Monday, September 14, 2020

Cannabis and autism, explained

Over the past decade, autistic people and their families have increasingly experimented with medical marijuana and products derived from it. Many hope these compounds will alleviate a range of autism-related traits and problems. But scientists are still in the early stages of rigorous research into marijuana’s safety and effectiveness, which means that people who pursue it as treatment must rely mostly on anecdotal information from friends and message boards for guidance.
Here we explain what researchers know about the safety and effectiveness of cannabis for autism and related conditions

Archived Webinar - Repetitive Behaviors and Autism

Repetitive behaviors are one of autism’s core features and can be sensory or motor based, such as hand-flapping, or more cognitive in nature, such as intensely focused interests. Autistic people may engage in repetitive behaviors as a way to relieve anxiety or for fun — and for this reason, such behaviors deserve careful management.

View the webinar here at Spectrum. 

OCALICONLINE - Virtual Conference Session Finder

November 11-13, 2020

Conference rates can be found here

You can search the sessions here

A Guide to Identifying and Understanding Scientific Research About Autism

This article is a tool to help you assess information about autism based on scientific principles. As you put these recommendations into practice, remember to use critical thinking and common sense when assessing any claim about autism. Combining an understanding of scientific research studies with your own powers of reasoning can help you: 
  • Make evidence-based decisions
  • Understand recommendations from your care team and discuss them knowledgeably
  • Minimize overwhelm
  • Advocate for yourself or your family member with autism. 

Archived Webinar - Family-Centered Planning and ASD

Research demonstrates the effectiveness of Family-Centered Transition Planning in increasing student and parent expectations for adult life, student career decision-making, and student participation in employment and post-secondary education. Learn the latest sustainable processes for implementing a Family-Centered Transition Planning model for youth and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.

View the webinar here at the Autism Research Institute.

Social Capital and Autism in Young Adulthood: Applying Social Network Methods to Measure the Social Capital of Autistic Young Adults

What was the purpose of this study?

Many autistic young adults are disconnected from people, communities, and organizations that could provide them with valuable social resources to support their transition to adulthood. This study tests the feasibility of using social network methods to measure the resources that autistic young adults gain from their social connections. Future studies using our social network measure might provide valuable information about possible interventions that could help autistic youth acquire the social resources needed for successful adult outcomes.

I Have Tourette's and He's on the Autism Spectrum. Here's How We Have Sex

When people with neurodevelopmental disorders that affect their social communication capabilities—like Paul and Grace, an older couple who, respectively, have Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome and some related problems with focus and impulse control—talk about their their sex lives, it can make outsiders (even doctors and family membersfeel uncomfortable. Many such people assume that the communication issues conditions like these pose should desexualize those with them—that they simply wouldn’t or shouldn’t pursue physical intimacy.

But this is not necessarily a reflection of people with these or similar conditions’ sexualities. Most have the same sexual needs and relationship capabilities as neurotypical individuals. People with autism and similar disorders may just struggle with forming and maintaining relationships without early, ongoing, and tailed education on, and support in exploring these topics.

Read more here at Vice. 

Archived Webinar: Michelle Failla and David Moore on pain in autism

On 29 July, 2020, Michelle Failla and David Moore gave a webinar on pain in autism, which focused on sensations, emotions and behaviors.

View the webinar here at Spectrum. 

Motor difficulties in autism, explained

 Most autistic people — 87 percent, according to the latest estimate — have some sort of motor difficulty, ranging from an atypical gait to problems with handwriting1. These issues are distinct from the repetitive behaviors considered to be a hallmark of autism. And yet, despite their prevalence, motor problems are not considered a core trait of autism, because they also occur with other conditions, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Here, we describe what experts know about the causes, characteristics and consequences of motor difficulties, which they say are among the least understood and most neglected aspects of autism. They also call on researchers to better assess motor difficulties in autistic people and for clinicians to treat these problems, especially because motor setbacks may have consequences far beyond simply impeding movement.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Researchers urge caution over study linking marijuana to autism

Women who use marijuana while pregnant may be more likely to give birth to an autistic child, according to a study published last week in Nature Medicine1.
The findings generated widespread press coverage, but researchers are calling for a cautious interpretation of the results — in part because the association surfaced through an analysis of birth records, not a controlled study.

Cues Club/Teen Chat Fall Session - Helena 2020

Fall session begins Monday September 28th  and Friday October 2nd!  
Parents have been indicating interest for their child to have social opportunities and we want to make that happen using safe precautions.  This fall we will offer classes for 5-7, 8-10,  11-12, 13-15, and 16-18 years of age.  For those registered for the 12 and under classes there will be two children in each class and the older level classes will range from 2-3 teens. Masks will be required.  Based on interest we will accommodate to provide more than one class for each age group.  Specific times will then be determined.  To register or should you have questions contact Chris Caniglia at 406-461-2853 or through []  

Communication Skills for Employment was quite successful this past summer and is offered over the Fall.  Classes begin September 28th from 4:30-5:30.  Contact Jon Metropoulos through email at    
We look forward to having your child or teen participate in this session to learn how to navigate their social world.

