Sunday, March 27, 2016

Review: ‘Jane Wants a Boyfriend’ Looks at Autism Through a Sister’s Eyes

Polished and often clever, William C. Sullivan’s “Jane Wants a Boyfriend” examines autism in the context of sisterly ties and intimate relationships. It’s a gold mine for emotional sparks, and in its title character, “Jane” offers the kind of role (see “Rain Man”) that is catnip to actors.
Jane (Louisa Krause) is a 20-something assistant costume designer for the theater, obsessed with movies and living in Queens with her parents, who are moving to rural New Jersey. She also has autism, which is a constant concern for her protective older sister, Bianca (the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alumna Eliza Dushku), a bartender and an actress in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Now Bianca is moving in with her boyfriend, Rob (Amir Arison), in Brooklyn, and her parents want Jane to live with Bianca and Rob, despite Jane’s growing assertions of autonomy (and emerging libido). When Jack (Gabriel Ebert) — a bar regular of Bianca’s and a ne’er-do-well with relationships — takes a shining to Jane, Bianca’s cautionary instincts kick in.

Watch the trailer here. 
Read more here. 

The Sad Controversy Over a Misleading Autism Test

The test is based on Kliman’s research, which has focused in part on “tiny structures in the placenta called trophoblastic inclusions … [which] form when cells divide too quickly and cause the placenta to fold in on itself, instead of bulging outward as it normally does.” In one of these studies, placentas from siblings of children with autism had more of these folds than placentas from a control group. In the other, aforementioned one, “Kliman found that 39 percent of 13 preserved placentas from children with autism had the inclusions compared with 13 percent of 61 placentas from controls.”
All of which makes it look like there’s some sort of important correlation between these folds and autism. Except: In other research, including some of Kliman’s own, the folds have been associated with other conditions. Their presence or absence, in other words, might not tell us very much about the odds a kid will develop ASD, and at the moment there are fairly solid reasons to believe it doesn’t. Moreover, there have been zeropublished trials actually correlating the results of this specific test with future ASD diagnoses.

A Way of Describing Autism (using rocks)

You can view the video here. This is a good way to help peers and general educators understand more about autism.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Archived Webinar - I want to be treated like a girlfriend again...and other thoughts of long ago.

Let's face it, Autism takes a toll on our marriages. But it is not the death sentence we have falsely been led to believe. This presentation will discuss how the six cycles of grief impact marriages, and how to come through the bad days with a stronger union. 

The topics discussed in this presentation are not commonly covered in autism conferences. It is recommended for parents, both married and single. It is also recommended for individuals who are seeking a different perspective on how to overcome the toll autism has placed on their marriage and relationships. Traditional counselors are not equipped to address the unique issues that arise after a child has been diagnosed. The strategies discussed in this presentation will be sure to put a smile on the face of all who attend as they find the tools to “balance” after the diagnosis.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Limited Funding for Students With Significant Needs

 The Office of Public Instruction is making available limited funding for the costs of students with significant needs served by the public schools. The approval of the funding on each application is specific to the request and justification for that request. 
The following link provides an overview of the program, definition of eligible districts and eligible
students, allowable costs, definition of Priority I and Priority IA and Priority II, 2016 Application and Budget forms:
If you have questions, please contact Dale Kimmet, Division of Special Education, 406-444-0742, or e-mail at  

Raising a tween who has autism

Now I am a mother of a 12-year-old girl who is on the autism spectrum. She is what some might call high-functioning: She is verbal, can read and write and is starting to progress in many areas. But she also has many challenges to overcome.
Next year she will begin middle school. I cringe thinking about what that will be like for her. And it made me wonder how kids with autism can navigate the strange, new world the tween years. Here are some key things to think about, based on my maternal experience.
Making friends
Having autism can make it more challenging to establish friendships. I’ve seen my daughter struggle for years, but she understands the value of relationships. She wants to have friends—she just doesn’t always know how to go about it, and that breaks my heart.

