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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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