Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Autism Friendly Vacation Rentals in Orlando

See more here at Villakey.

Webinar - Resolving Common Problems for Individuals with IDD in Learning to Cook

Date: February 7, 2019
Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST

Each person with IDD has unique challenges and abilities; consequently, there is no single path to development of authentic and generalizable cooking skills for this population. At the same time, there are common difficulties that are manifested across this cohort and which can be anticipated – and addressed -- when designing appropriate activities. 

These include: 
Difficulties in opening food packaging: A range of options will be offered for opening common products as well as traditional and pull-top cans. 
Difficulties in mixing ingredients: Though a simple action, many individuals with motor challenges will need special methods to grasp the needed motion and the presentation will offer several. 
Challenges in learning how to safely chop and cut ingredients: The presentation will briefly overview some of the most effective means for teaching prep skills with minimal risk. 

Over-reliance on others to complete tasks: Independence is often hindered for those with IDD by well-meaning staff and caregivers. Several methods for overcoming this barrier are addressed. 

It should also be noted that traditional text-based recipes are a significant obstacle for many in learning to cook given minimal literacy skills, difficulty in multi-step processing, and issues with 
cognitive functioning. The presentation will briefly explain how Active Engagement bypasses this problem through use of a pictorial cueing system in lieu of conventional recipes.
Register here. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Good Study Design Does Not Equate Useful Results

A toungue-in-cheek example of why it's important to look closely at how a study is designed and not just the results. From the British Medical Journal.

Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial

Friday, December 14, 2018

Why autism at 2.5% isn’t surprising.

Let’s get one thing out right away–autism prevalence studies undercount. Not all autistics are diagnosed. That’s just a fact. Consider the recent CDC study. They look at school and medical records. In many cases, they find children are autistic based on their records–but the schools and doctors hadn’t diagnosed those children.
Combining data from all 11 sites, 81% of boys had a previous ASD classification on record, compared with 75% of girls (OR = 1.4; p<0.01). 
Yeah, more than 20% of the kids counted in their prevalence had no diagnosis. They and their families didn’t know.
And, if there isn’t enough in the records to show a kid is autistic? That kid gets uncounted altogether. 
So, when people look at the CDC prevalence estimates from over the years and cry “epidemic”, well, there’s a reason why those people usually have some causation theory that they believe in. The irony is that they are usually wrong that their theory needs an epidemic to support it. But, heavily biased people are not usually the best sources of reliable analyses.
What would be a better method of counting how many autistics are in a population? Sounds obvious–test all the kids in a given population. Equally obvious–this is a much more expensive and difficult task. One such study was published in 2011. Yes, 7 years ago. In Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in a total population sample, the autism prevalence in Korea was found to be 2.63%.  A study performed in South Carolina and reported at IMFAR last year found a prevalence of 3.62%.
This all said, we had another autism prevalence come out this week–The Prevalence of Parent-Reported Autism Spectrum Disorder Among US Children. This study found a prevalence of 2.5%.
Now here’s a nice thing about this recent study–OK, two nice things. First, they don’t just look at kids of one age. Second, you can obtain the data. Which I did. Let’s look at the autism prevalence broken down by birth year.

1985 paper on the theory of mind

Read the full article at Spectrum. 

Autistic children, parents may shape each other’s language

Parents speak to their autistic children using fewer words and less complex sentences than do parents of typical children, which in turn shapes the children’s language skills, a new study suggests1.
The findings contradict the recommendations of some autism therapies, which ask parents to speak in simple sentences, says lead researcher Riccardo Fusaroli, associate professor of cognitive science at Aarhus University in the Netherlands.
Fusaroli and his colleagues tracked language learning from about age 2 to 5 in autistic and typical children. The two groups started out with similar language abilities.
As they got older, however, the autistic children became less talkative and used simpler sentences than the controls did. Their parents also began to use less complex language; over time, the parents’ language at one visit predicted that of their children at the next, and vice versa.

How to Improve Emotional Self-Regulation Among Children with Autism and Attention Disorders

Before beginning the lesson, it’s important to note that the child should already be capable of identifying and labeling emotions. The activities should be initiated when a child is in a good mood. This lesson is also meant to be taken in stages with the child moving to the next step after they have successfully developed a mastery of the preceding step.

