Friday, December 22, 2017

Why autism remains hidden in Africa

Many African children with autism are hidden away at home — sometimes tied up, almost always undiagnosed. Efforts to bring the condition into the open are only just beginning.

The biggest differences are who gets diagnosed and when. Children with autism in Africa tend to be diagnosed around age 8, about four years later, on average, than their American counterparts. More than half of African children with autism are also diagnosed with intellectual disability, compared with about one-third of American children on the spectrum. This suggests that only the most severely affected children are being picked up: Those who are diagnosed often speak few or no words and require substantial help with everyday tasks such as eating or going to the bathroom. By contrast, in the United States, the largest diagnostic increases over the past few decades have been on the milder end of the spectrum.

Read more here at Spectrum.

Living On The Autism Spectrum: Women Talk About Their Diagnoses As Adults

When we hear the words “autism diagnosis” it’s common to imagine a young child or adolescent.
But what about those who receive their diagnoses at a later stage of life -- in the midst of successful careers or long, happy marriages?

This hour, we meet two women who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as adults.

Listen here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

How To: Teach Students to Change Behaviors Through Self-Monitoring

Self-monitoring takes advantage of a behavioral principle: the simple acts of measuring one's target behavior and comparing it to an external standard or goal can result in lasting improvements to that behavior. Self-monitoring is sometimes described as having 'reactive' effects (Kazdin, 1989), because students who measure and pay close attention to selected behaviors often react to this monitoring information by changing those target behaviors in the desired direction.
In classroom settings, self-monitoring offers several advantages. Self-monitoring requires that the student be an active participant in the intervention, with responsibility for measuring and evaluating his or her behaviors. Also, in order to accurately self-evaluate behaviors, the student must first learn the teacher's behavioral expectations. That ability of a child or youth to understand and internalize the behavioral expectations of others is a milestone in the development of social skills. Finally, student self-monitoring data is typically economical to collect, even in a busy classroom, and can often be used to document the success of a behavioral intervention.
There are many possible variations to student self-monitoring programs.  In order to be most effective, however, self-monitoring programs will usually include the following 7 steps:

Read more here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Para Supervision Training

Para Supervision Training         unnamed
                Barb Stimson
      February 22 - Wingate Missoula

This course provides the professional educator with core knowledge and skills to work effectively in teams composed both of professionals and paraeducators. Specifically, participants will refine their knowledge of the characteristics of paraeducators in education, the distinction between professional and paraeducator roles and responsibilities, liability and ethical issues.  This session is a continuation  of  Session I in August of 2017...but participants need not have gone to session I to benefit from this training.  Sessions will be continued at the Summer Institute in June.

If you have queestions about this workshop please contact:


                          LAUREN SWINEFORD - PHD CCC SLP
                                      FEBRUARY 15,2018
                                    Hampton Inn Kalispell


Please contact Western Montana CSPD with any questions about this workshop.

Cass Rocco

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

People on the Autism Spectrum Are Boycotting 'To Siri With Love'

People on the autism spectrum are boycotting “To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines,” a book written in 2016 by Judith Newman, a mother whose son is on the autism spectrum. In her book, Newman says she wants medical power of attorney when her son, who is currently 16, turns 18 so she can get him a vasectomy.

Read more here at The Mighty.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mental Health Issues in the Classroom: Practical Strategies for Helping Children and Adolescents Succeed

Missoula - February 21, 2018
Bozeman - February 22, 2018
Billings - February 23, 2018


Course Description:
Join child/adolescent behavioral expert, Jay Berk, PhD, and learn how to best manage the students at your school diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), mood disorders, anxiety and depression. You will walk away with concrete, yet practical, strategies to successfully intervene with their serious behavioral issues, such as:
  • Anger and outbursts
  • Cutting and self-injury
  • Defiance
  • Impulsivity
  • Sensory issues
  • Meltdowns and tantrums
  • Obsessive compulsive
  • Truancy
  • Rigidity
  • Electronic addiction

Through case studies, video clips and dynamic class discussion you will learn:
  • 30 second teacher strategies to manage challenging and disruptive behaviors
  • New ways to reduce the costs of out-of-district placements
  • How to engage students in class, increase productivity and reduce truancy
  • Behavioral assessments and strategies for the IEP team
  • Side-effects of common psychotropic medications
  • How skill deficits from mental health conditions create behavioral difficulties
  • Characteristics of at-risk students’ mental health problems
  • Strategies to gain collaboration with clinicians
Find more information here.

