Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Paraeducator Supervison Training

Polson, June 12.

The purpose of this course is to provide 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. They will learn about the research-based components of paraeducator supervision.
They will develop skills in: (1) establishing collaboration and working relationships (2) assessing personal supervisory skills; (3) building work schedules and instructional plans; (4) identifying career development areas for paraeducators through needs assessment; and (5) using feedback to improve the job performance of para- educators

Register here.

Vitamin D linked to lowered autism risk in large study

Children born with high blood levels of vitamin D have 25 percent decreased odds of autism compared with those born with low levels. Researchers presented the unpublished results today at the 2018 International Society for Autism Research annual meeting in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The results come from the largest study yet to explore a link between vitamin D and autism. It involves an analysis of dried blood spots from 3,370 newborns in Sweden, 1,341 of whom now have an autism diagnosis.
The findings reinforce evidence of a link between vitamin D and autism risk. A 2017 study of 4,000 children in the Netherlands, including 68 who have autism, revealed that those born to vitamin D-deficient women have more than twice the autism risk of controls.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Archived Webinar - Benefits, Accommodations, & Advocacy in Employment for Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Watch the webinar here.

Autism screen misses children with noticeable delays

A widely used test for autism misses some children with delays in motor, social and communication skills — suggesting that improvements to this test and others may help clinicians pick up on these signs. The findings appear today in Pediatrics1.
The test, called the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) has been shown to miss nearly 70 percent of children with autism at 18 months.
“Some of the screeners that are currently on the market were designed many years ago, when we didn’t have as much understanding of what early autism looks like,” says lead investigator Katarzyna Chawarska, professor of pediatrics at the Yale Child Study Center.

Archived Webinar on Environmental Risk Factors for Autism

Four Things You Should Know About Environmental Autism Risk Factors


So should someone who is used to disclosing his autism in school continue to do so when he enters the world of work? Some says yes: disclosure enables a worker to get an accommodation that can help him get and keep a job. But others say disclosing could lead to subtle or obvious forms of prejudice.

What are those pros and cons? If you decide to disclose, how and when should you do it, and what accommodations can you seek?

Read more here at the Interactive Autism Network. 

Curriculum Materials and Programs for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

Finding curricular materials for students on the spectrum can be a taxing chore. To facilitate this process, IRCA staff decided to identify materials that could be used to teach subjects ranging from math to living skills.  We are sure there are some topics and materials we have missed.  However, this initial list provides a first steps in identifying options. 

Below is a listing of examples of curriculum and programs that can be used to teach individuals on the autism spectrum. 

Read the list here at the Indiana Resource Center for Autism. 

Autism is not linked to eating fish in pregnacy: Study on the assumption that mercury exposure in pregnancy is a major cause of autism

Scientists at the University of Bristol looked at the assumption that mercury exposure during pregnancy is a major cause of autism using evidence from nearly 4500 women who took part in the Children of the 90s study.

Using analysis of blood samples, reported fish consumption and information on autism and autistic traits from one of the largest longitudinal studies to date, researchers found no links between levels of mercury in the mothers and autism or autistic traits in their children. The only adverse effect of mercury found was poor social cognition if mothers ate no fish at all, especially for girls.

Lead author and founder of the Children of the 90s study Professor Jean Golding commented: "Our findings further endorse the safety of eating fish during pregnancy. Importantly we've found no evidence at all to support claims that mercury is involved in the development of autism or autistic traits.

Read more here.

Monday, May 28, 2018

How colleges can prepare for students with autism

For any young adult, going away to college involves many firsts: the first time living alone, the first time making their own schedule, maybe the first time cooking their own meals. As difficult as this transition is for typical students, it can be especially disorienting for young people on the spectrum, who may also find it difficult to sleep enough, collaborate with others on group projects and advocate for themselves with professors.
Despite those challenges, increasing numbers of young adults with autism have set their sights on a college degree: More than 200,000 students on the spectrum will arrive on campuses around the United States over the next decade, based on statistics from the National Center for Special Education Research. And for the most part, experts say, these students are entering an educational system that is not ready for them. High school comes with a support system — family at home, therapists nearby, special-education classes — but colleges have traditionally embraced a sink-or-swim mentality.

