Friday, December 13, 2019

iPad Boot Camp: Awesome New iPad Apps, Adaptations, and Accessories

January 9 and 10, 2020

Broadway Inn and Convention Center

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Discover what is new in the world of awesome apps, adaptations and accessories. Participants should bring their iPads to this course.

January 9, 2020

The awesome iPad and it’s many features to support students with disabilities

Resources for finding appropriate apps for specific functional limitations

There is an app for that—feature mapping and finding appropriate apps

Create access solutions for the iPad for vision impairments—tactile overlays

Build a multi-use iPad holder

Creating and using a scan and read station for the iPad for students with print disabilities

Creating access solutions for physical impairments

January 10, 2020

101 Uses for the iPad camera to support students with disabilities

Explore 10 ways to Interact with the iPad without ever touching the device – using voice, geo fencing, switch access

Creating access solutions for students with communication impairments

Apps and executive function impairments

Apps and adaptations for deaf and hard of hearing

Apps for self-regulation and relaxation

iPad access when using a wheelchair, table, floor, car or bed to accommodate for physical limitations

   Participants should bring their iPads to this course.

You can register here.

Therese Willkomm, PhD, ATP, is currently the director of the New Hampshire statewide assistive technology program with the Institute on Disability and a clinical associate professor at the University of New Hampshire. She has been engaged in providing and managing assistive technology services for over 28 years in the areas of home, school, and worksite modifications for persons with disabilities. She is known nationally and internationally as “The MacGyver of Assistive Technology.” She has invented over 600 different Assistive Technology solutions including 50 different iPad solutions.

Previous attendees scored this training at a 5.0 on, "Would you suggest this course to others?"

Quotes from previous attendees: "Great visuals, videos and hands-on!"  "Therese was awesome!"  "I loved how practical this was."  "It was an awesome workshop. I absolutely loved it. Therese has a great sense of humor and is fun to listen to!"

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Directors Call - December 2019

View and download the PowerPoint here.

View and read the transcript here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

CEC Conference Registration Scholarships Available

Thank you for your interest in the CEC Conference Scholarships offered by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project. We are no longer taking scholarship requests - we have had three times as many requests as we have scholarships available.
If you would like to be notified ASAP when next year's scholarship opportunity becomes available, you can sign up for our autism newsletter here.

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering a limited number of registration scholarships for the Montana CEC Conference to be held in Missoula on February 19-21, 2020.

The scholarships are only available to special education staff working in Montana public school districts.  Please be sure that you will be approved to attend the conference before requesting a scholarship. The scholarships are for the conference registration only. OPI will not provide travel reimbursement (gas, food, lodging.)

University students receive one-day scholarships for the day of their choice.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Archived Webinar - Strategies for Selecting and Incorporating Core Vocabulary

Whether you’re a seasoned SLP looking for fresh ways to build communication strategies or a teacher looking to build core vocabulary into your week, it’s always helpful to learn practical ideas you can use right away. Our expert shares guidance on planning core word lists relevant to a range of student communication needs and classroom activities—including morning meeting, academic blocks, story time and transitions.


  • Strategies for creating and teaching core vocabulary lists based on planned activities or communication functions
  • Proven ideas for integrating core vocabulary into a variety of daily routines
  • Tips for involving multiple stakeholders in modeling core vocabulary, and why this benefits students. 
  • View the recorded webinar here. 

Archived Webinar - Sensory Processing and Autism

IABA Professional Webinars

The Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis is
offering 2 online interactive professional development webinars on

Positive Practices in Behavioral Support
Through Nonlinear Applied Behavior Analysis
Presented by Thomas J Willis, PhD
December, January and February
(see grid below for actual dates and times)


Assessment and Analysis of
Severe and Challenging Behavior
A six-month online longitudinal guided practicum
Presented by Thomas J Willis, PhD
Beginning January 27, 2020 from 6:00 AM to 9:30 AM (Los Angeles time)

Positive Practices in Behavioral Support
Through Nonlinear Applied Behavior Analysis

This program is a live, fully interactive, web-based lecture series introducing an evidence-based model of positive behavioral support, including first resort crisis management strategies.

The 4-Module training program covers the following topics:
·      The evidence based IABA Multi-element Model
·      Comprehensive Functional Assessment
·      Person-Centered Positive Behavioral Support
·      Emergency Management and Reactive Strategies Within a Positive Practices Framework
·      Assuring Staff Consistency and the Provision of Quality Services

Type 2 CE is available for BCBAs and BCaBAs. ACE Provider number is OP-02-0027.