People on the autism spectrum live an average of 18 fewer years than everyone else

Researchers looking into mortality trends and autism have made a troubling discovery: People on the autism spectrum are dying young — some 12 to 30 years earlier than might otherwise be expected.
The analysis, conducted by Sweden's Karolinska Institute and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found that the leading cause of premature death in autistic adults isn't due to diseases, such as heart ailments or cancer, that are the main killers in the general population. It's suicide.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Webinar - Understand the "Why" Behind Using Visual Supports and How to Use Them Correctly

Wednesday, March 30th
Register Now!

Join Laurie Sperry, PhD, BCBA-D, MSC Forensic Psychology/Criminology for a free webinar to learn why visual supports matter and how to use them correctly. 

Visual supports help the person with ASD make sense of their environment, understand what is being asked of them, and complete tasks more successfully and independently. 

During this exciting new webinar, Laurie will give real-world examples ranging from early childhood to adulthood that address academic, communication, and social goals, plus daily living activities. 

Educators will quickly learn how-to:

  1. The "why" behind using visual supports and how to use them correctly 
  2. Tips you can implement immediately to promote engagement 
  3. Proven ideas for reducing anxiety and challenging behaviors

Stomach Troubles Not Linked to Autism, Study Finds

Children with autism are not at higher risk for certain digestive system problems than those without the neurodevelopmental disorder, a small study suggests.
The researchers focused on gastrointestinal disorders that previous studies suggested might be linked to autism. These include intestinal inflammation; deficiency of the digestive enzyme lactase, associated with lactose intolerance; and increased intestinal permeability, often called "leaky gut."
The results showed that the children with autism were no more likely to have these conditions than typically developing kids.
The research was published recently in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
"The results of this study suggest that common gastrointestinal problems occur in children with autism and should be evaluated," Dr. Timothy Buie, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, and colleagues wrote in a journal news release.
"There is no evidence to support that gastrointestinal disorders cause autism," they added.

A Brief History of Autism Research

The past six months saw the release of two bestselling books about autism: Steve Silberman’s “Neurotribes,” and John Donvan and Caren Zucker’s “In a Different Key.”
Both books chronicle the oftentimes dark history of autism while expressing hope for a better future for people with the condition. They focus on the good work of people — strong-willed parents and devoted advocates — who transformed a once-shameful diagnosis into a widely accepted condition. But they also highlight several missteps by scientists that derailed research and the lives of many people on the spectrum.
This history offers lessons for today’s scientists, ranging from the importance of purging presumptions about autism to the acute need for services that help people, especially adults, with the condition.

Montana Youth in Transition (MYT) Soft Skills Train the Trainer Sessions!

Register now for the Montana Youth in Transition (MYT) Soft Skills Train the Trainer Sessions! For youth who are new to the job market, understanding soft skills is a difficult but important step in their growth. To support these students and young adults, and the professionals who serve them, the Montana Youth in Transition Project has developed a youth-oriented soft skills curriculum. The course includes free access to the MYT Soft Skills Curriculum (including updates), with a variety of activities and exercises proven to engage and motivate youth and young adults to enter the world of work, with a focus on effective communication and personal decision making. This training is appropriate for anyone supporting youth in preparing to be or who are currently employed. The MYT Soft Skills Curriculum also demonstrates techniques for teaching students with a wide variety of learning styles and abilities.
All sessions will be held from 9:30 AM until 2:30 PM.
April 1: Great Falls - RSVP by Monday, March 28 at 5:00 PM.
April 19: Libby - RSVP by Tuesday, April 12 at 5:00 PM.
April 21: Polson - RSVP by Friday, April 15 at 5:00 PM.
The registration fee is $30 per person, payable to "NCILS/MYTransitions". To register for this session, please email with "Insert Name of City Soft Skills Training" in the subject line. In your message, include the names of individuals attending the session and the name of their employer. Please include information about how payment will be made and if your agency will need to be invoiced. For more information, please email or call 406-442-2576. 4 CEU credits (OPI) and 4 SWP/MFT/LAC credits will be available.

Temple Grandin On Her Search Engine | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios

As part of our special series, The Experimenters--where we uncover interviews with the icons of science, technology, and innovation…-- we found this interview in the holdings of Colorado State University, where Temple teaches. In this conversation, Temple’s at her best, explaining for the rest of us what it’s really like to have an autistic brain and how Einstein’s not the only genius who could have been dismissed for being different.

Watch the video here. 

