Friday, March 16, 2018

Three Resources for Behavior Contracts

Resources from Intervention Central

Behavior Contracts - How to Write Them

And many many suggestions from PBIS World

Webinar - Assistive Technology and the IEP

Thursday, March 29th, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm EDT

Are you a parent or family member of a child with an IEP? Do you work with students with disabilities and their families? This family-oriented webinar will provide valuable ideas on how to advocate for assistive technology devices and services designed to help students be successful at school. Among the questions that Ms. Lightner will address are:
  • What is assistive technology?
  • How do I learn what types of AT might help my child?
  • How do I get AT added to my child's IEP?
Go here to register. Account creation required.

Post-school Transition Assessments


Employability/Life Skills Assessment - Ages 6-13 years
Download PDF

Employability/Life Skills Assessment - Ages 14-21 years
Download PDF

Employability/Life Skills Assessment - Parent Form - Ages 6-13 years
Download PDF

Employability/Life Skills Assessment - Parent Form - Ages 14-21 years
Download PDF

Additional OCALI Transition Resources

Quickbook of Transition Assessments - multiple forms

Parent Interviews to Help in the Transition Process

Age Appropriate Transition Assessments

Casey Life Skills

 MCIS is a great site to use to give them a reality check on some of their ideas (start with the Interest Profile under assessments)

 BESI (Barriers to Employment Success Inventory)

Community-based Skills Assessment




Autism Symptoms Rarely Isolated, CDC Researchers Say

Nearly all children with autism are dealing with at least one other condition — and often several — ranging from anxiety to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sleep, behavioral and gastrointestinal issues, a new study suggests.

In an analysis of records on almost 1,900 kids on the spectrum, researchers found that over 95 percent presented with at least one issue in addition to autism.

Researchers looked for evidence of the 18 most common co-occurring conditions or symptoms in the children with autism, including cognitive issues, regression, behavior problems, congenital or genetic conditions and language disorders. On average, they found that each child had 4.9 of these secondary conditions, with a higher prevalence among 8-year-olds compared to 4-year-olds. Moreover, the study found that kids with autism who had co-occurring conditions were more likely to be diagnosed with the developmental disorder at younger ages.

Read more here at Disability Scoop.

Early Identification of ASD Through Telemedicine: Potential Value for Underserved Populations


Increasing access to diagnostic services is crucial for identifying ASD in young children. We therefore evaluated a telemedicine assessment procedure. First, we compared telediagnostic accuracy to blinded gold-standard evaluations (n = 20). ASD cases identified via telemedicine were confirmed by in-person evaluation. However, 20% of children diagnosed with ASD in-person were not diagnosed via telemedicine. Second, we evaluated telediagnostic feasibility and acceptability in a rural catchment. Children (n = 45) and caregivers completed the telemedicine procedure and provided feedback. Families indicated high levels of satisfaction. Remote diagnostic clinicians diagnosed 62% of children with ASD, but did not feel capable of ruling-in or out ASD in 13% of cases. Findings support preliminary feasibility, accuracy, and clinical utility of telemedicine-based assessment of ASD for young children.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

What Might You Need to Know About Managing a Crisis Situation?

Generally, when a child is engaged in the active, disruptive stage of a behavior, such as a tantrum or aggression, the essential focus has to be on the safety of the individual, those around them, and the protection of property. It is important to keep in mind that when he is in full meltdown mode, he is not capable of reasoning, being redirected, or learning replacement skills. However, this level of agitation does not usually come out of thin air. You can learn skills to help anticipate and turn around an escalating situation that seems to be headed in this direction.
Read some great advice here at Autism Speaks.

Should All Nonverbal Young Children with Autism Immeditely Have AAC Taught To Them?

Consider that by 18 months, babies have heard 4,380 hours of spoken language and we don’t expect them to be fluent speakers.  Yet, if AAC learners only see symbols modeled for communication twice weekly for 20-30 minutes, it will take 84 YEARS for them to have the same exposure to aided language as an 18 month old has to spoken language. (Jane Korsten- QIAT Listerv 2011).
Who are the best candidates for immediate consideration for AAC?
  1. Nonverbal children who do not progress into vocal imitation even after they have learned to imitate body movements, and who may have sight word vocabulary and other nonverbal cognitive skills.  These would be young children who cannot learn to imitate speech phonemes and have a true underlying speech dyspraxia.  They desperately need AAC to develop symbolic communication.  Some will develop verbal speech as they use signs, PECS, etc., or a combination of strategies.
  2. Preschoolers whose nonverbal performance skills are well below 12-month level.  They will not have the necessary cognitive skills to support language development.  This will be a small group of children.  They will need to use gestural and simple, low tech AAC.

