretty low. For example, about one in 68 children in the U.S. (or 1.47 percent) has been diagnosed with ASD. A 59 percent increase translates to about one in 43 children, or a 2.3 percent incidence — scary, but not exactly epidemic levels. The authors also said that the prevalence of PCOS diagnoses in their sample was lower than expected, so we may not have the full picture here. And finally, overall autism rates in this study were much higher than the expert consensus: Researchers think it’s slightly higher than one percent, but in this study, 10 percent of all kids had ASD (23,748 out of 232,544 total). So, yeah, these findings might be more preliminary than we think.
Read more here.



Billings January 28, 2016 8:00am—5:00pm On-line registration: Workshop description: The social communication and social thinking needs of individuals on the Autism Spectrum are often the most challenging aspects of parenting, treating and teaching this population. This workshop will address numerous strategies, many of which were originated by Michelle Garcia Winner, a known guru in the area of Social Thinking®. The presenter will provide detailed information, video demonstrations and materials that will enhance the attendee’s ability to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and other diagnoses that cause difficulty with social interaction, perspective taking and other Theory of Mind issues.


Key Findings: Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism SpectrumDisorder Among 4-Year-Old Children

Main Findings Based on tracking in five communities across the United States, we found that the estimated number of children with ASD varied by community, from 8.5 per 1,000 4-year-olds in an area of Missouri to 19.7 per 1,000 4-year-olds in an area of New Jersey. Fewer four-year old children were identified with ASD than eight-year-old in the five communities where CDC tracked ASD. This might be because, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age two years, previous CDC data show that many children with ASD are not diagnosed until after age four years. CDC plans to follow-up with these four-year-old children when they are eight years old to understand more about changes in the number and characteristics of children with ASD as they grow. Four-year-old children identified with ASD were more likely to have intellectual disability than eight-year-old children in the same communities identified with ASD. Among four-year-old children, girls and white children were more likely to receive their first comprehensive, developmental evaluation2 by age three years compared with boys and black children. Researchers looked at the earliest age at which children with ASD had a comprehensive, developmental evaluation.2 They compared the earliest age of evaluation for the four-year-old children (born in 2006) who were diagnosed with ASD by age four with the earliest age of evaluation for the 8-year-old children (born in 2002) who were also diagnosed with ASD by age four. About half of the four-year-old children had an evaluation by the time they were about two years and three months old while about half of the eight-year-old children had an evaluation by the time they were about two years and eight months old. This suggests that children born in 2006 received evaluations at younger ages than children born in 2002. The difference of five months is important because the earlier a child is evaluated, the earlier that child can receive a diagnosis of ASD and be connected to services.

 Read more here. 


Sex differences in brain may underlie neurodevelopmental disorders morecommon in males

Many early-onset neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, are more common in males than females. The origin of this gender bias is not understood, partially due to a major gap in research on sex differences regarding how the brain typically develops. According to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, female infants have larger volumes of gray matter around the temporal-parietal junction of the brain than males at the time of birth. The temporal-parietal junction, or TP, which is found under the temporal bones near the ears, integrates the processing of social information as expressed in others' faces and voices, a function that is impaired in those with autism spectrum disorders. Sex differences in this area of the brain may be a clue as to why males are at higher risk for certain forms of autism spectrum disorders

 Read more here. 



The headlines read "New study suggests autism can be outgrown", or "outgrowing autism: a doctor’s surprise and wonder." The stories are based on studies reporting that 7-9% of children with a documented early autistic syndrome disorder (ASD) have no symptoms of the disorder on follow-up later in childhood or adolescence. That is good news. The question is how to account for it.
Is it possible to simply "outgrow" autism? Was the initial diagnosis wrong? Did some interventions work? Or might there be other explanations for this welcome news?

Read more here:


Taking Antidepressants While Pregnant May Raise Autism Risks, But It'sComplicated

So of course, dozens of studies have attempted to parse whether antidepressants are safe during pregnancy. Their results are inconclusive, which is probably not reassuring to expectant mothers. Into this situation comes a new study from Canada that finds expectant mothers who take antidepressants are more likely to give birth to children who end up diagnosis with spectrum disorder. That may sound worrisome, but the effect here is quite small. "It shouldn’t be alarming people," says Alan Brown, a psychiatrist at Columbia who is not involved with the study. The relative risk for autism went up 87 percent when women took antidepressants during their second or third trimester. But for context, the rate of autism is around 1 percent, so it could go up to 1.87 percent with antidepressants. Add another wrinkle: Untreated depression is bad for baby, too. "Depression is a serious disease," says Bryan King, a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, who wrote an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics accompanying the study. "Untreated depression is associated with lack of nutrition or lack of sleep or fatigue and stress, which we know can cause problems in terms of fetal development." The fact that several previous studies on autism and antidepressant use during pregnancy have come up mixed, and the small effect size in this most recent one, says King, should reassure mothers with severe depression who choose to continue their regimen.

 Read more here. 


Puberty and Adolescence

Puberty can be a time of mixed feelings for parents and pre-teens. It may be a time of pride and celebration, as well as a time of worry and confusion. It is hard for pre-teens to understand the many changes that come along with puberty. Also, parents may feel unsure of how to explain these changes to their child.
All parents eventually face the challenge of teaching their children about the natural changes of puberty. However, parents of pre-teens with ASD may need the help of additional strategies to ease the transition. Our aim in developing this tool is to provide guidance on the subject of puberty that can be directly applied to pre-teens with ASD. In doing so, we hope to increase families' understanding of puberty and their ability to adapt to these changes with confidence.
Topics include:
  • Body changes
  • Self-care and hygiene
  • Public vs. private rules
  • Staying safe: Strangers, secrets and touch
  • Elopement
  • Safety planning for increased aggression
  • Internet safety
Download ATN/AIR-P Puberty and Adolescence Resource: A Guide for Parents of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder here.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Survey switch may explain rise in new autism stats

About 1 in 45 children in the U.S. have autism, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new figure represents a 79 percent increase from the estimate for 2013. It is based on a parent survey designed to track the prevalence of developmental disorders in children aged 3 to 17 years. But there is more to the apparent jump in autism than meets the eye. The 2014 survey asked parents about autism and then about developmental delay — the opposite of the order used in the surveys from 2011 to 2013. The researchers experimented with switching the questions because they suspected the original sequence had skewed their results. "We’re always reevaluating our survey to make sure we’re accurately capturing the population of interest," says lead researcher Benjamin Zablotsky, senior service fellow with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The 2011-2013 surveys yielded a prevalence estimate of 1 in 80. A different method for tracking prevalence, which is based on medical and education records instead of parent surveys, puts the figure closer to 1 in 68. Zablotsky and his colleagues tweaked the survey to see whether doing so would make their results better align with that "gold-standard" estimate.

 Read more here. 


