Wednesday, October 28, 2020

With Autism Intervention, More Hours Not Necessarily Better

 How many hours a week of intervention do young children with autism need? A new study suggests that the precise number may not be all that consequential.

Researchers say they found similar outcomes in toddlers with autism whether they participated in 15 or 25 hours each week of one-on-one intervention.

Ultimately, the study found no meaningful difference in the level of progress in receptive language, expressive communication, nonverbal ability or autism symptoms across the four different treatment groups. That was the case even when comparing children with varying levels of severity at the outset, the researchers said.

Read more here at Disability Scoop. 

Biomarkers of Autism Found in the Umbilical Cord for Early Diagnosis and Intervention

 A study by the University of California Davis MIND Institute was recently published in the journal Genome Medicine. They discovered that cord blood of newborn babies had a distinct DNA methylation signature or the addition of a methyl group (CH3) to the genome. Furthermore, the signature was traced in genes and DNA regions associated with early fetal neurodevelopment.

Professor Janine La Salle said that ASD has a specific DNA methylation signature "in cord blood with specific regions consistently differentially methylated. During the study, they also identified six epigenetic signatures that determine why ASD is more prevalent in males than females.

Read more here at The Science Times. 

Causes and Interventions for Self-Injury in Autism

 Strictly speaking, self-injury is not a symptom of autism. However, certain symptoms, situations, and comorbidities related to ASD can lead some people with autism to engage in self-injurious behavior. Treating underlying disorders and helping the individual to learn additional communication and coping skills can enable them to avoid self-injury and minimize the long-term effects of this behavior. 

Read more here at the Autism Research Institute. 

PANS/PANDAS in Children with Autism


Signs and Symptoms of PANS/PANDAS

Between 1 and 3% of youths have OCD. Among children with OCD, up to 5% may meet the criteria for PANS/PANDAS. While as many as 17% of children with autism also have OCD, it is very rare that their OCD is linked to PANDAS. Even so, the situation can arise. When it does, it can be difficult to separate the symptoms of autism from signs of PANS/PANDAs since many of the symptoms and comorbidities overlap.

While PANS is a group of symptoms without an undetermined cause, PANDAS does have a clear trigger. In most cases, the onset of PANDAS is triggered by exposure to Group A Streptococci, commonly known as strep throat or a strep infection. Other microbes, including Lyme and Mycoplasma, may also be related to PANDAS. When a child with genetic susceptibility (2-5% of the population) is exposed to these microbes, it causes a misdirected immune response, which leads to brain inflammation. This can manifest as PANDAS.

Read more here at the Autism Research Institute.

Low standards corrode quality of popular autism therapy

 Rapid growth and inadequate standards in the ‘applied behavior analysis’ industry may put vulnerable children in the hands of poorly prepared technicians.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


 The ECHO Autism for Rural Healthcare Providers will offer healthcare providers best practice strategies and support for working with patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The network is being operated by the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) and the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND).

Find more information here. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Guide to Interacting with Police for Individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

 The University of Cincinnati UCEDD has developed a new brochure on: A Guide to Interacting with Police for Individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. 

People with intellectual, cognitive or developmental disabilities get involved as both victims and suspects/offenders with law enforcement and with the criminal justice system. The police are ready to help in many different ways to help us feel safe.

View the guide here,

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Virtual Social Thinking Trainings Available


We have a limited number of scholarships for Montana public school educators to attend online Social Thinking Trainings. (A description of the Social Thinking trainings can be found here.)

These trainings will be available on the following dates, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 5: Teaching Thoughts, Theories and The Group Plan

Friday, November 6: Teaching Thinking with Eyes, Body in the Group and Whole Body Listening

Thursday, November 12: Assessing Peer-Based Collaboration and Play to Provide Specific Treatment Pathways

Friday, November 13: Advancing Social Learning with Five Concepts to Promote Executive Functions

Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Individualizing Social Emotional Learning and Treatment Decision Making

Wednesday, December 2, 2020: Teaching Different Developmental Ages - Who Needs What When?

Things you must know before you request a scholarship: 

OPI renewal units will be provided after verification from Social Thinking that you have completed the training.  

We have established a separate registration process from the Social Thinking online process. If you register for a training and pay Social Thinking, we cannot reimburse you. 