Module 1: Comprehensive Functional Assessment
Module 2: Positive Behavioral Support
Module 3: Emergency Management and Reactive Strategies Within a Positive Practices Framework
Module 4: Assuring Staff Consistency and the Provision of Quality Services
Start and End Times (Los Angeles time)
7:30 AM to 10:00 AM
2:00 PM to 5:30 PM
9:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Standard fee is $500.00 (USD) per person (other currencies accepted, contact us for a quote). A 10% discount is available for groups of 3 or more at the same location. To register or download a complete brochure, go to [].

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Assessment and Analysis of
Severe and Challenging Behavior
A six-month online longitudinal guided practicum

This is an advanced, competency based interactive online professional development program for qualified professionals charged with assessing individuals who have complex and challenging needs and with designing positive behavior support plans. You will learn an evidence-based, state-of-the-art model for providing effective, person-centered positive behavioral supports that results in a decrease in the use of restrictive practices and an increase in the person’s quality of life.

This is a hands-on practicum experience. At the beginning of this six-month course all participants will select a focus person from their case load. Each participant will conduct a comprehensive functional assessment, design and implement a multi-element positive behavior support plan to address the behaviors of concern and reduce the need for restrictive practices. Feedback sessions are provided at the end of each assignment that provide the participant with concrete guidance.

Tuition and Fees: US Dollars $3,000.00, includes tuition and all books. We can invoice you in your local currency. Please e-mail John Marshall,, for a rate quote. To register or download a complete brochure, go to [].

Some comments from people who have completed this course:

·      It was a thought provoking and worthwhile educational journey. Enjoyed Tom's capacity to simplify the concepts and share his wealth of experience which was invaluable. The quick turnaround with feedback was much appreciated.
·      Loved it, an amazing course. I have learnt so much that I will be implementing throughout my role.
·      Really enjoyed the course. I found Tom to be engaging and very knowledgeable. He has inspired me in many ways, in a subject I felt I knew a lot about. Thanks.
·      Tom's EXPERT knowledge was nothing short of AMAZING.
·      Value for money.

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·      Do I need to take the Modules in order? You should take Modules 1, 2, and 3 in that order. Module 4 can be taken at any time. Often Module 4 is taken as a stand-alone webinar by administrators who have no clinical responsibilities.

·      Why are the Modules broken into 2 Parts? The lectures are 6 hours long. That would be too long for most people to be in front of their computer or device screen.

·      What if I have to leave early or arrive late? We record all of the sessions. A link to the recording will be e-mailed to you each day.

·      May we watch as a group or do individuals need to watch from their own device? You may watch as a group providing that you appoint a person to take the attendance role and submit that role to IABA.

·      Are you able to ask questions during the lecture? Yes. You can ask questions by either “raising your virtual hand” or by typing your question into the chat box. There are also question periods at the beginning and end of each session.

·      What devices can I use? You can use either a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet, or a smart phone. If you plan on using a smart phone or tablet visit your app store and download the WebEx app. If you are using a desktop or laptop, make sure that the webcam and microphone are operational. If you are watching as a group, we suggest using a data projector and external speakers.

·      Can I test my device to make sure that I can connect to the training? Yes, go to and join the Test Meeting.

·      Are there any pre-reading materials or handouts? When you register, you will receive a link to download the lecture notes. You are also invited to visit where you can find books and links to free articles and newsletters.

·      What if I have a different question? Please contact John Marshall by e-mail (

Autism FocusedIntervention Resources & Modules (AFIRM)

AFIRM Modules are designed to help you learn the step-by-step process of planning for, using, and monitoring an EBP with learners with ASD from birth to 22 years of age. Supplemental materials and handouts are available for download.

Download an overview of the Components of AFIRM to learn about modules, resources, and professional development options.

Read more here. 

Archived Webinar - Reducing Challenging Behaviors in Students with Autism: Merging Visual Language and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

We will take an in-depth look at evidence-based strategies to help reduce and/or replace challenging behaviors utilizing functional communication training. During this edWebinar, we will:
  • define functional communication training and discuss why it can significantly reduce challenging behaviors, including those exhibited by students with Autism. 

  • take a step-by-step approach to identifying and assessing problem behaviors as well as visual language strengths and weaknesses.
  • map visual language onto Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) teaching strategies.
  • learn how to use systematic strategies to teach replacement communication and behaviors.
  • examine case studies that demonstrate how to scaffold visual supports for different types of students, based on baseline data collection and the results of language assessments.
  • monitor and generalize these skills in students with Autism.

View the webinar here. 

