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. 


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Archived Webinar - Creating Inclusive Educational Environments through SocialLiteracy

Over the last year, Social Emotional Learning has gained steam as a valuable component of student learning for both special and general education students. In addition to the many social and academic benefits of SEL, it can also be a valuable means of creating more inclusive educational environments, which benefit students with and without disabilities.

In this webinar, we will discuss "Social Literacy" as a strategy for promoting inclusive practices. We will focus on how to apply social emotional learning with ALL students through the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, and skills.

Attendees Will Learn: How social literacy can contribute to creating more inclusive educational environments Strategies for teaching social literacy to general and special education students to promote inclusion How families and educators can work together to create social literacy at home and in school.

View the archived webinar here.

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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.

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Autism Advocate Magazine

Click here to read the latest issue. 


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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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SOCIAL COGNITION AND STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS Billings January 2016

Billings January 28, 2016 8:00am—5:00pm On-line registration: www.msubillings.edu/smart 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.

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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. 

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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. 


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OUTGROWING AUTISM?

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:

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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. 

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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.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Webinar - Social Emotional Wellness for Transition-aged Youth

Social emotional wellness is important for every person, particularly individuals with autism, who, according to recent research, are more likely to experience isolation from their peers and suffer from depression in adulthood. Social and emotional development promotes self-confidence and the ability to engage in meaningful relationships-- skills which can be invaluable for individuals with autism. The significance of social emotional learning for school-aged children is receiving increased attention in schools, yet once students with autism transition into adulthood, the services drop off. This panel presentation focuses on addressing the social and emotional needs of transition age youth and young adults with ASD. The expert presenters will discuss the needs for services and ongoing supports to ensure individuals with ASD emerge into adulthood with the skills and resources needed to lead healthy, productive lives.

 Register here.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Facilitated Communication - 1993

Some selected highlights of the important 1993 Frontline (PBS) story on facilitated communication for autism.


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Saturday, November 21, 2015

How I Failed as the Teacher of an Autistic Student

Every August, the week before classes begin is a parade of meetings for teachers. Meetings with administrators and colleagues fill the five or so days teachers have to get organized before students flood the school. This year, my roster included a student we’ll call H., one among 30 in my fall journalism class. H. would be more comfortable on the first day of school if he could meet me beforehand, his guidance counselor told me. He walked into our first meeting eager to introduce himself and his favorite topic: comic books. Students with autism typically have an area of hyper focus, and his was Marvel heros. I hoped to use that topic to build a bridge to our curriculum for H. He liked to read and write stories, a seemingly good fit for the elective journalism class I taught at our public high school in suburban Texas. With his buzz cut and backpack, he looked like any other high-school junior. But he wasn’t—isn’t—like any other student I’ve had before. H. is autistic, and during our two months together, and despite having taught several students with varying degrees of autism, I would fail him as a teacher.

 Read more here. 

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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. 

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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:

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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.

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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. 

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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. 


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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. 

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Archived Webinar - How Games Can Help Children with Special NeedsDevelop Critical Life Skills

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has captured the attention of special educators as a new way to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population of "digital natives." Now, game developers are teaming with SEL experts to become agents of change –using fun, innovative approaches to build skills that help children with special needs to regulate emotions, and to develop social sensitivity, expression, humor, conflict-resolution and collaboration. SEL is a catalyst for making positive change in student behavior, improved social interactions and better academic outcomes. Join a nationwide audience of special education leaders for a lively kick-off to the agents of change series as we unpack SEL and look at IF… The Emotional IQ Game, a critically acclaimed SEL tool endorsed by children, parents, therapists, doctors, teachers, academics and scientists.

 View the webinar here. 


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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. 

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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. 

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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. 


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Basic PECS Training - Great Falls


December 3-4

More here:

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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. 

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Autism Program Environment Rating Scale- Preschool/Elementary

Find the APERS-PE here.


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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.

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TEACCH Fidelity Measure

View the form here. 

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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 (dkimmet2@mt.gov). 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
dkimmet2@mt.gov
406-444-0742

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Sex/Gender n Autism - A Special Report

Read the special reports here. 

