Sunday, April 28, 2019

Archived Webinar - Innovative Technology for Individuals with Autism

Individuals with autism benefit significantly from leaps and changes in technologies. Please join Christian Karter, M.A., Educational Technology Specialist at Monarch Center for Autism to learn about the latest in technologies and apps that are being deployed to help further their education and lives. In this edWebinar, Christian will also discuss emerging technologies that are coming to the market in the next few years.
This edWebinar will be of interest to preK-12 teachers, school and district leaders, therapists, and specialists. There will be time to get your questions answered after Christian’s presentation.
About the Presenter

Christian Karter, M.A. is the educational technology specialist at Monarch Center for Autism, a division of Bellefaire JCB, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He holds a master’s degree in community counseling and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from John Carroll University. He has worked at Monarch Center for Autism for 12 years as an associate teacher in the classroom and in his present role. His chief responsibilities include iPad deployment, Monarch’s PAIRS data system management, and introduction of new technologies into the classrooms.

Archived Webinar - A Recipe for Summer: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

A recipe for success with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) starts with consistency and opportunity. Join us to learn how to create communication opportunities over the summer using AAC. During this session we will practice modeling on an AAC system and review other tips and tricks to include it in summer routines and activities. This session will be presented by Elizabeth Barry, Assistive Technology Specialist at PACER Center, and Meghan Kunz, Augmentative Communication Consultant with Prentke Romich Company.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Archived Webinar - When Autism and Downs Syndrome Co-Occur

Watch the recorded webinar here. 

AAC Conference - MIssoula

Mon, August 5, 2019
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM MDT

Come hear national speaker and Speech Language Pathologist, Gail Van Tatenhove, talk about complex communication needs and strategies. MontComm is a one-day conference on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for educators, therapists, and family members wanting to learn about technology for complex communication needs.
MOTA, OPI, and ASHA credits pending.

Friday, April 26, 2019

How to 'Hug' a Kid With Autism

It’s Autism Awareness Month, and to honor it, Sesame Street is showing us how to better support kids on the spectrum. They’ve released a few new short videos featuring Julia, the show’s first character with autism.

Watch the video here at Lifehacker.

In the video above, Julia and her neurotypical big brother Samuel teach Abby a new kind of hug, as Julia doesn’t like big hugs. Some people with autism have a strong sensitivity to touch, so hugging can overwhelm them. 

In search of truce in the autism wars

The fight between those who define autism as a medical condition and those who see it as a mere difference has reached vitriolic levels. Can the two sides come together to support all autistic people?

Is autism a difference, a diagnosis, a disorder, a disease or a disability? These are the ‘D-words’ that really matter in the autism community, according to academics such as healthcare ethicist Kenneth A. Richman and researcher Simon Baron-Cohen.
Those in the neurodiversity camp see autism primarily as the first D-word: difference. Viewing autism as a disease is harmful, Ne’eman says. “In lots of cases, the way that you make an autistic person successful and happy and as independent as possible for them to be, is by leaning into the autism, not trying to correct it,” he says. Those who describe autism as a disease, he and others say, are reflecting back society’s intolerance of difference.
Supporters of the NCSA and others argue that the ‘difference’ from neurotypicals looks vastly different across the spectrum and cannot be so easily recapitulated. For some autistic people, for example, repetitive behaviors may serve to calm them or offer a means to express great discomfort, or even great joy — and need only acceptance, not treatment. But that’s not always the case, Casanova says. “It’s not a blessing to have head-banging, eye-gouging or self-biting; those have serious side effects, including retinal detachment, cauliflower ears, they can get brain trauma, contusions,” he says. “Those people need to be treated.”

Children who outgrow autism label end up with other diagnoses

Nearly all children who lose their autism diagnosis have other conditions, such as anxiety and language and behavioral disorders, a new study suggests1. Many also require support at school.
About 9 percent of children diagnosed with autism later don’t meet criteria for the condition. Parent reports and some medical records have suggested that these children often still have other issues, such as language problems and attention difficulties.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Autism Data Visualization Tool - CDC

There are several ways to estimate the number of children with ASD. This estimate is referred to as prevalence, a scientific term that describes the number of people with a disease or condition among a defined group (or ‘population’). Prevalence is typically shown as a percent (e.g., 0.1%) or a proportion (e.g., 1 in 1,000).
ASD prevalence estimates from the following four data sources are presented on this webpage:

Long-term benefit of Microbiota Transfer Therapy on autism symptoms and gut microbiota

Many studies have reported abnormal gut microbiota in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), suggesting a link between gut microbiome and autism-like behaviors. Modifying the gut microbiome is a potential route to improve gastrointestinal (GI) and behavioral symptoms in children with ASD, and fecal microbiota transplant could transform the dysbiotic gut microbiome toward a healthy one by delivering a large number of commensal microbes from a healthy donor.