A comparison of the ASD experience of low‐SES hispanic and non‐hispanic white parents

This study showed that Hispanic and Non‐Hispanic White children from poor backgrounds got a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the same age. Results show differences in religious views, acceptance of diagnosis, knowledge of milestones, and finding resources. This might be because people are more aware of ASD today and Hispanic families were involved with an active parent organization.

Read more here. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Archived Webinar - Sensory Processing and Autism

Watch the webinar here. 

Archived Webinar - PANS/PANDAS and ASD - Research Updates

Teaching Life Skills and Community Safety Signs

See more here at Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Severe Morning Sickness Tied to Autism Risk in Kids

The form of morning sickness in question is called hyperemesis gravidarum, and it occurs in less than 5% of pregnancies, explained a team at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Women with the condition have intense nausea and can't keep food or fluids down, which can lead to dehydration and poor nutrition during pregnancy.
The new study -- involving data on nearly 500,000 pregnant women and their children born between 1991 and 2014 -- "suggests that children born to women with hyperemesis may be at an increased risk of autism," said lead author Dr. Darios Getahun. 
The study couldn't prove cause and effect, but it found a 53% increased risk of a child being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder if their mother suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum. 
There was one silver lining from the finding, Getahun said: "Awareness of this association may create the opportunity for earlier diagnosis and intervention in children at risk of autism."
The earlier that women experienced severe morning sickness, the stronger the tie to autism. Getahun's team found that hyperemesis gravidarum in the first and second trimester was linked with autism risk in offspring, but not when it was diagnosed in the third trimester.
Girls were more likely to develop autism than boys if their mothers had severe morning sickness, the findings indicated.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Archived Webinar - Self-Advocacy and ASD: Theory and Practice for All Ages Part 2

This webcast will continue to discuss the core components of self-advocacy., emphasizing the importance of disclosure, individual strengths and interests as well as civil rights. Essential self-advocacy theory will be connected directly to strategies people with ASD use to self-advocate. An emphasis on self-advocacy across the lifespan will be made, and resources and ideas will be shared to help attendees get started with self-advocacy supports.

View the recording here. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Extreme male brain theory of autism rests on shaky ground

This hypothesis, called the ‘extreme male brain’ theory, postulates that males are at higher risk for autism as a result of in-utero exposure to steroid hormones called androgens. This exposure, the theory goes, accentuates the male-like tendency to recognize patterns in the world (systemizing behavior) and diminishes the female-like capacity to perceive social cues (socializing behavior). Put simply, boys are already part way along the spectrum, and if they are exposed to excessive androgens in the womb, these hormones can push them into the diagnostic range.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Standard screen misses majority of toddlers with autism

  • A popular screening tool (M-CHAT) for autism misses more than 60 percent of children with the condition.
  • The vast majority of children the screen does flag turn out not to have autism, but most have a related condition.
  • Children with autism who screen positive as toddlers are diagnosed more than seven months earlier, on average, than those who are missed.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

How much behavioral therapy does an autistic child need?

In 1987, psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas reported that the optimal ‘dose’ for an autism therapy he had developed was 40 hours a week. The intensive therapy, a type of applied behavior analysis (ABA), led to “normal” functioning for 9 of 19 children with autism in his study, he said1. Just 10 hours of the therapy produced small benefits. Small controlled trials of Lovaas’ therapy, however, did not fully replicate his findings on dose2,3.
The form of ABA Lovaas tested has become the most widely used autism therapy — despite controversy about its approach and findings — and 40 hours became a treatment goal for many families. ABA agencies typically market services at that intensity. And this year, that goal was formalized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, which recommended 30 to 40 hours of treatment per week for autistic children who need help in several areas, such as cognition, communication or social functioning. (They recommend fewer hours for children with fewer needs.)
Receiving 40 hours of weekly therapy is essentially a full-time job for a 3-year-old.
Still, people tend to believe that, regardless of the treatment, more is always better. But is it?

Studies of autism treatments lack standard yardsticks

Clinical trials of autism treatments rarely use a consistent set of tools to measure efficacy, a new study suggests1. Instead, researchers generally design questionnaires specific to their study goals, and 69 percent of these tools are used only once.
The lack of consistency could obscure positive results. “Losing even one treatment that could possibly be helpful, just because we don’t use the right instruments, is a big loss,” says study investigator Natascia Brondino, assistant professor at the University of Pavia in Italy.
This variability also makes it difficult to compare treatments, or even the same treatment across studies.