Read the very good article here.

Yet Another Reason We Don't Post Mouse Studies

Statistical errors may taint as many as half of mouse studies

Seven years ago, Peter Kind, a neuroscientist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, found himself in an uncomfortable situation. He was reading a study about fragile X syndrome, a developmental condition characterized by severe intellectual disability and, often, autism. The paper had appeared in a high-profile journal, and the lead scientist was a reputable researcher — and a friend. So Kind was surprised when he noticed a potentially serious statistical flaw.
The research team had looked at 10 neurons from each of the 16 mice in the experiment, a practice that in itself was unproblematic. But in the statistical analysis, the researchers had analyzed each neuron as if it were an independent sample. That gave them 160 data points to work with, 10 times the number of mice in the experiment.
“The question is, are two neurons in the brain of the same animal truly independent data points? The answer is no,” Kind says. “The problem is that you are increasing your chance of getting a false positive.”
The more times an experiment is replicated, the more likely it is that an observed effect is not just a lucky roll of the dice. That’s why more animals (or people) means more reliable results. But in the fragile X study, the scientists had artificially inflated the number of replications — a practice known as ‘pseudoreplication.’
This practice makes it easier to reach the sweet spot of statistical significance, especially in studies involving small numbers of animals. But treating measurements taken from a single mouse as independent samples goes against a fundamental principle of statistics and can lead scientists to find effects that don’t actually exist.

Read more here at Spectrum.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Special Educator’s Use Of Facilitated Communication Lands Dad In Jail

 After he was accused of molesting his young son with special needs, Jose Cordero spent 35 days in a Miami jail and was barred from seeing his family for months.
The allegations did not come directly from the 7-year-old boy, who has autism, speaks little and cannot write on his own. Instead, they came from the child’s elementary school teacher who claimed he relied on a technique called “hand over hand,” guiding the boy’s hands with his own to write down the disturbing details of sexual abuse.
This form of “facilitated” communication is a science that has been largely debunked in the wake of high-profile scandals involving wrongfully accused parents over the past couple decades.
Fumero, 32, who has been with the school district for four years, acknowledged to police that he had no formal training in “facilitated communication.” Reached by text, Fumero, who lives in Hialeah, declined to answer questions from the Miami Herald, citing pending litigation. The allegations of abuse must still be hashed out before a judge in Miami-Dade’s dependency court.
James Todd, a psychology professor at Eastern Michigan University who has studied facilitated communication, reviewed the State Attorney’s final report and said the school district still bears responsibility.
“The bottom line is that that school let a teacher use a technique that was never credible and was already scientifically discredited in the early 1990s,” said Todd, who has worked as an expert for people falsely accused in similar cases.

Archived Webinar - Prevent-Teach-Reinforce for Young Children: An Intervention Model for the Most Serious Challenging Behaviors

This webinar provides a description of Prevent-Teach-Reinforce for Young Children, a model of intervention for young children with the most persistent and severe challenging behaviors.  The model is based on the well-established procedures of positive behavior support, but is designed to help providers implement the assessment and intervention strategies with a high level of fidelity, leading to improved effectiveness. PTR-YC is a process for use in early childhood care and education settings, including pre-K classrooms, and consists of teaming and goal setting, practical data collection, functional behavioral assessment, intervention planning and implementation.  All steps are designed for use by typical early childhood providers. 

View the webinar here. 

FDA did not issue new statement on vaccines and autism

Some health websites have misrepresented the fine print on an old vaccine label to falsely claim that the “FDA announced that vaccines are causing autism.” Vaccines do not cause autism and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not make any new statement this week about the long-debunked claim.

Autism was listed as one of many “adverse events” on the 2005 label of Sanofi Pasteur’s Tripedia childhood vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. When the vaccine was first approved, such reports were generated voluntarily by consumers and were automatically added to the FDA label, even if there was no plausible connection to the product.