15 Behavior Strategies for Children on the Autism Spectrum

5 – Give Choices. All children, including those with autism, like to feel a sense of control over their world. Many children benefit from having the choices limited to two to four options (depending on the child), as they get overwhelmed with too many choices and cannot decide. Examples of choices are: “Do you want to play a board game or watch TV,” “Do you want butter or jelly on your bagel,” “Do you want to wear the green or red shirt?” Again, children with language difficulties often have more success making choices when you show them the options or pictures of the options (e.g., hold up the red and green shirt and let them point to the one they want). An IPAD App for generating pictures to show kids choices is Choice Boards. See an example below:
behavior strategies for autism

To get an autism diagnosis, girls need worse social skills than boys

From their SCQ scores, the researchers classified about 9 percent of the boys and about 5 percent of the girls as being at risk for autism. Of these children, 112 had a full diagnostic assessment. A random sample of 160 of children who did not score in the ‘at-risk’ range also completed the assessment.
The ratio of boys to girls who went on to be diagnosed with autism is even higher than that of the at-risk group: About 25 percent of the boys received an autism diagnosis, compared with 7.4 percent of the girls.
This result hints that the diagnostic assessment is skewed to finding boys with the condition. Girls who received an autism diagnosis overlapped cleanly with those who met the SCQ cutoff — suggesting the screen is accurate for girls.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Few parents recognize regression in their children with autism

Many children eventually diagnosed with autism lose social skills between 18 months and 3 years of age. But few parents notice this trend, according to data from a large Norwegian study.

Parents notice regression in only 2 percent of the children who lost social skills, according to the study.

The parents answered a questionnaire about their children’s social skills — such as whether the child follows a pointing finger — when their children were 18 and 36 months. The researchers then noted how many parents ‘prospectively’ reported any loss of social skills. At the latter timepoint, the researchers also directly asked the parents if they had noticed a loss of skills. They considered parents answering yes to this question as ‘retrospectively’ noticing the regression.

About 13 percent of the children had lost skills by 36 months, but parents of less than 1 percent noticed a loss.

Read more here at Spectrum.

Rise in U.S. autism prevalence stems mainly from ‘mild’ cases

The bulk of the increase in autism prevalence the United States between 2000 and 2012 can be attributed to children on the mild end of the spectrum.

There are several theories about the reasons for this rise, but most experts agree that most of it is the result of increased awareness about the condition.

The new data support this theory, says Eric Fombonne, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, who was not involved in the study. The results suggest that autism prevalence is rising because the ADDM is detecting children now that it would have missed 18 years ago. “To me, it’s an artifact of detection,” he says.

Read more here at Spectrum.

Understanding the Social Behaviors of Girls with ASD (video)

Watch the very good 15 minute video here.

Why no one needs a diagnosis of ‘social communication disorder’

Five years ago, a new diagnostic category, ‘social communication (pragmatic) disorder,’ made its debut in the DSM-5, the latest version of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” I was a skeptic: I argued, along with many others, that there simply was not enough evidence for the existence of this condition.

Since the DSM-5 appeared in 2013, research on autism has flourished. At last count, more than 10,000 papers have the term ‘autism’ in the title, according to PubMed. In comparison, there are just 10 papers on ‘social communication disorder.’

Read more here at Spectrum.

The evolution of ‘autism’ as a diagnosis, explained

Autism was originally described as a form of childhood schizophrenia and the result of cold parenting, then as a set of related developmental disorders, and finally as a spectrum condition with wide-ranging degrees of impairment. Along with these shifting views, its diagnostic criteria have changed as well.

Here is how the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM), the diagnostic manual used in the United States, has reflected our evolving understanding of autism.

Why was autism initially considered a psychiatric condition?

Read more here at Spectrum.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Girls with autism at high risk of sexual abuse, large study says

Many women with traits of autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report having been sexually abused as a child, according to a study of 4,500 people1.
It’s unclear why girls with these conditions are at heightened risk of sexual abuse. It may be because girls on the spectrum have trouble understanding social norms or recognizing dangerous situations. Alternatively, they may engage in risky behaviors, such as substance use, that make them vulnerable to predators.
The researchers found that the women who screened positive for autism had nearly three times the odds of having experienced sexual abuse as those who did not screen positive; those who screened positive for ADHD doubled their odds of sexual abuse.

How Many Kids In Minnesota Have Autism?

See the main report page here.

See the Key Findings here.

Doug Note: This data is from only two counties and has a few anomolies compared to national CDC data.

See more in the Key Findings.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Cold parenting? Childhood schizophrenia? How the diagnosis of autism has evolved over time

You can draw a straight line from the initial descriptions of many conditions—claustrophobia, for example, or vertigo—to their diagnostic criteria. Not so with autism. Its history has taken a less direct path with several detours, according to Jeffrey Baker, professor of pediatrics and history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Autism was originally described as a form of childhood schizophrenia and the result of cold parenting, then as a set of related developmental disorders, and finally as a spectrum condition with wide-ranging degrees of impairment. Along with these shifting views, its diagnostic criteria have changed as well.