Screening and Referral Practices for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Primary Pediatric Care

RESULTS: Rates of M-CHAT screening were 93% at 18 months and 82% at 24 months. Among 23 514 screens, scores of 648 (3%) were ≥3 (386 at 18 months, 262 at 24 months) among 530 unique children who failed 1 or both screenings. Among screen-failed cases, 18% received a diagnosis of ASD and 59% received ≥1 non-ASD neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosis within the follow-up period. Only 31% of children were referred to a specialist for additional evaluation.
CONCLUSIONS: High rates of ASD-specific screening do not necessarily translate to increases in subsequent referrals for ASD evaluation or ASD diagnoses. Low rates of referrals and/or lack of follow-through on referrals appear to contribute to delays in children’s receipt of ASD diagnoses. Additional education of primary care providers regarding the referral process after a failed ASD screening is warranted.

Friday, September 20, 2019

AAC Courses from the Idaho Training Clearinghouse


  • Course ID: 40846
  • Download Syllabus & Requirements
  • Registration Deadline: October 18, 2019  Registration Open
  • Course Dates: August 26, 2019 through December 2, 2019
  • Credits Available: 1 (through the University of Idaho)


  • Course ID: 35984
  • Download Syllabus & Requirements
  • Registration Deadline: October 18, 2019  Registration Open
  • Course Dates: September 6, 2019 through December 2, 2019
  • Credits Available: 1 (through the University of Idaho)
How to Register

  1. Review course syllabus for course requirements and deadlines.
  2. Review registration deadline.
  3. To participate in a course, you will need to create an account (see LMS User Overview blue button above) and verify this account with the Idaho Training Clearinghouse (ITC) Learning Management System (LMS). Once an account is created, you will be able to login and choose courses from the ITC LMS Course Catalog. 
  4. If you have problems verifying your account (e.g., you get a 'services not available' page), please email for assistance.
  5. You will also need to complete a University of Idaho (UI) registration form located inside your course. Please include your district or a personal email address on the form. Then mail/fax the registration form and payment* to the UI Registrar (address/phone on form).
*Course Fees: $60.00/academic graduate credit

Against neurodiversity

"The movement has good intentions, but it favours the high-functioning and overlooks those who struggle with severe autism."

"The neurodiversity movement is dividing both the autism community and autism researchers. Advocates make the distinction between autistics and ‘neurotypicals’, or nonautistics. This fosters an ‘us versus them’ mentality, wherein nonautistic people are regarded as an oppressive enemy. It also fosters intolerance towards different ways of thinking about autism, as well as a deep and unhealthy mistrust of the scientific and medical communities.
Ironically, a social-justice movement that aims to highlight the ways in which autistic people have been mistreated by society is now directly responsible for the mistreatment of the most vulnerable of all autistics – many of whom are too severely affected by their condition to speak up for themselves. In standing up for their rights, a group of marginalised people are effectively hyper-marginalising the very people they claim to be advocating for. They have monopolised the public discourse on autism, and continue to do whatever they can to silence any dissenting voices; this inability to debate and try to reach compromise is a problem not only for the autistic community, but for wider society."

Autistic girls’ brains show distinct anatomical features

Nerve fiber tracts in the brains of autistic girls are more fragmented than those of typical girls. By contrast, autistic boys’ brain structure is indistinguishable from that of typical boys, a new study suggests1.
Compared with controls, autistic girls and women have less integrity in several nerve tracts, the researchers found, including in one that connects the occipital lobe at the back of the head to the temporal lobe at the side. The differences are greater on the left side of the brain than on the right. This may explain some of the girls’ challenges with language, because the brain’s main language areas are in the left hemisphere, Jou says.
The autistic girls have autism traits similar to those of the boys: The two sexes scored similarly on a test of autism severity. That result fits with a theory called the female protective effect, the researchers say. This theory posits that biological factors — such as a lack of integrity of brain tracts — must be more extreme in girls than in boys to result in autism.
The evidence is indirect, however.
“It’s consistent with the female protective effect, but I don’t think it’s evidence for [the theory],” Nordahl says.
The wide age range of the participants is a limitation of the study, Nordahl says. Structural differences in autistic boys and men could show up only at certain ages, and lumping people of disparate ages could mask this variation.

Free Esports Curriculum Contains Full Lesson Plans

An esports league has launched a free high school curriculum to help teachers use gaming to boost student learning. "Gaming Concepts" from the High School Esports League (HSEL), was written as turnkey curriculum "that almost anyone with even rudimentary computer skills could teach," according to authors Kristy Custer and Michael Russell. The project was supported by Microsoft.
The content covers learning standards in areas such as careers in gaming, maintaining healthy practices, self-management and interpersonal communications, as well as an overview of esports gaming and complete lesson plans.
The new curriculum, "Gaming Concepts," is openly available as a downloadable PDF file on the HSEL website.