NOTE: This workshop costs $200 and is not provided by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project. We will not offer scholarships because of the cost and not knowing the speaker.

Archived Webinar - Assistive Technology to Support Children’s Sensory and Behavior Development

This workshop discusses the wide range of assistive technology available to help support children’s sensory and behavior needs. Tools, apps, and resources will be discussed and demonstrated.

Watch the recording here. 

Archived Webinar - Staying Organized at Work: Technology Tools for Task Management and Focus

This workshop, for transition-age youth and adults, addresses the use of technology to support task management and focus. Whether you have ADHD or simply struggle with organization, learn about tools and apps to help you succeed at work.

College programs, funding, and other key resources to ensure success

Intellectual disabilities, also known as Low IQ, exist within the larger spectrum of developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy and down syndrome. As the number of academic programs for students with these types of disabilities grows, it’s important for learners and their families to have access to details about their options. Read on to learn about various college programs and funding opportunities to support this population of students, and see what our expert has to say about available support services and resources on today’s college campuses.

See the resources here. 

The link between parental age and autism, explained

Older men and women are more likely than young ones to have a child with autism, according to multiple studies published in the past decade. Especially when it comes to fathers, this parental-age effect is one of the most consistent findings in the epidemiology of autism.
The link between a mother’s age and autism is more complex: Women seem to be at an increased risk both when they are much older and much younger than average, according to some studies.
Nailing down why either parent’s age influences autism risk has proved difficult, however.

Cultural barriers lead clinicians to misdiagnose or miss children with autism in immigrant communities.

Gboro and Nabunyi sat on a sofa in the living room of their apartment and watched as the women from a community health clinic offered the toddler various objects. The women’s goal was to observe how Baraka would play with the objects — standard protocol for an autism evaluation. But the protocol seemed geared toward a child with a typical American upbringing. There was a pretend birthday cake, but Baraka had not yet been to an American birthday party. They gave him a plastic bag of Cheerios, the popular American breakfast cereal, but a typical breakfast in the Congo — and in Gboro’s household — is cheese, bread and milk, or sometimes porridge. And there was an African interpreter, too, but he spoke an unfamiliar French dialect and gave the boy instructions with words his parents never used. Sometimes, the clinicians spoke directly to Baraka in English, which he didn’t understand at all.

Those complexities, experts say, make it difficult to interpret the evidence that certain immigrant communities have an unusually high or low prevalence of autism. As some researchers dig into possible explanations, from stress to environmental factors, others say the true issue may be societal: a mix of diagnostic challenges, communication barriers and culture clashes that lead clinicians to misdiagnose or miss children on the spectrum in these communities.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Teaching Self-management

Self-management interventions help learners with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn to independently regulate their own behaviors and act appropriately in a variety of home, school, and community-based situations. With these interventions, learners with ASD are taught to discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, accurately monitor and record their own behaviors, and reward themselves for behaving appropriately. As learners with ASD become more fluent with the self-management system, some of the implementation responsibilities shift from teachers, families, and other practitioners to the learners themselves.

Find a short manual here.  

How do adults and teens with self-declared Autism Spectrum Disorder experience eye contact? A qualitative analysis of first-hand accounts


A tendency to avoid eye contact is an early indicator of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and difficulties with eye contact often persist throughout the lifespan. Eye contact difficulties may underlie social cognitive deficits in ASD, and can create significant social and occupational barriers. Thus, this topic has received substantial research and clinical attention. In this study, we used qualitative methods to analyze self-reported experiences with eye contact as described by teens and adults with self-declared ASD. Results suggest people with a self- declared ASD diagnosis experience adverse emotional and physiological reactions, feelings of being invaded, and sensory overload while making eye contact, in addition to difficulties understanding social nuances, and difficulties receiving and sending nonverbal information. Some data support existing mindblindness frameworks, and hyperarousal or hypoarousal theories of eye contact, but we also present novel findings unaccounted for by existing frameworks. Additionally, we highlight innovative strategies people with self-declared ASD have devised to overcome or cope with their eye contact difficulties.