Here is how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the diagnostic manual used in the United States, has reflected our evolving understanding of autism.

Read more here of an excellent history of the DSM criteria for autism.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Social communication on the spectrum

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps control autistic kids' emotions, study says

In cognitive behavioral therapy, treatment is based on how someone's thoughts and beliefs influence their actions and moods. The treatment focuses on their current problems and how to solve them.
"We can use this same intervention to improve children's skills more broadly regardless of what emotional challenge they have," Jonathan Weiss, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health at York University in Toronto, said in a press release. "We can make them more resilient to many emotional and mental health issues."
The trial, conducted from January 2013 to April 2016, included 68 children between age 8 and 12 and their parents, mostly mothers. They were randomly assigned to one of two groups, receiving either 10 sessions starting right away and waiting to receive treatment at a later time.
The participants' emotions and behavior were tracked, and then the children were reviewed by a doctor who was not directly involved with their treatment and did not know which of the two groups each participant was in.
Among those in the treatment group, 74 percent's behavior improved, compared with 31 percent in the waitlist group.

1 in 66 Canadian children diagnosed with autism, report reveals

The report includes data from six provinces and one territory and found prevalence ranged from a high of one in 57 children in Newfoundland and Labrador, to one in 126 in Yukon.

"The results represent 88 per cent of the population of 5-17 year olds in the participating provinces and territories, which represents approximately 40 per cent of 5–17 year olds in Canada," the email said. "From a statistical perspective, this is considered representative."
"By comparison, while research from the United States has been considered among the most comprehensive, the most cited U.S. data capture 8.5 per cent of American eight year olds from 11 participating sites."

One line from the CDC Autism Prevalence report you will likely never see quoted

The CDC came out with an autism prevalence estimate a few days ago. There have been a number of news stories on the subject and the usual attempts by credulous websites to use this to claim that vaccines cause autism.
It’s right there at the top, in the interpretations section of the abstract:
Because the ADDM sites do not provide a representative sample of the entire United States, the combined prevalence estimates presented in this report cannot be generalized to all children aged 8 years in the United States
Read more here at Left Brain, Right Brain,

Autism in Adulthood - A New Journal

You can view the first (free) issue of the journal and all articles here

Articles in the current issue include: 

“Who Is Going to Pay for the Wi-Fi?” Exploring Adulthood from the Perspectives of Autistic Youth

Strong pupillary light reflex in infancy to later autism diagnosis

In the new study, the researchers investigated the pupillary light reflex in 9-to-10 month old infants -- this reflex is a basic regulatory mechanism controlling the amount of light that reaches the retina. The infants who fulfilled criteria for autism at three years of age constricted their pupils more than infants who did not fulfill autism criteria at follow up. Further, the amount of pupil restriction in infancy was associated with the strength of autism symptoms at follow up.

Read more here at Science Daily. 

Reinforcement 101

Read more here. 

Toilet Training Resources

A field manual.

Resources from Seattle Children's Hospital

Friday, May 4, 2018

Archived Webinars: Strengthening Executive Function in the Early Years: Designing Environmental Scaffolds and Child-specific Interventions – A 3-Part Series

Executive functioning, an important area of growth during the early childhood period, is critical for school readiness and success. This three-part webinar series will present easy-to-use environmental scaffolds, growth-promoting instructional experiences and child-specific interventions woven into the daily routines to develop and strengthen executive functioning in young children, those who have or at risk for developmental delays.
Participants will be able to: Increase their awareness and understanding of the growth of executive functioning in young children and how crucial these skills are for their development, learning and social competence.
Gain skills in creating growth-promoting environments and personalized instructional interventions to develop and strengthen executive functioning – working memory, cognitive flexibility, self-control – in young children, those who have or at risk for developmental delays. 
Learn how to engineer easy-to-use learner-specific scaffolds and adaptations to increase access, engagement and participation of young children with special needs to enable their attainment of social-emotional, language and cognitive competence, and school readiness skills.

Part 1

Part 2 

Part 3

Archived Webinar - Speech Dude Tells Even More: Innovative Assistive Technology to Help Your Moderate to Severe Students Flourish

In this presentation, participants will be introduced to a wide variety of innovative technology tools that can be easily integrated into teaching and learning in for students with moderate to severe disabilities. 

