Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The SPECTRUM Alert: An Autism Elopement Protocol for Schools

After consulting with members of law enforcement, here is a protocol I’m suggesting to my child’s school district. I’m calling it The SPECTRUM Alert for Schools. The important thing to remember is that this alert/code will necessarily look different for each school. To be effective, it must be planned by individual schools based upon their location, size, design, proximity to water, etc. The SPECTRUM Alert is not a ready-made plan, but a roadmap for designing one .
S (Search grid) In conjunction with law enforcement, the school and surrounding community should be mapped out on a search grid. If the school is fenced in, there should be a perimeter walk to determine any areas vulnerable to elopement. From there, the grid should expand outward a mile or two, taking into account any and all bodies of water, dangerous intersections, train stations, parks, playgrounds, etc. School personnel not directly supervising students should already know and have practiced reporting to their assigned search areas. Note: Water should always be searched first. No matter what.
Read more here.

Archved Webinar - Wandering and Elopement in Autism

The video reviews research then offers ideas.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Fresh Starts for Hard-to-Like Students

Even though your toughest students are just kids at the mercy of emotions they don't understand or can't control, it can be hard for a teacher to stay calm and not take these ongoing behavioral problems personally. My advice: it's time to hit the reset button!

Here are some ways to connect or reconnect with students who make themselves hard to like.

3. Act toward your worst student the way you act toward your best student.

Who is your best-behaved or most motivated student? When you think about that student, what adjectives come to mind? When you interact, what comments come naturally? When the student makes a mistake, how do you usually react? For one week, try acting toward your worst-behaved or least-motivated student in the same way, and see what happens.

Finding her voice: Great Falls teen with autism uses technology to communicate

The Kopps found that computers were one of the areas both children could relate to, and an online article about children with autism having success communicating using technology led them to buy Kylie an iPad.
According to Anna DiLello, a speech-language pathologist for Benefis Health System who works with children who have autism, parents should try every avenue available to find a way for their kids to communicate.
“Technology is a wonderful thing,” said DiLello, “but I think the challenge with it is, is it appropriate for that child? There are different stages to trying to get them there, and not every kid will respond to it. Ideally, we’d like every child to be talking. That is not the case, obviously, with every child.”
When Great Falls High School teacher Kathy Wanner started working with Kylie four years ago, she had the iPad but did not use it for communication.

Vision Services for Montana Services - Survey

Hello all.
My name is Christopher Siller and I am a graduate student at Salus University.  I currently live in Missoula, MT. and am working towards becoming a certified orientation and mobility specialist.  My plan is to work in western Montana providing orientation and mobility training, as well as travel training, to children 0 - 21 years old.  I am in my final semester in the education and rehab department and our final project is to conduct a research survey related to our field.  I chose to survey teachers across the state of Montana in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the level of knowledge that exists about vision related services for students in Montana. This survey is also an attempt to get a better idea of the demographic spread of children with visual impairments across the state.

I would truly appreciate your assistance in this endeavor. 

The survey contains only 10 questions so it should take just a few minutes for them to complete.

This survey is completely anonymous and the data collected will be used to take a big step forward in strengthening services for students who are blind or visually impaired in Montana.

If you choose to participate, please complete the survey by April 29.

Included below is a link to SurveyMonkey,  please click on the link or copy and paste it into your address bar to take the survey. Thank you so much for you participation.  Your answers will help me complete the final project for my degree and help to deliver better services to students who are blind or visually impaired.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Autism Conference: The Verbal Behavior Approach

Billings, June 24 and 25. 2015

Day 1: Children with autism, regardless of age, ability level, or setting, need effective, individualized programming in order to reach their maximum potential. This 1-day workshop will utilize B.F. Skinner's Analysis of Verbal Behavior to provide a framework for assessing and programming for children with autism and related disorders. Two forms of Applied Behavior Analysis: traditional discrete trial teaching and the Verbal Behavior Approach, will be compared and contrasted. Dr. Barbera will give an overview of her book: The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders and will highlight several strategies that can be used immediately to begin to assess and teach children with autism. Through lecture, video examples and group activities, the participants will leave with a better understanding of Applied Behavior Analysis utilizing Skinner's Analysis of Verbal Behavior as it relates to programming for children at various points on the autism spectrum.

