Thursday, July 4, 2019

FREE Online Autism Training from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering online training in Teaching Procedures, Behavior Interventions and Focused Topics to public school staff in Montana who educate students with autism spectrum disorders. The training provides 77 courses and up to 110 OPI renewal units.

A listing and description of the training content can be found here. The training can be taken for OPI renewal units, ASHA CEUs and SWP/MFT CEUs. 

New groups start the beginning and middle of each month and you will be sent information then to begin your training. You will have 90 days to complete the training.

You can register for the online training here.


Information for Speech-Language Providers

ASHA members and/or MT state licensed SLPs are qualified to earn ASHA CEUs for completing the online Relias Learning curriculum. Independent study plans are limited to 20 hours. ASHA requires that Independent Study activities are approved 30 days prior to the start of the learning activity. If you are planning to take the training for ASHA CEUs it is best to get ASHA approval before registering for the training.

Participants fill out the form and send it to the Montana MSHA rep. Contact Doug Doty at for information on whom to send it to. The link below will take you directly to the Independent Study form:

Friday, March 22, 2019

ADOS 2 Training


June 11/12, 2019

ADOS 2 Clinical Training ( 2day event)
DR Lauren Swineford - trainer
Registration for the ADOS 2 Two Day Clinical Training in Polson MT on June 11 & 12. 2019. Sessions are from 9 am to 5 pm daily. You will be required to sign in and out each day and must attend the sessions in their entirety. Those registering will be required to have and bring an ADOS-2 Manual ( WPS Product #W-605M) it is required..
You cannot have previously received this training in Montana
Registration is limited to 30 so if there is a question regarding your attendance- PLEASE do not register if you cannot attend all day both days.

Autistic children’s sleep problems may stem from sensory issues

Heightened sensory perception in toddlers with autism predicts sleep problems at around age 7, according to a new study1.
The findings suggest that sensory sensitivities interfere with sleep in children with autism. They also hint that adjusting for these sensitivities — by minimizing background light or noise at bedtime, for example — could ease the children’s sleep difficulties.

Levels of autism in China similar to the West, joint Chinese-UK study shows

The first large-scale study of autism in China has revealed that around one in a hundred people in the country has an autism spectrum condition—the same figure as found in the West.

Read more here.

Jenny McCarthy's Autism Charity Has Helped Its Board Members Make Money Off Dangerous, Discredited Ideas

Camel’s milk. B12 lollipops. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers. “Ion-cleansing” foot baths. Chelation therapy. Gluten-free diets. Casein-free diets. Massive doses of nutritional supplements. All of these products and services have two things in common. First, mainstream (and widely trusted) medical bodies don’t recognize them as a reputable or effective treatment for autism. Second, they’re all recommended by—and in some cases sold outright through—Generation Rescue, a charity for autistic kids and their families whose board president and most famous face is actress Jenny McCarthy.
A deep dive into the world of Generation Rescue has revealed that the organization doesn’t just promote ineffective or medically unproven or downright debunked treatments for autism (all of which has been demonstrated before): The organization and the people associated with it profit from them, too. In two cases, Generation Rescue has heavily promoted products owned by past board members, at the time they served on the board: hyperbaric oxygen chambers and B12 lollipops, both of which have been presented on GR’s website as near-miraculous treatments for symptoms of autism.

A Mother's Exposure to Pesticides During Pregnancy May Raise Children's Autism Risk

The scientists found that women who were pregnant and who lived within a 2,000 meter radius of a highly sprayed area were anywhere from 10% to 16% more likely to have children diagnosed with autism than women who lived in places farther away from sprayed areas. The researchers reviewed spraying of 11 popular pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, diazinon and permethrin (often used to control ticks). When they looked at diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder that also came with intellectual disabilities, they found on average 30% higher rates among children who were exposed to the pesticides while in utero. Exposure in the first year of life increased the risk of autism by up to 50% compared to those not exposed to certain pesticides.

Read more here at Time. 

Study: Reworked Autism Definition Prompted Drop In Diagnoses

Five years after a sweeping overhaul of the diagnostic criteria for autism, research suggests that the changes have led fewer people to be identified with the developmental disorder.
The definition of autism was reworked with the adoption of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013. 
The new manual did away with Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified, in favor of a broad diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder” with clinicians denoting a level of severity.
Now, researchers have conducted a meta-analysis looking at 33 studies examining the impact of the altered definition. They found that diagnoses of autism have decreased since the new DSM was adopted.
Overall, about 1 in 5 individuals who would have received an autism diagnosis under the old DSM are being left out under the new definition, 
Notably, however, the authors said that the decrease in diagnoses is smaller than what’s been identified in previous reviews of studies on the DSM change, suggesting that clinicians may be getting more comfortable with the new criteria.