The Social Express

We’ve done the work for you! Our high quality engaging webisodes teach foundational skills for social and emotional learning. From Preschoolers to High schoolers, our research-based animated interactive lessons encourage users to practice real-life social interactions. The robust curriculum offers online and offline activities. May be used on your computer, the iPad app & interactive white boards.  Suggested by one of our Autism Consultants.

Read more here:


CDC's revised interview method finds 1 in 45 children has autism

The public may not realize it, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has three different ways of estimating the prevalence of autism.
One of those is the National Health Interview Survey, and the latest such survey shows 2.24 percent of children -- or roughly one in 45 -- had autism in 2014, compared to 1.25 percent for the three years 2011, 2012, and 2013 combined.
CDC freely acknowledges, however, that the higher rate is to be taken with a grain of salt, given changes in the way the survey was worded and administered. In fact, the prevalence of autism, intellectual disability, and developmental disability as a group didn't rise, it said.
"The prevalence of having any of the three conditions was constant across survey years," according to National Health Statistics Reports, No. 87, dated Nov. 13.
Three factors may have influenced the results, CDC said. First, surveyors asked parents about autism directly, as a stand-alone question, rather than merely asking them to check a box on a list various conditions their children might have.
Second, the question was made more elaborate, specifically: ''Did a doctor or health professional ever tell you that [child's name] had autism, Asperger's disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, or autism spectrum disorder?''
Finally, the order of questions was changed, so that the question about autism came second. Previously, the checklist that included autism came third, after questions about intellectual disability and other developmental delays.
"It ... cannot be concluded that the increase seen in the prevalence of [autism spectrum disorder] is completely explained by the three changes made to the survey," the report said. "However, the virtually identical prevalence estimates of children ever diagnosed with any developmental disability in 2011-2013 and 2014 suggests that, before 2014, some parents of children diagnosed with ASD reported this developmental disability as other [developmental delay] instead of, or in addition to, ASD."
CDC's other survey methods are the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which covers 8-year-olds, and the National Survey of Children's Health, which covers children ages 6-17.
The NHIS covers children ages 3-17, with a survey size of 13,000, compared to 360,000 for the monitoring network and 95,000 for NSCH.


Friday, November 20, 2015

For Many With Disabilities, Freedom To Be Intimate Is Rare

Ninety minutes. That’s all Bradley Duncan is permitted for "alone time" with the woman he fell in love with nearly a year ago. Ninety minutes to talk, cuddle and get intimate in bed. Ninety minutes to watch their favorite wrestler, John Cena, on television. The clock starts to tick the moment Duncan shuts the bedroom door of his room at a Fergus Falls, Minn., group home. "They set their watches and say, ‘Your time starts now,’?" said Duncan, who is 46 and has a cognitive disability. "Now, if it’s 11:30 (a.m.), that means I’ve got until 5 minutes to 1 p.m., before they start knocking on the door, saying my time is up. It’s not much time."

 Read more her. 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Webinar - Differentiating Data Collection:

Whether our special education students are learning in self contained or inclusion classrooms, maintaining high quality standardized data collection practices is critical to tracking, monitoring, and conveying student progress. Collecting data not only demonstrates and reinforces student learning, but also informs instruction and supports teachers in being reflective about their own practice.

Yet as students move into inclusion settings, and teachers become responsible not only for teaching more students, but sometimes for addressing a wider variety of needs, finding ways to collect and monitor student data can become more challenging. In this webinar Rethink’s Angela Pagliaro discusses strategies for integrating data collection into diverse settings, particularly inclusive classroom.

 You can view the archived webinar here. 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Study Sheds Light on Health Needs of Adults with Autism

Comparing information from 255 adults ages 18 to 71 with ASD to a similar group of the general population, researchers found that adults with autism are more likely to suffer seizure disorders and depression. The higher prevalence of seizure disorders is noteworthy because it is associated with shorter life expectancy in adults with ASD, and an increased need for assistance with daily living activities. Young adults with autism also had higher rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, allergies and anxiety. A significant portion of the studied group had intellectual disabilities as measured by IQ scores. Those with intellectual disability and depression were more likely to need help with functional tasks. Ultimately, the majority of older adults over 40 years of age with autism required some assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing and bathing.

 Read more here. 


Is a Spectrum' the Best Way to Talk About Autism?

Charting where an individual falls on the autism spectrum, though, is nearly impossible. I know because I recently tried to figure out how to do it. After talking to doctors, epidemiologists, self-advocates, and anthropologists, I learned that the more you try to pin down what the autism spectrum actually looks like, the looser your grasp on it will become. "Right now the best way to approach autism is to think about it as a spectrum condition, but it’s quite possible that in the next 10 to 15 years, we’ll start understanding these better—not just genetics but the real pathophysiology," says Broscoe. One day it might be lots of different diagnoses, each pinned to a specific cause or mutation or biological breakdown. Just as people once thought of all cancers as singular, and now think about and treat breast cancer and lung cancer and colon cancer differently. Autism, Broscoe says, "may look more like cancer one day." Roy Grinker, an anthropologist whose book, Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, combines his personal experiences with an autistic daughter, and academic research into autism, laughed about the idea that autism was a single, "real" thing. "There’s not a real thing out there called autism! There are complex neural pathways that lead to different behaviors and traits that we have decided right now is best understood by a framework called autism. But I have no confidence that in 30 years we’ll still use the word autism."

 Read more here. 


Archived Webinar - Uniquely Human: A Different Way to See Autism andCreate Pathways to Success

Providing services for children with autism is a growing challenge. Special educators and families are hungry for advice and encouragement. Autism is usually portrayed as a checklist of deficits: difficulties interacting with others, sensory challenges, and repetitive–sometimes disruptive– behaviors. Therapy has focused on eliminating "autistic" symptoms. Now there’s a different perspective and a new approach– a major shift in the way educators and parents understand autism and help students with autism succeed. The groundbreaking techniques revealed in this webinar are essential for teachers, special educators, and parents of children with autism. Presenter Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., Childhood Communication Services & Adjunct Professor Brown University.

 View the webinar here. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Workshops - High-Functioning Autism: Proven & Practical Interventionsfor Challenging Behaviors in Children, Adolescents & Young Adults

Billings - February 22

Bozeman - February 23

Missoula - February 25

Scroll down on the linked page to find the workshops. 


Basic PECS Training - Great Falls

December 3-4

More here:


Why don't we know what environmental factors cause autism?