Day 2: The basic elements of the applied behavior analysis/ verbal behavior approach to language assessment and intervention for children with autism or other types of developmental disabilities will be covered. During the morning session the focus will be on how to use a behavioral analysis of language to assess a child's language and social skills, as well as his potential barriers to language acquisition, using the VB-MAPP assessment program. Participants will then learn how to use the results of the assessment to determine an individual child's immediate intervention priorities. During the afternoon session the focus will be developing an individualized intervention program. Several teaching procedures will be described. Additional topics discussed over the course of the workshop will include data collection, behavior problems, augmentative communication, inclusion, and peer interaction.

For more information visit

Friday, April 22, 2016

Archived Webinar - Ready, Set, Potty

Friday, April 8, 2016

Community Investment Fund - Montana

The application period for this round of funding is now OPEN.
Do you have an interesting idea or project to promote inclusion for people with disabilities? Would a small amount of start-up funds help you get your project off the ground?  Applications for the Community Investment Fund are now being accepted...complete and return your application before the May 1, 2016 deadline.
What is the Community Investment Fund?
The Community Investment Fund is a small pot of money ($2400 in 2016, which may be divided between several recipients) that the Rural Institute has made available for inclusive, innovative projects or programs that will help people with disabilities live, learn, work and play in their communities alongside people without disabilities.

Who is eligible to apply for funding?
Any Montana organization, agency, non-profit group, or individual with a creative idea to promote community inclusion (people with disabilities participating together alongside people without disabilities) is eligible to apply.

How does someone apply for funding?
To apply, fill out the Community Investment Fund application and submit it by the deadline. Applications are available in hard copy and online formats, and may be mailed, emailed or faxed to the Rural Institute.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why is it so hard for someone with autism to make eye contact?

Using eye contact is an important nonverbal communication behavior that most of us use automatically in social interactions. However, as you describe, making eye contact with others can be very challenging for some people with autism – adults as well as children.

Should we force eye contact?
So should we insist on eye contact with those who find it uncomfortable? As with many complex questions, the best answer is probably “it depends.”

First and foremost, we encourage you to begin by exploring what the issue means for your son. How does making eye contact affect your son? Does it help him pay attention to the conversation or make it more difficult? 

Alternative ways to indicate interest
It may be that eye contact is so stressful for your son that he pays less attention when you ask for it. In this case, it’s appropriate to look for alternative ways for your son to indicate to others that he is interested and paying attention to them.

For example, you might explain the importance of indicating his interest in some nonverbal way and then offer some of these options:

* Suggest that your son show his interest by fully facing the person and staying within a conversational distance. This includes working on any tendency to wander away in the middle of a conversation

Read more here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

PECS Level I Training - Missoula April 25 and 26, 2016

Go here to register and search for the course number 6438.

Placenta test for autism risk sparks serious concern

A new test claims to assess a child’s risk of autism based on abnormal folds in the placenta, and is being offered to pediatricians in the U.S. But with little evidence to support its use, experts say the test is premature and unethical.
Yale University researcher Harvey Kliman introduced the PlacentASD Test in 2013 as a tool to gauge a child’s risk of autism at birth, just months after publishing a study on placental folds.1
Already, he says, parents ship thousands of freshly delivered placentas to his lab each year, though he declines to say how many are analyzed for autism risk. Some reports indicate the test could cost upward of $2,000.
Autism experts are not impressed.
“I am truly appalled at the rush to market a test that has such weak predictive power to vulnerable families,” says Helen Tager-Flusberg, director of the Center for Autism Research Excellence at Boston University.
Researchers note that no other peer-reviewed reports have linked placental folds to childhood disorders, and none establish a firm link to autism. Kliman has also not yet confirmed autism diagnoses for children whose placentas he examined at birth.

Speak Up! Tips for Self-advocacy

View it here. 