Google extensions and other cutting-edge tools will be discussed, along with simple implementation strategies to increase access to content and improve student engagement and productivity, with special emphasis on high school aged and transitional students.

Watch the webinar here. 

Archived Webinar - How Do I Determine How the Student Can Access Augmentative Communication?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can provide communication for many non-verbal or difficult to understand students. However, the student must have the ability to “access” or control the device as efficiently as possible. 
This webinar will present general AAC access evaluation considerations.

Watch the webinar here. 

Archived Webinar - Pursue Preventives and Positives: A Win-Win to Avoid Restraint and Seclusion Use

This webinar session will provide guidance on avoiding the use of aversive measures except in crisis situations and pursuing intensive, purposeful and positive behavioral interventions to address the challenging behaviors of children with Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD). 

Physical restraint and seclusionary timeout measures are intended primarily to help children gain composure when they are in danger of harming themselves or others after a serious meltdown, however, these measures continue to be employed as a routine behavior management strategy.

Watch the webinar here. 

New report shows slight uptick in autism prevalence

“The current ADDM report seems to indicate that awareness of [autism] characteristics is broadening and this contributes to increases in [autism] prevalence overall,” Rice says.

For example, autism prevalence is consistently higher in white children than in black or Hispanic children — a pattern researchers attribute to disparities in access to medical care. This difference has been trending downward since 2002.

Local factors can have a big impact on prevalence. Sheldrick and his colleagues have found that the disparity in prevalence among U.S. states has steadily increased between 2000 and 20122.
For example, data for two of the states with the highest prevalence — Maryland and Minnesota — come from small sampling areas clustered near a diagnostic center. And New Jersey is well known for providing strong access to medical and special education services. New Jersey also does not show significant disparities in prevalence among ethnic groups, suggesting that as autism identification improves, these disparities disappear.
“People think of [national prevalence] as true prevalence, and I think we need to be careful of that interpretation,” Sheldrick says. “If New Jersey represents the true rate, that’s a lot higher than [the average], and that has real implications.”

Archived Webinar - Sleep Issues and ASD

Archived Webinar - Sexuality & ASD: How to Address Sex Education for People with ASD

Paraeducator Supervision Academy // Trainers of Paraeducators Academy


June 14, 2018: Paraeducator Supervision Academy (PSA) a one-day training that enables educators and other school professionals to develop a core of communication, collaboration, problem solving, and supervisory skills needed to work with paraeducators. PSA focuses on research-based strategies for establishing and working relationships and assessing personal supervisory skills. It also includes approaches to building work and instructional plans, identifying training for paraeducators through needs assessment, and using feedback to improve the job performance of paraeducators.

June 15, 2018: Individuals who attend the PSA training can become trainers for paraeducators by taking the Trainers of Paraeducators Academy (TOPA) training to qualify as a CO-TOP Trainer. This training will provide participants with skills to deliver CO-TOP curriculum, consisting of 22 courses, to paraeducators in their districts. TOPA focuses on knowledge of the characteristics of effective and ineffective training sessions and the characteristics of adult learners. It provides guidelines and resources for planning the content of presentations for para-educators and for developing effective presentation methods.
June 14: PSA
June 15: TOPA
9:00AM to 3:30PM both days
MSUB College of Education, Room 122
5 OPI Renewal Units each day
Cost is free

Information Flyer LINK
PSA Registration LINK
PSA & TOPA Registration Training LINK

Differentiation Made Easy for Middle School and High School Educators

August 7, 2018

In this session, we will define differentiation in today’s classroom through content, experiences, and reflection. From creating a classroom environment conducive to differentiation, to assessing the learning of the differentiated classroom. The ideas shared will be applicable to any content area. Whether a new teacher beginning a career or a veteran staff member refreshing their knowledge, this class will be fast-paced, engaging and practical. The teaching techniques shared will be high yield and low prep; a winning combination for students’ success. 

Participants will:
*Define and illustrate the basic tenants of differentiation
*Experience, through hands-on activities, differentiation techniques
*Connect assessment strategies with how to differentiate in the middle and high school classroom
*Reflect and plan on how the strategies shared can be applied in the unique setting of each participant or team of participants.

FInd more information and register here. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Precorrection: Preventing Predictable Problem Behaviors in School Settings

Precorrection is an intervention that is a simple, systematic method of predicting and addressing inappropriate social or academic behaviors. It can be successfully be implemented for students of any age and ability, and across any setting, behavior, or academic task. This article demonstrates the use of precorrection across settings, including as part of a multi- intervention approach with self-management.

Read the full journal article here.