If you have students with autism who are receiving an extended school year or other summer program our Autism Consultants are available visit. Summer can be a great time for a consultation as there are fewer distractions in the classroom. Contact Doug Doty at ddoty@mt.gov to schedule a consultation visit.

If you wish to schedule an August PIR day related to autism, we can prepare a presentation customized to the needs of your students and staff. Contact Doug Doty at ddoty@mt.gov to schedule a presentation.




Managing Frustration, Anxiety, and Teaching Social Skills


Billings, June 5th and 6th

Students on the autism spectrum and those with behavioral challenges often present with difficulty regulating their feelings and interacting socially. This workshop describes how to handle meltdowns and design effective behavior plans to prevent these moments and reduce frustration and anxiety. 

The second part of the presentation details strategies to motivate students to learn, ways to teach social skills, how to generalize skills into the natural setting and increase acceptance and tolerance from peers. Information will be imparted though lecture, interactive exercises, and video clips.

You can find more information and register here.


PECS Level I Training

Billings, June 12th and 13th

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. 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.

NOTE: You must buy or borrow the Second Edition PECS Training Manual with Data Forms CD prior to the training to participate in the training. You will not be admitted to the training if you do not bring that manual.

Register here.


2017 Summer Institute


June 13 - Language of Emotions: In this session we will review traditional approaches to teaching children with autism to communicate about their emotions as well as respond to such language from other people.

June 14 - Managing Challenging Behavior: Discussion focuses on the importance of addressing students’ skill deficits prior to or simultaneously with addressing behavior excess or other unwanted behavior. Other key elements of the training include the description and the design of effective educational settings that emphasize the use of systematic reinforcement

Find more information and register here.


June Institute


June 14 - PECS Critical Communication Skills Training: You will be able to define functional communication; identify and evaluate the nine critical communication skills; design effective teaching strategies to promote these skills independent of modality; incorporate effective visual strategies for all communicators.

June 15 - PECS Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviors: You will learn how to operationally define behavior; identify and conduct a functional assessment; select and teach functionally equivalent behavior to unwanted behavior; measure, assess, and maintain the efficacy of behavior intervention

Find more information and register here.


Building Communication: Supporting Parents of Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Social Communication Difficulties

Billings, June 22nd

Flyer LINK

For more information  or to register please email Ann McCulloch (mccullocha@billingsschools.org)
or call 406-281-5885


Hanen More Than Words

Billings, June 23-25, 2017

The More Than Words workshop provides the speech-language pathologist with highly practical tools for helping parents understand their child’s challenges and strengths and well-defined strategies for building both social and communication skills. Participants learn how to show parents how to accommodate their child's sensory preferences, provide the structure and predictability that help their child learn, and integrate the strategies that support their child's social interaction and communication into everyday activities and routines. With this support, parents become engaged and empowered.

Find more information and register here. (Note: this workshop is not sponsored by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project and we do not have scholarships available.)


Helping Children Become Active Learners Using the DIR/Floortime Model

Bozeman, June 26th

Floortime offers interactive techniques that can be used to help children learn to attend and self-regulate, to become engaged and reciprocal in interactions with others, and to begin to understand social problem solving. This presentation will introduce key principles of the DIR/Floortime model that can help children become active learners though a better understanding of how biologically based individual differences in communication, motor planning, and sensory processing, impact the learning process.

To register go to https://pd4montana.hrmplus.net/  and register for course #8789.


Autism for Administrators

Billings, August 2nd.

This presentation will review the identification of students with autism, potential accommodations and assessments, classroom and academic interventions and supports.

Read more and register here.


Advanced Treatment Concepts and Anxiety and ASD: The Psychological Equivalent of Fever

Billings, August 10th

Advanced Treatment Concepts: The purpose of this presentation is to convey the generic power of behavior analysis by describing an array of behavior analytic treatment concepts, all of which are readily applicable to the behavior problems of persons on the spectrum and, indeed, to the behavior problems of all persons.

Anxiety and ASD: The Psychological Equivalent of Fever
This talk will discuss anxiety in straightforward terms; illuminate the extent to which it affects virtually everyone to a certain degree and the extent to which it affects persons with ASD even more

Read more and register here.


Social Thinking Returns to Montana!

Missoula, August 17 and 18

Zooming In: Strategies for Concrete Learners (August 17th) and Zooming In: Strategies for Individuals with Subtle but Significant Social Problems (August 18th.)

Read more and register here.

2017 Northern Plains Law Conference on Students with Disabilities

Billings, October 3 and 4, 2017

The Northern Plains Law Conference on Students with Disabilities will cover special education legal issues, including the latest information from due process hearings, circuit court cases, OSEP/OCR guidance letters, and basic IDEA procedural requirements. This conference is designed for general/special education staff, administrators, related services staff, parents, and other stakeholders.


You can find more information here.

Online Training in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Behavior Interventions

We offer subscriptions to a highly-rated online training in autism spectrum disorders and behavioral interventions. The training provides 55+ hours of instruction in autism spectrum disorders and behavioral interventions.  The training must be completed in 90 days. OPI renewal units and ASHA CEUs are available. New groups start the middle of each month. 

