Monday, July 30, 2018

Subtyping the Autism Spectrum Disorder: Comparison of Children with High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Since Hans Asperger’s first description (Arch Psych Nervenkrankh 117:76–136, 1944), through Lorna Wing’s translation and definition (Psychol Med 11:115–129, 1981), to its introduction in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, 1994), Asperger Syndrome has always aroused huge interest and debate, until vanishing in the DSM fifth edition (2013). The debate regarded its diagnostic validity and its differentiation from high functioning autism (HFA). The present study aimed to examine whether AS differed from HFA in clinical profiles and to analyze the impact of DSM-5’s innovation. Differences in cognitive, language, school functioning and comorbidities, were revealed when 80 AS and 70 HFA patients (3–18 years) were compared. Results suggested that an AS empirical distinction within autism spectrum disorder should be clinically useful.

Read the full article here. 

Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (MT UCEDD) Announces Recipients of the 2018 Community Investment Fund

The 2018 CIF award will be shared by two recipients, Flathead High School in Kalispell and Quality Life Concepts in Great Falls. Flathead High School will use the money to help purchase supplies for their Braves Coffee Company School-based Enterprise. This new business will feature students with and without disabilities working side-by-side to plan, market and operate the coffee company. Several community partners are collaborating with the high school to provide personnel training, discounted supplies, and mentoring.

Read the article here. 

Find out mroe about the Community Investment Fund and consider applying next year. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Archived Webinar - Women on the autism spectrum’

Most autism research — and, by extension, most stories about autism — focuses on men and their experiences. To shine a spotlight on women with autism, Spectrum teamed up with the science-storytelling venue Caveat in New York City. Three autistic women talked about their experiences dating, looking for jobs and the particular challenges that racial minorities with the condition can face.
Lindsey Nebeker spoke about negotiating love and romance on the spectrum. Sara Luterman told heart-rending stories about the problems she and other autistic adults face when trying to find — and keep — a job. She also weighed the pros and cons of disclosing an autism diagnosis during a job interview. Finally, Mor√©nike Giwa Onaiwu explored the complications race and ethnicity can layer on top of an autism diagnosis.

Transition Resources from Tennessee

Go here to see the page (registration required.)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Archived Webinar - Diet and Autism

In this webinar, Dr. Susan Hyman discusses why individuals with autism have food selectivity, what kinds of problems food selectivity can lead to, how a proper diet can impact behavior, and evidence for dietary treatments for symptoms of autism. 

This webinar is 60 minutes long.

View the webinar here. 

Financial Planning Tool Kit

All parents worry about their children’s futures - some call it part of the job. But for parents of children with special needs, the worry can be even bigger. Some of the biggest concerns special needs parents have are financial. Mapping out your child’s financial future can seem like a daunting task, but having a plan in place can help ease your fears.
The Autism Speaks Special Needs Financial Planning Tool Kit was created to provide you with all the information that you need to develop that plan. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Have you wanted to Learn more about WebABLLS?

Now is the time, this is your opportunity!

When?  Wednesday August 29, 2018 - 8:30 am to 12:00 pm
Where?  Rosebud School (405 Main Street, Box 38, Rosebud, MT 59347)

Who? School teams (Teachers implementing ABLLS and associated paraprofessionals)

