Friday, September 30, 2016

Strategies to Check for Understanding

What Is Checking for Understanding?

Checking for understanding is an important step in the teaching and learning process. The background knowledge that students bring into the classroom influences how they understand the material you share and the lessons or learning opportunities you provide. Unless you check for understanding, it is difficult to know exactly what students are getting out of the lesson. In fact, checking for understanding is part of a formative assessment system in which teachers identify learning goals, provide students feedback, and then plan instruction based on students' errors and misconceptions.

Montana Youth in Transition Conference - Helena, November 14-16

You can see the conference flyer here and find more information here and the agenda is here

ASAN Announces 2017 Autistic Scholars Fellowship!

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is excited to announce the second year of the Autistic Scholars Fellowship, a scholarship which provides 4 to 6 autistic students with a $5,000 tuition scholarship to promote autistic leadership and create systemic change on their college campuses. Fellows will be required to establish or participate in a leadership role within an ASAN campus chapter or a disability rights student organization, work to promote Autistic culture and community, and take steps to improve disability accessibility and inclusion on their college campuses. Fellows are also expected to check in with ASAN on a monthly basis to receive support in achieving their advocacy projects. Applicants must be Autistic, be willing to publicly identify as such, and should have a strong interest in disability rights advocacy and activism.

Archived Webinar - The Friendships & Dating Program: A Curriculum for Supporting the Relationships and Sexuality of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Webinar Description:
Training and support of professionals, direct care providers, and parents is needed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to enact their rights to sexual health and sexuality. This webinar will examine an evidence-based curricular intervention, the Friendships & Dating Program (FDP) from the Alaska UCEDD. Friendships & Dating is designed to teach social skills necessary to develop healthy, meaningful relationships, and to prevent violence in relationships for individuals with I/DD. This webinar will present and illustrate information on curricular components, program delivery, and outcomes of the Friendships & Dating Program.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Discuss the role of community service providers in the development of healthy relationships for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 
  • Describe the components of an evidence-based approach to teach social skills related to developing relationships.
View the webinar here. 

Real People, Real Stories: Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This book is comprised of stories from the perspective of people on the autism spectrum as well as parents and other loved ones in the community.

Archived Webinar - Evidence-Based Early Intervention- An Introduction to The Early Start Denver Model

The importance of early intervention cannot be understated. The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) has a strong evidence-base in working with the very young child. At the heart of the ESDM is the empirical knowledge-base of infant-toddler learning and development and the effects of early autism. 

In particular, this intervention focuses on boosting children’s social-emotional, cognitive, and language, as development in these domains is particularly affected by autism.  

Join Melissa Mello, MA, BCBA as she discusses this important topic while giving real-world examples and tips.

Educators and parents will quickly learn:

1) Discuss the importance of intervening early for optimal outcomes for children with ASD
2) State the research underpinnings of the Early Start Denver Model
3) Describe the Early Start Denver Model

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why parents try fringe therapies for autism

“It’s a cottage industry of false hope,” says Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of “Autism’s False Prophets,” a book about dubious causes and cures. “To me, taking advantage of parents’ desperate desire to do anything to help their children is the lowest form of quackery.”
To an expert, dismissing pseudo-scientific alternatives or weighing the risks of potentially promising yet unproven treatments may be second nature. For parents, it’s much more complicated.

Friday, September 16, 2016

2017 General & Special Education Conference - Seattle March 8, 9, 10, 2017

There are several sessions related to autism. 

Disproportionality in Indian Country: Native American Students in Special Education

A poster presentation from the University of Montana that was presented at the American Psychological Association conference in 2016.

You can view and download the full document here. 


If you only have 30 minutes for professional development, this series is for you!!! This twelve part series of 30-minute courses presented by Dr. Amanda Boutot was designed to give general educators, parents, administrators, paraprofessionals and others quick, practical strategies that can be easily implemented in the general education classroom.


This is the third course in a series of 12, 30-minute online courses. After completing Strategy 3: Create Predictability, a participant will be able to discuss: 1) Understanding an individual's need for predictability, 2) Establishing routines: Consistent schedules, 3) Establishing routines: Consistent activities and expectations, 4) Using visuals to support predictability, and 5) Preparing for changes.


