Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Montana Autism Education Project News –May 2019

Upcoming Trainings:


Improving Executive Skills to Promote School Success

Billings     June 3-4, 2019

Executive skills are sometimes called “the hidden curriculum.” They are skills such as task initiation, sustained attention, working memory, planning, organization, and goal-directed persistence that are absolutely critical to school success, yet curriculum standards seldom if ever explicitly reference these skills. This training will go in-depth on the topic of executive skills, how skill deficits impact our students, and how to develop interventions designed to improve upon specific executive skills. 

Dr. Peg Dawson has written numerous books on the topic of executive skills, including Smart but Scattered, Smart but Scattered Teens, and Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents. 

          NOTE: All OPI registration scholarships for this conference have been filled.

AUGUST (and beyond!)
AAC Conference

Missoula   Mon, August 5, 2019

Come hear national speaker and Speech Language Pathologist, Gail Van Tatenhove, talk about complex communication needs and strategies.

(NOTE: All OPI registration scholarships for this conference have been filled.)

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


 Great Falls        August 8/9, 2019
This two-day course will discuss and demonstrate the top 50 apps to support students who experience various functional limitations; 20 new accessories and adaptations; new accessibility features of the latest IOS operating system; 101 ways to use video to support physical, sensory, communication and intellectual disabilities; what is new in accessibility features; hands-on fabrication of a key guard for an iPad – for communication access; hands-on fabrication of an adaptive stylus for the iPad using Instamorph, PVC, Microfiber Mesh, and Universal Cuff; hands-on fabrication of a tactile graphic overlay for vision impairments using Remo 1, foamies and transparency film; hands-on fabrication of a multi-use iPad holder for hand free access; hands-on fabrication of a vertical iPad holder; creating switch access receipt to work with a drone and web based interfaces such as YouTube and PBS; hands-on exploration of new switch interfaces for the iPad; new iPad adaptations to support users who experience physical, sensory, or communication impairments; overview of new amazing apps for vision, hearing, communication, learning and intellectual impairments; app feature mapping – how to select an appropriate app; apps and adaptations for students who experience limitation in reading and writing; apps for reminding, finding and prompting for individuals who experience executive function impairments.

Positive Practices in Behavior Support

Missoula   August 13, 14, & 15, 2019

Nonaversive Behavioral Support and Basic Principles of Positive Programming - August 13 (Tuesday)

This day will provide an overview of a person-centered, multi-element model and describe positive programming and environmental change strategies for providing positive behavior supports to people with challenging behavior. We also investigate reinforcement and motivational strategies to promote rapid behavior change.

Comprehensive Functional Assessment and Advanced Support Strategies - August 14 (Wednesday)

Building on Day 1, this day will provide in-depth training in behavioral assessment, functional analysis of behavior and additional support strategies. You will learn how to determine the function of behavior by following the structure reported in the Behavior Assessment Guide. Also, you will learn to develop positive support plans based on the behavioral assessment and use some unique and advanced positive support strategies to change behavior, such as altering motivation, altering the antecedents and teaching that the challenging behavior may be OK at certain times.

Emergency Management and Reactive Strategies Within a Positive Practices Framework - August 15 (Thursday)

When punishment is no longer used to manage behavior, people ask: "What do we do when the behavior occurs?" What do we do in a crisis?" This day will provide an overview of emergency management and reactive strategies that when used as part of a complete support plan will reduce or eliminate the use of restraints or restrictive practices. This program does NOT teach "physical management or restraint strategies" but does teach strategies such as antecedent control, instructional control, active listening, stimulus change, counter-intuitive strategies, to name a few. You will also learn some strategies to recognize and meet the emotional needs of staff.


AAC & Proloquo2Go: How to Program for a Better Implementation and Outcome!
Glendive - August 19, 2019

Billings - August 20, 2019

Bozeman - September 23, 2019

Havre - October 7, 2019

Great Falls -   October 8, 2019

What is “best practice” for use of AAC with a student? Attendees will receive information to confidently help individuals who rely on AAC. This session will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn the “ins and outs” of the iOS app, “Proloquo2Go” from Participants will learn to navigate the app, discover new features and practice programming the app.
The group will review case studies and talk about specific student’s needs. Julie will share teaching strategies so that interactions with AAC/Proloquo2Go are enjoyable for the student, the family,  instructor, and staff. 