In 2013, data from a massive study of more than 85,000 children in Norway suggested that women who take folic acid supplements early in pregnancy lower their risk of having a child with autism. Last month, an analysis of a similarly designed study of more than 35,000 mothers and babies in Denmark found no link between prenatal vitamins and autism risk, raising doubts about the Norwegian finding. Science is always an iterative process, but in the case of pinpointing risk factors for autism, progress has been remarkably slow and difficult. In the past decade, dozens of papers have proposed a vast array of factors that potentially contribute to autism: vitamins such as folic acid, maternal depression and antidepressant use, premature birth, Cesarean birth, advanced paternal and maternal age, overweight parents and exposure to anything from endocrine-disrupting chemicals to air pollutants and pesticides. Some research even suggests that a younger sibling born either too soon or too long after the first child has a heightened risk of autism. All of these are considered environmental risk factors, a term scientists use to refer to anything that isn’t the direct result of a DNA sequence. Almost everyone agrees that autism is caused by a combination of genetics and the environment. But while geneticists can comfortably rattle off lists of dozens of autism-linked genes, there’s much less agreement about which environmental factors contribute to the disorder — and by how much.

 Read more here. 


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Wendy Chung: Autism what we know (and what we don't know yet)

In this calm and factual talk, geneticist Wendy Chung shares what we know about autism spectrum disorder — for example, that autism has multiple, perhaps interlocking, causes. Looking beyond the worry and concern that can surround a diagnosis, Chung and her team look at what we've learned through studies, treatments and careful listening.

 You can view this TED talk here.


TEACCH Fidelity Measure

View the form here. 


Saturday, October 31, 2015

OPI Now Has Behavioral Consultants

The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) wishes to announce the availability of Behavioral Consultants for districts needing help in developing functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavioral intervention plans (BIP) for individual special education students. If you are in need of a consultant, please contact Dale Kimmet via e-mail ( The e-mail must contain the following:

A short description of the student and the problem behaviors.

Student demographic information (initials, gender, school building) so that the OPI can find student information in the AIM system to provide to the consultant. If the district cannot provide AIM access to the OPI, it will be the districtӳ responsibility to provide the consultant with the student s information.

The district will be required to provide the consultant with data on the problem behavior(s) prior to the first visit. The consultant will assist the district in developing the FBA and BIP, but will not write the FBA/BIP for the district. The consultant is approved for one on-site visit after implementation of the interventions only if, prior to the visit, the consultant has been provided with a minimum of two weeks documentation of the data collected as stipulated in the BIP.

Dale Kimmet
Compliance Monitoring Unit Manager
Office of Public Instruction
Division of Special Education


Sex/Gender n Autism - A Special Report

Read the special reports here. 


Asperger's syndrome explained for children - by Arthur

Full episode (12 minutes) Carl has Asperger syndrom and George is very worried. He found a puzzle piece that belongs to Carl.


Increasing the Mand Repertoire of Children With Autism

You can read the journal article here. 


Holding an event for people with autism? Here's what you need to know

Here are a few tips on how you can get better results if you host a similar event. Don’t worry about introductions Going around a room asking everyone to say their name and a little bit about themselves can be hard for anyone, but for someone with autism it can put them on the spot right away. Even if they indicate they don’t want to join in they still have to speak up, and they might not be ready to do so at that point. It also builds anxiety, as they are waiting for it to be their turn. It’s OK to just get on with the event and let people say who they are if and when they speak up.

 Read more here. 


Visual task uncovers weak brakes in autism brain

Many individuals with autism are highly sensitive to sights, sounds and other sensory stimulation. One theory posits that this sensitivity may arise from a lack of inhibitory brain activity. To test this idea, researchers gave people with autism a binocular rivalry task, in which the researchers present different images — say, a piece of broccoli and a globe — separately to the right and the left eye of the individual. Although the two images appear simultaneously, people see them one at a time, alternating between the eyes. People who have autism switch between the right- and left-eye images more slowly than other people do, and they are more likely to report seeing a merged version of the two pictures1. Reduced inhibitory function in the brain could even explain some cognitive problems in autism, Robertson says. In particular, it could underlie deficits among people with autism in theory of mind, in which individuals have to suppress their own thoughts to understand what someone else may be thinking.

 Read more here. 


Genetic variation explains why potential autism treatment doesn'talways work

A newly identified genetic variation may explain why a promising autism treatment therapy — oxytocin nasal spray — doesn’t work for everyone. In research published today in Translational Psychiatry, scientists from the University of British Columbia and the University of Freiburg pinpointed a genetic variant that is associated with sensitivity to oxytocin. Often dubbed the "love hormone," oxytocin has been shown in previous studies to boost people’s social abilities when administered in a nasal spray, but the results have been inconsistent. To find out why, the scientists tested 203 college-aged men on an emotion-recognition task, giving each of them a placebo and oxytocin nasal spray in separate testing sessions. "We found a genetic marker that predicted how much people responded to the spray," said lead author Frances Chen, assistant professor of psychology at UBC. "Some people responded by becoming significantly faster at detecting emotions. Other people didn’t really react, and some people actually responded by getting a little bit slower."

Read more here. 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Probing the mysterious perceptual world of autism

The perceptual world of a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is unique. Beginning in infancy, people who have ASD observe and interpret images and social cues differently than others. Caltech researchers now have new insight into just how this occurs, research that eventually may help doctors diagnose, and more effectively treat, the various forms of the disorder. The work is detailed in a study published in the October 22 issue of the journal Neuron. The new study investigated how visual input is interpreted in the brain of someone with ASD. In particular, it examined the validity of long-standing assumptions about the condition, including the belief that those with ASD often miss facial cues, contributing to their inability to respond appropriately in social situations. "Among other findings, our work shows that the story is not as simple as saying 'people with ASD don't look normally at faces.' They don't look at most things in a typical way," says Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and professor of biology, in whose lab the study was done. Indeed, the researchers found that people with ASD attend more to nonsocial images, to simple edges and patterns in those images, than to the faces of people.

 Read more here. 


App - Video Scheduler

Welcome to Video Scheduler! "Scheduler" is optimized for all Apple iOS devices and allows for the easy construction of picture and video schedules. Users can also organize video modeling content (and turn off schedule functions such as "done" by turning this mode "on"). After creating, share your schedules/modeling for FREE with other users. Scheduler offers a variety of features in an easy to use interface allowing maximum customization. These features include various orientation locks, which prevent students from engaging in stimulatory behaviors with the video. Users can also select from three video and picture sizes. There’s also a pass code function, which can be applied to prevent users from skipping around to preferred aspects of their schedule.

 See more here. 


This for That: Visual Schedules

Description Help your child perform daily routines independently with This for That: Visual Schedules, developed by PixelAtion Labs! Visual schedules are great assistive tools for children with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities who need help with adaptive and task completion skills. Visual schedules break tasks down into simple steps and use visual cues to help the child succeed! Easily create your own custom visual schedules with This for That and have access to your library of schedules on your iPhone or iPad. This for That is the only visual schedules app that integrates reinforcement to motivate the child to complete the task. This for That gives you the option to include a picture of the reward the child is working toward and shows the child’s progress as they complete each step. This for That was designed for children with autism but is a useful tool for any child who needs help completing tasks independently at home, school, or in the community. This for That features are centered on simplicity and ease of use. With This for That: Visual Schedules, you can: - Create unlimited visual schedules - Add custom steps that walk the child through a task - Upload pictures by either taking them in the app or selecting them from your photo gallery - Save schedules to use regularly - Include a picture of the reward the child is working toward - View progress as each step is marked complete - Edit and delete schedules as needed

 Read more here. 