This is the ninth course in a series of 12, 30-minute online courses. After completing Strategy 9: Use Behavioral Strategies That Promote Successful Learning, a participant will be able to discuss: 1) Behavior management vs. discipline, 2) Using positive reinforcement vs. punishment, 3) Using positive behavioral supports, 4) Using group vs. individual behavior systems, 5) Using behavior contracts and self-management system, 6) Selecting a reinforcement system.

Work in progress: An inside look at autism’s job boom

George glares at me from behind his desk. His hair is buzzed short and his mouth is set in a sneer. He asks about my prior work experience, then replies sarcastically, “Okay, well, what you’d be doing here would be a little different from that.”
This would be the toughest job interview I’ve ever been on, if it were real. Luckily, George is a digital avatar, speaking to me from a large screen. He’s part of a team of virtual job interviewers helping to train young adults with autism at the Dan Marino Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Students here learn workplace skills, train for industry certifications and complete internships. With the avatars (who may or may not be in a good mood), they also practice interviewing — a hurdle that otherwise can be insurmountable for job seekers with autism.
Learning to handle an interview is only the first step for people with autism looking for work. Often, they have no college degree, and if they do have experience, it may be from several jobs that didn’t last long. When at work, they may struggle with anxiety, have trouble communicating with their managers or estrange coworkers with their behaviors. In the United States, only 55 percent of adults with autism had worked at any point during the six years after high school graduation, according to a 2012 study. By contrast, 74 percent of young adults with intellectual disability had some work experience. 

Stimtastic - Jewelry and Toys

See them here. 

Study links immune, metabolic theories of autism

Rare antibodies associated with autism are unusually common among women who developed diabetes while pregnant with a child who has autism1. The results provide new clues to the link between immune system problems and autism.
Maternal antibodies ordinarily pass through the placenta and help to defend the fetus against pathogens. But some occasionally turn against the fetus and attack proteins in the developing brain. Researchers have found these antibodies in as much as 23 percent of women who have a child with autism2. And prenatal exposure to these antibodies alters brain development and social behavior in mice and monkeys.
Separately, studies have shown that women who develop diabetes while pregnant, a condition called gestational diabetes, are at an increased risk of having a child with autism.
The new study, which appeared 17 June in Autism Research, ties together these two threads of research, says lead investigator Judy Van de Water, professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. She says gestational diabetes may prompt some women to make the autism-linked antibodies.
“Gestational diabetes is an inflammatory condition,” Van de Water says. “And you have to have some sort of inflammatory dysregulation to create autoantibodies.” The details of this dysregulation and its link to autism are yet to be worked out, however.

How extreme prematurity ups autism risk

Infants born prematurely have a higher risk of autism than infants delivered at term, and this risk climbs the earlier a baby is born. But it’s unclear whether these autism features are merely a by-product of the complications of prematurity.
Autism in premature infants is no different from classic autism and not just a result of prematurity, says Robert Joseph, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at Boston University. An early exit from the womb intensifies the biological factors that drive autism, putting preterm infants at heightened risk, he says.

Higher autism prevalence in children prenatally exposed to alcohol

A new pilot study found that the prevalence of autism among children prenatally exposed to alcohol was significantly higher than the prevalence in the overall Canadian population.

The researchers found that 4.7 per cent (or 14) of the 300 children had been diagnosed with autism. By comparison, the prevalence of autism among the general Canadian population is 1.1 per cent.

Read more here. 

Archived Webinar - 12 “must haves” for every classroom with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Participants will learn to:

  • Recognize situations where communication breakdowns can affect the student’s understanding, behavior and participation
  • Use specific visual supports that have significantly improved student behavior and independence to participate successfully in school and life opportunities
  • Develop a communication style that will help students achieve independence and success
One thing we know is that the majority of students with ASD (and lots of other students, too) are visual learners. You’ll see lots of visual tools on my “essentials” list. Use it as a checklist for your setting.

Monday, September 12, 2016

PECS 2 Training Polson

When:  Oct 27 – 28, 2016
Where:  Red Lion Ridgewater - Polson,   209 Ridgewater Dr, Polson, MT
Description:  Only 50 seats MAX available for this 2 day training
8:30- 4pm daily
Prerequisite PECS 1 training
This training will show you how to teach PECS with fidelity so your learners don’t get stuck on early Phases of PECS. Turn your PECS user into someone who communicates in all situations using longer sentences. Review the six Phases of PECS and discuss your current challenges…this combined with ideas related to materials, teaching strategies and activities to promote communication will refine your PECS implementation skills..
Required purchase of manual Is $7.77 bring cash or check payable to Trout Creek SD

5 Ways to Be a Supportive Sibling to Someone On the Autism Spectrum

I come from a very close-knit family. My parents have been married for over 30 years, and I have two wonderful brothers. Fifteen years ago, when my youngest brother Joe was just 7 years old, we found out he has Asperger’s syndrome. At the time, there was not much research about it; my family treated Joe like everyone else.