A Hidden Opportunity in Your Church

How Christ-centered hospitality can help families affected by autism.

Given the statistics, whether you realize it or not, there’s a good chance that you have a family in your congregation who’s parenting a child with autism and running through these same questions as they enter your sanctuary. And there’s a good chance that you may be tempted to overlook their needs: the constant hum of ministry demands and Sunday gatherings require efficiency, consistency, and structure.
But if a congregation’s eyes are open to this reality, the ministry opportunity is surprisingly simple. The key is not expert knowledge about the disorder, but a willingness to be hospitable and flexible, two straightforward but profound ways to show the love of Christ to such families.
Some simple, but helpful steps churches can take include:

1. Meet and Greet

Ministry leaders can set up a time to gather with parents and kids with special needs to get to know their diagnoses and concerns. Are parents desperate for childcare? Are their kids isolated during Sunday school? Is the format of your kids’ ministry too overwhelming for their child? Does the simple act of walking through the crowd at church create anxiety in their child? Listening to families directly allows leaders and volunteers to recognize the specific needs of their congregation.

Autism File magazine

Click here to read the magazine. 

Archived Webinar - What Works (and What Doesn't) for Behaviorally Challenged Students

Trying to modify behavior in the typical reactive mode has not proven effective. Students who need help the most benefit least from discipline as usual. It's time to transform our thinking and our practices so at-risk students can achieve. The Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) model does just that. Collaborative and Proactive Solutions are described by Dr. Ross Greene in his influential books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, and the recently released Lost and Found. We'll take a close look at the CPS model and show why it has been associated with dramatic reductions in adult-child conflict, challenging behaviors, disciplinary referrals, detentions, suspensions, seclusion, and physical, chemical, and mechanical restraints in schools around the world. Join us for this provocative presentation and question and answer session, a powerful and practical conclusion to our three-part series.

France's autism treatment 'shame'

"The first time I went to see a doctor when my (autistic) son Gael was three and we thought there was a problem, the psychiatrist asked me if I had wanted him - if it had been a wanted pregnancy!" says Candy Lepenuizic, a British woman married to a Frenchman.

"Then she asked what sort of dreams I had had while I was pregnant with him. And suggested the whole family have a course of psychotherapy

Critics say this emphasis on psychoanalysis and relationships meant that autistic children were not spotted till far too late. And that, in turn, meant that their chances of effective treatment were sharply reduced.
Some 60% of autistic children in Sweden attend school, Sajidi says.
"Today only 20% of autistic children in France are in school, and often only part-time. The rest are either in psychiatric hospitals, or in medico-social centres, or living at home - or in Belgium," says Sajidi.

Read more here.

Sesame Street has Resources about Autism

You can view them here. There are some good videos for educating peers and general educators.

Autism Research Lacks Cultural And Ethnic Diversity

Autism can affect individuals from all sorts of different backgrounds, but a new study suggests those from ethnically and culturally diverse families are not well represented in autism research. Instead, behavioral interventions and treatment programs for autism are largely tailored to white, middle-class children.

The researchers point out that an evidence-based practice that is effective for some children may not be for others and that healthcare practitioners should examine the degree to which positive results reported for a narrow group of participants effectively translates to autistic children from traditionally underrepresented groups. By determining who benefits from different interventions and why, practitioners might be able to serve racially and ethnically diverse patients.

Read more here.

Autism’s brain signature lingers even after loss of diagnosis

Roughly 7 percent of children with autism eventually lose their diagnosis, swapping social problems and language difficulties for more typical skills and behaviors. But it is unclear whether this transition is associated with a return to typical brain function or reflects a compensatory process.

New findings support the second possibility. They suggest that children who achieve a so-called ‘optimal outcome’ have unusually active language regions in the brain relative to children with mild autism or those without the condition1.

Read more here.

Community Report on Autism - 2016 CDC

A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder among 8-year-old Children in Multiple Communities across the United States in 2012
What are the key findings?
These findings are based on the analysis of information collected from the health and special education (if available) records of 8-year-old children who lived in areas of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin in 2012.