Helping Children Understand Autism

Read more here. 

Webinar - Visual Communication Strategies for Nonverbal Students

Mar 26, 2019 3:00 PM in Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join our webinar to develop a toolbox of visual communication resources and strategies that will help make language more concrete and accessible for nonverbal students. In this webinar you’ll learn: 

• The why and how of visual communication strategies and the power of symbols to support learning and independence

• How to apply modifications and accommodations such as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), American Sign Language and adapted materials in your classroom

• How to develop and use powerful tools like symbol-supported social stories and visual schedules

Save your seat today!

Duration: 1 hour

*A Certificate of Attendance will be awarded to those who attend.

*The webinar will be recorded for those who register but can’t attend.

Register here. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Community Investment Fund

The application period for 2019 funding is now open!
Do you have an interesting idea or project to promote inclusion for people with disabilities? Would a small amount of start-up funds help you get your project off the ground? Applications for the Community Investment Fund are now being accepted...complete and return your application before the May 1, 2019 deadline. Please note: due to University contracting requirements, successful applicants will be required to have liability insurance and either Workers’ Compensation coverage or a Workers' Compensation exemption certificate. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by June 30, 2019.
Directions for using PDF form: Open the PDF file and save it to your desktop. Fill out the form and save it again. Then either print a hard copy of the application and submit it by mail or fax, or attach the PDF form to an email and submit it electronically.

The Etiquette Guide for Surviving the Workplace for Autistic People of Colour


This guide was borne out of a recent exchange with another autistic person of colour and wondering how to deal with racism (and other oppressive stuff) at work because, for both of us, our usual method of treating the person like they no longer exist isn’t really a feasible strategy for keeping your job.
The guide, of course, comes with certain caveats and limitations. Since it assumes that you’ve managed to accomplish an already difficult task: getting a job as an autistic person of colour. This isn’t really an easy thing to do. There are a lot of barriers. If you have a job, great and congrats. If you cannot get one, I understand and you’re still worthy.
There are a lot of steps involved in actually getting a job. Steps that I can’t really discuss because I’m terrible at getting jobs. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably terrible at getting them too.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Webinar - Autism and Visual Supports: Powerful Strategies for School, Home, and the Community

Thursday, March 14, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT

Because most students with autism are visual learners, they benefit from the consistent use of customized visual supports. In this edWebinar, we will explore three categories of visual supports: Visual Instruction (adapting instruction so it is presented visually), Visual Organization (using visuals to organize activities and daily schedules), and Visual Expression (using visuals to facilitate expressive communication). We will examine how to effectively use visual supports in school, at home and in the community to optimize students’ participation in all aspects of their day. The presenters will:
  • Review visual supports that can be effectively used in the classroom<
  • Examine real-life applications of visual supports (photos and videos) for use in the community and at home
  • Demonstrate how to organize activities and transitions to promote students’ success
  • Discuss the benefits of using assistive technology

Real-life examples, tips, strategies, and resources will be shared during the presentation. This edWebinar will be of interest to preK-12 teachers, librarians, school leaders, paraprofessionals, therapists, and specialists. Time will be provided for a question and answer session.

AAC 101 for Paraeducators: Implementing AAC in the Classroom webinar

Date: March 12, 2019
Time: 3:30-4:30

In his book, Ghost Boy, Martin Pistorius writes “Not having a voice to say I’d had enough food or the bath water was too hot or to tell someone I loved them was the thing that made me feel most inhuman. Words and speech separate us from the animal kingdom, after all. They give us free will and agency as we use them to express our desires and refuse or accept what others want us to do.”  

For students with complex communication needs, Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) is the key that unlocks communication, free will and agency for them.  As educators, providing opportunities for and supporting use of AAC in our classrooms is our most important obligation to our students. But how do we help them learn to use their systems?  How do we incorporate AAC into the school day?  Implementation is the most important aspect but the hardest to achieve!  Join us as we discuss basics such as prompting and wait time as well as activities and examples to get you started using AAC with your students.

Learning objectives:
Participants will be able to state 3 principles of successful AAC Implementation
Participants will be able to state 3 best practices when using aided-language stimulation
Participants will be able to describe at least one activity/opportunity each for incorporating low-tech and high-tech AAC options

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Autism History Project

The Autism History Project profiles people, topics, and ideas that shaped autism throughout the twentieth century. It also presents an archive of sources to illustrate that history. The Timeline is a good place to begin.

