Monday, September 25, 2017

Brain, behavior distinguish autism from language delay

Babies with autism show behavioral and brain features that differ from those of babies with language delay1. These findings from a new study hint at different biological origins for autism and language delay.

The results, based partly on brain scans, could help clinicians identify and treat subgroups of children with language problems.

Read more here at Spectrum.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Screening tool misidentifies autism in many toddlers

A widely used screening test for autism is more accurate in children at 24 months of age than at 18 months, according to three new studies1,2,3. The results suggest that clinicians need a more finely tuned screen for children younger than 20 months.
Parents in the United States typically complete the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) at their child’s 18-month and 24-month visits to the pediatrician. They answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to 23 questions probing social, motor and language skills.
Clinicians are supposed to give a follow-up interview to families whose children score above a certain threshold. They refer children for diagnostic testing if that second test indicates the child may have autism.
Testing children at 18 months may give them a head start on therapy. But the new work suggests the M-CHAT isn’t accurate at this age.

Transition Resources

I wanted to let you know about our Transition toolkit and other resources related to transition, employment and housing for individuals with autism.

The Transition Toolkit provides valuable information on the transition to adulthood. Topics include, self-advocacy, independent living skills, legal matters, and many other important topics. The transition page includes state specific transition timelines. 

Family members of adolescents and young adults with autism between the ages of 13 and 22 in the United States may request a complimentary hard copy of the Transition Tool Kit by filling out the Transition Tool Kit order form. Transition Tool Kit Hardcopy Request

For professionals, service providers, and family members of individuals with autism outside the U.S. and those who do not fall in the age range, we encourage you to download the kit free of charge. Transition Toolkit Download Form

A link to our housing and community living portal can be found here: A pdf of the Housing and Residential Supports Toolkit can be found here:

In addition, we have a job portal for individuals with autism It is a free site for employers, service providers and job seekers. Please feel free to sign up as a service provider.

Please check out our LinkedIn networking sites here: We invite you and any parent or professional that might be interested in these resources

Archived Webinar - Tantrums, Meltdowns, and Outbursts, Oh My! Strategies for helping your child cope with during overwhelming situations.

Presented by Amanda Tami, LPC, BCBA and Claire Schutte, Psy-D, BCBA-D, The Johnson Center for Child Health & Development

Thursday, September 21, 2017


A new study suggests that boys and girls with autism have facial features that are characteristically more male than female. A wider forehead and a narrower midface are among several of the distinguishing traits. The findings, published in Scientific Reports, could provide evidence for a controversial theory that sees autism as the result of an "extreme male brain." 

Read more here. 

Association for Science in Autism Treatment

You can read the newsletter here. 

You can subscribe to the newsletter here. 

A ‘cure’ for autism at any cost

Scores of parents abandon mainstream autism treatments to pursue Son-Rise, an intense, expensive — and unproven — behavioral therapy.

The prices at the institute are especially steep given that states such as California and New York pay for a wide range of evidence-based interventions. Son-Rise startup classes are advertised as $2,200 per parent; an ‘intensive’ course, attended by parents and children, can run to $18,000. “Should you be selling your house to pay for this extraordinarily expensive program?” asks Catherine Lord, founding director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York. “That’s where we are getting worried.”
Investing in Son-Rise, experts say, is a little like buying a lottery ticket. “I’m not aware of any rigorous scientific evidence that supports it,” says Fred Volkmar, head of the Autism Program at Yale University. There are no independent clinical trials or scientific studies of Son-Rise to back the institute’s claims that the program “helps parents cure their children in some cases” and “achieve significant improvement in almost all cases.”

Archived Webinar - Expanding the Use of ABA to the Classroom

Thursday, September 28, 2017 3:00 p.m. EDT

Join us for a webinar on the effective use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in school settings with Dr. Amanda Kelly, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA aka Behaviorbabe™.
Whether you’re an ABA provider, a school administrator or educator, the application of ABA in the classroom setting can have a measurable impact on behavior for both children who with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder as well as children with other behavioral challenges. We’ll discuss application of ABA in schools, along with other settings, and how to improve how provider staff, teachers, and aides.
This webinar will cover the following topics:
  • Overview of applied behavior analysis (ABA)
  • Methods to improve quality and consistency of interventions
  • Resources related to successful integration and inclusion of ABA in the classroom setting
*Interested but can't attend? Register and we'll send you the recording.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Police Need to Understand Autism

Diane Craglow was caring for a 14-year-old autistic boy named Connor Leibel in Buckeye, Ariz., one day in July. They took a walk to one of his favorite places, a park in an upscale community called Verrado. She was not hesitant to leave Connor alone for a few minutes while she booked a piano lesson for his sister nearby, because he usually feels safe and comfortable in places that are familiar to him, and he learns to be more independent that way.
When Ms. Craglow returned, she couldn’t believe what she saw: a police officer looming over the now-handcuffed boy, pinning him to the ground against a tree. Connor was screaming, and the police officer, David Grossman, seemed extremely agitated.
As Ms. Craglow tried to piece together what had happened, more officers arrived, spilling out of eight patrol cars in response to Officer Grossman’s frantic call for backup. Soon it became clear to Ms. Craglow that the policeman was unaware that Connor has autism, and had interpreted the boy’s rigid, unfamiliar movements — which included raising a piece of yarn to his nose to sniff it repeatedly — as a sign of drug intoxication.
As a graduate of Arizona’s Drug Evaluation and Classification program, Officer Grossman is certified as a “drug recognition expert.” But no one had trained him to recognize one of the classic signs of autism: the repetitive movements that autistic people rely on to manage their anxiety in stressful situations, known as self-stimulation or “stimming.” That’s what Connor was doing with the string when Officer Grossman noticed him while he was on patrol.
Images from Officer Grossman’s body camera show how the encounter turned into a situation that rapidly escalated beyond Connor’s ability to make sense of what was happening to him.
Read more here at the New York Times. 