The 2005 label notes that such reports do not “establish a causal relationship” to the vaccine. Since then, the FDA has changed its labeling rules and now only includes adverse events “for which there is some basis to believe there is a causal relationship,” the agency said in a statement.

Sanofi Pasteur stopped making the vaccine years ago, and its last shipment of it was in 2012.

Medical researchers have debunked claims that vaccines given to children can lead to autism and developmental disorders. A study that drew a connection between autism and vaccines was found faulty and retracted in 2010.

Sensory aspects of speech linked to language issues in autism

Children with autism pay just as much attention to speech that doesn’t match lip movements as to speech in which sight and sound are coordinated, according to a new study1. Typical children prefer speech in which the sensory cues are in sync.
Some people with autism have trouble learning to speak and understand words. Some people with the condition have minimal verbal skills or don’t speak at all. The new work suggests that these problems may be partially rooted in an inability to integrate sight and sound when other people talk, and inattention to these cues.
“There are underlying mechanisms that bring about these sets of skills that then translate into language learning,” says lead researcher Giulia Righi, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “We really need to understand from a mechanistic view how these abilities come about.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

Limited Funding for Students With Significant Needs

The Office of Public Instruction is making available limited funding for the costs of students with significant
needs served by the public schools. The approval of the funding on each application is specific to the
request and justification for that request.

The following link provides an overview of the program, definition of eligible districts and eligible
students, allowable costs, definition of Priority I and Priority IA and Priority II, 2018 Application and Budget forms: 

If you have questions, please contact Dale Kimmet, Division of Special Education, 406-444-0742, or e-mail at

Friday, March 2, 2018

Setting the Tone for All Learners with Visual Cues

Since many of my students have ADHD or autism, I know that lining up quietly is one of the most difficult tasks in the world for some kids. I was once one of them and I spent a good portion of my childhood being sent to the back of the line. I think that makes me an expert on wanting to make noise and wander off.
  • One thing to always consider is that we have students who learn in different ways. Some kids are great listeners and some kids really respond well to visual cues. After viewing the video, I’d want to put in place some good visual cues for students who struggle with listening.
  • Since Nick is requesting a new behavior at the threshold of the door, this is where I’ll start my adaptation and this is where the special ed team should step in. Since many special ed students need more practice than their general ed peers, I’d first advise some practice sessions before the class begins. Go over the rules in advance with anyone who might be assisting the students so all staff members have the same expectations.
Read and view more here on the Teaching Channel.

Archived Webinar on Preparing for the World of Work

In this recorded webinar video, Ernst VanBergeijk, PhD, MSW, a professor at Lesley University, discusses employment and job trends for people with autism, skills that help individuals with autism gain and retain jobs, and how employers and co-workers can create an autism-friendly workplace.

View the webinar here at Interactive Autism Network.

Supported Decision Makeing and Self-Advocay

Fri, March 16, 2018
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM MDT

This workshop will address the topics of Alternatives to Guardianship, including Supported Decision Making. The presenters will discuss the various options of supporting individuals with significant disabilities after age 18 and how and when to implement supports. Also, presenters will provide options for teaching and promoting self-advocacy and the steps toward building effective support networks.

This workshop is beneficial for families of youth with disabilities, educators, counselors and other service providers. Resources and online supports will be shared and made available to participants.

Register here.

The costs of camouflaging autism

Many girls hide their autism, sometimes evading diagnosis well into adulthood. These efforts can help women on the spectrum socially and professionally, but they can also do serious harm.

Over the past few years, scientists have discovered that, like Jennifer, many women on the spectrum ‘camouflage’ the signs of their autism. This masking may explain at least in part why three to four times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with the condition. It might also account for why girls diagnosed young tend to show severe traits, and highly intelligent girls are often diagnosed late. (Men on the spectrum also camouflage, researchers have found, but not as commonly as women.)

Nearly everyone makes small adjustments to fit in better or conform to social norms, but camouflaging calls for constant and elaborate effort. It can help women with autism maintain their relationships and careers, but those gains often come at a heavy cost, including physical exhaustion and extreme anxiety.

“Camouflaging is often about a desperate and sometimes subconscious survival battle,” says Kajsa Igelstr√∂m, assistant professor of neuroscience at Link√∂ping University in Sweden. “And this is an important point, I think — that camouflaging often develops as a natural adaptation strategy to navigate reality,” she says. “For many women, it’s not until they get properly diagnosed, recognized and accepted that they can fully map out who they are.”