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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.


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Increasing the Mand Repertoire of Children With Autism

You can read the journal article here. 


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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

App - Autism and Beyond

A team of researchers and software developers from Duke University and the Duke Medical Center has introduced a free iOS app to learn more about autism in young children living around the world. Beginning Thursday, a ResearchKit app called "Autism & Beyond" is being offered from the Apple App Store for use on iOS devices. ResearchKit is a new open-source framework developed by Apple that allows researchers to create app-based studies with a global reach. The free program from Duke is not a diagnostic tool. It is intended to test the reliability of smart phone questionnaires and video analysis of facial expressions as a possible screening tool for autism and other developmental disorders of children.

 Read more here. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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Sesame Street Introduces Character with Autism

See more of the resources here. 

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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. 

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App - Autism & Beyond

Autism & Beyond is a groundbreaking new study of childhood mental health powered by Apple’s ResearchKit. The study aims to test new video technology that can analyze a child’s emotion and behavior. We hope that this technology may one day be used to screen young children in their homes for autism and mental health challenges, such as anxiety or tantrums. We want parents to have tools that will help them understand their children and find help if they need it. We invite you to join Duke as we: • Learn about all children and families • Create new screening tools for autism and challenging behaviors and emotions, like tantrums and anxiety • Support children’s healthy development • Gain a better understanding of what parents need Eligibility: You and your child are eligible to participate in the Autism & Beyond study if: • You are at least 18 years of age • You have a child who is at least one year old or less than 6 years old • You are the parent or legal guardian of this child • You are able to read English • You live in the United States

 See more here.

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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.\

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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. 

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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.
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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

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Resources - ADOLESCENTS AND ASD

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. 

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Study Questions Effectiveness Of One-To-Ones In Special Ed

Abstract Classroom assistants and one-to-one assistants are an important part of the staffing structure of many autism support classrooms. Limited studies, however, have examined how one-to-one assistants spend their time in the classroom. The purpose of this article was to examine the percentage of time one-to-one assistants were engaged in instruction or support of students with autism and to determine the factors associated with their engagement. Direct observations were conducted in 46 autism support classrooms. Teachers and classroom assistants were engaged in instruction or support 98% and 91% of the time, respectively. One-to-one assistants were engaged in instruction or support 57% of the time. Classroom assistants’ and one-to-one assistants’ engagement was significantly correlated. The low rate of one-to-one assistants’ engagement suggests an inefficient use of an important resource.

 Source

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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. 

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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. 

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Autism's Hidden Gifts

There’s a popular misconception that autistic people are either anti-social tech geniuses or Rain Man-like savants. But research is increasingly showing that even "low-functioning" autistic people might be smarter than neurotypical people in certain ways. Increasingly, researchers are finding that even autistic people who seem, at first glance, to be profoundly disabled might actually be gifted in surprising ways. And these talents are not limited to quirky party tricks, like knowing whether January 5, 1956 was a Tuesday. Scientists believe they are signs of true intelligence that might be superior to that of non-autistic people.

 Read the article here. 

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Get KnowBullying, the free app from SAMHSA that can prevent bullying.

Research shows that parents and caregivers who spend at least 15 minutes a day talking with their child can build the foundation for a strong relationship and help prevent bullying. The time you spend will help boost your children’s confidence and build effective strategies for facing bullying—whether children are being bullied, engaging in bullying, or witnessing bullying. Take a few minutes and "check in," by asking about school, their friends, and any challenges they face. KnowBullying has simple conversation starters to begin a discussion with your child. Help spread the word about KnowBullying. App Features Conversation Starters: Start easy, meaningful conversations with your children. Tips: Learn strategies to prevent bullying for ages 3—6, 7—13, and teens. Warning Signs: Recognize if your child is engaging in bullying, being bullied, or witnessing bullying. Reminders: Talk with your child when the time feels right: a quiet moment on the way to school or a game, during dinner, or relaxing outside. Social Media: Share successful strategies and useful advice via Facebook, Twitter, email, and text messages. Section for Educators: Prevent bullying in the classroom and support children who are being bullied.

 Read more here. 