Sesame Street Introduces Character with Autism

See more of the resources here. 


Monday, October 19, 2015

Children With Autism Have Underdeveloped 'Social Brain'

Scientists discovered that parts of the brain linked to social behavior in children with autism are not as fully developed and networked as in normal brains. According to a study published in Brain and Behavior, children affected with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have their brains structured differently from other children, which influences their behavior and how they interact with others. To determine if patients with high-functioning ASD might have a physiologic anomaly in the "social" part of their brains, the team conducted a study on 17 children and young adults with ASD. They then compared the participants' data against 22 youths without ASD. They used magnetic resonance imaging scans to track cerebral blood flow that indicates the measure of energy use in the brain and examined neural networks to test their functional connectivity. The researchers found that there was a widespread increase of blood flow in the frontal areas of the brain of children and youths with ASD, compared to biologically normal brains that have a generally reduced blood flow to the area. The frontal areas of the brain are responsible for understanding social cues and interacting with others. An anomaly in the blood flow to this area implied that socio-emotional cognition development in children with ASD is stunted.

 Read more here. 


Monday, October 12, 2015

Meds, Parent Coaching Quell Hyperactivity in Autism

A drug called atomoxetine eases hyperactivity in children who have both autism and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A parent-led therapy also improves symptoms, although to a lesser extent than either the drug alone or a combination of the two.

The standard treatment for children who have both disorders is the use of stimulants, which often either do not work or cause intolerable side effects. The new approaches point to more palatable alternatives, said lead investigator Benjamin Handen, PhD, professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.

About one-third of children with autism also have ADHD. Stimulants such as methylphenidate (commonly marketed as Ritalin) work well in children who have ADHD alone, but tend to be less effective in children who have both disorders. They are also more likely to cause insomnia and a loss of appetite in those with autism than in those with ADHD alone.

Read more here.\


Why It's So Difficult to Diagnose Autism in Girls

Consistently recognizing autism in girls can be challenging, however. This is not only because girls with autism are as diverse as any other group of individuals with the disorder, but also because most autism screening and diagnostic tools were developed based primarily on observations of behaviors in boys.

As a result, we may still be missing girls whose symptoms do not match the prototypical boy presentation. These challenges in recognition may also help to explain why many parents say clinicians initially dismiss their concerns about autism in their daughters.

Some researchers theorize that girls are better than boys at camouflaging their symptoms, particularly during highly structured interactions such as a clinic visit. For instance, a colleague of mine described girls with autism as "caricatures" in social interactions. These girls may be motivated to interact, but their behaviors seem exaggerated.

Read more here. 


Training for Paraprofessionals - Havre - October 2015

Respectful, well-behaved students increase the time and opportunity for teaching and learning. This workshop will focus on a medley of simple behavioral practices which can be used by individual adults to make a huge difference in creating this climate. If these behavioral structures are used consistently within and across small group, class- room and school wide settings-and combined with effective instructional strategies (the focus of the afternoon session)-powerful learning environments can be established.Powerful Teaching: Dynamic and Effective Instructional Strategies Create classrooms and small group settings that maximize student learning using effec- tive instruction and planning. Powerful instructional teaching strategies can be used effectively for all ages. (Preschool to adult) These strategies, when combined with effective behavior man- agement (Behavior Management: Do’s and Don’ts) create a positive and powerful learning en- vironment for all students.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Discover Inclusive Physical Education

A Guidebook for Educators The goal of inclusive physical education is not only to abide by the law, but also to provide and promote a successful learning environment that fosters a lifetime of healthy habits and sports participation for students with and without disability. Our goal is to provide you with a "playbook" to help you create such an environment for all of your students, regardless of ability level, by providing appropriate assessment tools, games, and inclusion strategies to help you improve your teaching methods and implementation processes. As with all good playbooks, this one provides the key elements for a winning performance as it provides clarity of laws, knowledge on specific disabilities, assessment tools, and sample classes and activities. We also hope that you will find practical solutions for everyday activities.

 Download this Guidebook 

 View Guidebook Online



Adolescence is a difficult period in any person's life. It is a time of great physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Adolescents must learn to deal with an ever increasing complexity of social experiences. Transitioning into adulthood can be intimidating; however, there are resources to help families, professionals, and the individual with ASD navigate the transition successfully!

 View the resources here. 


Friday, September 25, 2015

ADHD symptoms may mask autism in young kids

Symptoms attributed to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may overshadow or mask autism spectrum disorder in very young children, a new study reveals.

This can create a significant delay in the diagnosis of autism. It took an average of three years longer to diagnose autism in children initially thought to have just ADHD, the researchers said.

That delay can make a big difference in the future of the child, said study author Dr. Amir Miodovnik, a developmental pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital.

"It's been shown the earlier that you implement these therapies for autism, the better children do in terms of outcomes," Miodovnik said. "Three years is a significant amount of time for the kids to not be receiving therapy."

Read more here. 


What Causes Autism? Half Of Autism Cases Likely Caused By SpontaneousGenetic Mutations, Not Vaccines

Working off the theory that roughly half of autism cases are caused by a chance combination of genetic mutations, their new

study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found more evidence for the genetics argument.

For their study, the researchers looked at how "de novo likely gene-disruptive mutations (LGDs)" ・mutations that develop at the beginning of a child痴 life ・occurred in genes deemed "vulnerable" and how they played a role in ASD development. They also looked at whether these gene-disruptions transferred between generations.

Iossifov explained that when these genetic mutations occur in a child, and give way to ASD, they often do not get passed on to another generation. According to Iossifovç—´ research, many diagnosed with severe autism will not reproduce, and therefore their genetic material is less likely to evolve and mutate.

With this information in mind, researchers were better able to understand which genes with LGDs could be categorized as "autism genes." Starting with 500 likely genes, researchers were able to narrow down the list to 200 of the most likely genes related to autism.

In addition to discovering which genes were likely involved, the researchers also looked into how parents could potentially carry these LGDs and pass them on to their children without their health being affected. For the study, researchers looked at families through the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC) database. They found that in families with autistic children, parents could be carriers of the LGD mutations, and that these mutations were seen more frequently in their children with ASD rather than their children without the disorder. Along with this, they also found that mothers were most likely to carry the genetic mutations.This finding gives further credence to the theory that LGDs play a role in autism.

Read more here. 


