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.

Birth Spacing May Influence Autism Risk

Waiting too little or too much time between pregnancies may significantly increase the odds that children will have autism or other developmental disabilities, new research suggests.
In a review of existing studies on more than a million kids, researchers found that children born to moms who waited less than a year between pregnancies were nearly twice as likely to have autism compared to those who waited over three years.
The findings published online Thursday in the journal Pediatrics also suggest that such children may face an increased risk of cerebral palsy and developmental delay.


Free Certificates of Participation are available upon passing an online quiz for most  webinars. Some events offer Continuing Education Units and/or Continuing Medical Education credits. We are adding new talks for 2016 in the weeks to come - watch our eblasts and check the website for updates.     
Mar. 23: Caring for Siblings REGISTER 
April 7: *An Introduction to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet REGISTER 
April 21: *Utilizing Students' Interests to Teach Social Skills REGISTER 
May 6: *Hydration: How Much is Enough? REGISTER 
May 11: *Practical Strategies for Building a Healthy Meal Plan REGISTER 
May 19: *Nutrition and Adolescents REGISTER 
June 2: *Overview of the DSM-5 Changes to the Diagnosis of ASD REGISTER 
June 8: Law Enforcement Issues and ASD REGISTER 
June 16: *Effects of Medical Experiences on Early Development REGISTER
June 29: Sleep Issues in ASD - Live Q&A REGISTER 
July 7: *How to Organize Your Family and Thrive in Chaos REGISTER 
July 13: Healthy Nutrition Approaches for the School and School Year REGISTER 
July 21: *Utilizing Praise for Social and Emotional Learning REGISTER 
Aug 18: *Social Skills, Social Networking, and Adolescents with ASD REGISTER 
Aug 25: *Tips and Resources for Emergency Personnel REGISTER
Sept. 7: Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome | REGISTER 
Sept 14: How to Evaluate Quality Nutritional Supplements REGISTER 
Sept 15: *Breakfast and Learning/Academic Performance REGISTER 
Sept 29: *Decision Making Thoughts for Parents and Caregivers REGISTER 
Oct 6: *Parents' and Students' Rights in Special Education REGISTER
Oct 12: Environmental Factors in ASD - Research Updates REGISTER 
Oct 20: *Feeding: Beyond the Basics REGISTER 
Nov 4: *Anxiety and Autism: What You Need To Know REGISTER 
Nov 9: Obesity and Failure-to-Thrive Concerns in Children with ASD REGISTER 
Nov 17: *Johnson Center Research Update REGISTER 
Dec 2: *Patient and Family Centered Care: What You Need to Know REGISTER 
Dec 7: Ask the Nutritionist - Live Q&A REGISTER 

Dec 15: *Essential Oils - Separating Fact from Fiction REGISTER 

Autism Apps - A List

Apps are listed in alphabetical order. You can sort apps by rating by clicking the "Rating" link above that column. You can rate apps by first clicking on the app name to visit the app detail page. Then, below the description of the app, click on the number of stars for your rating of the app.
Apps now have a research rating:
 Anecdotal = No specific or related scientific studies for this type of app.  
 Research = There are some related scientific studies, but no direct research support for this type of app or technology.
 Evidence = There is solid or specific scientific evidence that this type of app or technology is helpful.

Study: Autism Costs More Than Double As People Age

State spending on adults with autism is dramatically higher than for children, according to a new analysis that may offer hints of what’s to come as more people on the spectrum grow up.
In a study looking at per-person spending on autism services in California, researchers found that the state is shelling out roughly $26,500 on average for each adult annually. By comparison, costs for those under age 18 are averaging about $10,500.

Webinar - Puzzle Pieces: Putting Together the Picture of Adult Life

Have you ever done a jigsaw puzzle? You start with a pile of pieces and, one at a time, fit the pieces together so you can see the picture. Figuring out how your adult life will look is a bit like putting together a puzzle. Join presenters from the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities Consumer Advisory Council to explore pieces of adulthood such as mental health, transportation, college, recreation and more…and watch the puzzle take shape! 

Intended audience: Youth and young adults with disabilities, parents and other family members, individuals who support young people in their transition to adult life 

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

Webinar - Ready, Set, Potty

This workshop offers a proven effective method to potty training children with special needs. This is an individualized program that has a 95% rate of success. Many parents have tried this toileting training program and are very happy with the results. This method will shorten the potty training time, as well as teach participants other techniques to use in order to make this a wonderful experience for both you and your child. 