1. Create an emotional levels chart.

Create a visual aid that depicts the different levels of emotions that a child may feel, allowing the child to create their own labels for each level. For example, levels can be labeled “feeling good,” “a little upset,” “upset” and “very upset.” The chart should have two columns with the emotional levels in one column. Title the other column, “I feel this way when…” and leave the rows blank for the child to fill in.

Read more here from OnlinePsychology@Pepperdine, the online Masters in Applied Behavioral Analysis program from Pepperdine University.

YETI Groups Spring and Summer 2019

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sex differences in brain hint at roots of ‘camouflaging’ in autism

Autistic women’s activity in a ‘social’ brain region tracks with the extent to which they mask their autism, according to a new study1.
Their activity in this and another social brain region when they reflect on themselves or others resembles that of their typical peers. Men with autism, by contrast, show less activity in these regions than typical men do.
The new findings reinforce the idea that autism manifests differently in women than it does in men.
“Maybe the idea of a hypoactivated social brain doesn’t apply universally to everyone on the spectrum,” says co-lead investigator Meng-Chuan Lai, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto in Canada.
The findings represent the first attempt to pinpoint brain areas that may be involved when autistic women ‘camouflage,’ or mask their autism traits.

Support Through Education & Planning Topic: Behavior at Home - Missoula

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C:\Users\jennifer.closson\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\BH78VJ3L\Rural Institute brand mark - For Inclusive Communities.jpg
Support Through  
Education & Planning
Topic:  Behavior at Home
Audience:  Parents

Dates: 2/19, 2/16, 3/5, 3/12, 3/19

Time:   Tuesdays 6:00-7:30

Location:   Curry Health Center, 634 Eddy, U of M
Remote Computer Access Available

Childcare: Available with Registration

Format:   Parents will engage in group education for the first half of the session.  The second half will target individualized programming for behavior strategies in the home.  The program will be enriched by support from a Social Work Graduate Student and follow-through with Graduate Student Clinicians in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Registration  $20 Fee to hold your spot. For more information, or to register for YETI STEP, call the Clinic Manager, Meghann Schroeder, at 243-6105.  Six families are welcome to join this semester

Follow-up study: Microbiota Transfer Therapy’s behavior, GI benefits still evident after two years

This artilce also appeared in the 2018, Volume 32, No. 3 issue of ARI's Autism Research Review International newsletter. 
A new study reports that the positive behavioral and gastrointestinal (GI) changes seen in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) following fecal transplants appear to be lasting.
Fecal transplants are currently used as a treatment for C. difficile infection and inflammatory bowel disease. A research team headed by James Adams at Arizona State University has been investigating the potential of this approach for treating children with ASD, who have a high rate of diarrhea, constipation, and other bowel problems that may be connected to their behavioral issues.
In their initial study (see ARRI 31/1, 2017), led by Dae-Wook Kang, 18 participants with ASD and GI problems underwent Microbiota Transfer Therapy, or MTT. Participants first received two weeks of antibiotic treatment and a bowel cleanse to prepare the GI tract. Next, they received one high dose of microbiota administered either orally or rectally, followed by a lower oral daily maintenance dose for 7 to 8 weeks. The researchers used a standardized product containing more than 99% bacteria obtained from healthy individuals and tested to ensure safety. The children also took an acid pump inhibitor to reduce stomach acidity and increase the survival rate of the microbes.
In the new study, led by Rosa Krajmalnik Brown, the researchers followed up with all 18 participants two years after treatment stopped. “Notably,” they say, “gastrointestinal symptoms were significantly reduced compared with the beginning of the original trial, and autism-related symptoms improved significantly after the end of treatment.” In addition, they say, “DNA-sequencing analyses revealed that changes in gut microbiota at the end of treatment still remained at follow-up, including significant increases in bacterial diversity and relative abundances of Bifidobacteria, Prevotella, and Desulfovibrio.”