Maternal Lupus Linked With Kid's Autism

Children born to mothers with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have more than double the risk of being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, Canadian researchers reported. Among children whose mothers had lupus, 1.4% were given a diagnosis of autism compared with 0.6% of control children, according to Sasha Bernatsky, MD, PhD, of McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues. Read more here. 


Friday, September 18, 2015

Workshop - 75 Quick On the Spot Techniques for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Problems, Glendive and Billings November 2015

November 4th - Glendive

November 5th - Billings

The Montana Autism Education Project is delighted to bring Dr. Steve Olivas back to Montana. He has presented before at the Montana CEC Conference and MBI conference to rave reviews.


Utilize 75 effective, proven techniques for individually treating children with behavior problems.
    • Identify simple, teachable tools and strategies specific for parents and teachers.
    • List different medication categories and explain potential effects and side-effects.
    • Explain differential diagnostics regarding acting-out disorders such as anxiety, ADHD, bipolarity, oppositional defiance, conduct disorder and depression.
    • Develop skills for building a therapeutic relationship with difficult children and teens.
    • Describe a spectrum of interventions representing many major theoretical orientations.

      This workshop is not just for educators of students with autism spectrum disorder but is for anyone who works with children.

This workshop is free from the Montana Office of Public Instruction


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Life After Autism - A small percentage of children diagnosed withautism lose the core symptoms and their diagnosis.

Most children with autism will forever have the disorder. But a handful of studies in the past three years indicate that for reasons no one understands, a minority of children, like Alex, shed the core symptoms necessary for an autism diagnosis. Shulman, who runs a large clinical autism program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, says most of these children face residual learning or emotional problems. "We still consider these kids as having had a wonderful outcome," she says. "But they don’t get off scot-free." Only "the minority of the minority" breeze through each new challenge life brings them—the book reports in elementary school, the social minefields in middle school, the expectations for independence in later adolescence and adulthood.

 Read more here.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

TEACCH Training in Bozeman October 2015

Bozeman, October 19-21, 2015 TEACCH training is returning to Montana.

This three-day workshop introduces participants to Structured TEACCHing methods for preschool through high-school students that have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Participants will learn how ASD affects the learning style and behavior of students, and how to develop educational strategies and visual supports. Participants will have opportunities to practice using these methods during the training using scenarios. The training is limited to 50 people and travel assistance is available to those traveling more than 60 miles to attend the training. For more information and to request to attend the training please go here. Applicants will be notified by October 3rd if they have been chosen to attend the training. *This is the same TEACCH training that has been in Billings and Missoula.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Webinars - Interactive Autism Network



Women On The Spectrum

A number of links and discussion about women with ASD. 


Friday, September 4, 2015

Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview for Educators

This is a great video introduction series to autism for regular education teachers and anyone else. (Pssst - skip the "Initial Thoughts" section. It asks teachers to answer two questions, then the next section provides very thorough answers to those same questions.) .

See video introduction series here:


National Autism Association's Big Red Safety Teacher Toolkit

The National Autism Association’s Big Red Safety Teacher Toolkit® is a free-of-charge safety toolkit for educators in need of wandering-prevention tools. Please review all of the information below before submitting your application. To apply for an NAA Big Red Safety Teacher Toolkit®, you must: Be a school administrator, teacher or aide working with individuals with an autism diagnosis. Be employed at a school within the U.S. and provide the school address for shipping. Agree to the terms and conditions stated in the application. Apply only once. Multiple requests cannot be processed, limit one box per school. NAA’s Big Red Safety Teacher Toolkit® includes: Printed educational materials and tools in our BeREDy booklet for teachers Four (4) Door/Window Alarms including batteries Five (5) Laminated Adhesive Stop Sign Visual Prompts for doors and windows

Apply here. 


ASPIRE Montana

Becoming an adult, taking care of yourself, working and being independent! That’s everyone’s dream. For youth with disabilities and their families, this dream may take more effort than a youth who doesn’t live with a disability. The ASPIRE Montana is trying to make a difference in the lives of youth with disabilities. As part of the larger Department of Education PROMISE Initiative, Montana has joined with five other western states to learn how to improve the future for youth with disabilities. Youth ages 14 to 16 who receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are eligible to participate in this research study. Once enrolled, youth are randomly assigned to one of two groups. Half of the youth will receive information about existing services in their communities and state. The other half will receive additional services and supports, such as understanding benefits, parent education, financial literacy, self-determination training and case management. In the future the two groups will be compared to find out if there is a difference in educational attainment, employment and household income. The ASPIRE Montana is recruiting youth now. As part of a larger consortium, Montana will only enroll 130 youth and provide services to 65. To learn more, check out Watch a short video  or contact ASPIRE Montana at (844) 442-3167. Enroll soon before all slots are filled!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Archived Webinar - Beyond Behavior: Creating a Culture for Data-DrivenBehavioral Interventions

Using data to make better decisions about student behavior is a cultural and environmental shift impacting special educators, administrators, and counselors alike. While we continue to observe and document cases related to behavior problems, there is a heightened need for easier and more reliable ways to determine the effectiveness of behavioral interventions.

Now we can clearly define what influences a child's maladaptive behavior and apply the most appropriate methods. During this webinar, we'll explore a range of practical data-driven solutions that will transform your schools into more positive settings for teaching and learning.

View the recording here. 

MSHA Workshop - The Social Academic Connection-Story Based Interventionfor Social Communication and Social Learning Challenges

October 15-17, 2015 The Crowne Plaza 27 North 27th Street Billings, MT 59101 This highly interactive professional development workshop will focus on Story-Based (or Narrative) Intervention, which is needed when students experience difficulties using language to think, communicate and learn. Narrative intervention is important to all students for developing communicative competence, but especially early learners and those with Autism as well as those who may have social communication, developmental or learning challenges. Through the use of narrative development and children’s literature, educators can help children to: tell their "story," take perspective, develop Theory of Mind, become critical thinkers, build Central Coherence, solve problems, initiate conversation to establish relationships, recognize feelings through verbal and nonverbal cues, infer, make plans and improve writing with cohesion. The multisensory tool, Story Grammar Marker® which provides a concrete representation of the narrative episode will be discussed. This methodology provides motivation in the learning process while both the research-based narrative developmental sequence and data collection process assure an ongoing way to measure progress. The presenter will present using multiple modes; lecture, small and large group activities, videos, children’s literature, and handouts.

    Find more information here.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Webinar - Let's Write a Story: Tools for Creating Social Stories

Date: Thursday, October 01, 2015 Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm Social stories help learners understand the world and prepare for the unexpected. Workshop participants will learn about a variety of tools that can be used to create a social story.
 See here. 


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Girls & women with autism particularly prone to epilepsy.

A new study adds a twist to the pronounced ways that autism affects girls and boys differently. While boys are four times more likely to develop autism, when girls do, they’re more likely to also have seizures that don’t respond to epilepsy medications.

 Read more here. 