Spotting the problems with ‘camouflaging’ in autism research

Autistic people may feel pressure to fit in at work or at school, or they may pick up mannerisms to help them get by in a society that is not set up to accommodate them. Scientists and autistic people describe such thoughts and behaviors as ‘camouflaging.’
Over the past few years, research on camouflaging has expanded rapidly. Some autistic women, for example, have reported that they camouflage their autismso well that they did not receive a diagnosis until adulthood. And studies show these women have brain activity in regions associated with social interactions that more closely resembles that of their typical peers than that of other autistic women. Researchers have sought to quantify camouflaging as the mismatch between an autistic person’s self-reported autism traits and their traits as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). They have also suggested that more women camouflage than men do.
But some of this work is misguided, argues Eric Fombonnedirector of autism research at the Institute on Development and Disability at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. In an editorial last month in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, he laid out the problems he sees with this burgeoning field of study1.

Friday, August 14, 2020


September 12, 2020
8:00 AM - 3:00 PM

8 AM - 10 AM  Dr. Cheryl Young-Pelton, "Using Behavioral Components to Increase Participant Skills and Retention from Suicide Prevention Training Programs" (2, Type 2 CEs & QPR Suicide Prevention Certification for 3 years)

10:30 AM - 11:15 AM  Roundtable Small Groups 
          Group #1: ABA Dissemination and ethical concerns
          Group #2: Billing, Insurance, Public Policy, and ethical concerns
          Group #3: Montana BCBA Licensure, Board of Psychologists, and ethical concerns
          Group #4: Supervision and ethical concerns
11:15 AM - 12 PM  Roundtable Large Group
          Large group discussion of small group material. Cross-content discussions and dialogue. 
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  Lunch 
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM  Dr. DJ Moran, "Mindfulness Action Plan" 


$60.00 Conference Membership Ticket
$50.00 Earlybird rate before August 2
$75.00 Non-Member Conference Ticket
$65.00 Earlybird rate before August 2

Listen to “‘Living in Uncertain Times: Coping Strategies for Adults on the Autism Spectrum” with Stephen Shore, Ed.D.

Tune in as Stephen Shore, Ed.D., shares practical, strengths-based solutions for coping during this unsettled time for adults on the autism spectrum.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Archived Webinar - Navigating a Socially Distanced Classroom for Students with Autism

Aimee Dearmon will discuss creative, evidence-based practices for teaching students new routines focused on social distancing, the importance of wearing a mask, and staying healthy through self-care routines. She’ll also provide free visual supports and resources as well as discuss ways to support families in navigating new challenges at home. Participants will learn strategies and tools that can be used with students in pre-K through post-secondary classrooms.

Webinar - Rev Up Your Child’s Executive Functions for a Successful School Year

Tuesday, August 11 at 1 pm ET.

Not available August 11? Don’t worry. Register now and we’ll send you the replay link to watch at your convenience.
After a long summer of relaxed schedules, unstructured time, and no homework, the transition back to school is rarely smooth — especially for children with ADHD and especially in a year riddled with uncertainty and concern. You and your child may be riding an emotional roller coaster straight into the fall, which impacts executive functions among other critical learning functions.
In this hour-long webinar, learn practical ways to get your child’s brain back in “school mode” so they are ready for a successful school year, no matter how that looks. If you have tried teaching executive functioning strategies that never seem to “stick,” there is good news: This webinar will offer evidence-based approaches to reboot your child’s brain to listen, pay attention, and follow through at school.
In this webinar, you will learn:
  • How to “turn on” your child’s brain for listening, focus, and paying attention
  • How to “Zone the Home” for a smooth transition back to school
  • Simple mindfulness strategies to boost EF
  • Effective approaches to increase follow-through when you ask your child to do schoolwork.

Webinar - Family-Centered Planning and ASD

08/19/2020, 1 PM Eastern Time (U.S.)

Research demonstrates the effectiveness of Family-Centered Transition Planning in increasing student and parent expectations for adult life, student career decision-making, and student participation in employment and post-secondary education. Tune in to learn the latest sustainable processes for implementing a Family-Centered Transition Planning model for youth and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Tips for Helping Children With Autism Cope With Dental Visits

Booking the Appointment

  • Tell the dentist office your child is on the autism spectrum and ask if they have a hygienist who has experience working with kids with disabilities.
  • Be sure to book a day and time where your child is the calmest and avoid times when they may be tired or irritable.
  • Request a private treatment room. Some dentist offices have pediatric treatment chairs in clusters and some in private rooms. The fewest distractions possible will help the visit go more smoothly.