Insurance Mandates and Out-of-Pocket Spending for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder


BACKGROUND: The health care costs associated with treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children can be substantial. State-level mandates that require insurers to cover ASD-specific services may lessen the financial burden families face by shifting health care spending to insurers.
METHODS: We estimated the effects of ASD mandates on out-of-pocket spending, insurer spending, and the share of total spending paid out of pocket for ASD-specific services. We used administrative claims data from 2008 to 2012 from 3 commercial insurers, and took a difference-in-differences approach in which children who were subject to mandates were compared with children who were not. Because mandates have heterogeneous effects based on the extent of children’s service use, we performed subsample analyses by calculating quintiles based on average monthly total spending on ASD-specific services. The sample included 106 977 children with ASD across 50 states.
RESULTS: Mandates increased out-of-pocket spending but decreased the share of spending paid out of pocket for ASD-specific services on average. The effects were driven largely by children in the highest-spending quintile, who experienced an average increase of $35 per month in out-of-pocket spending (P < .001) and a 4 percentage point decline in the share of spending paid out of pocket (P < .001).
CONCLUSIONS: ASD mandates shifted health care spending for ASD-specific services from families to insurers. However, families in the highest-spending quintile still spent an average of >$200 per month out of pocket on these services. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Missoula - Parent Information and Training Session

ADOS II Booster Training - Missoula

Missoula - April 19, 2019
Broadway Inn and Convention Center

8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
This is a one day review of the ADOS 2 training complete with scoring practice and practical question review. Participants are required to bring their ADOS manuals for reference in scoring practice.

This workshop is presented by Dr. Lauren Swineford.

Register here.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

LAMP Trainings - Billings, Bozeman, Missoula

LAMP is an augmentative alternative communication (AAC) approach designed to give users a method of independently and spontaneously expressing themselves through a speech generating device. The LAMP training is focused on students who use a device for speech, and not only symbolic communication (e.g., PECS.) “LAMP focuses on giving the individual independent access to vocabulary on voice output AAC devices that use consistent motor plans for accessing vocabulary.”

This course will cover the components of LAMP: readiness to learn, engaging the learner through joint engagement, and learning language through a unique and consistent motor plan paired with an auditory signal and a natural consequence. 

Discussion will include how this approach addresses the core language deficits of autism, device features that are beneficial to teaching language, and how to use those features to implement LAMP components.
Billings     February 4, 2019
Bozeman    February 5, 2019
Missoula    February 7, 2019

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Would you like to be a CDC "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Ambassador?

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) with support from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), announce a funding opportunity for Act Early Ambassadors to work with CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” 
 RFA for CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." 2019-2020 Ambassador Program (.PDF).

To be considered, applicants must:
• Reside or physically work in the state/territory they wish to represent as an Ambassador;
  • • be connected to or familiar with state/territory/tribal programs that serve young children and their families, such as child care, WIC, Early Head Start, home visiting, or others;
  • • be involved in or familiar with any cross-systems efforts to improve developmental monitoring/screening and early identification of developmental delay and disability in their state/territory; and
  • • have knowledge and expertise in child development and/or systems that support families with young children, and/or early identification and referral for developmental delay/disability;
  • • have good presentation and communication skills;

    • • have a strong interest in working collaboratively to further the goals of the "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program in their state or territory.
    Act Early Ambassadors are required to:
    • • work with CDC’s LTSAE program, AUCD, fellow Ambassadors, and their state’s Act Early state team or other related collaborative initiatives to support national, state/territorial, and local activities to improve early identification of developmental delay and disability
    • • focus efforts on increasing developmental monitoring through the promotion and sustained integration of LTSAE materials into statewide systems and other programs that serve families with young children;
    • • collaborate with programs that serve young children and their parents, such as Head Start and Early Head Start, WIC, home visiting, IDEA Part C/Child Find and others, as well as health care and child care professionals to introduce and sustainably integrate LTSAE developmental monitoring tools and trainings into the work of those programs with parents and professionals
    • • make a 2-year commitment to this program (March 1, 2019—Feb 28, 2021);
    • • attend a 2-day Ambassador training at CDC in Atlanta each year (scheduled for April 30 and May 1, 2019; 2020 date TBA);
    • • develop, maintain and implement a work plan that includes at least 2 Ambassador goals; at least 1 of your goals must advance the adoption and sustained integration of developmental monitoring using LTSAE in one statewide system/program such as WIC, home visiting, IDEA Part C/Child Find, early care and education (including early Head Start), child welfare, or similar.
    • • participate in 90-minute Ambassador calls with AUCD and CDC every other month;
    • • prepare an annual report of Ambassador activities; and
    • • complete pre- and post-Ambassadorship surveys.
    Additionally, Act Early Ambassadors are encouraged (but not required) to:

