Thursday, March 30, 2017

Webinar - AT and Apps to Support Learners with Autism

Assistive Technology can support learners with autism who may struggle with executive function skills such as scheduling and reminders, organization and time on task, attention and focus, social skills, as well as behavior monitoring and sensory breaks. In this webinar we will demonstrate and discuss various apps and AT options, including wearable technology to support students with autism, to foster engagement, inclusion, independence and success in the educational environment. 

Watch the archived webinar here. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bucking Trend, 9 In 10 With Autism Land Jobs After Training

When given the right supports and training, a new study suggests that nearly all young people with autism who qualify for supported employment can learn to excel on the job.
Nine out of 10 transition-age youth with autism who participated in an intensive job training program were working part-time earning at least minimum wage three months after graduating high school. What’s more, 87 percent were still working after 12 months.
By comparison, just 6 percent of their peers with autism who did not participate in the intervention were employed three months after graduation and only 12 percent were working after a year, according to findings published in the April issue of the journal Autism.

Webinar: Independent Living Skills and Resources for Transition-Age Youth

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM MDT

Join Independent Living Specialist Cassie Weightman to learn: 
  • What "independent living" means and what life domains it includes
  • How to plan and prepare for it from the time kids are young, and
  • How Centers for Independent Living fit in and what resources they can offer transition-age youth
Please note: some of the resources shared may be Montana-specific.

Reserve your webinar seat now at: 

Please note: If you are unable to attend on the scheduled date or if registration closes because the session is full, the webinar will be recorded and archived to the Transition and Employment Projects website.

Watch archived Webinar here 

Webinar - Achieving Financial Independence with Ticket to Work and the ABLE Act

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
3 - 4:30 p.m. ET 


WISE webinars are a great first step for people who have a disability and are ready and able to benefit from the social and financial rewards of employment. Please download and post this flyer or forward this invitation to others who might be interested in this event.The March 22 webinar will present the following information: 

  • The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, a new option that allows certain people with disabilities to save for the future while protecting their eligibility for public benefits 
  • Ticket to Work and Work Incentives and 
  • Additional resources 
Register online today at 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Limited Funding for Students With Significant Behavioral or Physical Needs Served by Public Schools

The Office of Public Instruction is making available limited funding for the costs of students with significant behavioral or physical needs served by the public schools. Funds must be obligated by June 30, 2017.

Eligible students include all of the following: students with significant behavioral or physical needs, students with conduct disorder, juvenile sex offenders, students identified as emotionally disturbed (ED) under special education or as severely emotionally disturbed (SED) under the Montana Mental Health Access Plan. Students DO NOT have to meet the eligibility criteria of severely emotionally disturbed
(SED) or be identified as a student with disabilities in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Read more here.  

Considering Culture in Autism Screening Products

Massachusetts Act Early has developed the Considering Culture in Autism Screening guide, toolkit and classroom-based curriculum offered below at no cost for use by a variety of pediatric and early childhood professionals when working with children from families whose primary language is not English. 

These free materials may be downloaded and printed for use in practice.

Screening Guide & Toolkit

Included in the Considering Culture in Autism Screening Kit are several selected translations of the  M-CHAT autism screening tool in both the latest revised version with the follow-up interview (R/F) and the original version (see below). In addition to the M-CHAT R/F translations below that represent the most prominently spoken languages in Massachusetts, the M-CHAT R/F web site has many more.

To download other translations and to learn more in general about the screening tool, please visit

M-CHAT-R/F and translations

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Autism rates in the United States explained

Has the rising awareness of autism contributed to the prevalence?
Increased awareness of autism has undoubtedly contributed to its rise in prevalence, Durkin says.
Until the 1980s, many people with autism were institutionalized, rendering them effectively invisible. Studies show that parents who are aware of autism’s presentation — by living near someone with the condition, for example — are more likely to seek a diagnosis for their children than parents with no knowledge of the condition. Living close to urban centers and having access to good medical care also boost the likelihood of diagnosis.
Greater awareness of autism is also likely to boost CDC estimates by increasing the chances that autism traits, such as lack of eye contact, show up in school and medical records, says Fombonne.
Policy changes may have also played a role. In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended screening all children for autism during routine pediatrician visits at 18 and 24 months of age. This move may have led to diagnoses for children who would otherwise have slipped under the radar.
Are there other factors that have influenced prevalence?