The Day of the Appointment

  • Have a reward for your child for after the appointment. Maybe a wrapped new toy or the promise of a trip to the park. Pick something highly motivating for them to get them excited about the appointment. Rewards can sometimes be faded out over time, but using them in the beginning is a great way to build motivation.
  • Read more here. 

Penn State National Autism Conference - Virtual

  • Session videos are pre-recorded and will be posted at the times listed in the schedule. All videos will remain available through September 4, 2020, so you can watch at any time.
  • Watch session videos and take quizzes directly through the schedule. You do not have to log in.
  • Handouts and presentations (Adobe PDF) are available through the schedule for some sessions.

Autism prevalence estimates for China, Greece align with global patterns

About 0.7 percent of children in China aged 6 to 12 have autism, suggests the largest study of the country’s autism prevalence to date1. And in Greece, 1.15 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds have the condition, according to the first estimate for that country2.
Both figures fall within the range of autism prevalence estimates reported for children in other nations. The studies also show that autism is about four times as common in boys as it is in girls in both countries, a ratio in line with studiesof children in the United States and elsewhere.

Webinar - Debunking the Myths of Supported Decision-Making and Guardianship

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
2:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)

1 hour 15 minutes
Being able to make your own decisions about your own life is one of the most important rights that people have. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have the same right to make decisions about their lives as people without disabilities. However, their ability to make their own decisions is often questioned by teachers, doctors, family members, and others. Research has shown that individuals with reduced self-determination have diminished quality of life outcomes and are less likely to live and be integrated into their community. Guardianship can be an obstacle to the development of self-determination skills. However, people with I/DD are at an increased risk of being placed under guardianship, and guardianship is frequently still the only option presented and utilized by families and supporters of people with I/DD. This webinar will describe guardianship and less restrictive decision-making alternatives, as well as help debunk some of the myths about guardianship and supported decision-making that persist.

Register here with The Arc.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Popular screen may mistake intellectual disability for autism

A common autism screening tool misses more than 70 percent of autistic toddlers but flags more than 80 percent of non-autistic toddlers who have intellectual disability, a new study of children in Norway reports1.
The study adds to a mounting body of evidence that the tool, the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), is not sufficient on its own to identify signs of autism.
Along with previous research in Norway, the results also help clarify which children the M-CHAT flags and which ones it misses, says lead author Roald Øien, professor of special education at UiT – the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.
“Basically, we find that screening at 18 months identifies kids with pretty severe delays,” he says, such as a low intelligence quotient (IQ), poor communication skills and prominent autism traits. Conversely, autistic children who fall closer to the typical range of abilities are significantly less likely to be identified by the M-CHAT at 18 months of age.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Webinars - Understanding and Nurturing the Communicative Competence of Learners with Significant Disabilities -

A two-part webinar series
August 10th and 12th, 2020
9:30-11:30 AM MDT
(10:30-12:30 CDT;  
11:30-1:30 EDT) 

The Montana Deaf-Blind Project, in partnership with the Montana Transition Resources Project, is pleased to welcome Philip Schweigert, M.Ed, for a two-part webinar series. Please note that you must register separately for each session. OPI renewal unit credit is available. 

Session 1: Recognizing the Communication Abilities of Learners with Significant Disabilities 
Monday, August 10, 2020
9:30 AM-11:30 AM Mountain Daylight Time (10:30-12:30 Central; 11:30-1:30 Eastern) 
Reserve your webinar seat now at:

Description: This session will focus on assessing levels of communication for learners at the non-symbolic or early symbolic level of communication. The Communication Matrix (Rowland,C., 2006) will be used to review the assessment process and how to target levels for instruction and programming.

Session 2:  Promoting the Communicative Competence of Learners with Significant Disabilities 
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
9:30 AM-11:30 AM Mountain Daylight Time (10:30-12:30 Central; 11:30-1:30 Eastern) 

Description: This session will present participants with a variety of examples of learners at various pre-symbolic stages and intervention strategies to further their communicative abilities. It will also discuss the transition from pre-symbolic to emerging symbolic communication and describe interventions designed to promote the learner's continued progress at this stage of expressive communication development. 

The webinars will be recorded and archived to the Montana Deaf-Blind Project and Transition and Employment Projects resource libraries.

