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)

Archived Webinar: Ivan Iossifov discusses genotype, phenotype in autism

View the archived webinar 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 9, 2019


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. 

Archived 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. 

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.  

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

  • Educators, mental health providers, social workers, and other professionals will gain information about supporting families with children who have mental health needs that impact school engagement and attendance.