Curriculum In A Box

Serve Students on the Spectrum Effectively

Many teachers in the general education classroom feel unprepared to serve the growing number of students with autism. We developed the Curriculum in a Box  to provide school districts, schools, and teachers with the foundational knowledge and effective classroom strategies they need to better teach students with autism. The program can be flexibly used by administrators for small staff meetings, by autism specialists for large professional development sessions, or by individuals as a refresher.
Curriculum in a Box
The Curriculum in a Box is a comprehensive professional development program designed to provide middle and high school teachers with the knowledge and evidence-based strategies needed to support their students with autism in the general education classroom.
This resource includes everything teachers need to host a professional development session: two 75-minute PowerPoint training presentations, to be used together or separately, with video clips, participant handouts, activity worksheets, and scripted facilitator notes. The entire program includes:
  • Professional Development Presentation (fully scripted with videos, slides, and notes)
  • Training manual
  • Two (2) Life Journey Through Autism guidebooks
  • Educator’s reference sheet
All of the materials are accessible online. If you wish to order a hard copy, we encourage you to first view the materials online.

Order the Curriculum in a Box!

Many Transition Resources

See these resources and more here. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Guide to Montana's Developmental Disabilities Program.

You can download the guide here. It should be shared with parents when a student might be looking for services in that system.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

HaNEN More Than Words® on June 23-25, 2017 in Billings

June 23-25, 2017 

What you can expect from the More Than Words workshop
  • 3 full days of practical, experiential training that gives you the skills to apply what you’ve learned the very next day
  • An assessment protocol and goal-setting framework that helps you identify exactly where to start with each new child
  • Research-based responsive interaction strategies that address the specific challenges associated with ASD
  • A framework for meeting the needs of adult learners so you can effectively teach and coach parents to extend intervention into every part of the child’s day
  • Certification to lead the evidence-based More Than Words® – The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • A set of comprehensive resources to use both in your More Than Words® programs, as well as in your one-to-one sessions with children and their families
  • 2.20 CEUs or 22 professional development hours

Survey - Attitudes toward the Sexuality of People with Intellectual Disabilities

The Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) is studying the attitudes of professionals toward the sexuality of people with intellectual disabilities. The purpose of this study is to help describe attitudes that may impact services for people with intellectual disabilities. The outcome of this study can help inform future policy and practice.

Who can participate:

Medical providers, mental health providers, and professionals who serve people with intellectual disabilities (e.g. case managers, direct service providers, administrators).

Read more here. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Evidence-Based Instructional Strategies for Transition Planning

Looking for what works in transition planning? This interactive session will present validated approaches for transition assessment, instructional delivery, and data collection/analysis processes. In addition to modeling several evidence-based instructional strategies, this session will also demonstrate how educators can use existing resources to identify appropriate transition activities.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

*Use existing resources to identify evidence-based practices in transition services and planning
*Describe the components of three common evidence-based transition practices used in schools programs
*Design and implement a transition-based education for students with disabilities 

FInd more information and register here. 

Friday, March 3, 2017


For Montana Para-educators

The purpose of this Autism Academy is to provide teachers, paraprofessionals and teaching assistants with information and skills to be able to assist in the instruction of students with autism.

Registration Note: We respectfully ask that only Montana para-educators register for this module. It is designed to meet their unique professional development needs. On March 25, if there are any virtual seats available, registration will open to any Montana educatorcertified or non-certified. If you are a para/teacher team and wish to take the module together, contact Annette Young at to have your registration request honored.

  •   Goto
  •   Create an account or log in
  •   Select ‘Facilitated Modules’
  •   Then ‘Support Staff’
  •   Click the course title to
    Registration closes March 27, 2017, or when the class is full 

The Hidden Link Between Autism and Addiction

Until recently, researchers held that addiction among people with autism is rare, although there wasn’t much solid evidence for this view. It seemed plausible, though: Many people with autism have a penchant for strictly following rules, which would seem to make them less likely to try alcohol or illegal drugs. Because people with autism are often isolated from their peers, this could protect them from the peer pressure that can lead to youthful experimentation. And many people diagnosed with autism decades ago had severe features; a person who can’t live independently has few opportunities to become addicted.

A new study in Sweden, however, suggests that people with autism who have average or above-average intelligence quotients (IQs) are more than twice as likely to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs as their peers are. The risk is even higher for people who also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study is the first to look at the general risk for addiction among people with autism.

Read more here in The Atlantic. 