2019 PECS Level I and Level II Trainings


August 19/20         Kalispell - Level 1

Sept. 30/Oct. 1       Billings – Level 1

October 2/3            Billings – Level 2*

October 7/8            Sidney – Level 1

October 28/29       Great Falls – Level 1

October 30/31       Missoula – Level 1

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is used to rapidly teach communication skills to those with limited functional speech.  Training in PECS begins by teaching a spontaneous request and goes on to teach additional communicative functions such as responding to questions and commenting.  Participants will learn how to implement the six phases of PECS, plus attributes, through presenter demonstrations, video examples and role-play opportunities. 

PECS Level 1 Training:

This intensive two-day training is designed to teach participants the theory behind the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the protocols for how to appropriately implement the six phases of PECS.

PECS Level 2 Training: *Prerequisite: PECS Level 1 Training

This two-day training focuses on creating lessons and activities to promote communication throughout the day. Beginning with a review of the Pyramid Approach to Education as it relates to PECS, we guide you in refining your PECS implementation and discuss current challenges you have experienced within the six phases.

Find more information and register here.

STAR Autism Training 2019/2020


Missoula: October 7-8
Billings: November 4-5
Bozeman: November 6-7
Great Falls: March 2-3

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.

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 109 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.


Montana Autism Education Project Recent Blog Posts of Interest

How to 'Hug' a Kid With Autism

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. 

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 suggests. 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.

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).


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.

Upcoming and Archived Webinars

Using Reinforcement in the Autism Classroom

Thursday, June 27

One of the often misused and misunderstood tools that teachers can use is reinforcement. Reinforcement is a critical component of changing a student’s behavior in the classroom.  This will give participants a better understanding of reinforcement, strategies to implement and use reinforcement in the classroom, and specific ideas about what to use for reinforcement. The presentation will be of interest to preK-12 teachers, school and district leaders, therapists, and specialists. There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.

Register here with
Suma Jacob, Christine Conelea discuss repetitive behaviors in autism


Research Update: Studies Investigate Nutritional Support for ASD

Jun 5, 2019

Join Nutritionist Kelly Barnhill to learn research updates about nutrient intake and dietary status in ASD patients.

Register here with the Autism Research Institute.
Functional Behavior Assessment: Principles for Success

May 29
In this webinar, you’ll learn:

● What an FBA is and why is it needed

● Basic principles of behavior and how they relate to the four functions of behavior

● The steps in the FBA process—utilizing indirect and direct assessment measures to analyze antecedents and consequences to determine function

● How to apply data gathered in the FBA process to develop the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

Register here.


Deciphering Camouflaging in Autism

Jun 6, 2019

In this Spectrum Roundtable, experts discuss research investigating why some autistic women mask, or 'camouflage,' their autism features.

There will be an audience Q&A session at the end of the discussion.

Register here with Spectrum.

Other items

The OPI Division of Special Education has a new blog that shows special education training opportunities from the OPI and the CSPD regions. You can also subscribe to our new Special Education Trainings mailing list on this page.

Consultation Visits

Extended School Year is a great time for a consultation visit!! Staff from the Montana Autism Education Project are available to provide on-site trainings, classroom-level consultations or consultations on individual students. These services are available for no charge. Please contact Doug Doty at if you are interested in scheduling a consultation visit.

OPI Has Behavioral Consultants
The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) wishes to announce the availability of Behavioral Consultants for districts needing help in developing functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavioral intervention plans (BIP) for individual special education students. If you are in need of a consultant, please contact Doug Doty at

Thank you for subscribing to this mailing list. If you know others who might wish to receive this or other OPI newsletters they can subscribe here.


Doug Doty, Statewide Coordinator

OPI Montana Autism Education Project 459-5303