If you are interested in taking the training please go here to register.


What makes a gene an autism candidate? Not everyone agrees

Novelty is a slippery concept in genetics: Literally, it simply means that a gene’s connection to a certain condition has never previously been noted. But many researchers say that being first to implicate a gene isn’t enough. Genes also must pass a stringent statistical bar to become candidates, or they remain merely curiosities.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Researchers have ditched the autism-vaccine theory. Here’s what they think actually causes it.

The strongest evidence of a cause: genetics

But “of all the causes of autism, the thing we know with the greatest certainty is that it’s a very genetic disorder,” said UCSF geneticist and autism researcher Stephan Sanders. “If you look at a child with autism, then look at their siblings, you’ll find the rate of autism is 10 times higher in those siblings than in the general population. This has been looked at in populations of millions.”

Exposure to infections and certain medicines during pregnancy may be linked to autism 

Not everyone with those genetic mutations has autism — and that’s because researchers believe it’s not mutations alone that cause the disorder.

In many cases, you need that underlying genetic predisposition or mutation to collide with a range of potential environmental triggers. And finding those environmental risk factors is where things get murky pretty quickly. 

Read more here. 

Survey from the Montana Autism Center

The Montana Autism Center exists to connect, discover and support. We connect families, individuals, educators, researchers and many others so that we can learn from each other.  Current research and evidence-based resources are made available to a variety of audiences. We support visitors with the information they need to make informed and solid decisions.

The Montana Autism Center concentrates on the lifespan needs of Montanans with ASD, their families, and those who serve and support them.

We are interested in your feedback and recommendations for the Montana State Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Act Early Team.  

The 6-item survey will take 5-7 minutes to complete.

Please click here for the Montana Autism Center survey. 

The Importance of Self-regulation

Want your students to take ownership over their learning? 

2. Explicitly model desired behavior/skill

Follow the Fisher & Frey four-part model of teaching desired skill. Notice this four-part framework is more involved than the traditional guided release three-part model of "I do, we do, and you do." Here are the four parts:

"I do" — Teacher models task using a think-aloud. 

"We do" — Teacher and students interactively complete task using visual cues, frequent response, reference materials and fix-up strategies. 

"You do — collaboratively" — Student completes task with peers with varying levels of scaffolds and immediate feedback. 

"You do — independently" — Student completes task independently with various levels of scaffolds and the teacher responds, coaches, and evaluates student progress.

Read more here. 

SnapType - A simple way to complete any school worksheet on your iPad or Tablet.

Snap: Take a picture of any worksheet using the iPad camera, or import a worksheet from email, photo library or Google Drive.

Type: Tap anywhere on the screen to add text using the iPad keyboard.

See more about the app here. 

Personal Emergency Profile 


Click here to download from the National Autism Association. This is a great thing for a student to carry and learn to present when lost or when asked, “Do you have any identification?” by law enforcement or emergency personnel.


Archived Webinars from the National Autism Association

NAA’s WebiNAArs are recorded and archived on our website.
For free access to all recorded webiNAArs, please 
register here

These are just a few of the webinars:

Vision Therapy’s Role in Attention, Stimming, Toe-Walking and other Visual-Motor Abilities

Wandering: How Affordable Smart-Home Technology Can Help Keep Our Kids Safe

The Many and Varied Uses of Symbols

Ready, Set, Potty!

Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum – the Basics

Seizures in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Webinar - Mobile Technologies for Everyday Cognitive Support

July 25, 2017, 11:00 am CST - 60-minutes

This presentation from Tony Gentry will include discussion of: (1) the strengths and weaknesses of consumer handhelds as cognitive-behavioral aids, (2) onboard apps for task support, (3) add-on apps for task management, behavioral support, way-finding, and healthy living, and (4) strategies for leveraging these tools for people with cognitive-behavioral challenges to support functional independence in everyday life.

Register here with AbleNet.

Webinar - Speech Dude Tells More: Practical Technology for Moderate to Severe Students

June 08, 2017, 02:00 pm CST - 60-minutes

Google extensions and other cutting-edge tools will be discussed, along with simple implementation strategies to increase access to content and improve student engagement and productivity, with special emphasis on high school aged and transitional students.

Register here with AbleNet.

Archived Webinar: Misbehavior is a Puzzle, Not a Threat. Discover the STOIC Framework for Behavior Support

You'll discover how the STOIC framework, a multi-tiered system of prevention and intervention, empowers special educators. Structure for success, Teach expectations, Observe systematically, Interact positively, and Correct calmly are the pieces of the puzzle you've been looking for! 

View the webinar here. 


Consultation Visits

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 ddoty@mt.gov if you are interested in scheduling a consultation visit.

OPI also 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 without autism. If you are in need of a consultant, please contact Dale Kimmet at (dkimmet2@mt.gov).

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Doug Doty, Statewide Coordinator

OPI Montana Autism Education Project

ddoty@mt.gov 459-5303