Webinar - Group Discovery as a Classroom-Based Tool

Group Discovery is a technique that can be used as part of the transition assessment. The approach examines the best a student has to offer. This presentation will focus on how group discovery can be used as a tool in the class or resource room to help students think about: 
• What they have to offer employers 
• Tasks they would like to perform on a work site 
• What they need to be successful 
• When they are at their best 

The webinar will provide examples of exercises performed by the students and how to structure the group, as well as what teachers need to think about and the outcomes that can be expected from this approach. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Many, many helpful apps

The apps listed here are available for iOS, Android devices, or both. More information can be found by googling the name of the app.


At Ease: Relieves anxiety through meditation, mental exercises, and journaling. Goal is deep lasting change.

Autism 5-point Scale EP: Help users with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities to communicate and regulate in emergency situations.

Breathe, Think, Do: App developed by Sesame Street, helps students calm down and solve everyday problems by helping a monster take big breaths, think of a plan, and try it out.

Calm Myself Down: Uses ABA (applied behavior analysis) techniques to help user (particularly those with autism spectrum disorders) stay calm and in control

Digital Problem Solver: Teaches users to identify emotions of characters and to help characters self-regulate.

MindShift: Mobile anxiety coach, includes strategies to deal with anxiety-producing situations.
PTSD Coach: Provides information about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and tools for screening, symptom tracking, and symptom management.

Self-Regulation Training Board: Teaches self-regulation skills in physical, emotional, and cognitive domains.

Sosh, Sosh Lite: Self-regulation tools including the Shredder (“shreds” negative thoughts and feelings) and Voice Meter (light that gives students visual feedback on volume of their voice).

Squeeze and Shake Stress Relief: Virtual stress ball that either looks and squeaks like a rubber ducky when you squeeze the screen or vibrates for a hand massage when you shake the phone.

Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help: Tools to help people with panic disorder, including a diary and audio clips for emotion training, audio for calming, relaxation, and panic-attack assistance.

Stress Tracker: Stress management app that tracks stress, moods, sources of stress, and behaviors. View trends and suggested action steps.

SuperBetter: Tool created by game designers to build personal resilience. Aims to build physical, mental, emotional, and social strength during difficult life changes.

Tactical Breather: Provides training and practice at gaining control of stress responses, including heart rate, emotions, and concentration.

The Feelings Book: Teaches emotional identification, understanding, and regulation. Has three developmental levels.
The Shredder: App with only the Shredder tool from Sosh.

Unstuck: Helps user get from “stuck to unstuck,” no matter what the problem is, by identifying what kind of stuck moment the user is having and suggesting how to proceed.

Worry Box: Anxiety Self-Help: Creates a “worry box” to “put worries away”; list steps to manage worry or to find coping statements to think about worry differently.

Zones of Regulation: Helps students categorize their emotions and levels of alertness into “zones” and teaches skills for self-regulation.


AWARENESS: Alerts students to rate their emotions and provides coping strategies if needed.

Depression CBT Self-Help Guide:  Includes a diary to monitor mood, suggestions based cognitive behavioral therapy for battling depression, and emotion-training and relaxation audio.

Goal Streaks: Tracks the days that a goal is attained, and allows user to track “streaks.”

I am Feeling...: Notifies users to log how they are currently feeling and creates a shareable history.

Moody Me: Mood Diary and Tracker: Tracks moods over time and allows users to store photos of what makes them happy or sad.

MotivAider: Calls attention to a desired behavior on a set schedule, with vibration and/or audible tone.

My Daily Journal:  Journaling app with support for photos, online backup, and PDF export.

Percentally: Data collection app that collects tally data and automatically converts it  to percentages.

Repeat Timer: Repeating interval timer.

Streaks: Tracks “streaks” of progress toward behavior goals.

Sym Trend: Diary that records health information for depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or autism to help users understand patterns and triggers, see how treatment is working, and manage their own care.

T2 Mood Tracker: Tool to monitor and track emotions (on provided or customized scales) over time.

Tally Counter: Tracks behavior frequency using tallies.

TracknShare: Allows user to track information such as symptoms, goals, moods, or habits.


Functional Planning System: Uses video modeling to plan a user’s day.

My Picture Talk: Video Modeling tool.

Video Scheduler: Allows user to construct picture and video schedules.


Between the Lines: Allows user to practice interpreting vocal intonation, facial expressions, perspective taking, body language, and idiomatic or slang expressions using photographs and voices.

Choiceworks: Helping children complete daily routines (morning, day, and night); understand and control their feelings; and improve their waiting skills (Taking turns and not interrupting).