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner


August 5 and 6, 2015

8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn Downtown – 200 South Pattee StreetCost: FREE! This workshop is brought to you by the Montana Autism Education Project of the Montana Office of Public Instruction

Social Thinking is what we do when we interact with people: we think about them. And how we think about people affects how we behave, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions. Because social thinking is an intuitive process, we usually take it for granted. But for many individuals, this process is anything but natural. A treatment framework and curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner targets improving individual social thinking abilities, regardless of diagnostic label.
Day 1
Informal Dynamic Social Thinking Assessment & Core Treatment Strategies for Home & School – This workshop is designed to help parents and professionals better understand the inner minds of individuals with social learning challenges

Day 2
Implementing Social Thinking Concepts and Vocabulary into the School and Home Day – Michelle will define many Social Thinking concepts and explain how to apply Social Thinking Vocabulary (STV) across the school and home day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gazette Opinion: Making autism services a sure thing for Montana kids

With neither fanfare nor partisan fighting, the 2015 Legislature authorized the state to add services for children with autism to the Medicaid program. Gov. Steve Bullock proposed that change to allow all Medicaid-eligible children to get what they need. Life-changing lottery No longer will Montana children have to win a lottery to get the services that teach them to talk, to understand language, to interact socially and to develop other skills that are so difficult for children with autism. In 2009, Montana started a limited Medicaid program for such children, providing 55 slots statewide. The lucky kids who get those slots are eligible to receive intensive services for up to three years. Independent researchers found that among children who completed the program: 65 percent were able to go into regular public school classrooms; they no longer needed special education. 80 percent were verbal, up from 42 percent at the start of services. In 2013, the estimated lifetime cost of one individual with autism spectrum disorder was $3.2 million. Each child who was enabled to function well in a regular classroom represents millions of dollars in future savings with good prospects for living independently as adults. That’s the payoff from a Medicaid investment of $45,000 per year in preschool services. With the assistance of a 30-member advisory committee of parents and providers, the state Department of Public Health and Human Services is putting together a children’s autism plan. Novelene Martin, Developmental Disabilities Bureau chief, hopes the plan will be submitted to federal Medicaid administrators by Jan. 1, and that they will OK the program early in 2016.

 Read more: 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Autism not on the rise -- correct diagnoses are

A study looking at autism prevalence in Sweden over a ten-year period has concluded that although clinical diagnoses have risen, cases have in fact remained stable. It puts the increase down to "administrative changes" that have impacted how those on the spectrum are diagnosed and registered. "From the 1970s and onwards the reported prevalence of autism spectrum disorder has increased substantially," write the study authors. "The condition was considered rare, affecting fewer than 0.05 percent of the population, but it is now generally agreed that the lifetime prevalence is at least 1 percent in both young people and adults." In some parts of the world, that figure is even higher. The authors continue: "Despite the increase in reported prevalence of autism spectrum disorder, there is no direct evidence that this corresponds to an increase in the prevalence of the autism phenotype -- that is, the symptoms on which the diagnostic criteria are based."

 Read more here. 


Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human. A good read. FInd it wherever books are sold, downloaded or listened to.
Link here:


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Archived Webinar - Effective Approaches for Older Students with Autismand Attention Disorders

Change agents — leaders in special education– are transforming ways to help older students cope with ASD, attention deficits and related problem behavior that interferes with learning. What does the latest brain research suggest about how we can individualize services, help these students pay closer attention to oral instruction, develop self-regulation skills, complete assignments on time and meet their educational goals? Get insights and practical advice about results-oriented practices for educating middle and high school students who have been diagnosed with these disorders.

 Watch the webinar here. 


Monday, May 11, 2015

Community Based Functional Skills Assessment

The challenges associated with the transition from school services to adulthood for individuals with autism are well documented. Every individual with autism is different and as a result, there is no "one size fits all" plan for the path to adulthood. The most important factor in creating a plan is to focus on the individual. His or her strengths, needs, challenges and preferences will play a critical role in ensuring a successful transition process.

The CSA, developed through a contract with Virginia Commonwealth University's Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, was designed to help parents and professionals assess the current skill levels and abilities of individuals with autism beginning at age 12 and continuing into adulthood in order to develop a comprehensive plan. The CSA is the first tool to assess needs in the area of community-based living, from transportation to financial management to peer relationships and more.

The tool is divided into three levels based upon the age of the individual being assessed. Eight critical areas of functional life skills will be assessed: Career path and employment Self-determination/advocacy Health and safety Peer relationships, socialization and social communication Community participation and personal finance Transportation Leisure/recreation Home living skills

The assessment uses both a criterion-based observation and interview-based process to measure the individual's knowledge, skills and behaviors.

Click here to read the introduction and learn more about the CSA.


7 Steps to Take A Stand Against Bullying

In 2012, Autism Speaks partnered with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Ability Path and the PACER Center's National Bullying Prevention Center to create a movement toward a bully free world through our BULLY Project. Together with our partners, we released a Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit full of resources and information specifically tailored to parents, educators, and students dealing with bullying and children with special needs.
Based on this Toolkit, we have put together seven steps that you can take to help take a stand against bullying. The Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit contains a number of additional tips and resources to accomplish each of these steps. The links are included with each step.

1. Start the Conversation

Because individuals with autism may not realize that they are being bullied or may be unable to communicate what is happening at school or in the community, the first step is to get the conversation started so they understand what bullying means and why it is not okay. Teach your child or your student to know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate treatment from classmates. Make sure your child feels comfortable telling you when he or she feels bullying may be happening. Encourage him or her to talk to you about his or her feelings at school. Be supportive.
The Anti-Bullying Toolkit contains sections for parents as well as educators on how to talk to your child about bullying. Resources to help your child understand bullying roles can be found here.

2. Develop a Plan

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Girls Get Autism Diagnosis Later Than Boys