5 Tips for Preventing Dependency in Anxious Students

Tip 1: Pull Yourself Back: Don’t accept the word “help” in isolation
It’s exciting and a huge step when a student asks for help as opposed to putting their head 
down or avoiding the activity by going to the bathroom. But don’t stop there: now promote the 
use of a more self-reflective statement. In post-secondary school life, the word “help” won’t
be of much use. We can’t call the cable company and simply say “help.”
When a student says “I need help,” the teacher typically goes into action and essentially does 
all the work, scanning the student’s work and assessing the problem - “oh, you are stuck on 
problem number 4? Remember the formula you need to figure that out?” In many situations,
“I need help” is equivalent to “Teacher, do something!” The student didn’t articulate or even think about what they needed help with or why. 
Pull yourself back. Pretend you don’t know what the issue is. Respond instead by probing: 
“What do you need help with and why?” Allow them to self-advocate and articulate their 
confusion in a more sophisticated and self-reflective way.

Webinar - Preparing Students with Disabilities for Careers and College through an Evolution of Pre-ETS Activities Partt 2

Date: Thursday, March 9, 2017
Time: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM MST
Cost:  Free
Registration URL: 
Session Description:
This webinar is the second of a two-part series discussing the array of activities that Montana students can participate in within the five required Pre-ETS categories: Job Exploration Counseling, Work-Based Learning Experiences, Counseling for Post-Secondary Education, Workplace Readiness Training, and Instruction in Self-Advocacy. Presenters will provide examples of activities in each area, illustrate how many of the areas can be addressed through combined meaningful activities, and demonstrate through examples how an evolution of Pre-ETS services for each individual student best prepares them for college and careers.

Preparing Students with Disabilities for Careers and College through an Evolution of Pre-ETS Activities - Part 2 will review a progression of services and objectives that may be used for Instruction in Self-Advocacy and Counseling for Post-Secondary Education.

Melissa Dadmun, Project Coordinator with the Pre-Employment Transition Services Technical Assistance Center

Theresa Baldry, Project Coordinator with the Pre-Employment Transition Services Technical Assistance Center

Isaac Baldry, Independent Contractor working with the Pre-Employment Transition Services Technical Assistance Center

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Parents of autistic children are urging schools to allow controversial communication techniques

Mike is not able to speak. He points at letters on a laminated alphabet board or types on a keyboard that an aide holds. Nationally, most students who can’t talk are in self-contained classrooms or autism programs or, like Mike used to be, in a separate school for students with severe disabilities.
But five years ago, Mike and his mother traveled to Texas to explore a novel communication technique called Rapid Prompting Method that led to what his family describes as a breakthrough. About a year later, he joined a new pilot program in Montgomery County Public Schools for autistic students who rely on keyboards and communication partners.

Montgomery County is unusual, if not unique, in creating such a program. Many schools have denied similar requests for programs that allow rapid prompting, or a similar technique known as facilitated communication that was widely discredited by the scientific community in the 1990s.

In an autism world with few documented treatments and many high-cost promises, the use of these techniques has stirred strong emotions. Critics say they offer false hope to desperate families, while advocates argue that they help some people and that it is wrong to stop exploring the only means some may have of communicating.

Read more here at the Washington Post.

Don't Believe The Hype Around Autistic Women Having A Male Brain

A study just published in JAMA Psychiatry has made some waves with its conclusions that women with autism are much more likely than women without autism to have a "male brain." The study findings do not, however, live up to the breathless headlines or to claims of one of its authors, Simon Baron-Cohen, who excitedly tweeted that "79.6% of women with autism have a male brain, and women with a male brain are 3 times more likely to have autism."

But let's take a closer look at the study and its findings.

Read more here at Forbes.

The Social Times Curriculum - Kari Dunn Buron

(Doug - I received a pre-review copy of some of the materials and they look quite good. ) 

Set includes: 3 Student Books
1 Teacher Book
1 Curriculum Guide
USB drive with downloadable materials

Using a magazine format in full color and standard columns within each chapter, The Social Times Curriculum is written directly to students in an engaging “voice,” aimed at teaching social cognition and emotional regulation in an enjoyable way that increases students’ motivation and encourages peer interaction. The Social Times Curriculum set consists of three copies of The Social Times Student Book, one copy of The Social Times Teacher Book, The Social Times Curriculum Guide, and a USB drive with downloadable materials. The Social Times Student Book is also available separately to supplement larger classes.

In each chapter, the main topic focuses on an area of social cognition that individuals across the autism spectrum, or with related social needs, might find confusing. All of the topics offer critical information for how to use social learning with peers and in the community, while making each lesson entertaining and applicable to today’s students. The accompanying USB materials include word searches, crossword puzzles, quizzes, hand-outs, scales, and additional activities.

Read more here.