Feel Electric!: Game created by Sesame Street to explore emotions and build expressive vocabulary skills.

iCreate...Social Skills Stories: Allows user to customize sequential steps of a storyline for individuals that need help building their social skills.

Pictello: Develops visual stories and talking books based on a series of pictures (from library or user photos). Can be used for stories to teach social skills and strategies, schedules, and language learning.

Social Skill Builder: Promotes social learning in individuals with learning challenges, using real video scenarios and multiple choice questions.

Stories About Me: Creates talking picture books using photos, text, and voice recordings.

Stories2Learn:  Creates personalized stories using photos, text, and audio messages.

StoryMaker for Social Stories: App for creating and presenting social stories.


123TokenMe: Personalizable reinforcement tool and data collection.

ABC Data Pro: Data collection tool for behavior and/or event counting, partial interval recording, full interval recording, and ABC (antecedent, behavior, and consequence) recording.

Autism: ABC Checklist Mobile App: Enables the recording of antecedent, behavior, duration, setting, and consequence. In addition, enables educator to produce an easy-to-follow log of information to aid in analysis of any patterns to determine intervention (if needed). Can easily be customized to meet teacher’s requirements.
Autism: Duration Data Sheet Mobile App: Data sheet app created for specific students. Can be adapted or modified to fit student’s needs, and can also be used as a template for teacher’s own data sheets.

Behavior Support App: Behavior support for autism and special education. Helps user label target behaviors, identify function of behaviors, and begin to develop positive behavior support plans.

Behavior Tracker Pro: Allows user to track behavior and generate graphs and charts. Mobile app links to online portal for team use.

Catalyst Client: Behavior data collection app that syncs to web based portal for storage and analysis.

Class Dojo: Allows teacher to give students positive behavior feedback points on strategy use or skill practice. Parents can also check in on student progress. Provides analytics and reports.

Ecove: Allows user to gather classroom observation data, including timers, counters, and checklists. Several apps available for different purposes.

Ilearnedthat: Behavior chart app that turns a picture of a reward into an interactive jigsaw of up to sixty pieces. User earns the reward one piece at a time for using strategies and skill practice.

Intervals: An ABA Interval Recording App: Performs ABA interval recordings and time samplings.

No More Meltdowns: Diary to record information relating to meltdowns and to analyze to see patterns. Teaches adults to manage their own feelings to calmly help the child, strategies to de-escalate and soothe the child in the moment, understand common triggers, and create plans to prevent future problems.

Teach Me Skills Advanced: Collects data on skill acquisition and behavior intervention.


7Notes HD Premium: Note-taking app with handwriting recognition.

Colornote: Simple note-taking app. Includes checklist creation, notes in calendar, and syncing.

Evernote: Enables user to create notes with text, photos, lists, or voice reminders. Notes can be shared, searched, and organized.

Fotobabble: Creates “talking photos” with user’s photos and recorded messages. Can be used to make a future picture for students or to create a positive self-talk picture or to remind a student of a strategy.

Goodnotes: Allows user to take notes and annotate PDF documents.

My Visual Schedule: Users can create video schedules using large provided library of photos and video or creating their own.

Notability: Note-taking app that also allows editing of PDFs and Google Docs. Notes can be linked to audio recordings.

Picture Scheduler: Task organizer with option of text, picture, audio, or video tasks. Includes alarm function and recurring alarms.

Tellagami: Creates simple animated videos. Can be used to make a future picture students.

Timer+: Set multiple timers at once. Program minute, hour, or seconds.

Traffic Light: Timer goes from green to yellow to red as user runs out of time.

VisTimer: Gentle implementation of time-imposed limits. Utilizes an animated shrinking pie chart to depict elapsed time. Visual thinkers, especially children, have difficulty conceptualizing time.

VoCal: Creates audio to-do list with no need for writing.


Edmodo: Social platform for education; allows secure discussion, posting of assignments, and file sharing. Students can use app to preview the class when they are outside the classroom and to participate in class without having to speak in front of peers.

Facetime: Video calling app.

iPrompts: An app to rapidly create and present visual cues that help individuals make the transition from one activity to the next, understand upcoming events, make choices, focus on task at hand, and learn social skills.

Skype: Cross-platform video and voice calling up.

Socrative Teacher: Class engagement tool providing games and exercises. Students can use it to participate from outside the classroom and to participate in class without having to speak in front of peers.

Many thanks to Libby Johnson of Red Lodge High School for preparing this list. Libby is a special education teacher, Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a Behavior Consultant for the Montana Office of Public Instruction.