On Tuesday, Dr. Paul Lipkin, director of medical informatics at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, presented new findings on nearly 10,000 children with autism, using data from the Interactive Autism Network registry. On average, boys were diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, at about 7.1 years old, while girls were diagnosed at 7.6 years. Digging deeper, the researchers also compared types of symptoms for about 5,100 of these children. Girls were more likely to have problems with social cognition -- the ability to recognize and interpret social cues, says Lipkin, the director of IAN. What other kids learn by experience doesn't come as naturally to them. Boys were more likely to exhibit obvious mannerisms, such as hand flapping and other repetitive behaviors, and to have narrowly restricted interests. Autism is much more common in boys. In the IAN registry, the ratio of enrolled boys to girls was about 4.5 to 1. The gender gap only held for higher-functioning children, with a slightly narrower gap for pervasive developmental disorder, a moderate diagnosis on the autism spectrum. However, "in those with frank autistic disorder, there was no difference in age of diagnosis" Lipkin says. "Those children's problems are quite overt and easily recognizable, even to the general public. So when girls are having those severe problems, they probably aren't looking much different than the boys." The new findings come as no surprise to clinical psychologist Shana Nichols, owner of the Aspire Center for Learning and Development in Melville, New York. Nichols says many girls arrive at the Center between ages 10 and 12. Until then, they've been able to get by with their peers. But even earlier, she says, "parents often say they've noticed their daughters aren't quite as attuned to the social nuances -- although they're good at faking it." By sharing common activities and nodding and smiling during conversations, girls with autism may look like they're participating well, Nichols says. But in reality, she continues, there's "a more surface-level, almost an intellectual understanding of the social interaction." Amy Keefer, a clinical psychologist with Kennedy Krieger's Center for Autism and Related Disorders, starts seeing patients around age 8. With autism, she says, "boys' interests tend to stand out more." For example, boys may have a deep fascination with city sewer systems, while girls may be really into the movie "Frozen." Intense focus on their area of interest is what sets girls with autism apart, Nichols says. Being a girl who "really, really loves horses" is not the same as "being a girl who really loves horses and also knows a million different facts about all the different breeds, and that becomes an exclusive interest." Keefer says when kids with autism play with others, it's different. "Maybe the girl tells her friends what to do," she says. "It has to fit her rules and be exactly her way."

 Read more here. 


How Sex of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Access toTreatment Services Relates to Parental Stress

This study examined the relationship between parental stress and access to services in families of children with ASD, as well as how this relationship differed by the sex of the child. Parents of girls in our sample rated parental distress and parent-child dysfunctional interaction significantly higher than parents of boys.

 Read more here. 


Inclusive Curriculum May Not Help Disabled Kindergartners Make Friends

Inclusive classrooms that use disability awareness curricula do not necessarily help children with disabilities make new friendships, according to a new study published in the journal Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. The findings also showed that having at least one best friend helps children with numerous problem behaviors and low social skills gain peer acceptance. Inclusive classrooms are defined as those that integrate children with special needs into a mainstream classroom. “We found that inclusion in and of itself does not equate to increased acceptance, classroom membership, or peer relationships. This research emphasizes the importance of individualizing class-wide programs based on children’s support needs.”

 Read more here.


Friday, April 24, 2015

National Standards Project, Phase 2 - Evidence Based Practices

 The National Autism Center has chosen World Autism Awareness Day – April 2, 2015 – to release its new review and analysis of interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) based on research conducted in the field from 2007 to 2012. The new publication provides an update to the summary of empirical intervention literature (published in the National Standards Report in 2009) and includes studies evaluating interventions for adults (22+), which have never been systematically evaluated before now. This project is designed to give educators, parents, practitioners, and organizations the information and resources they need to make informed choices about effective interventions that will offer children and adults on the spectrum the greatest hope for their future.

Download the free report now!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Training - 12 Habits of Practitioners Who are Effective at Working withStudents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Wolf Point - May 13

Miles City - May 14

This training is a free workshop provided by the Montana Office of Public Instruction.


Another study finds no link between MMR vaccine and autism

The vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella doesn't bring an increased risk of autism, according to a new study of more than 95,000 children. The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the latest piece of research to debunk the myth associating the MMR vaccine with autism. Vaccine-autism connection debunked again Using a claims database from a large commercial health plan, the researchers paid particular attention to children who had older siblings with autism, or ASD, which puts them at a higher genetic risk of developing autism. "We found that there was no harmful association between the receipt of the MMR vaccine and the development of an autism spectrum disorder," said Anjali Jain, a pediatrician at the Lewin Group, a health care consulting firm in Virginia, who worked on the study. 'No evidence' of link The team of researchers examined the records of 95,727 children in an 11-year window. They studied the risk of developing autism in children who received the MMR vaccine compared with those who didn't. For children with older siblings diagnosed with autism, the study's authors said they "found no evidence that receipt of either 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of ASD."

See more here:


Friday, April 17, 2015

Zones of Regulation April 2015

The Zones is a systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones. The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.

The Zones of Regulation incorporates Social Thinking® concepts and numerous visuals to teach students to identify their feelings/level of alertness, understand how their behavior impacts those around them, and learn what tools they can use to manage their feelings and states. (Leah Kuypers has practiced as an OT/autism specialist in school and clinical settings, specializing in self-regulation and social learning, and has worked with students of all ages and challenges, including anxiety, ADHD, and ASD. Leah created The Zones of Regulation®, a concept designed to teach self-regulation, and is author of the book and app by the same name.)
Who Should Attend: Speech & Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Regular And Special Education Teachers, Guidance Counselors, Case Managers, Specialists, Social Workers, Psychologists, School Administrators, Educational Paraprofessionals, Behavior Therapists, Parents

This free workshop is funded by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project.
April 15 - Havre
April 16 - Great Falls
April 17 - Missoula

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shrinking pupils may mirror autism risk in babies

It’s been six years since researchers reported the eye-opening discovery that the pupils of children with autism constrict unusually slowly in response to light. The finding raised the intriguing possibility that eyes could act as a window into autism risk, or a biomarker for the disorder. A new study published 3 March in Molecular Autism nudges this possibility closer to reality. It reports that infants who have a sibling with autism — and therefore a 20-fold increased riskfor the disorder themselves — have an altered pupil reflex. But here’s the rub: Unlike the slow pupil reflex seen in children with autism, the reflex in these so-called ‘baby sibs’  is unusually fast.

 Read more here. 


Gestational diabetes increases autism risk

Children are slightly more likely to develop autism if their mothers were diagnosed with diabetes early in pregnancy, a new study shows. Women newly diagnosed with diabetes by the 26th week of pregnancy were 42% more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism, according to the study of more than 322,000 children born between 1995 and 2009. Overall, about 1% of all children in the study were diagnosed with autism by a median age of age 5½. Having gestational diabetes, the kind diagnosed during pregnancy, increased the chance of having a child with autism to 1.4%. Researchers found no increase in autism risk if mothers were diagnosed with diabetes after 26 weeks of pregnancy. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.

 Read more here. 


Archived Webinar - Teaching Social Skills to Reduce Challenging Behavior

Challenging behavior in the classroom is one of the most highly discussed topics in public education. Teachers frequently report that disruptive behavior is their greatest concern and has a significant impact on their job satisfaction. This session will focus on what teachers do best - facilitate student learning and teach students new skills. Direct instruction in social skills promotes skill development in pro-social behaviors and reduces challenging behavior. When students have social skills in their repertoire they don't have to rely on challenging behavior.

 Watch the webinar here. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

An Online Course - Evidence Based Practices for Autism


 More information can be found here.