Suggested by a presenter - GoNoodle

We help kids channel their physical and emotional energy for good.

GoNoodle's short desk-side physical activities help teachers manage their classroom and improve student performance.

See more here. 

Archived Webinar - Recognize, Respond, Report: Preventing and Addressing Bullying of Students with Special Needs

The prevalence of bullying in schools is roughly one in four students and can occur twice as often for students with special needs.

Bullying was once a silent epidemic which was endured by millions of children on a daily basis. Today, bullying in schools is being recognized as a public safety issue. Due to their vulnerability, students with disabilities require written goals and direct instruction for addressing a bullying incident. For example, students must be taught assertive body language that can minimize and de-escalate a potential bullying situation. 

In this webinar, Dr. Lori Ernsperger will provide up-to-date research and specific evidence-based interventions in order for all school professionals to create a safe educational environment and follow the legal requirements set out by the federal government on bullying and disability-based harassment. This live, interactive event will provide immediate and effective interventions to prevent bullying that can be implemented across grade levels and settings.
Topics that will be covered include:

  • Recognize the prevalence rate of bullying for students with special needs
  • Recognize the long term impact of bullying
  • Respond with school-wide interventions
  • Emphasize bystander education programs
  • Teach all staff to intervene to bullying incidents
  • Teach appropriate social communication skills
  • Review Federal and State laws for identifying and reporting disability-based harassment

This webinar will be useful for both general and special education teachers who work with children with special needs. In addition, school administrators and special education supervisors who provide staff training will benefit from the presentation. Join us to learn how to empower school personnel to prevent bullying of students with disabilities and ultimately minimize the harm.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Archived Webinars - Delivering Effective Paraeducator Support to Students with Disabilities: A Delicate Dance

The Paraeducator Series will offer three webinars designed to increase the knowledge and skills of paraeducators in supporting students with disabilities in diverse settings. Combined, the focus of the webinars is to prepare paraeducators to provide optimal support that assists student’s learning success while facilitating self-dependence. This series should be appealing to teachers who guide and supervise paraeducators routinely as well as district special education trainers in their design and delivery of professional development.
Part 1
This webinar session will identify the steps and strategies – based on best-practices research – on how the paraeducator support has to be carefully choreographed to be not too intrusive while improving the educational outcomes of students with disabilities. With the aid of classroom scenarios and student-specific vignettes involving both general education and special education settings, participants will learn how to achieve a balance between providing personalized support to maximize learning opportunities for students while encouraging the growth of independence. 

Part 2
This webinar session will address the essentials of a winning teacher-paraeducator team to support students with disabilities. Besides gaining greater clarity about teacher-paraeducator role differentiation, participants will learn steps and processes to achieve collaboration, communication and conflict resolution skills for learner success.

Part 3
With the aid of classroom scenarios and student-specific vignettes involving both general education and special education settings, this webinar session will illustrate how to use the Three Ps” approach guided by the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) model to eliminate or reduce problem behaviors. Participants will learn how to use Preventive Strategies (P1), provide Personalized Supports (P2) and deliver Positive Strokes (P3).  

View the archived webinars here at ABLENET.

Archived Webinar - Personalized Behavior Supports for Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This webinar session will focus on addressing the behavioral challenges that young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may exhibit. 

Using child and situation-specific case scenarios, the session will demonstrate how to structure the environment to decrease the probability of problem behaviors occurring and to offer creative adaptations to increase engagement and participation in activities and routines. 

Both early childhood educators and families of children with ASD will gain helpful strategies to  cope with  a number of behavioral issues.

View the webinar here. 

Autism rates among preschoolers signal gaps in detection

The rate of autism among 4-year-olds is lower than that among 8-year-olds, suggesting that many children go undiagnosed until they start school. New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put the prevalence of autism among these younger children at 1 in 751.

Read more here.

Lifespan Resources - Association for Science in Autism Treatment

Individuals with autism have a myriad of needs that need to be addressed across the lifespan, as autism is typically a lifelong developmental disability. This page serves as a comprehensive resource for families and providers of adolescents and adults with autism. A commitment to science, as well as the need to remain a savvy and informed consumer, is paramount when choosing treatments. Unfortunately, the autism community is challenged by a lack of funding for adult programs and limited human resources of professionals with adult expertise, so taking the initiative to learn about transition planning is an important step to ensure optimal success and continued growth. You will find resources on this page pertaining to increasing independence, teaching safety skills, preparing for employment, facilitating community participation, and much more.