The estimated percentage of children identified with ASD remains high, but did not change significantly between 2010 and 2012.
  1. It is too soon to tell if the percentage of children identified with ASD over time is stabilizing.
  2. Children identified with ASD are not receiving comprehensive developmental evaluations as early as they could be.

You can read the full report here.

Autism Training Video for Law Enforcement and First Responders

You can view the video here.

7 Things You Need To Learn About Autism

Autism is not a “person-first” kind of disability

The golden rule of disability language is that the person should come first in phrasing, preceding the condition that disables them. For example, people who have diabetes aren’t “diabetics” in respectful usage but instead are “people with diabetes.” But developmental conditions and those related to the brain are a trickier territory. With a nod to Francis Crick, if your brain is you and you are your brain (with some guidance from your endocrine system and your environmental inputs), then how appropriate or even rational is it to separate the person and the condition? Many people want to say “person with autism,” but to a lot of autistic activists, that phrasing is silly, like saying “Person with Brain.” For them, autism and brain and themselves are all one and the same. Autistic activist Jim Sinclair wrote in 1999 about instead using “identity first” language. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network also features an essay by autistic activist Lydia Brown, elaborating the concept. That doesn’t mean, of course, that every autistic person prefers that phrasing, and it’s always best to go with what any individual with a condition expresses as their preference.

Read more here.

PBIS Check In Check Out Student Orientation Video

This video is used as part of our student orientation to our PBIS Check In Check Out CICO) program. This program supports students who may need extra opportunities for acknowledgement and connections.

You can view the video here.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Autism Benefit - Wibaux

Archived Webinar - AT and Accommodations in Post-Secondary Education, Supporting Successful Transition

Transition from high school to college is a significant and critical time in a student's life and educational career. This webinar will inform participants of strategies and resources to help ensure that the transition is a successful one! Learn about the different assistive technology options for students in high school and college.  Free and low-cost AT options, self-advocacy and awareness skills, and IEPs vs 504 will be discussed. The presenters will share their knowledge on how to seek accommodations in college including: when to start; what to ask for, who to contact, and what documentation colleges require. Learn the process for registering with the Disabilities Services Office. Information regarding the acquisition of accessible versions of textbooks will also be shared (as this differs from the high school process).  Assistive technology options will be demonstrated including literacy support, note taking support, executive function support, and support for sensory and physical disabilities. 
This information is incredibly helpful for high school students, parents, transition coordinators, Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, school counselors/ advisors, high school educators & special educators.  Many resources will be shared for participants to refer back to and use immediately.

Watch the recording here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Positive Behavioral Strategies For Students with Autism - Havre

April 29, 2016

Positive Behavioral Strategies for Students with Autism
A thorough presentation of positive behavioral interventions in a variety of environments will be presented to conference attendees. Discussion will center around types of behaviors; task avoidance, escape motivated, atten- tion seeking, behaviors that produce sensory consequences, and the role motivation plays in behavioral success in many settings-school, home, and community. Children with autism and behavioral concerns will be thoroughly discussed. The audience will be able to apply the information presented through videos, activities, and examples of how to set up positive plans for the children in a variety of environmental settings immediately in their respective situations. 

The training will also contain discussions about setting limits that work and the application of positive interventions. We will examine the common pitfalls that sabotage behavioral intervention plans and what to avoid when wanting to make significant behavioral changes. Discussion of how to conduct a Functional Behavioral As- sessment, write a Positive Behavioral Plan and use an Antecedent/Behavior/Consequence chart will be presented to the conference attendees. A brief discussion of how to draft positive behavioral goals for IEP’s of IFSP’s will also be presented.

Throughout the presentation, the attendees will receive a vast amount of information on what seems to work best for the children and adolescents with the various disabilities, and how to set up positive behavioral sup- ports and interventions for the individuals they are serving.
Content areas include: early childhood/infant; elementary/middle school; secondary school; curricula & instructional design; families; transition(s); collaboration/team building; differentiated education; involving para- educators; behavior management; assessment; autism; PBS positive behavioral supports.

Find more information and register here.