    • collaborate with state agencies and others to improve policy and programs related to early identification;
    • • post updates and share resources among the network of Ambassadors (through the Ambassador email listserv and other mechanisms);
    • • participate in 1-hour "learning circle" webinars every other month;
    • • participate in 1-hour evaluation workshops every month;
    • • participate in 1-hour, topic-specific "Act Early" webinars on a quarterly basis; and
    • • present Ambassador achievements and lessons learned at state and national conferences and other appropriate forums.
    Act Early Ambassador responsibilities typically require about 6-10 hours per month.

    To support Ambassadors, AUCD will provide:
      • • $4,000 annual stipend plus travel expenses to Atlanta, GA, for annual Ambassador training. o Stipend can be used to support a variety of activities related to the implementation of the Ambassador work plan (e.g., local travel, meeting costs, printing, etc.). Please note, if you cannot accept a stipend for Ambassador efforts related to work you’re already carrying out, you can use the stipend for convening meetings, printing materials, etc.
      • • Scheduled and as-needed technical assistance provided by email, phone and webinar.
      • • Structured peer support, and a forum to network, share ideas and problem-solve with colleagues working on similar issues nationwide. o Note: participation in in-person meetings, webinars, and the Ambassador group email list helps keep Ambassadors connected with one another; this connection to other Ambassadors is among the most valued aspects of the Ambassador experience.
      • • Technical expertise and consultation, and information from leading national experts in the fields of child development, developmental disability, and health promotion.
    Informational Call: December 17, 2018 at 2:30pm ET - Dial-in: 1-866-794-4983
    If you are interested in pursuing this please contact Doug Doty ( for additional information.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    Big Sky ABA - New Service Provider in Missoula.

    At Big Sky ABA, we strive to bring you the most progressive, personalized, and effective ABA. We believe in empowering children with autism to talk, learn, and grow so they can live a life they value. This will not only benefit the children we work with but families, therapists, the community as a whole. 
    Our use of the PEAK and ACT curriculum will teach your child how to learn so they can reach their potential outside of the ABA setting.

    Monday, December 3, 2018

    Slow onset may explain late autism diagnosis in some children

    Some autistic children don’t show traits of the condition until age 5 or later, new research suggests1. Others show a few mild features at age 3 but only later meet the criteria for diagnosis.
    The findings suggest that autism traits are not always apparent by 24 months, the typical age for screening. As a result, efforts to bring down the average age of diagnosis, now at 4 years, can only go so far.
    “There are some children who do get evaluated, sometimes multiple times, only to get diagnosed later,” says lead researcher Sally Ozonoff, endowed professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis. “This research is explanatory for those children.”
    The results are based on following ‘baby sibs,’ or younger siblings of children with autism, who are at increased risk for the condition. But they should remind clinicians not to rule out autism in older children, even among the general population, experts say.

    National surveys estimate U.S. autism prevalence at 1 in 40

    Read more here. 

    Thursday, November 29, 2018

    Webinar - Research updates on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for ASD

    Wed, Dec 5, 2018 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM MST

    For more than 20 years, researchers have been studying TMS as a potential therapy for a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the use of TMS for the treatment of depression in adults who haven’t been helped by medication. The use of TMS for autism is an emerging area of research.

    Register here.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    Autism 101

    How is autism diagnosed? What explains the rise in autism’s prevalence? How much do genes contribute to the condition? What about the environment?
    In this section of Spectrum, dubbed Autism 101, we answer these and other questions about autism. Each article pulls together the latest science to reflect what we know.
    Autism 101 is designed to both provide information and highlight knowledge gaps, indicating where data on a subject are absent or contradictory. Like our understanding of autism, this section is evolving, so please check back often.