Being an older sister has its perks, but when you are dealing with someone on the autism spectrum, there are things to consider.

1. Be careful how you tease. If you are an older sibling, you will inevitably find ways to torment your younger brothers and sisters. But, if one of them happens to have Asperger’s, they may not get over the torments so easily, and likely will not understand sarcasm.

2. Realize you may never win a debate. My brother is very headstrong and insists that Donovan McNabb should have never left the Philadelphia Eagles. He has statistics to prove it. I do not. I can just argue. He can back up his arguments about everything from sports to politicians with facts and figures.

Read more here.

'NeuroTribes' Examines The History — And Myths — Of The Autism Spectrum

Steve Silberman talks about how Nazi extermination plans and a discredited scientific paper about childhood vaccines shaped our current understanding of autism.

Listen to the interview here.

Classroom Lesson Simulation: Socializing with Friends

This lesson teaches students the social skills of appropriate greetings, engaging in reciprocal conversation, and ending the conversation appropriately. Schedule this activity two to three times per week at a consistent location. Have multiple individuals (student/adult student or staff/volunteer) available for the student to choose to socialize with. If possible, it is suggested that the conversational partner be a typically developing peer. Students should participate in activities, such as, selecting a conversation topic, locating the topic area, selecting a friend to interact with, greeting the friend, initiating social interaction, responding to questions and comments, ending conversation appropriately, and leaving the social activity to return to class.

Click here to view the lesson.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Archived Webinar - Using Visual Supports to Teach Students with ASD Across Environments

You can view the archived webinar here. 

Let's Take A Look At That Autism-Ultrasound Link

Perhaps you’ve seen headlines or even bothered to read past them in the recent reports linking autism severity and ultrasounds. As always with anything that’s been linked to autism, it’s best to look closely at the study itself to answer nagging questions like, “Oh my God, I had an ultrasound during pregnancy and what about autism severity?!” So below, a few possibly clarifying and potentially edifying observations.

The authors report finding a mathematical link between having a diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy and increased severity of some autism symptoms in the resulting offspring, especially among children who are born with specific genetic differences that are associated with autism risk.

Ultrasounds have not been shown to cause autism
First, this is a mathematical link. This paper, by Sarah Jane Webb and colleagues and published in Autism Research, does not show that ultrasounds cause autism.

This paper’s findings relate only to first-trimester diagnostic ultrasounds
Second, these results are about diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester. Women having these typically present to health care because of ominous or odd symptoms. The current indications for having a first-trimester diagnostic ultrasound include suspected ectopic pregnancy, pelvic pain, suspected multiple gestation, assessment for fetal anomalies and vaginal bleeding. Diagnostic ultrasounds in the first trimester are not routine. They mean someone thinks there’s a problem with the pregnancy or the dating of the pregnancy is unclear.

Archived Webinars from the Autism Research Institute


Archived Webinar - Confident Me! A Free Middle School Self-Esteem Program

Confident Me! is a one-session and five-session self-esteem program for middle school students that uses skills-based health education and focuses on: challenging unrealistic sociocultural ideals of appearance; media literacy with respect to these ideals; reducing appearance comparisons and appearance conversation; and encouraging body activism and positive behavior change. This webinar will provide more information about this free program to any middle school interested in using it.

Register here. 

International Association for Behavior Analysis - Denver, May 2017

This conference often has many sessions related to autism.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A bit of clarification about becoming a "Certified Autism Specialist"


Doug here. At the 2015 Montana CEC conference there was a vendor selling the opportunity to become a "Certified Autism Specialist." The "certification" required a Master's Degree or Bachelor's Degree + 10 years experience + 14 hours of continuing education and passing a quiz at 80%. The initial "certification" costs up to $495 with a renewal fee of $199 every two years.

I just want to be clear about a few things:

1. 14 hours of continuing education does not make a person an "autism specialist."

2. The Montana Office of Public Instruction does not recognize "certification" in specific disabilities.