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Pregnancy Timing May Influence Autism Risk

Waiting too few years or too many between pregnancies can greatly affect a child’s risk for autism, new research suggests. Children conceived less than two years or more than six after the birth of an older sibling appear to be at significantly greater odds for the developmental disorder, according to a study published online this week in the journal Pediatrics.

 Read more here.

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Diagnostic Substitution' Drives Autism Spike

The number of children diagnosed with autism has surged around the globe in the past two decades. But new research in Europe and the U.S. suggests much of the increase occurred on paper. But studies in Sweden, Denmark and the U.S. suggest that a significant portion of the increase can be attributed to more diagnoses, rather than to more cases. In other words, increasing numbers of children have been labeled autistic when in the past they might have received a different diagnosis, or in less severe cases, perhaps no diagnosis at all. In scientific jargon, this is called diagnostic substitution: One label replaces another, causing an apparent decrease in the prevalence of the first condition and a corresponding increase in the prevalence of the second.

 Read more here. 

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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. 

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Dads' parenting of children with autism improves moms' mental health

(A little bit of obvious for all parents.) athers who read to their infants with autism and take active roles in caregiving activities not only promote healthy development in their children, they boost moms' mental health too, new research suggests. Mothers of children with autism reported fewer depressive symptoms when their children were 4 years old if the child's father engaged in literacy and responsive caregiving activities - such as soothing children when they were upset or taking the child to the doctor - when the child was 9 months old, according to a new study conducted at the University of Illinois.

 Read more here.

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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.



WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES

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

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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.

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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.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?



Negative consequences, timeouts, and punishment just make bad behavior worse. But a new approach really works.

How we deal with the most challenging kids remains rooted in B.F. Skinner's mid-20th-century philosophy that human behavior is determined by consequences and bad behavior must be punished. (Pavlov figured it out first, with dogs.) During the 2011-12 school year, the US Department of Education counted 130,000 expulsions and roughly 7 million suspensions among 49 million K-12 students?ne for every seven kids. The most recent estimates suggest there are also a quarter-million instances of corporal punishment in US schools every year.

But consequences have consequences. Contemporary psychological studies suggest that, far from resolving children's behavior problems, these standard disciplinary methods often exacerbate them. They sacrifice long-term goals (student behavior improving for good) for short-term gain?omentary peace in the classroom.

Read more here. 

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Webinars - Interactive Autism Network

Click here to access the webinars below. JUDITH GROSS, PHD, AN ASSISTANT RESEARCH PROFESSOR AT THE BEACH CENTER ON DISABILITY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS, DISCUSSES "EMPLOYMENT EXPECTATIONS AND RESOURCES" FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN THIS WEBINAR. IN THIS RECORDED WEBINAR, RUTH L. FISCHBACH, PHD, MPE DISCUSSES HER TEAM’S RESEARCH ABOUT THE VIEWS THAT PARENTS AND SCIENTISTS HAVE ON THE CAUSES OF AUTISM, PRIORITIES FOR RESEARCH, GENETIC TESTING, AND STIGMA. IN THIS RECORDED WEBINAR, DR. AMI KLIN DISCUSSES PROMISING ADVANCES IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE EARLY SIGNS OF AUTISM. AUTISM RESEARCHERS DISCUSS THEIR RESEARCH, THE RESEARCH PROCESS, AND FAMILY INVOLVEMENT - PART 1 AUTISM RESEARCHERS DISCUSS THEIR RESEARCH, THE RESEARCH PROCESS, AND FAMILY INVOLVEMENT - PART 2 VIDEO ON AUTISM AND SKILLS FOR ADULTHOOD WITH DR. PETER GERHARDT PARENTING WEBINAR VIDEO WITH DR. FIONA MILLER VIDEO ON WANDERING AND ELOPEMENT WITH DR. PAUL LAW VIDEO ON MELTDOWNS AND AGGRESSION IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM

