Friday, May 21, 2021

2020-2021 Data Report for the Montana Autism Education Project (MAEP)

Educating students with autism requires specific skills and knowledge beyond what is acquired through teacher preservice programs. The goals of the MAEP are: 

• to increase district-level knowledge of how to educate students with autism through in-person training, interactive video training, on-site technical assistance and peer-to-peer collaboration; and

• to develop inter-agency collaboration between the OPI, school districts, Part C Agency providers, Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Montana Empowerment Center, and Institutes of Higher Education

The OPI Montana Autism Education Project (MAEP) provides public schools with free autism and/or behavior consultations for students who are qualified under the IDEA. OPI part-time consultants include Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Speech-Language Pathologists and experienced educators. 

Note:  On-site consultations for students with severe problem behaviors have continued under COVID-19 restrictions, though at a greatly reduced rate.  

Chart 1.1 shows the total number of consultations visits completed each year since 2010 and the number of different districts those visits happened in.  In the 2020-2021 school year, 13 virtual and 8 on-site consultations were provided to 15 school districts statewide. Students to whom consultations were provided included students with autism, cognitive delay, deaf/autistic, emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, speech-language impairment and visual impairment. 

The OPI MAEP provides in-person trainings statewide to all school staff, including general education teachers and administrators. The trainings are provided by MAEP staff and through contracts with Montana education professionals as well as national-level trainers in specific areas/curriculums (communication, behavior, educating students with autism).

The OPI MAEP has continued to provide trainings virtually, with over 800 people attending trainings in identifying students with autism, teaching communication to students who do not use verbal language and teaching social skills to all students. 

These trainings were attended by 800 educators from 114 Montana school districts and special education cooperatives. MAEP trainings had an average score of 4.7/5 on the post-training evaluation question of, “Would you suggest this training to others?”  More information about the MAEP trainings can be found on the MAEP blog. 

The OPI MAEP offers 49 hours of online training (33 courses) in applied behavior analysis and educating students with autism and cognitive delay. The training is offered year-round. Since the MAEP began offering this online training in 2012, 1174 educators from 184 school districts have completed over 27,000 hours of training.