Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Social-Emotional Development in Children with Language Delays and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Virtual Training – March 3, 2022 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Young children with language delays are at risk for persistent developmental and behavioral difficulties. This presentation will focus on the assessment of social-emotional development in children with language delays and autism spectrum disorder as well as the emerging evidence supporting effectiveness of interventions.

You can register for the training here

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

ADOS-2 Toddler Module Training (virtual training)

February 17, 2022

9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The ADOS-2 toddler module may be used on children between the ages of 12 and 30 months of age. This workshop will use a lecture format and video demonstrations to introduce the basic principles of administering and scoring the ADOS-2 toddler module. This training is free for Montana public school educators. Six OPI renewal units are available for this training.  

Attendees must have previously completed training in the administration of the ADOS-2.


Register here.

1 in 44: A Review of the Most Recent CDC Data on Autism Prevalence

February 3   2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Have you ever wondered how the CDC develops their data on the rate of autism? Or how the rate of autism has changed over time? How did the inclusion (and then removal) of Asperger’s as a form of autism affect the rate of autism as measured by the CDC? This training will provide information on those questions. 

Register here.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Bozeman In-Person Trainings - February/March 2022

 Challenging Behaviors – How to Prevent, Reduce and Replace   

February 15, 2022     8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Using case studies and examples from your setting we begin the workshop highlighting the key concepts of applied behavior analysis, helping you to understand why challenging behaviors occur. We discuss the importance of designing supportive learning environments based upon the Pyramid Approach to Education® framework. 

The next step in the workshop is to define behaviors which require intervention and establish the function of these behaviors. These skills are put into practice using our own case studies and furthermore applying this to your own learners. The second half of the workshop addresses strategies which can be used proactively and reactively to decrease the challenging behaviors which you see in your setting. As we investigate each strategy to replace or reduce a behavior you will have the opportunity to assess if that strategy will be suitable for your learner and identify the next steps to take when you return to your setting. The workshop concludes by demonstrating how you and your team can evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of your behavior plans as you put your new strategies into practice. (full description)

Register here. 

Teaching Critical Communication Skills   

March 10, 2022     8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

You will learn how to teach critical communication skills that lead to greater independence in the home, work, school and community settings. We review nine specific skills: requesting reinforcers, requesting help, requesting a break, indicating yes and no, waiting, following directions, schedule-following and transitioning. Through lecture, demonstrations, video and participatory activities, you will acquire specific teaching strategies that are relevant for anyone who has limited communication skills, regardless of their communicative modality (e.g., Picture Exchange Communication System [PECS], signing, device use, speech).     (full description)

Register here. 

Please Note: The OPI cannot require the use of masks for an in-person training. We have provided some social distancing with seating of no more than two people per table.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

LAMP Trainings (virtual)

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering virtual LAMP trainings on January 17th and February 10th, 2022.   8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.     (same training, different days)


LAMP is an augmentative alternative communication (AAC) approach designed to give a method of independently and spontaneously expressing themselves through a speech generating device. 

This course will cover the components of LAMP: readiness to learn, engaging the learner through joint engagement, and learning language through a unique and consistent motor plan paired with an auditory signal and a natural consequence. Discussion will include how this approach addresses the core language deficits of autism, device features that are beneficial to teaching language, and how to use those features to implement LAMP components. Videos will be used to illustrate the treatment components. (LAMP web page)

These trainings are available for free to Montana public school educators. Five OPI renewal units and .5 ASHA CEUs are available for this training. 

You can register for a LAMP training here

(PLEASE NOTE: You will be required to complete a second registration with LAMP to receive a link to the training and your LAMP manual.) 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Social Thinking Recorded Trainings available through March 18, 2021

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project has a limited number of scholarships for Montana public school educators to view on-demand trainings from Social Thinking. These trainings will be available until March 18, 2022. 

No OPI renewal units are available for watching these recorded trainings. ASHA CEUs are available through Social Thinking. 

Only three trainings (total) are available per person. You can find training descriptions here

Please follow the links below to register for up to three trainings.

Social Topics: Social Thinking / Social Emotional Learning

Other Topics: Behavior / Teenagers / Executive Thinking

Monday, November 29, 2021

Aversive Treatment Procedures - A Review of the OPI Rule

December 14th  2:30 - 4:00 p.m.

January 19th     2:30 - 4:00 p.m.

 (Same content each day.)