    How history forgot the woman who defined autism

    In 1925, Sukhareva published a paper describing in detail the autistic features the six boys shared. Her descriptions, though simple enough for a nonspecialist to understand, were remarkably prescient.
    “Basically, she described the criteria in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5),” says Irina Manouilenko, a psychiatrist who runs a clinic in Stockholm, Sweden. Manouilenko translated Sukhareva’s original descriptions from Russian to English in 2013 and then compared them with the diagnostic criteria described in the DSM-5. The similarities between the two left Manouilenko in awe. “When you start looking at it all systematically, it’s very impressive,” she says.
    For example, what the DSM-5 describes as social deficits, Sukhareva wrote about as a “flattened affective life,” “lack of facial expressiveness and expressive movements” and “keeping apart from their peers.” What the diagnostic manual portrays as stereotyped or repetitive behaviors, restricted interests and sensory sensitivities, Sukhareva explained as “talking in stereotypic ways,” with “strong interests pursued exclusively” and sensitivities to specific noises or smells. In her analysis, Manouilenko was able to match each of the manual’s criteria to one or more of Sukhareva’s observations.
    Historians are beginning to ponder why it took nearly a century for the DSM-5 — published in 2013 after years of debate — to arrive back at something so close to Sukhareva’s list. They have found that Sukhareva isn’t the only clinician whose research was overlooked or lost before autism was described in the DSM-III. As more archival material is digitized, it’s becoming clear that Kanner and Asperger may need to share credit for the ‘discovery’ of autism — and that the condition’s history could be as complex as its biology.

    New Government Report Suggests 1 In 40 Kids Have Autism

    In April, the CDC reported from that data collection that autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children based on medical and educational records of thousands of 8-year-olds at multiple sites in the network.
    While there is some debate over whether parent surveys or medical records are more accurate, the true prevalence rate is probably somewhere between 1 in 40 and 1 in 59, said Alycia Halladay, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation.
    “There is evidence to say that the method of collection impacts prevalence numbers,” Halladay said.
    The autism prevalence rate of 2.5 percent found in the 2016 parent survey is up from 1.7 percent in 2014 and 1.5 percent in 2012. But Kogan cautioned that the rise could be mostly attributable to changes in the survey format.

    Monday, November 26, 2018

    Sesame Street's Julia Attended The Macy's Parade Prepared for Sensory Overload

    “Sesame Street’s” float for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade caught the attention of people on the autism spectrum and their families. Julia, Sesame’s Street first autistic character, participated in the float, and she wore noise-canceling headphones.
    Noise-canceling or noise-muffling headphones help people on the autism spectrum handle sensory overload. As “Sesame Street” explained, “With the help of her friend Rosita and the comfort of her noise-canceling headphones, Julia is ready for a fun and festive day in NYC!”

    Tuesday, November 20, 2018


    Despite a surge in research and public interest in autism in recent decades, we still do not know why functional speech remains elusive for some people with autism. "Little is known about this group because they are rarely the focus of research," according to a 2013 article by some of the top U.S. experts in autism.1
    As a result, misperceptions may linger about these children and adults, about how much language they understand, how they learn, and the best ways to help them communicate. "When someone is nonverbal," Mrs. Drebing said, "people tend to think they're lower-functioning than they actually are. We need more data on the true intellectual level of people who are nonverbal."
    In this article: 







    Webinar: Evelina Fedorenko discusses language processing in autism

    Register for the next Spectrum webinar, featuring Evelina Fedorenko, who will discuss language processing and development in autism.

    The Facts In The Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield"

    Click here for full article.


    Thursday, November 15, 2018

    Diagnostic Criteria for Autism through the Years

    Note: the APA did not publish separate criteria for autism until 1980

    DSM I (1952)
    000-x28 Schizophrenic reaction, childhood type
    Here will be classified those schizophrenic reactions occurring before puberty. The clinical picture may differ from schizophrenic reactions occurring in other age periods because of the immaturity and plasticity of the patient at the time of onset of the reaction. Psychotic reactions in children, manifesting primarily autism, will be classified here.

    DSM II (1968)
    [autism was not mentioned; the word appears only under the following category]

    295.8  Schizophrenia, childhood type
    This category is for cases in which schizophrenic symptoms appear before puberty. The condition may be manifested by autistic, atypical and withdrawn behavior; failure to develop identity separate from the mother's; and general unevenness, gross immaturity and inadequacy of development. These developmental defects may result in mental retardation, which should also be diagnosed.

    Read more here.