Autism, genetics and epigenetics: why the lived experience matters in research

Epigenetics, in our view, is not a mere replacement of one explanatory model by another one. One does not want to bring back the 'mother blaming' of the 1960s and 1970s. Neither does one want to replace a simplistic single gene explanation of autism by a simplistic single environmental factor, such as, for instance, in the MMR vaccine controversy of the early 2000s. Ethicists and scientists alike should make sure that no black and white conclusions are drawn from epigenetics studies, and that this new field is not simply replacing one culprit (the autism gene) by another (the autism environmental pollutant). In fact, the more nuanced view of human biology that is suggested by epigenetics may help move the discussion from the search for causes and culprits to experiences and understanding.

Who we are and the problems we face are the result of complex interactions of our genetic disposition with our physical and psychosocial environment. As such, problems are never problems of the individual (Barad 2007). For autism, this may suggest a view that a genetic or neurological vulnerability, in combination with environmental factors (both physical as well as psychosocial) can cause the difficulties of autistic people, and that the search for causes solely in the individual itself is doomed to fail.

Walking doesn’t deliver language gains for children with autism

Children with autism do not show the burst of vocabulary growth that usually accompanies learning to walk, according to a new study1.
The findings add to mounting evidence that motor development is linked to social and language skills in children with autism.
Walking gives toddlers an efficient way to explore their environment and initiate social interactions. Studies show that language skills typically blossom after children take their first steps2. Many children with autism have atypical gaits, however. And those who show early signs of motor problems tend to be slow to develop language skills3.
The new work suggests that regardless of when children with autism learn to walk, they do not show the same vocabulary gains that their typical peers do.

Archived Webinar - Giving Instant Feedback to Disabled Students with Technology to Create Engagement and Motivation

Instant feedback corrects mistakes at the earliest possible moment and motivates students in the academic setting. Instant feedback can help alleviate some of the frustration that disabled students feel and reinforce positive learning behaviors. Attendees will learn about several technologies that will considerably increase the engagement of students with disabilities and other challenging learners. 

This webinar will explore several online student response systems. Some of the programs that will be explored are Kahoot!, Socrative, Quizlet, and Plickers. The psychology of instant feedback and the positive effect it has on students with disabilities will be discussed along with the use of the technology.

View the recording here. 

Archived Webinar - AAC Implementation Plans: Preparing for Successful Communication

In this session, we will discuss how to develop and utilize an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Implementation Plan to support communication across activities or settings. Crucial components include descriptions of tools and strategies used with an individual, detailed communicative expectations for specific activities across an individual's day, and determination of team members' various responsibilities regarding the AAC system.

An AAC Implementation Plan can be used as a framework for team discussion, a training resource, and a launching point for data collection.

Watch the recording here. 

‘I Thought I Was Lazy’: The Invisible Day-To-Day Struggle For Autistic Women

My inability to properly plan ahead and complete daily tasks has dwarfed my personal growth and well-being since I moved away from home seven years ago. I live in a constant state of disorder, expressed through missed appointments, forgotten text messages, and errands and assignments that take twice as long than my peers to complete. Even tidying the garbage littered across my apartment feels too overwhelming. My poor organizational and cleaning skills have fractured my relationships, prevented me from thriving in jobs, and in the process, destroyed my self-worth.
I tried various planners and organizational apps. Nothing worked. Frustrated, I reached out for help multiple times, relaying to various therapists my struggles with organization and cleanliness and other ailments — such as insomnia, a tendency to get lost in obsessive thoughts, and an inability to switch between tasks. Not one specialist connected the dots. They viewed disorganization and forgetfulness as easily amendable, and never searched for the source of my struggles.