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.


Autism Fundraiser in Wibaux - Beaver Creek Brewery

If you live in a town with a brewery or distillery, I would urge you consider using their pint night or other weekly community fundraiser in April of 2015 for autism awareness. Many of the people who visit breweries are a good demographic with whom to share information about autism. If you are interested in coordinating statewide autism awareness in April of 2015, please email me at