WebABLLS is the electronic version of the ABLLS-R with convenient features and functions available only in this web-based platform. WebABLLS is designed for use with learners on the autism spectrum, language delays, or other developmental disabilities. When implemented in conjunction with comprehensive programming, learners acquire the ability to learn from their everyday experiences while educators, parents, and professionals are empowered to share data and strategies that enhance collaboration across all learning environments (source: Behavior Analysts, Inc. 
This training opportunity will be led by Dr. Cheryl Young-Pelton who is a technical assistance provider for the Montana Autism Education Project and also lead faculty in the SPED/ABA graduate program she developed at Montana State University Billings.  She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral, and Licensed as a Behavior Analyst in Montana. Dr. CYP has over 35 years of experience in this field – 23 years as a special educator, behavior specialist, and assistant principal; 13 years in higher education, Her research interests include rural special education, telehealth, emotional disturbance, and autism.
Participant objectives/outcomes for this training session will include:
  • Why a structured assessment/curriculum like the ABLLS-R is helpful in tracking a variety of skills for children with autism and related disabilities.
  • How a structured assessment/curriculum like the ABLLS-R can prevent ‘splinter skills’ from developing.
  • Benefits of using an online assessment/curriculum like the WebABLLS, compared to the original.
    • Video examples of over 200 skills
    • Multi-level sharing permissions and assessment notes
    • Custom report generation, program worksheets and progress reports

If interested contact:  Lori Raisler at Big Country Educational Co-op

Phone:  406-234-1957 Email:

8 Autism Myths I Wish I Could Dispel

There have been several myths that have been discussed umpteen times so some might seem repetitive, but pushing the point across one more time might not hurt. Here is my list of pet peeves:

6. The “if only he could speak” myth - My son has major speech challenges and is practically non-verbal. Speech issues are not uncommon among people with autism. However, speech is just one of the many challenges that they have. It’s not the only challenge. So please stop saying that if only he could talk, it would make everything alright. Autism is very different from speech impairment. There are many autistic people who can talk well. That does not make them any less autistic. Autism is characterized by several issues that may or may not include speech delays and merely being able to speak is not the panacea for autism.
7. The special diet myth - I was recently booking a hotel room for our upcoming vacation and during my discussion with the owner I informed her that my son has autism. The lady immediately said they offer gluten free breakfast. It was really thoughtful of her, but it made me wonder what people think about people on the spectrum. Every person on the autism spectrum is not on a special diet. In fact, if you look around you might find tons of non-autistic people following a special diet - dairy free, gluten free, vegan, GMO free, organic and several others. Special diet is not limited to autism and you will find many autistic people who eat almost everything like you and me.

Read more:

Why Autism Functioning Labels Are Harmful -- and What to Say Instead

Commonly, when you hear someone say they know someone who is on the autism spectrum, you immediately hear them continue the topic with one of the following: “Oh, but he’s high-functioning.” “She’s on the other side of the spectrum.” If you haven’t heard this in a everyday conversation, consider yourself lucky. But you’ve probably at least seen it in articles or organizations that are meant to support the autism population.
I get it, its been common terminology for a long time. It’s not entirely your fault if you use it, but now’s the time to learn and change the use of functioning labels for our autistic friends, family, and community. I am autistic. On my diagnosis paperwork, it does not say high-functioning or low-functioning. It just says autistic, yet I am constantly called high-functioning from doctors, support workers, family members and more. It sounds like a compliment, right? I might be autistic but at least I’m high-functioning, right? Wrong.
I have horrible meltdowns — head banging, screaming, crying meltdowns — that last over an hour sometimes. When I am uncomfortable and around new people, I lose the ability to speak and become nonverbal. I barely made it through high school. I can’t drive because of all the sensory input. I tried living in an apartment alone, but spent most nights with my parents because I couldn’t go to college all day and still manage to cook, sleep, and be alone after. I cry every time I go to the doctor because I can’t stand the lights and the smells. I rarely go anywhere alone because I’m afraid of people, of having a shutdown and sitting on the floor of a store. I cannot shower and get dressed within an hour timeframe. I can’t remember to take my meds unless someone tells me. If I’m in sensory overload, I hit myself, scratch myself, scream and pull my hair. And those are just some of my common problems from being autistic.
I definitely wouldn’t be considered “high-functioning” if people saw those sides of me. But I have the ability (sometimes) to hide those autistic traits of mine until I am home alone or with people I trust. If I feel sensory overload coming on at work, I hold it in until I am at home. That doesn’t make me high-functioning, it just means I’ve been bullied so much for being different, I’d rather put myself through physical agony to hide it as much as I can.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

STAR Autism Training - Anaconda

Dates:  August 20th and 21st - 8:30am - 3:30pm
Location:  Lincoln Primary School - 506 Chestnut, Anaconda, MT 59711

This comprehensive two-day workshop provides participants with detailed examples and practice activities on how to implement the evidence-based practices identified in the National Standards Report (2009). The STAR Program (Arick, Loos, Falco and Krug, 2004), a research-based curriculum is used to provide examples.