The Autism History Project is for everyone interested in autism as well as anyone interested in medicine and the human sciences, health and social welfare, development and disability, and the history of children and families in the modern United States.

The mission of The Autism History Project is to show that the past is a resource for the present and future.

Do It DIfferently - Video

Four fathers with one thing in common: They are all raising a child with autism. In their own words, they share their struggles and successes, fears and hopes, while projecting a quiet strength. Let them inspire you to do it differently.

Watch the video here on Youtube. 

Sleep Strategies for Teens with Autism

Many teens with autism have difficulty with sleep, which can affect their daytime functioning, as well as that of their families.
This tool kit is designed to provide parents with strategies to improve sleep in their teens affected by autism. It helps tackle the problems of falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. 
Sections include:
Evening routines
Good food habits
Bedtime routine checklist
A comfortable sleep setting
Teen sleep practices

Community-based Skills Assessment from Autism Speaks

The transition out of school-based services for students with autism can be difficult. There is no "one size fits all" plan for the path to adulthood.
The most important factor in creating a plan is to focus on the individual. His or her strengths, needs, challenges and preferences will be vital to a successful transition process.
The CSA helps parents and professionals assess the current skill levels and abilities of students with autism beginning at age 12. The results will help you develop a unique and comprehensive plan.
The tool is divided into three levels based on age. Eight areas of functional life skills will be assessed:
  • Career path and employment
  • Self-determination/advocacy
  • Health and safety
  • Peer relationships, socialization and social communication
  • Community participation and personal finance
  • Transportation
  • Leisure/recreation
  • Home living skills
The assessment uses both observation and interviews to measure the individual's knowledge, skills and behaviors.
Click here to read the introduction and learn more about the CSA. You can also read all about how it works here!

Ten steps to help a teen with autism navigate dating

Ten tips
With these challenges in mind, we’ve compiled some tips for helping your teen approach dating and intimacy. They are just general guides. How you apply them should depend on the age and experience of your teen.
1. Encourage an open dialogue. You want your teen to feel comfortable sharing information about dating. It can help to “normalize” the issue. For example, remind your teen that most everyone finds dating challenging. It’s not an easy process!
2. Be proactive. If your teen hasn’t already brought up the topic, look for a time when he or she is in a good mood and mention your willingness to talk about dating and sexuality when your teen is ready. Highlight that each person becomes interested in these experiences at different ages, and that’s okay.
3. Don’t delay discussions if you think your teen might be sexually active or is dealing with opportunities for sexual activity. In this situation, it’s crucial to discuss safe sex even if your teen feels resistant to talking about it. For example, gently but clearly make sure your teen understands how pregnancy occurs, how sexually transmitted diseases spread and how to take preventive steps. If sexual activity has already occurred, we recommend consulting with your teen’s doctor about related health issues.
4. If your teen is open to role-playing, try running through some classic dating scenarios. While role-playing, observe how your teen shows interest, expresses compliments and responds nonverbally (e.g., smiling, nodding in agreement, making eye contact). Explain that these behaviors send positive messages to the other person. Mention how everyone likes to have someone show genuine interest. Model behaviors that show interest. Together, brainstorm possible topics of conversations.
Read more here at Autism Speaks. 

MonTECH has iPads.

Proloquo2Go communication app showing picture symbols on a Home screen.
MonTECH's iPads are loaded with robust communication apps: LAMP Words for Life, CoughDrop, Proloquo2Go, TouchChat, Compass, and GoTalk Now. Explore them on your own with a free 30-day loan of an iPad, or contact:
Michelle in Missoula
or Marlena in Billings  

Untangling the ties between autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder

At first glance, autism and OCD appear to have little in common. Yet clinicians and researchers have found an overlap between the two. Studies indicate that up to 84 percent of autistic people have some form of anxiety; as much as 17 percent may specifically have OCD. And an even larger proportion of people with OCD may also have undiagnosed autism, according to one 2017 study.
Part of that overlap may reflect misdiagnoses: OCD rituals can resemble the repetitive behaviors common in autism, and vice versa. But it’s increasingly evident that many people, like Slavin, have both conditions. People with autism are twice as likely as those without to be diagnosed with OCD later in life, according to a 2015 study that tracked the health records of nearly 3.4 million people in Denmark over 18 years. Similarly, people with OCD are four times as likely as typical individuals to later be diagnosed with autism, according to the same study.
In the past decade, researchers have begun to study these two conditions together to work out how they interact — and how they differ. Those distinctions could be important not only for making correct diagnoses but also for choosing effective treatments. People who have both OCD and autism appear to have unique experiences, distinct from those of either condition on its own. And for these people, standard interventions for OCD, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), may provide little relief.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A Failure to Study Adults