This training will review the use of aversive treatment procedures in public schools, which is governed by ARM 10.16.3346

The training will discuss the following requirements of the rule: 

The requirements for conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and positive behavior interventions before aversive procedures can be implemented; and

When physical restraint is/is not an aversive treatment procedure; and

The definition of isolation time-out and exclusion time-out and what is/is not isolation time-out; and 

Prohibited procedures; and

The requirements of a behavior intervention plan using aversive treatment procedures; and 

Parental consent for the use of aversive treatment procedures; and

Requirements for notifying parents when aversive treatment procedures are used.

You can register for the training here


Questions About Behavior Functions form

The QABF is a peer-reviewed questionnaire that helps determine the function of the behavior. The function of the behavior answers the question, “why are they doing that?” or “what are they trying to communicate?”. Often, when people lack sufficient communication skills to communicate their feeling, needs, and wants, they use behaviors to communicate those feelings, wants, and needs. 

By using the QABF, we can better determine what the student might be communicating and use that information to develop adaptive communication skills that will result in the student’s needs and wants being met more easily because everyone in the environment will be able to understand them better. 

The five categories of possible functions that the QABF considers are attention, escape, nonsocial, physical, and tangible. Attention means that the student is engaging in the MB to get the attention of anyone in the environment including what some might consider positive or negative attention such as reprimands. Escape means that the student is engaging in the problem behavior to get out of a task or to leave an environment that they might consider aversive. Nonsocial means that the student would engage in that behavior regardless of the reactions of those in their environment. It is a behavior that just feels good or has a neurological effect. Physical means that the behavior is more likely to occur if the student is not feeling well or may hint at an underlying medical cause. 

It is possible that a problem behavior has more than one function.  

You can find the QABF form here. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Virtual PECS Level 1 and 2 Trainings 2021-2022 School Year

Individuals who are nonverbal or have limited speech need a communication system they can start using right now. PECS provides an immediately useful method for requesting things, actions and people, in a way that requires and promotes social interaction. Using the principles of applied behavior analysis, PECS starts by teaching spontaneous requesting and as quickly as possible, moves on to responding to questions as well as commenting about things in the environment.

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project is offering the following (free!) PECS Level 1 and 2 trainings: 

PECS Level 1 Trainings:

Closed for registration.

                                            PECS Level 2 Training:

Closed for registration. 

Things to Know: 

These trainings are only available to public school staff. 

You must complete both days of the training. Trainings are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the designated time zone. 

OPI renewal units (14) will be provided after verification from PECS that you have completed the training. ASHA and/or BACB CEUs are available through PECS only. 

A hardcopy PECS manual will be sent to you for the training. Training registration will close ~14 days before each training to allow for mail delivery of the PECS manual.  

If you have any questions, please email Doug Doty at If you want to know how other Montana educators value PECS training, look here

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Transitioning from PECS to Speech-Generating Devices Training (virtual) - 2021-2022 School Year

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS®) is an evidence-based protocol that teaches vital communication skills such as initiation, persistence in relaying messages, picture discrimination and basic sentence structure. After mastery of these skills, the learner likely has a large repertoire of pictures in the communication book. If the learner is not speaking, the team may need to explore a transition to a dedicated Speech Generating Device (SGD) or tablet with communication app that will accommodate larger vocabularies and allow for continued language development. 

To ensure the rapid transfer of existing communication skills, the transition will require the team to assess current PECS skills and then analyze features of various apps/SGDS to select a device that will best meet the learner’s needs. 

Following device selection, detailed lesson plans are necessary to teach use of the new device as a functional communication system. This workshop is appropriate for teams supporting learners who may be ready to transition from PECS to SGDs. It is also appropriate for teams working with learners who are not currently using their devices effectively.

*Please have a Speech Generating Device (SGD) or a tablet with an AAC app during the training to use for a variety of activities.

January 31   8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. 

OPI renewal units (6) will be provided after verification from PECS that you have attended the training. ASHA and BACB CEUs are available through PECS. 

Registration has closed for this training. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Supporting Sibs: Meeting the Needs of Siblings

Hosted by Montana Family to Family HICFour Free Online Sessions:November 8--Supporting Sibs for Parents and CaregiversREGISTRATION LINK []
November 15--Super-Awesome SibShopREGISTRATION LINK []
December 6--Sib Panel: Listening to and Learning from Our SibsREGISTRATION LINK []
All workshops are from 7:00 to 8:00PMFLYER LINK []

Abbey Guza (LCSW, MSW) is a certified SibShop facilitator who has worked with individuals with disabilities and their families for sixteen years. Abbey has a passion for ensuring siblings grow up with a community of support.