We previously performed an open-label trial of Microbiota Transfer Therapy (MTT) that combined antibiotics, a bowel cleanse, a stomach-acid suppressant, and fecal microbiota transplant, and observed significant improvements in GI symptoms, autism-related symptoms, and gut microbiota.

Here, we report on a follow-up with the same 18 participants two years after treatment was completed. Notably, most improvements in GI symptoms were maintained, and autism-related symptoms improved even more after the end of treatment. Important changes in gut microbiota at the end of treatment remained at follow-up, including significant increases in bacterial diversity and relative abundances of Bifidobacteria and Prevotella. Our observations demonstrate the long-term safety and efficacy of MTT as a potential therapy to treat children with ASD who have GI problems, and warrant a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in the future

Read more here at Nature.

Summer Camps and Special Events - Helena

AKA - The CDC report finding 1/59 children had autism in 2014.

Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 4 Years — Early Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, Seven Sites, United States, 2010, 2012, and 2014

New autism prevalence stats spotlight challenge of early diagnosis

The prevalence of autism in 4-year-old children in the United States has increased — from about 1 in 75 children in 2010 to 1 in 59 in 2014 — to match a previously reported rise in 8-year-old children, according to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)1.

But children are still being evaluated for autism or other developmental conditions later than is ideal, the data suggest.

The trend highlights how difficult it is to diagnose autism in young children, experts say; early diagnosis is important so that children can be treated early.

The autism prevalence they identified among 4-year-olds in 2014 matches the prevalence among 8-year-olds that same year. (The two groups are not directly comparable, however, because the sites in the two studies don’t match up.)

The new study also shows some of the trends in variability among sites: the Missouri site has the lowest prevalence for 2014, at about 1 in 104 children, and the New Jersey site has the highest, at 1 in 35.

The prevalence in New Jersey increased significantly from 2010 to 2014, whereas the numbers remained stable in Arizona and Missouri.

There is no biological reason for the prevalence to vary so dramatically across the U.S., says Walter Zahorodny, associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, who led the analysis for New Jersey.

Read more here at Spectrum.

The Quest For the Roots of Autism — and What It Says About Us All

As clinicians view it, autism involves communication deficits and formulaic, repetitive behaviors that present obstacles to establishing conventional relationships. The soft borders of that definition — where does communication difficulty cross over into communication deficit? — suggest blurred margins between people who are diagnosed with autism and those who approach, but never quite cross, the line into diagnostic territory.

Those who do have diagnoses display behaviors on a continuum of intensity. Their use of spoken language ranges from not speaking at all to being hyperverbal. They can have a unique interest in the finer details of window blinds or an intense but more socially tolerated fascination with dinosaurs. As with many human behaviors, each feature exists on a spectrum, and these spectra blend in a person to create what clinicians call autism.

By pinpointing risk-associated genes and uncovering their roles, studying the roots of autism also is providing new insights into the development of all human brains, autistic or not. Here is a taste of what we now know, and what we don’t, about autism’s causes — and what that search is teaching us about everybody’s neurology.

They Know It When They See It

Read more here at Discover.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Cues Club - Helena

Contact Chris Caniglia at 406-461-2853 to register.  For additional information regarding our mission and class details refer to 

Archived Webinar: Evelina Fedorenko discusses language processing in autism

Watch the archived webinar here at Spectrum.

Autism runs in families with history of brain conditions

Children in families with a history of brain conditions are at increased odds of being autistic, a large study in Sweden suggests1. The more closely related the family members with these conditions, the greater the child’s chances of having autism.
Other studies have reported similar trends: A child’s odds of having autism increase if she has a sibling with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or intellectual disability, or a parent with schizophreniadepression, bipolar disorder or anxiety2,3,4.
The new study looked at family history of these conditions, as well as epilepsyand more than a dozen others, and included grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Birds and The Bees

Do you remember how you first learned about sex?
Maybe from your parents (“the talk”), at school, or from friends.  Maybe someone was honest and open with you.  Maybe you got mixed messages or weird information.
People who have disabilities need to learn about sex too, but they might have a harder time sifting through the misinformation.

Teaching human sexuality is about formal lessons, selecting information, and choosing how to teach it, but it’s more than that.  To be a sexuality educator you have to see the whole person and be committed to support that person.  It’s not easy, it won’t be prefect, and you might make mistakes. 