Only 41 peer-reviewed studies from 1980 to 2017 have tested intervention programs for autistic adults, according to a meta-analysis. Current Psychiatry Reports

(Courtesy of Spectrum News)

Webinar: Ivan Iossifov discusses genotype, phenotype in autism

Feb 27, 2019 3:00 PM in Eastern Time

Register here. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Fetishizing Autism: Representation in Hollywood

While mostly inaccurate and incredibly flawed, the autistic savant trend has recently given way to something potentially more damaging: autistic fetishization. This new trend essentially portrays autism as cool and desirable, a primer for superhuman abilities or even the next step in human evolution. That's not to say autism can't be cool or desirable, especially when defined that way by people who live with it daily, but a problem arises when the voices defining autism in pop culture don't have autism in the first place. The result is a series of Hollywood-generated "autistic archetypes" that never entirely ring true to the experiences of actual autistic people.

Read more about about autism stereotypes in popular media here. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

An Office Designed for Workers with Autism

Offices, for plenty of people, can occasionally be overwhelming, crowded with feelings too big for cubicles, too personal for a professional setting. A higher-up checks a watch midconversation; a comment in a meeting is talked over; someone and someone else go to lunch. Doubts flourish under fluorescent lights that expose every slight, every interpersonal hurdle.
And then there are people like Hirasuna, who are on the autism spectrum; people who feel bombarded by those same clues and cues, all the while knowing they are unreliable interpreters of their meaning. For some people with autism, socializing is an elaborate game with more exceptions than rules, so that any small decision — hover outside the boss’s office? don’t hover? — poses an insurmountable challenge. Guesswork is prevalent, misapprehension the norm. “When it is hard to read the room, so to speak, it does morph into anxiety over time,” said Grey Patton, a 23-year-old employee on the spectrum who graduated from the University of California, Riverside, last spring and who, like Hirasuna, started working at Auticon in January. “It’s moving in the dark without a flashlight.”

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Save The Date - AAC Conference

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project will be offering a limited number of scholarships for this conference when registration opens. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.


Read more here.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM: Examples Designed to Help Teachers and Other School Personnel

The following descriptions of assistive technology (AT) use in the classroom have been prepared by Laura Kessel, an AT specialist who supports teachers and teacher training. They may be used for individual study and practice or as part of professional development workshops and/or other training events.

See the examples here. 

Webinar - The Ketogenic Diet and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Webinar - Mood and ASD: Nutritional Strategies for Anxiety and Depression

Tune in to learn about nutritional strategies for addressing anxiety and depression in ASD.

Walking in virtual environment may reveal unique autism gait

The researchers recorded the gait of 15 autistic children and 16 controls, aged 7 to 12 years. Each child first walked for six minutes to get accustomed to the setup. The researchers then randomly and briefly changed the speed of one of the belts, causing the child to stumble. They repeated this maneuver 20 times, recording the child’s movements before, during and after the stumble.
Signals from the sensors show that the children with autism walk slightly more slowly and take smaller steps, on average, than controls do. The autistic children also flex their hips less when their foot hits the ground and tilt their pelvis farther forward. When the children stumble, those with autism tend to bend their knees less than controls do. The degree to which a person shows each of these unusual motor patterns tracks with the severity of her autism. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Proposed Changes to the OPI Autism Criteria are now Available for Comment.

First some details and then the link to the proposed language:

1.   On March 12, 2019, at 2:00 p.m., the Superintendent of Public Instruction will hold a public hearing in the Superintendent's conference room, 1227 11th Avenue, Helena, Montana, to consider the proposed amendment.

2.  Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments either orally or in writing at the hearing. Written data, views, or arguments may also be submitted to: Beverly Marlow, Office of Public Instruction, P.O. Box 202501, Helena, Montana, 59620-2501; telephone (406) 444-4402; fax (406) 444-2893; or e-mail, and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., March 12, 2019.

3.  At this time in the rule-making process Doug Doty cannot answer questions about the proposed language or provide interpretation. The OPI will provide responses to received data, views or arguments after they have been received.

You can view the proposed amendment here. Please note that stricken language is the current text and underlined language is the proposed text. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A 20‐year study of suicide death in a statewide autism population

Growing concern about suicide risk among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) necessitates population‐based research to determine rates in representative samples and to inform appropriate prevention efforts. This study used existing surveillance data in Utah to determine incidence of suicide among individuals with ASD over a 20‐year period, and to characterize those who died. 