If you have any questions, please email Doug Doty at 

 We will provide notice within a few days whether you have been accepted to attend a training. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Virtual PECS Level 1 Trainings Available from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project



We have a limited number of scholarships for Montana public school educators to attend online PECS Level 1 Trainings. (A description of the PECS Level 1 training can be found here.)


These trainings will be available on the following dates, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

October 22-23

November 4-5

November 9-10

December 3-4

December 10-11


Things you must know before you request a scholarship: 

This training is only available to those who have not taken a PECS Level 1 training before.

We will request confirmation from your building principal or special education director that you have been given two days of release time to attend the training. That confirmation is required before we send your registration to PECS.

You must complete both days of the training. OPI renewal units will be provided after verification from PECS that you have completed the training. PECS will inform you if ASHA CEUs are available.

A hardcopy PECS manual will be sent to you for the training. (Those attending on October 23/24 will be sent virtual materials, with a hardcopy manual to follow.)

We have established a separate registration process from PECS online process. If you register and pay PECS, we cannot reimburse you.

If you have any questions, please email Doug Doty at 

We will provide notice as soon as possible to those who have been accepted to attend a training.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Archived Webinar - Talking About the Birds and the Bees in ASD

 In this webinar, Eileen Crehan, Ph.D. discusses autism and sex ed. This webinar is 60 minutes long.

View the webinar here. 

Live Webinar on October 29: Better School Behavior: How to Design and Implement a Positive and Effective Behavior Plan

 Is your child disruptive in the classroom — virtual or physical? As an educator, do you correct or punish the same student repeatedly? Too often parents and educators are burned out and frustrated by a student’s interfering behaviors, which can cause school exclusion and reduced social and academic opportunities.

Better behavior doesn’t always happen quickly or easily, but a comprehensive Positive Behavior Support Plan (PBSP) provides the starting point for constructive behavior change. The PBSP outlines a pathway toward understanding and changing a student’s interfering behavior(s) using research-based strategies and tactics. An individualized plan focuses on prevention, skill-building, and redesigning the environment — not the student.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • What a PBSP entails and how it fits within a child’s IEP
  • The components of a comprehensive PBSP
  • How to collect data about your child to include in the the plan
  • How behavior plans align with other goals within your child’s IEP (and what to do if they don’t)
  • Common misconceptions and issues about Positive Behavior Support Plan development and implementation


Live Webinar on October 20: The Middle School Survival Guide for Students with ADHD and Executive Function Deficits

 Life in middle school is hard for all students, but especially for those with ADHD. Developmentally, adolescents are searching for independence — focusing more on their peer relationships and often pushing parents away. In addition, academic and social expectations change dramatically in middle school: Students must meet the demands of multiple teachers, maintain focus during longer days, and manage more homework and projects. These challenges often exceed the developmental capacity of the ADHD brain’s executive functions.

Have hope! The first key to middle school success is understanding how ADHD brain development lags behind many of teens’ challenges. The second key is problem-solving from the perspective of the ADHD brain’s needs. We do this by identifying and externally supporting the weaker and slower-developing executive function skills of the ADHD middle-schooler.

In this webinar, you will learn: 

  • How the brain’s executive function development connects to expectations for independent homework and seat-work
  • How parents can support the development of their child’s executive functions
  • How to teach your child to develop time awareness and use external tools to get things done
  • How to use a school planner to develop the life skill of future thinking


Confronting Challenges as a Pandemic Technology Moderator: Strategies for Engaging Students with Disabilities in Virtual Learning and the Use of Netiquette - A Free Webinar

 The Montana Transition Resources Project and the Montana Deaf-Blind Project are pleased to welcome Dr. Mary Jo Krile for this free learning opportunity. Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) renewal unit credit is available.

Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Time: 4:00-5:00 Mountain Daylight Time

Description: At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, students with disabilities were required to abruptly transition to the use of virtual platforms for everyday activities, such as learning, doctor/service provider appointments, and maintaining a social life. This resulted in educators, parents, guardians, caretakers, and service providers being required to assume the role of technology moderators for students with disabilities. Many new challenges, in which strategies and answers were not available, surfaced. This webinar presentation will give a brief overview of the following challenges, as well as provide several strategies for addressing these challenges: (a) engaging in virtual learning; (b) the use of netiquette (the etiquette of the internet); and (c) the safe use of social media platforms. This session will conclude with a short question and answer portion in which questions about these challenges can be asked.