Dear Everybody,

Read more here. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When Older Sib Has Autism, Vax Rates Drop

Families with children with autism spectrum disorder are less likely to vaccinate subsequent children, and more likely to cite adverse effects from vaccines, researchers found.
Writing in the Correspondence section of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers in California found the rate of vaccination was lower among children who had an older sibling with autism spectrum disorder than it was among "low-risk infants." Moreover, the authors found a higher portion of parents reporting adverse reactions to vaccines for both their child with autism and the infant sibling compared to those parents who did not have an older child with autism.

Webinar - PANDAS in ASD

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Billings Autism Spectrum Group Meetings

September 14, 2017
November 9, 2017
January 11, 2018
March 8, 2018
May 10, 2018

All meeting are held at the Billings Clinic, Room E of the Mary Alice Fortin Center, which is adjacent to the hospital cafeteria.  

The meetings are scheduled from 7:00-9:00pm.

Anyone interested in attending should call Paula at 406-248-6186 or Sandy at 406-373-5057 to confirm meeting dates and location.

Archived Webinar - Writing Strategies for the Reluctant Writer, Including Dysgraphia

Participants will explore some of the reasons students develop a reluctance to express themselves in writing.  Among these is Dysgraphia which will be explained. A variety of high-tech and low-tech strategies for reversing writing reluctance will be described. 

Our expert presenter will address handwriting, spelling, and information organization (generating ideas and planning/translating the ideas into written format). Participants will learn proven strategies that they may immediately implement.

View the webinar here. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Montana Adaptive Equipment Program is closing

Dear MonTECH consumer:
 After more than two decades, we are sad to announce the end of the Montana Adaptive Equipment Program (MAEP). MAEP provides long-term loans of adaptive equipment to Montanans with developmental disabilities.
MonTECH staff was informed on August 31st that the MAEP program will no longer receive funding after September 30th. This is due to severe budget cuts by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
We thank those who have used MAEP or recommended our program to friends, families, students, and clients.  We assure you that, although this program will end, we will do our best to help Montanans with disabilities get the adaptive equipment they need.
We are still unclear about how this change will impact our other programs, but we remain committed to provide tools and equipment that will improve the quality of life for those with disabilities. We are concerned about the impact this loss may have on Montanans, particularly those who will experience still more cuts in their services.
  1. In the future, how will I find equipment that has been housed by MAEP?
Over the next couple of months, some of the MAEP inventory will turn over to MATP Long-term Loans.  Go to our web site, click on ‘Equipment Loans and Reuse,’ click on ‘Search for Equipment in MATP-LTL.’

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Archived Webinar - The Interrelationship Between Sleep and ASD

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

PECS Level I Trainings

Great Falls - September 18th and 19th    (Hilton Garden Inn)

Bozeman - September 20th and 21st       (Homewood Suites)

Kalispell - October 2nd and 3rd                (Hampton Inn)

Missoula - October 4th and 5th                (Hilton Garden Inn)
This intensive two-day training is designed to teach participants the theory behind the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the protocols for how to appropriately implement the six phases of PECS. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is used to rapidly teach communication skills to those with limited functional speech. Training in PECS begins by teaching a spontaneous request and goes on to teach additional communicative functions such as responding to questions and commenting.

NOTE:  PECS REQUIRES THAT EACH ATTENDEE MUST BRING THEIR OWN COPY of the Second Edition PECS Training Manual with Data Forms CD to the training. Manuals may not be shared among attendees. 

You will NOT be admitted to the training if you do not bring an individual copy of that manual.


Online 2017 MEA-MFT PASS
Paraprofessionals Achieving Standards Successfully
Online through the OPI
Montana Teacher Learning Hub

September 25 – November 3

November 6 – December 8

Registration Deadline
September 11, 2017
Who Should Attend?
  • Any paraprofessional who wants to gain new skills and capacity for helping students.
  • Any paraprofessional who still needs to be deemed “highly qualified” in accordance with new Title I requirements. (Check with your local school district or union rep if you are unsure if you are affected by these requirements and to assure that PASS is recognized by your district).
How do I Register?
  • CLICK HERE for registration info
  • Registration Deadline September 11, 2017
  • Participants must attend all online facilitatedmeetings. To be scheduled weekly on Monday.
  • Pre-Registration is required. $100 for MEA-MFT members and $150 for nonmembers.
For more information, contact Marco Ferro or
Jami Wood at MEA-MFT     1-800- 398-0826

MEA-MFT PASS course has been developed by and for Montana paraprofessionals and provides participants with important skills in classroom management as well as proven strategies in reading, writing, and math instruction, taught in a dynamic and fun setting. A nationally developed assessment is built directly into the course, assuring that paraprofessionals who take the course can demonstrate evidence of content mastery to their local districts and the state of Montana.

Course materials are taken from the nationally recognized and award winning, developed by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). A team of highly trained educators from throughout the state are responsible for teaching the course.