Appropriate content connected to the common core curriculum is presented and detailed information on the three evidenced-based instructional methods of discrete trial training, pivotal response training and teaching through functional routines are shared.

Participants will learn how to implement these strategies through structured lesson plans and a curriculum scope and sequence. The workshop will include extensive data collection systems and participants will learn to collect and use data for instructional decision making. Workshop topics will include the use of a power point lecture, video examples, presenter demonstration and participant "hands-on" practice.

Register here.

Shawna Heiser-Data Keeping, ABC sheet and PBS plans

August 13th, 2018


Shawna will be discussing the importance of data in the classroom as well as other relevant information for all attendees. This session will be applicable to Para Educators as well as Spe and Regular Education teachers.

Register here.

Disparities in Familiarity with Developmental Disabilities among Low-Income Parents



Parent knowledge about developmental disabilities (DDs) may facilitate access to DD care; however, parents may vary in their knowledge and familiarity with common DDs. This study aimed to assess racial/ethnic and language differences in low-income families’ familiarity, knowledge, and personal experience with DDs.


We conducted a child development survey among 539 low-income parents of young children attending visits at the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), in six Oregon counties in 2015. Survey items assessed parent familiarity with early signs of DDs, self-reported knowledge about DDs, and personal experience with a friend or family member with a DD. Bivariable and multivariable analyses assessed differences in outcomes among non-Latino white [white], Latino-English proficient [Latino-EP], Latino-limited English proficient [Latino-LEP], and non-Latino other race English proficient [other race] parents.


Overall, parent participants correctly identified 64.7% of early signs of DDs. White parents correctly identified the earliest signs, even after adjustment for socio-demographic factors. Latino-LEP, Latino-EP and other race parents were less likely to have heard of prevalent DDs such as ADHD and autism, and were less likely to have a friend or family member with a DD compared to white parents.

Read more here at Science Direct.

Prevalence and Variation of Developmental Screening and Surveillance in Early Childhood

Question  What are the latest national estimates of standardized developmental screening and surveillance, as well as individual and state variation, that may identify opportunities for improvement?
Findings  In this cross-sectional analysis of the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, an estimated 30.4% of children 9 through 35 months of age received a parent-completed developmental screening and 37.1% received developmental surveillance from a health care professional in the past year. State-level differences far exceeded those by child and family characteristics, spanning 40 percentage points for screening (17.2% in Mississippi and 58.8% in Oregon) and surveillance (19.1% in Mississippi and 60.8% in Oregon).

Both screening and surveillance varied substantially across states by more than 40 percentage points (Figure 1 and Figure 2). The prevalence of screening ranged from 17.2% in Mississippi to 58.8% in Oregon, corresponding to a rate ratio of 3.4. Similarly, developmental surveillance ranged from 19.1% in Mississippi to 60.8% in Oregon, corresponding to a rate ratio of 3.2. States with significantly lower rates of developmental screening than the nation overall included Kentucky (17.5%), New York (17.5%), and Florida (20.4%), while states with rates significantly exceeding the national rate included Oregon (58.8%), Colorado (50.2%), Minnesota (50.1%), North Carolina (47.6%), Alaska (46.8%), Montana (46.3%), Massachusetts (46.3%), and Maryland (43.0%).

Read more here.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Archived Podcast - Aftermath

In summer 2016, a police shooting upended the life of Arnaldo Rios Soto, a 26-year old, non-speaking, autistic man. Aftermath tells Arnaldo's story — a hidden world of psych wards, physical abuse and chemical restraints — and asks the question: How did Arnaldo's life go so wrong? 