7 Things Every Kid with Autism Wishes You Knew

Every kid is different. So is every individual with autism. But if you’re looking to connect with a child living with autism, Ellen Notbohm, author of Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew, and the mother of an autistic son, says keeping these things in mind can help. My senses don’t work like yours. For a child living with autism, the sensory impressions of daily life—noises from machines, , the flickering of fluorescent lights, cooking smells— “can be downright painful,” Nothbohm writes. Remember, a world that seems unremarkable to you may be overwhelming to them. I’m a concrete thinker. “Idioms, puns, nuances, inferences, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are lost” on children with autism, Nothbohm writes. Instead, communicate with literal language. Read more here.


YETI (Youth Engagement Through Intervention) Social Skills Camp

YETI (Youth Engagement Through Intervention) Social Skills Camp University of Montana RiteCare Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic YETI Explorers Camp June 15-19th, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm (sack lunch required) YETI Arts Camp June 22-26, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm (sack lunch required) YETI Camp is for school age children (2nd through 7th grade) who have social skill challenges secondary to a diagnosis of autism or related disorders. YETI provides social skills intervention (speech/language therapy) in a fun and safe environment with a 1:1 ratio of adults to children. Typically developing peers attend and evidence based practices are employed throughout the Camp experience. The cost is $265/camp or insurance may be billed (prescription required). Interested parties should To secure your spot, a non-refundable $25 fee is required for one camp, $40 for both camps. Please call 243-2405 to request your registration packet.


Missoula - REACH MORE: Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation

Play has crucial and wide-ranging benefits to children and the people around them. When children of all abilities play together, kids learn to appreciate the differences between people and respect the perspective of others. Playing together connects our community and creates fun, happy memories we call all share. These programs are designed to allow people with and without disabilities to recreate together. See more here. REACH MORE Summer Camp Our newest camp is perfect for kids looking to explore a variety of outdoor activities. Low participant-to-staff ratios, specialized equipment and activities make this a perfect summer camp for youth of all abilities. We will explore a wide range of activities from ropes courses to team sports, floating the river to arts and crafts. Give your child a well-rounded and fun camp experience. Time: 12 - 4:30pmFee: $110/$95 with CityCardMeet at: McCormick ParkAges: 5 - 21 Dates June 15 - 19 June 22 - 26 June 29 - July 3 July 6 - 10 July 13 - 17 July 20 - 24 July 27 - 31 August 3 - 7 August 10 - 14 August 17 - 21 Adaptive Recreation for Adults McClay Flats TourWednesday, May 13, 5:30 - 7pmCelebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA with a nature tour through this beautiful wheelchair-accessible trail. We will wind our way through this area rich in riparian vegetation, river ecology, and bountiful wildlife with representatives of the Montana Wilderness Association. A snack will be provided. This event is free. Meet at McClay Flats. To get to McClay Flats, head south toward Lolo on Highway 93. Turn right on Blue Mountain Road at the light. Follow the road until your able to take your first right. You'll pull into a large parking lot. We'll meet here. Fishing ClinicsWednesdays, June 24 and July 8, 5-7pmLand a huge trout in Silver's Lagoon in McCormick Park. The lagoon is ADA accessible, making it the perfect place to cast your line. Parks and Recreation and MONTECH will provide equipment, instruction, and bait. Meet at McCormick Park. Hand Cycle RidesWednesdays, 5-7pm. Dates below.Join us for group hand cycle rides on Wednesdays. Staff trained in adaptive sports will help instruct, lead the rides, and give clinics on techniques and use of the bikes. If you don't have a cycle, no problem. Register early and we'll reserve one for you. No experience necessary for these family-friendly bike rides. Meets at McCormick Park. Fee is $5 per session. Dates: June 17, June 24, July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29Look for future dates set for off-road hand cycling clinics on Blue Mountain and in the Bitterroots. Paddle PracticeFridays, 5-7pm. Dates below.Learn basic paddle strokes and the different types of paddle crafts on different flat-water areas around Missoula. Equipment provided. Fee is $7 per session. Locations TBA.Dates: June 26, July 10, August 14

Learn more here:


10 autism myths debunked

Myth #2: People with autism are violent - People with autism do not typically act violently and pose no more danger to society than people who do not have autism. Myth #3: Autism is fairly new - The first recorded account of a child now believed to have been on the autism spectrum was written back in 1799. In 1943, a scientist by the name of Leo Kanner described autism as a distinct condition. Before the 1960s, many children with autism were excluded from schools, having been deemed incapable of learning. Myth #4: Individuals with autism are cold and unfeeling - Individuals on the autism often feel more empathy than others, but are unable to express their feelings in a manner that is easily recognizable to those around them.

 Read more here.


Canines benefit autistic kids in Butte area

Levi Balentine has already bonded with Bridger, a service dog who helps him cope with his autism. Levi is the first autistic child in Montana to receive such a specialist dog. K9 Care Montana, Inc., of Philipsburg is training Bridger and other dogs to help at least two Butte families. While Bridger has yet to join Levi and his mother Misty Balentine at home full-time or at school, the chocolate lab knows what spaces bother Levi so he can soothe his fears. He gives Levi and his family a confidence boost. “He’s trained to recognize my son’s triggers,” said Misty. “Levi hates elevators, airplanes, school buses, and he’s not fond of the gym at school.” Think of Bridger as an older brother. In dog years, he is 14. Levi is 8 and a second grader at Ramsay School. “Bridger definitely has a huge calming effect,” Misty said. “Levi is a little more willing to do more if he’s with him.” Levi did not talk until he was 5 years old. Now mainstreamed in the regular classroom most of the day, he anxiously awaits when Bridger can come home for good. After completing his training with K9 Care Montana, the dog returns to the Balentine residence to open arms this summer.

 Read more here.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Webinar - Assuring Comprehensive Care and Development for Children withASD/DD

As part of its Autism Awareness Month activities, SPHARC hosted a webinar that highlighted programs to improve ASD/DD screening, early identification and evaluation services. Presentations included lessons learned from the Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) Initiative and Oregon's state implementation grant project - ACCESS: Assuring Comprehensive Care through Enhanced Service Systems for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other Developmental Disabilities. Click on the links below to access materials from the webinar. Developmental screening, referral and linkage to services: Lessons from ABCD [Slides]Jill Rosenthal, Senior Program Director, National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) Community-Based Autism Identification: Oregon's ACCESS Project [Slides]Robert Nickel, MD, Medical Consultant, Oregon Center for Children & Youth with Special Health Care Needs .
Related Resources:

See webinar here:


Friends of Autism Great Falls - web page with resources

You can find the page here. 


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Curriculum in a Box - Resources for Training Educators

Curriculum in a Box Overview

The Curriculum in a Box includes the following resources to help support teacher training and professional development:

Format Type Title

Supplementary Training Manual
Understanding Autism: A Guide for Secondary School Teachers

Life Journey Through Autism: An Educator's Guide to Autism **Available on backorder**

Life Journey Through Autism: An Educator's Guide to Asperger

Detailed information about the contents of the Curriculum in a Box can be found here. To navigate directly to a specific tool, use the links above.