For more information contact Shawna Hanson at 406-243-4531 or email at

Doug - We also have Sibling resources on this blog. This is one of my favorites in discussing siblings as adults. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Training - Autism 101

Virtual Training 

November 9th   2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

December 7th  2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

     (Same content, two different days.)

This training will include: 

1. An infomercial for the services/resources provided by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project;

2. A quick history of autism diagnoses;

3. “Causes” of and “Cures” for autism;

4.  A review of Child Count data on Montana students with autism. 

(Please note – this training will NOT include a review of the OPI criteria for autism or the identification on students with autism.) 

Two OPI renewal units are available for attending this training. The training will NOT be recorded. 

Registration for this training has closed. 

ADOS Booster Training - 2021 December

Virtual Training – December 10th.   9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

This is a one-day review of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale complete with scoring practice and practical question review. This training is available only for Montana public school educators who have previously completed a two-day ADOS administration training. 

Registration for this training has closed. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


 A PROMPT is extra support to achieve success when teaching a skill. A CUE is something in the environment that occurs naturally and tells a person what to do.  

Prompting procedures are used in conjunction with time delayreinforcement, and prompt fading to support successive approximations to acquiring a skill. A teacherskilled at prompting, can balance between allowing the student to attempt a task, maybe struggle, and ensuring his/her success with the appropriate level of prompts. We typically teach skill acquisition using least to most level of prompting. There are instances when full physical assistance is needed in the beginning, usually paired with other types of prompts.  

Listed below is the prompt hierarchy in the order of least to most:  


  • Natural Cue - is the naturally occurring stimulus in the environment that tells the student what to do (schedule, bell rings, teacher gives directions). The student responds to a natural cue without prompts.


  • Indirect Verbal  ask a question that makes them think about it. “What’s next” 

  • Gestural - pointing, looking (eye gaze); often paired with a verbal prompt. 

  • Direct Verbal  tell student exactly what to do 

  • Modeling - demonstrate, show learner what to do. 

  • Partial or Full Physical Prompt  touching or guiding the body with the learner’s cooperation (not physically forcing the child to do things or stop doing things). It can be a graduated guidance, nudging the hand and backing off to shadowing. 

Simultaneous prompting is when the teacher/para provides a cue and simultaneously prompts the student to ensure the target skill is successfully achieved. The teacher then presents the cue again and waits for the learner to respond.  

Graduated guidance is when the teacher provides the needed level of prompt and just the right amount of prompting based on the learner’s response. The teacher gradually removes or fades a prompt when the learner is being successful or increases the level of prompt as the student needs it. This is a judgment call.  

A common problem with prompting, is giving the same prompt multiple times. It's like nagging. The adult will give a verbal prompt over and over until the learner responds. If the student does not respond to a natural cue (within a reasonable amount of time per an individual's ability), provide a prompt as a means of support, not a means of control.  

Prompt fading is important to increase independence and prevent prompt dependency. Some students won't initiate a task unless prompted by an adult. Fade a physical prompt by decreasing hand-over-hand to graduated guidance (less pressure) to shadowing to pausing at the last step of a sequence, giving the student a chance to complete the task (which becomes the natural reinforcer).  

Fading verbal prompts can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Provide visual supports and teach self-management. Cue the student to “check your schedule” or point to a word/picture of desired behavior. For other activities, lop off the last word or syllable:  "Time to go _____(look expectantly for student to respond).” "Get your baaa…(student: ‘backpack’).  Or change the prompt to: "Check number 4 again, what's missing?" 

Remember to allow time for the student to process the natural cue. Use prompts with the intention of ensuring success on the part of the student (errorless learning) and praise his/her efforts and participation even though you prompted him/herProvide positive feedback for the effort and accomplishment even if you prompted the skill. “You remembered to…”  “You put on your coat. Nice!” Plan to fade the prompts as you work towards independence (data). The completion of the task should become a natural reinforcer ('I did it.' 'I'm done.') 


Note: The hierarchy of prompts is presently differently by professionals. Know the level of prompt your learner needs for errorless learning. Pause, allow the learner to process the natural cue. Do not repeat a verbal prompt over and over. Instead, verbally prompt with simple, clear, concise words; wait, then decide which prompt to use next. Reinforce with a specific, positive description; emphasize the effort, the progress, and the increase in independence.  


Scroll down to How to Prompting videos  


Post a picture of the prompt hierarchy to remind adults. Search Google Images to find one that meets your aesthetic preferences.  

Colleen N. Fay, M.S.

Autism/Behavior Consultant

Montana Autism Education Project