Listen here. 

Archived Webinar - Apps to Teach Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The goal of this edWebinar is to share apps to support learning and engagement of students with autism spectrum disorder. Students with autism spectrum disorder learn best through visuals and with differentiated academic support to meet their individual needs.

In this edWebinar, Frances Amato, STEM Educator and Technology Liaison, reviews her favorite apps for ELA, math, behavior needs and schedules — all educational in nature. They can be utilized throughout the school day to support students’ handwriting, reading, spelling and more. The presentation goes through apps such as ClassDojo, School Schedule, Spellyfish, Simplex Spelling and others.

Archived Webinars from the Autism Research Institute

Study offers clues about eye avoidance in ASD

This artilce also appeared in the 2017, volume 3 issue of ARI's Autism Research Review International newsletter.

New research indicates that individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) avoid eye contact not because they lack interest in interacting socially, but because making eye contact causes them to experience unpleasant arousal in the brain’s subcortical system.
Hadjikhani says, “The findings demonstrate that, contrary to what has been thought, the apparent lack of interpersonal interest among people with autism is not due to a lack of concern. Rather, our results show that this behavior is a way to decrease an unpleasant excessive arousal stemming from overactivation in a particular part of the brain.”
Based on the study’s findings, Hadjikhani says that forcing individuals with autism to focus on other people’s eyes may be misguided. Instead, she says, “An approach involving slow habituation to eye contact may help them overcome this overreaction and be able to handle eye contact in the long run, thereby avoiding the cascading effects that this eye-avoidance has on the development of the social brain.”

Social behaviour and social cognition in high-functioning adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD): two sides of the same coin?


Of the triad of symptoms found in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), that is, social impairments, communication difficulties and repetitive interests and behaviour, the social impairments are the most stable and common throughout the lifespan. They typically manifest themselves in abnormalities as reciprocal interactions and difficulties in the expression and recognition of emotions. Although peer interactions become especially important during adolescence, little is known about the mentalizing abilities of high-functioning adolescents with ASD. Here, we compared the mentalizing skills and emotion recognition abilities of 21 high-functioning adolescents with ASD and 21 matched controls. All adolescents had estimated above-average verbal intelligence levels. Spontaneous social abilities and task-related social abilities were measured using questionnaires, tasks and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Results confirm social impairment in daily life situations in adolescents with ASD, but were not found on experimental tasks of social cognition. The use of more explicit cognitive or verbally mediating reasoning techniques and a lesser tendency of high-functioning adolescents with ASD to search for and use social information in natural environments are further discussed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Newsletter of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment Spring/Summer 2018

Read the full newsletter here. 

Potty Training a Child with Autism using ABA

Potty training an Autistic child can be daunting for parents and caregivers because of the unique challenges the child faces. For this reason, traditional approaches to toilet training may not always be effective. This is where applied behavioral analysis (ABA) comes into your potty training program.

The first step in implementing a discrete trial training potty training program is to collect some data. Start by checking your child’s diaper every 45 minutes to an hour just to see if he has eliminated. Record this data until you get an idea of how often your child is going. Once you’ve determined the child’s average potty interval, take that number and multiply it by .75 for your timer interval. For example, if your child eliminates every 40 minutes, you would set a timer every 30 minutes.
When the timer goes off, you should have some kind of communication to indicate that it’s time to go the bathroom. This could be saying “potty time,” or if the child is nonverbal, try using a sign for toilet. Whatever signal you decide to use, make sure it is consistent and that all caregivers use it routinely.

Age of Majority Toolkit

NAA's Age of Majority guide is a free, downloadable toolkit for caregivers in need of information and resources to prepare and support their child through the transition from adolesence to adulthood. 
This item is provided by NAA at no charge. When you complete the order process, you will receive a link to download the booklet in PDF format. The link will expire in 72 hours.