Read more here.

Tips for Successful Haircuts

Haircuts can sometimes be difficult for people with autism. The challenges can range from sensory issues to anxiety about what will happen during the haircutting process. Autism Speaks has partnered with Snip-its and Melmark New England to develop a haircutting training guide to provide information to families and stylists as to how to make the haircutting experience more positive for children with autism.
The haircutting training guide provides additional information for stylists about autism and what stylists can do to make the process more successful. There is also information for families and caregivers about how to prepare for a haircut, and a visual schedule that can be downloaded and used to help the child to understand the steps involved in getting a haircut. Information about home haircare is also included.
A video was created that shows the haircutting process. Stylists will be provided with tips about how to make the haircutting experience more successful. Families and caregivers may want to view the video with their child with autism, so that the child is more familiar with the process, which may result in less anxiety about haircuts.


Archived Webinar - Utilizing Students' Interests to Teach Social Skills

This presentation describes how to identify and utilize a students' interests to help them learn social skills in a natural environment. Doing activities and sharing information that interests your student provides opportunities for spontaneous and successful social interaction in an environment where the student is ready to learn and where you can be a meaningful and successful social coach.

Watch the webinar here. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

The enemy within

The possibility that autism is caused by a maternal immune system gone awry is no longer a fringe idea — but proposals to identify or fix these glitches are still controversial.

Read more here.

Autism Parents Still Buying Into Bleach Cure From Self-Described Space Alien God

Parents who are trying MMS to “cure” autism find their way to MMS-specific Facebook groups, where they post what their children are experiencing with the “treatment” and horrifying images of what MMS peddlers claim are parasites but what really is probably bowel lining. Kerri Rivera, a repeat speaker at the premier autism quackery conference AutismOne and dedicated promoter of this concoction as an autism cure, appears to advise one parent on a Facebook page that MMS can be used in a child as young as age 10 months.

Read more here. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Loving Push - Book

In a new book by autism's most famous spokesperson, Temple Grandin gives credit to her mother for nudging her outside her comfort zone, and she urges today's parents to do the same for their children.
"The Loving Push," co-written with psychologist Debra Moore, makes a convincing case that, more than other children, those on the spectrum need to be prodded to reach their potential.

"It can be tough to move our spectrum kids forward, because the autistic brain is usually very sensitive to change and novelty. Routines, rituals, and sameness are the preferred status quo," the authors write. "Even introducing what to you seems to be a minor change can trigger major resistance or meltdowns. Sometimes it just doesn't seem worth the fight. But we're here to tell you that your child depends on you pushing them.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Some good reminders from our Autism Consultant Ron Marks

Verbal Behavior - Billings

June 16 and 17, 2016

Attendance is limited to 75. 

You can register for the workshop here.  

Abstract:  The Verbal Behavior approach is a specialized type of Applied Behavior Analysis which focuses on the acquisition of functional language skills beginning with the Mand (request) and leading to complex Intraverbal repertoires.  It relies on a distinct set of knowledge and skills including discriminative stimuli, prompt hierarchies,  precision timing  and schedules of reinforcement, and error correction procedures. This two-day workshop will provide hands-on training in the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct effective verbal behavior programs.

Day 1:  Verbal Behavior – what it is, what it isn’t. Verbal Behavior vocabulary:  Mands, Tacts, Intraverbals and ‘frames’ like Stimulus Equivalence. Tools like the VB-MAPP and ABLLS-R for young learners, as well as the “essentials for Living” (functional language) for older students. 

Day 2: How-to-conduct a Verbal Behavior program for a variety of students at various levels of development.  Hands-on training all day.  Review.