Between 1998 and 2017, 49 individuals with ASD died by suicide. Suicide cumulative incidence rates did not significantly differ between 1998 and 2012 across the ASD and non‐ASD populations. Between 2013 and 2017, the cumulative incidence of suicide in the ASD population was 0.17%, which was significantly higher than in the non‐ASD population (0.11%; P < 0.05). During this period, this difference was driven by suicide among females with ASD; suicide risk in females with ASD was over three times higher than in females without ASD.

Read more here.  

Webinar - Working with Families to Address School Avoidance and Truancy for Children with Mental Health Needs

Webinar - Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for Young Learners

  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019 — 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    Location: Online
    Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools can help individuals say whatever they want to say to whomever they want to say it to whenever they want to say it. This workshop will introduce AAC and explore tools, strategies, and resources to implement communication tools in early childhood routines, settings, and classrooms. Live captioning provided.

Webinar - Introduction to Assistive Technology (AT) for Young Children

Date: Thursday, February 14, 2019 — 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Location: Online
This workshop will explore the breadth of assistive technology (AT) available for young children (ages birth to five). Participants will learn about the continuum of early childhood AT tools from the very simple to the highly complex and the research that supports the use of AT with young children. Live captioning provided.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Friday, January 18, 2019

Webinar - Using Video Modeling To Teach Social Skills

Jan 28, 2019 4:00 PM Eastern

Video modeling—using a video to teach and learn new skills—is an evidence-based practice for students with unique learning needs. Easy to implement with readily available technology, video modeling as a classroom strategy can be beneficial for multiple learning styles, ages and ability levels. Who among us hasn’t turned to YouTube tutorials to learn everything from fixing a small appliance to operating our new phone? When teachers use videos in their classrooms, students’ interest levels are automatically piqued. 

In this webinar you’ll learn:

• Why intentionally teaching social skills to all students is important

• How to incorporate video modeling into your teaching repertoire

• Practical strategies and technology tools to help make video modeling easy

Actual video clips and sample video models used for student intervention will be showcased, demonstrating just how effective—and fun—video modeling can be.

Register here. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

STAR Autism Training

STAR Autism Training
STAR Autism Trainings

Kalispell: March 4-5

Missoula: March 6-7 - FULL / registration closed.

Sidney is now  Billings: March 26-27
     (Sidney had only 5 people register so this training was moved to Billings.)
Billings: April 8-9 - FULL / registration closed.

Great Falls: April 10-11

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 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. 

Fourteen OPI renewal units will be available for this training. 
This training is FREE from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project.


Each training is limited to 30 people. 

Register here. 

(If you register for Billings on March 27/28 the post-registration screen and email will still show Sidney as the location. Ignore that and go to Billings.)

Movin'On in Montana

Transition seminar for high school students with disabilities

The 2019 Program on July 9-12, 2019 at the University of Montana in Missoula. 
What is Movin' On in Montana?  
  • It's a free summer program! 
  • Stay on campus for 3 nights in a residence hall and eat in a dining hall. 
  • Take campus tours. 
  • Attend a college lecture and class. 
  • Learn about resources for students. 
  • Practice self-advocacy and communication skills. 
  • Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a college student with disability. 
  • Participate in fun recreation and community actives. 
  • Career exploration. 
  • Learn about 2-year and 4-year college options in Montana. 
  • Talk to current college students. 

Movin’ on in Montana Club

Movin’ On in Montana Club is a new project working in collaboration with the summer program to create more opportunities for students with disabilities to explore post-secondary education. The club will run from January, 2019 to August, 2019. Eligible students may participate in both the club and the summer program.

What will students do in the Movin’ On in Montana Club?
  • Get to know current University of Montana student mentors
  • Monthly club meetings/activities through face-to-face seminars, video conferencing and a closed social media account
  • Help plan club and summer program activities
  • Develop leadership and advocacy skills
  • Connect with students across Montana

Use Music to Reduce Vocal Stereotypy in Individuals with Autism

Vocal stereotypy is often maintained by automatic reinforcement (although professionals should assess the individual to be sure of the function of the behavior rather than assuming that all vocal stereotypy is maintained by automatic reinforcement).
Behaviors that are maintained by automatic reinforcement can be challenging to address in a natural setting as well as in a clinical setting.
Two common intervention strategies for behaviors maintained by automatic reinforcement include:
  1. Matched stimulation (MS)
  2. Response interruption and redirection (RIRD)
MS is an antecedent intervention that provides noncontingent access to a stimulus that is presumed to be similar to the one the individual obtains from the displayed behavior.
RIRD is a consequence strategy that may be considered a punishment procedure in which the individual’s vocal stereotypy is interrupted and then the individual is required to display a number of vocal responses absent of the vocal stereotypic behavior.