Free Resources from PECS

On Facebook we have a PECS User Support page..  search that and join.  Be sure to go to the media tab and check out the videos and photos on there as well as scanning the posts every so often.  You or anyone can ask questions there for free and we monitor it!  It’s a closed group.  There are also live sessions Andy and Lori run…
Overview Managing Challenging Behavior for Learners Video (30 min ish and Informal)
Free Videos
Books they released for free
Free Downloadable Materials – SO MUCH ON HERE
Support at Home Page – New since COVID and expanding – Lots of videos with pictures and lesson plans for simple lesson ideas and other resources
Be sure to click on the more…The red buttons link to youtube videos the green buttons are where you click to download the lesson plan, pictures, etc!
More Activities Page
More Downloads Page
More Additional Resources Page

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The OPI has a New Criteria for Autism

You can see the new criteria here, along with some Frequently Asked Questions. The new criteria checklist is now in the AIM system and on the OPI web page.

If you have questions, please send them to Doug Doty at We will update the FAQ questions periodically.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Archived Webinar - Working with Autistic Individuals Across the Lifespan: Current Perspectives

This session is an overview on current understanding of autism across the lifespan from a research perspective and linking theory with clinical practice to evaluate existing frameworks for working with autistic people across different life transitions.

View the recording at INSAR.

Archived Webinars - ABA Parent Training Plan – Providing Applied Behavior Analysis for Your Child At Home (free)

Due to the circumstances caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19), parents and families of individuals with ASD are seeing a significant reduction in services and interventions are falling on them to provide at home.

This course package is designed to educate parents on providing Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, for their child at home. Access the techniques you need to start improving your child's behavior, communication, social and academic skills.

Archived Webinar - Executive Function Tools and Strategies for K-12 Students

Students of all ages with an array of disabilities struggle with executive function skills. This workshop will explore a variety of tools and strategies to support the needs of K-12 students.

View the archived webinar here at the PACER Center. 

Archived Webinar - Educational Apps for Young Children

Apps have become a large part of learning. During this presentation, we will introduce you to a variety of apps appropriate for early childhood-aged children with disabilities.

View the recording here at the PACER Center. 

Archived Webinar - Assistive Technology and Play in the Natural Environment

View the recording here at the PACER Center. 


View the recording here at the PACER Center. 

Webinar - Positive Approaches to Addressing Problem Behaviors of Students with Severe Disabilities – Part 1

Problem behaviors interfere with student learning, educational advancement, interactions with peers and adults and school success. This webinar session, augmented with multiple scenarios of students experiencing challenging behaviors, will demonstrate: 1) proactive strategies for adapting the environment so triggering events are removed; 2) teaching new skills to the student that will replace problem behaviors; and 3) maximizing clear rewards for appropriate behavior.
Depicting student-specific scenarios, this webinar session will illustrate positive, proactive, and functional behavior intervention strategies to be implemented across situations and settings.

Archived Webinar - Managing Behavior in a Technology Rich Environment

Technology is a powerful tool and one that is available in most classrooms today.  However, along with technology comes increased concerns about managing behaviors in regards to screen time, engagement, and appropriate technology use. 
How do you navigate the wide variety of tools that are available to figure out which will work best in your classroom to increase students' time on task, participation, and access to content?  This session will start with a look at how behaviors have changed with the introduction of technology and then move into tools for self-monitoring time on task, increasing student engagement, and providing more access to the content you are teaching.  

Archived Webinar - Remote Learning for Early Learners with Autism

Remote Learning for Early Learners with AutismPresented by Elizabeth Curtin, M.Ed., Training Specialist, STAR Autism Support
Sponsored by STAR Autism Support
Go here to access the archived webinar (registration required.) 

Webinar - Tools for Success: Technology to Support Young Adults with Disabilities at College and on the Job

Date: Wednesday, August 26, 2020 — 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM CST
Location: Online Web Streaming
This workshop will feature a wide range of technology to support youth with disabilities at college and on the job. Demonstrations will include tools and apps for executive function, computer access, reading, writing, and notetaking.

Webinar - Strategies for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Implementation

Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 — 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM CST
Location: Online Web Streaming
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools can help individuals communicate with others but implementing them can be overwhelming. This workshop will explore strategies to implement AAC in an individual’s routines and environments.

Webinar - Succeed at Work: Tools that Support Executive Function and Focus on the Job

Date: Tuesday, August 11, 2020 — 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM CST
Location: Online Web Streaming
This workshop will showcase technology to support executive function at work. Topics will include managing time, staying organized, completing tasks, and maintaining focus. Demonstrations will include timers, task managers, and smart pens.

Archived Webinar - Transition to Employment: Tools to Help You Find a Job

Join us to learn about tools that help during a job search. We will explore apps for searching for jobs, writing a resume or letter, and preparing for an interview. We will also explore how to keep track of communications, read with text-to-speech, 

Archived Webinar - Technology Overuse and Autism Spectrum Disorders

As screen time is so alluring, parents need to take concrete steps to create limits and structure. Learn strategies for managing screen time access for young people with ASD and their neurotypical peers.

View the recorded webinar here.