To me, it’s about asking “why not?”.  Why not teach someone about different sexual positions?  Why not incorporate questions about sexual life into annual planning meetings?  Why not teach someone how to ask someone else on a date?  Why not affirm someone when they are expressing their sexuality?  Being a sexuality educator is about being an advocate.  It’s about giving people information in an engaging way they can digest.  It’s about teaching skills and changing patterns of behavior.  It’s about sending the message that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with who you are.

Read more here.

Friday, April 5, 2019

This is not about autism, but it is worth reading.

The Girl On The Train.

Information About Extending Developmental Delay Eligibility through Age 9 // The Special Education Reevaluation Process


When the rules for the proposed new criteria for Developmental Delay, Autism and Visual Impairment  go into effect on July 1, 2019, students who were previously identified in those disability categories WILL NOT need to meet the new disability criteria. The new criteria will only apply to students who are identified in those categories of disability after July 1, 2019

How does the proposed change to allow students to have a label of Developmental Delay until age nine affect students who are currently identified as DD and turn six after July 1st, 2019?
The student would then be a six-year-old with Developmental Delay, which is allowed under the new rule.
To clarify the reevaluation process:

The IEP Team must consider the need for a reevaluation every three years. The IEP team can choose not to reevaluate the student.

A reevaluation is not necessary if the IEP team determines that the student continues to be a student with a disability, and because of that disability needs special education and related services; and additions or modifications to enable the student to meet the measurable annual goals of the IEP and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum are not needed. This determination is documented on the IEP form.

If the IEP Team determines that a reevaluation is needed, the ER team does not have to consider the initial disability criteria to determine that a student continues to have a disability. The purpose of the reevaluation is to determine that the student continues to have a disability and needs special education and related services.

We hope this clarifies the reevaluation process. Please see the previously published information from the OPI Guide below: 

22. When are reevaluations required?

Reevaluations must occur at least once every three years, unless the parent and the district agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary. 

A reevaluation is not necessary if the IEP team determines that the student continues to be a student with a disability, and because of that disability needs special education and related services; and additions or modifications to enable the student to meet the measurable annual goals of the IEP and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum are not needed. This determination is documented on the IEP form.
34 CFR 300.303 Reevaluations

27. When a student is reevaluated must he or she meet the criteria required for initial determination of eligibility for special education and related services?

The team does not have to consider the initial criteria to determine that a student continues to have a disability. The purpose of the reevaluation is to determine that the student continues to have a disability and needs special education and related services.
34 CFR 300.305 Additional requirements for evaluations and reevaluations

Autism prevalence in China is comparable to Western prevalence


Results from Jilin City, where both mainstream and special school data were available, revealed a similar prevalence of autism in China to the West, at around 1%. Results from Shenzhen and Jiamusi cities, where only mainstream data were available, prevalence is also in line with Western estimates. In all three cities, new cases of autism were identified by the study in mainstream schools, reflecting current under-diagnosis. Non-significant variation across different cities is seen indicating the need to explore potential variation of autism across diverse Chinese regions with large sample sizes to achieve a fully robust national picture.

Study identifies top tests of social skills in autistic adults

An evaluation of 11 tests of social skills has identified 8 that give credible results in autistic adults1.
People with autism often have trouble with social skills, including with perceiving and interpreting social information. However, training programs for these skills are difficult to evaluate because there is no standard way to measure improvement in autistic adults. Not a single test of social cognition has been validated for use in adults with autism.
The researchers administered 11 such tests to 103 autistic adults and 95 controls. The tests cover four aspects of social cognition: the ability to read emotions in faces and voices; to understand social rules and interpret social cues; to infer others’ thoughts and emotions (theory of mind); and to explain social situations. Participants also took an intelligence quotient (IQ) test.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Strategies for Physical Therapist Collaboration

Read the fact sheet here. 

False hope for autism in the stem-cell underground

Parents of autistic children are paying tens of thousands of dollars for stem cell therapies that often use medical waste. Despite the dangers, regulators have been slow to act.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Autism-Friendly Guide to Periods

Written by autistic author Robyn Steward, this is a detailed guide for young people aged 9 to 16 on the basics of menstruation. Created in consultation with young people, an online survey and a group of medical professionals, this is a book that teaches all people about periods, which can be a scary and overwhelming issue.
Promoting the fact that everyone either has periods or knows someone who does, the book reduces the anxiety girls face in asking for help. It offers direct advice on what periods look and feel like and how to manage hygiene and pain. It also breaks up information using flaps and step-by-step photos of how to change pads and tampons, it discusses alternatives to tampons and pads, and gives information about possible sensory issues for people with autism.

The controversy over autism’s most common therapy

Applied behavioral analysis is the most widely used therapy for autism, but some people say its drills and routines are cruel, and its aims misguided.

Read more here at Spectrum.