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Adult, Autistic and Ignored

TWO months before she died of pancreatic cancer in November 2010, my normally strong, stoical mother broke down weeping in my arms over the fate of my autistic older brother. Institutionalized for over 40 years, Joshua, then 55, was in a stable situation and seemed relatively happy. But my mother was undone by that fear that haunts all parents of disabled children: What will happen to them when I’m gone? Though I hastened to assure her that I would become his guardian and watch over him after her death, she was inconsolable. In reality, given the nature of the bond between them, I shouldn’t have been surprised. As is often the case between mother and disabled child, the two early on formed a deep, exclusionary attachment that relegated the other members of our family to the outer boroughs of maternal attention. My brother’s marathon tantrums, his gory public (and private) displays of self-mutilation and his regular physical assaults on our mother left me balancing as a boy on a narrow emotional catwalk between instinctual love for my sibling and blind rage. But none of that altered the depth of her feeling for him in the least. He was her main passion in life, and would remain so till the very end. After her death, as promised, I signed the guardianship papers and found myself suddenly a part-time resident in the island nation of adult autism in America. What I didn’t realize at the time was just how uncharted the waters around that island would turn out to be.

 Read more here. 

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How to Effectively Communicate with Your Autistic Child's Teacher

We all know the influence a teacher has in your child’s life. And since you two are on the same team in trying to ensure your child is successful in school, it’s important to know how to effectively communicate with your child’s teacher. Here are some ideas you can use to ensure you do that that are particularly important if your child is integrating into a mainstream education. While it is important to help the teacher understand the special triggers that your child may have, it is also important to get off on the right foot. * As soon as you can, make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher. If you can do that before the school year begins and there’s no pressure on either of you, it might be the best choice. However, that’s not always possible. By starting your relationship off early, there won’t be problems right off the bat. Then, later in the year, if your child does have problems, you’ll already have effective communication established with your child’s teacher. Don’t wait until there is an issue before you meet your child’s teacher.

 Read more here. 

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Women On The Spectrum

A number of links and discussion about women with ASD. 


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Good Life Project

Tom D'Eri built a thriving car wash business to employ his brother and other adults with Autism and in turn has created substantial impact and community.

 Listen to the interview here.

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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:

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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. 

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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 www.aspirewest.org. Watch a short video  or contact ASPIRE Montana at (844) 442-3167. Enroll soon before all slots are filled!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 11:00am-12:30am Pacific 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.
 See more information and register here.

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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.

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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. 


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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. 


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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner



Missoula

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: 

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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. 

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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:

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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. 

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Webinar - Uniquely Human: A Different Way to See Autism and CreatePathways to Success

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 1:00pm-2:30pm Eastern | 10:00am-11:30am Pacific 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. Join a nationwide audience as one of the world’s leading authorities on autism shares research, stories, and advice based on countless experiences with families and children with autism and answers your burning questions.

Watch webinar here:

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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.

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Webinar - PANDAS/PANS in Autism

PANDAS and PANS are medical conditions with which many parents of children with autism are all too familiar. The symptoms associated with both occur acutely and can be quite disabling, with profound effects on the entire family. Attendees will learn the early warning signs and symptoms, possible triggers as well as current treatments.

Learn more here:

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Archived Webinar - Preparing Students with Special Needs for On-the-job Success

May the Workforce be with You: Preparing Students with Special Needs for On-the-job Success

According to recent research, students with disabilities are significantly more likely to be unemployed or without educational plans in the first two years after high school than their general education peers. Transition planning, required by federal law to begin at the age of 14, is crucial for preparing students for life beyond school. 

In this FREE webinar, Rethink's Maria Wilcox will discuss techniques for preparing students for success once the school bus stops coming--whether it's a summer job or post-secondary employment. Attendees will leave the webinar with: specific skills to teach students to help them prepare for employment strategies for helping students generalize skills they learn at school for application in the workplace ideas for how to make transition planning meaningful and effective. 

See webinar here:

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LEND Brief on ASD & Culture (MN LEND)

 The MN LEND program is excited to announce the release of its most recent edition of LEND Brief on ASD & Culture. This edition provides information about how diverse communities view, understand and experience Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD). It showcases projects and programs that recognize dimensions of culture, socioeconomics, and language through the services and supports they deliver to children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and families.

See pdf here:

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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. 

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