Read more here at Spectrum.

Webinar - 2018 Virtual Conference: Social Emotional Learning: Supporting the Whole Child

April 4, 2018
Time TBD

To educate the whole child, and all learners, we need to start by investing in social emotional learning (SEL). Informed by current empirical research experts in the field, this presentation will discuss what SEL is, why it is important, who is likely to most benefit from SEL and how to address the instructional learning needs of all learners in your classroom and school community.
This webinar is appropriate for Parents, Teachers, and Educational Support Staff Audiences.  
At the end of this webinar, participants will be able to
1. Define the SEL competencies as defined by CASEL.
2. Identify evidence-based SEL strategies to optimize student learning.
3. Explore how to address student instructional needs.
4. Identify who can benefit from SEL in their school community. 

Webinar - A Parents Guide To SEL: Social and Emotional Learning Beyond the Classroom

March 15, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. EST

The first day of school begins at home and parents are our first teachers. Research evidence from developmental and educational psychology clearly indicate the role that parents play in cultivating learning - what happens within the walls of the classroom can be optimized by family educational engagement or diminished in the absence of parent involvement. This webinar will inform parents on what is SEL and how to incorporate in their home environment, as well as provide key evidence-based strategies for teachers to support the SEL school to home connection in their classroom environments.

Register here at rethink ED.

3 Tips for Making Data-Based Decisions like a Pro!

Data. Some people love it. For others, it can be a real four-letter word. Whether you love it or hate it, data is here to stay! It is CRUCIAL to student success. Without data, we have no way to objectively analyze student progress. However, simply collecting data without pausing to reflect & make decisions gets us nowhere. Check out these great tips to ensure a successful data-driven school year!

1. Collect a Baseline

Prior to teaching a new goal to your students, it is a great best-practice to begin by collecting baseline data. You can think of baseline data as a pre-test: we’re simply testing the student to see what he already knows before we begin teaching. Imagine you’re planning on teaching a student to identify community helpers. Without collecting a baseline, you likely don’t know if the student knows some community helpers, all community helpers, or no community helpers at all. This would make it difficult to know where to begin. Once you collect some baseline data, you may discover that the student can already identify the police offer, the fire fighter, and the doctor, but cannot identify the postal worker, the construction worker, or the teacher. You now know where to begin your lesson!

Read more here at rethink ED.

Parent training boosts language in nonverbal children with autism

Children with autism who speak few or no words improve in their verbal abilities after their parents learn to engage them in conversation during play, according to a pilot study1.

The parents learn strategies such as following their child’s focus and engaging the child with words and toys. These strategies are part of an established behavioral therapy for autism called JASPER, which is known to improve social skills and communication when implemented by trained therapists.

The new work is part of an ongoing trend of coaching parents to provide autism therapies. This approach has the advantage of incorporating the treatments into the child’s daily life. Few studies have explored the effectiveness of this approach, however. The new study’s findings begin to fill that gap.

“Parents really took to the intervention,” says lead investigator Connie Kasari, professor of human development and psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They really could master the strategies to the same extent as therapists.”

The findings also show that parents do not need to use these strategies perfectly: Those who implement at least 75 percent of the techniques see improvements in their children

Read more here at Spectrum.

Autism Studies You May Have Seen Recently and What to Know About Them

With little known about it, an abundance of research about autism exists. It can be overwhelming to keep track of, and often these studies don’t take autistic individuals’ experiences into account or are rooted in finding a cure, versus bettering resources and therapies for people on the spectrum. In February alone, three stories based on research claims made headlines. The Mighty looked into each of these stories.

1. One study suggests a correlation between autism and ultrasounds.

Read more here at The Mighty.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Meet The Police

NAA’s Meet the Police safety initiative is a free, downloadable toolkit for individuals with autism, parents or caregivers who are concerned about their loved one’s safety in the community. The purpose of this program is to help enhance the quality of interactions between individuals with autism and members of law enforcement.  
The toolkit includes steps you can take to establish trusting relationships, reduce confusion and fear, and encourage opportunities for law enforcement agencies to get to know members of their community who may be at increased risk due to behaviors commonly associated with autism.