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.