Participants will be able to:
  •   Identify key components of Applied Behavior Analysis
  •   Determine the functions of behavior
  •   Recognize the four conditions of a Functional Behavior Analysis
  •   Define Verbal Behavior based on B.F. Skinner's work
  •   Understand the Verbal Operants of Verbal Behavior
  •   Demonstrate the transfer procedures between Verbal Operants
  •   Develop strategies of 1:1 and small group teaching procedures
  •   Choose assessment procedures based on student needs
  •   Select data collection methods based on student needs
  •   Develop a Verbal Behavior based learning program for students based on assessment and data 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Student with autism wins county spelling bee

To win the bee, a speller needs to be the only one to correctly spell a word in a round, then spell one extra word correctly.
The finalists spelled off for numerous rounds before seventh grader Ryan Christensen emerged as the victor, rhythmically pounding out his winning words, “corpuscle and “Eocene,” in a loud, clear voice.
Seventh grader Alexa Lewis came in second and sixth grader Jackson Long placed third. Eighth graders Garret Ruhl and Eli Swets were first and second alternates, respectively.
The winner’s father, Jon Christensen, said it was “just awesome” to see his son take the top prize in the bee.
“Some of that was because we prepared but a lot of it was just natural spelling ability,” he said. “He’s a very methodical person.”
His son had a different story, though.
“I’m kind of feeling lucky,” Christensen said. “I was thinking I would end up somewhere in the fiftieth percentile or something because I didn’t really study.”
“You did, too,” his dad said.
“I must have gotten the easy words,” Christensen added. “I didn’t know all of them, but I just took a crack at it.”
Before he went to collect his prizes, the seventh grader ran back to add one more statement.
“I also want to say that I’m representing people on the spectrum,” Christensen said. “They really can do great things.”

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Assessments for Social or Pragmatic Language?

Sometimes we get a question and I don't know the answer, but I know those who know. Thus the below"

Question: I am a speech-language pathologist for a K-8 district and we are wondering about a test for social or pragmatic language, specifically for our students with high functioning ASD or possible ASD.  Do you know what people are using?


"I've used the Social Language Development Test and found that it tests high for some children who actually struggle pragmatically in real life. Our coop also has the Test of Pragmatic Language-2. It's similar to the SLD test in that it some of the responses ask the child to explain how he knows a given solution to a problem might work.

The CELF Pragmatic Profile and Pragmatic Activities sections allow a better opportunity to describe what most people are observing and considering to be the child's obvious pragmatic challenges."

"For ASD, I use the SCQ and/or the SRS.

I like the scales on the SRS-2  because it breaks down social motivation, social cognition, etc., from autistic mannerisms; it is better than the SCQ, especially for measuring school age individuals who might undergo an intervention like Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking."

"  Here are some things I prefer/use a lot in our district.

Test of Problem Solving- there is an elementary and adolescent.  This has just been redone and unfortunately is LONG but it is my go to on several levels- first, the assessment itself looks at higher level language- inferencing, predicting, cause effect etc… and all of the situations used to elicit answers have a strong social component-  they require analysis of what is going on in the picture or paragraph, who is involved, feelings people may have, perspective taking etc.  In addition, for high kids I use it to analyze language overall… ie instead of a traditional language test, I can analyze a students syntax, ability to formulate answers, ability to use language concisely etc, by analyzing their answers to the social pragmatic questions.  So I screen general language with it as well as score it for pragmatics and social.  

*** consider intra kid comparison- if IQ and academics are very high, which they often are, then a standard score  of 85 might be pretty significant.  

Test of Language Competence- use in a similar manner- a bit more language based.  

After that, check lists/ criterion based is about all we have.  CELF profile is one.   For kids older than 3rd grade ish and high functioning kids we almost always use the “double interview” developed by Michelle Winner…. Latest version is in Thinking about me Thinking about you second addition.   She has developed criteria to judge the sample by even though it is also not norm referenced.  There are several parts, including a section involving family photos and some sequence card activities… you kind of need to do all the parts to get the whole picture.  

We always add observation of kid in action to add to the whole picture

That is sort of our core here.  It is not a one test slam dunk unfortunately.  If I had to use one thing only, besides observation, I would use the TOPS."

From an SLP:

"The Social Thinking Dynamic Assessment Protocol. It is in the back of the Thinking About You Thinking About Me book.   I also saw that MGW mentioned the Children's Communication Ch Calistoga for ages 4-16 and Barry Prizant's. SCERTS for all ages."