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Montana Autism Education Project News – August 2016



We have a new blog and blog address. You can bookmark the new blog address here or find it through a web search for the “Montana Autism Education Project”.


One nice feature of the new blog is that we have more “tags” so you can search for past posts in specific areas such as, “behavior”, “general education” or search for trainings by city.


For a quick look at the blog, click to see where the public school students with autism are.


Upcoming Trainings:


Beyond Compliance: Writing Quality Transition Plan - Billings


Sept. 12, 2016 (Billings - click to register) 


Sept. 15, 2016 (Havre - click to register)


Did you know that a compliant transition plan doesn't guarantee it is meaningful plan, but a meaningful transition plan guarantees compliance?


This interactive session will:

Integrating Employability Skills: Improving Transition to Employment for Students with Disabilities [PDF]

Sept. 13, 2016 (Billings - click to register)  Sept. 16, 2016 (Havre - click to register) 

 This interactive session will:

Provide tools and strategies to select appropriate assessments and prioritize employability skills at the employer, district, and individual teacher levels. 

Over 75 Quick, "On-The-Spot" Techniques for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Problems – Bozeman, September 28th, Helena, September 29th

We are delighted to bring Dr. Steve Olivas back to Montana. He has presented across Montana to rave reviews*. This workshop is not just for educators of students with autism spectrum disorder but is for anyone who works with children.


Develop skills for building a therapeutic relationship with difficult children and teens.

Describe a spectrum of interventions representing many major theoretical orientations.

 These are some of the reviews from Dr. Steve's recent presentation in Kalispell:

 “This conference was my third one with Steve and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Every time, I gain new knowledge and applicable strategies that I can apply to students.  He is hilarious and makes learning fun!”

“I absolutely LOVED him!! He was one of the best speakers I have ever seen, if not the best. The combination of excellent information and humor was perfect! I would come see him every time he came to town! Sorry to end every sentence with an exclamation point.”

Register here.

Fall Trainings with Ann Garfinkle

In this training from Ann Garfinkle, learners will focus on the multi-level comprehensive autism planning system or (CAPS) to program for students with High Functioning Autism and Aspergers. The topics will include sensory differences, cognitive differences, motor differences, and emotional vulnerability with reinforcement strategies for a comprehensive look at programming, service delivery, and progress monitoring. The attendees will leave with a new mind-set of how inclusive settings can be modified/adapted for a positive learning experience.

Kalispell        Sept.  30th                

Hamilton       October 7th              

Bozeman       October 28th           

Great Falls     November 8th         

You can register for the trainings here.

Montana Speech and Hearing Association - Fall Convention October 20-21, 2016 Helena

Dr. Lisa Ruble and Dr. Misty Parsley are presenting two days on the COMPASS model and collaborating as a team to serve your students with Autism. This includes writing FBA’s, identifying alternative skills to improve behavior, building a teaching plan with evidence based practices, transition to adulthood/post-secondary education and case studies that you bring.

You can find more information here.


Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) Training - Missoula and Kalispell

          Kalispell - November 1, 2016 // Missoula - November 2, 2016

LAMP is an augmentative alternative communication (AAC) approach designed to give users 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.

Please note: The LAMP training is focused on students who use a device for speech, and not symbolic communication (e.g., PECS.) “LAMP focuses on giving the individual independent access to vocabulary on voice output AAC devices that use consistent motor plans for accessing vocabulary.”

Registration for this workshop will open in mid-September.

PECS II in Great Falls - November 3-4, 2016

We will share more information when registration becomes available.

This training will show you how to teach PECS with fidelity so your learners don’t get stuck on early Phases of PECS. Let us help you create lessons that turn your PECS user into someone who communicates in all situations using longer sentences. A review of the six Phases of PECS and discussions about your current challenges combined with ideas related to materials, teaching strategies and activities to promote communication will refine your PECS implementation skills. With innovative ideas, renewed confidence and enthusiasm you will leave the PECS Level 2 Training ready to move PECS users to more sophisticated levels of communication. (Prerequisite: PECS™ Level 1 Training)

Online Training in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Behavior Interventions

We are again offering free* subscriptions to online training in autism spectrum disorders and behavioral interventions. The training provides 35 hours of instruction in autism spectrum disorders or behavioral interventions. The training must be completed in 90 days. OPI continuing education units are available for each hour of the training completed.

If you are interested in the training please go here to register. Groups start the first week of each month.

* The training is free to public school staff but the OPI pays for each subscription. We have a limited number of subscriptions per year and ask that you be committed to completing the training before you register.


You can also view trainings as they are added on the OPI Montana Autism Education Project blog.


Montana Autism Education Project blog posts of interest:

Why Teaching Please and Thank You Should Be Avoided Early On

The problem with teaching manners too early to a child with autism is that instead of using the item name (cookie) and asking for “cookie,” the child might reach for cookie and say “please” instead. A parent or teacher might then give the child a cookie because he used nice manners but the child may not know the name of the item or be able to say it.

The other issue is that when the cookie is out of sight, the child might not have the ability to ask for it. A third issue is when adults try to have the child put “please” on the end of all requests by prompting “cookie please.” This can be a problem for a child who is just learning to speak and may make their language harder to understand.

Read more here.

North Dakota Autism Conference

You are invited to attend the 3rd Annual Autism Spectrum Disorders Conference scheduled for October 26-28, 2016 in Minot, ND.  The Anne Carlsen Center will be hosting the conference, supported by the ND Department of Human Services.

Read more here.

School Community Tool Kit

The purpose of this kit is to provide helpful information about students with autism and tools and strategies to achieve positive interactions and increase learning for all members of the school community.

The School Community Tool Kit is broken down into sections. Click here to download the full version of the kit, or click here to download the individual sections.

Regression marks one in five autism cases, large study finds

In some children with autism, normal development stalls, often around age 2, and they start to lose many of the communication and social skills they had already mastered. The first large epidemiological study of this phenomenon, called regression, reveals that it occurs in at least 20 percent of children with autism1.

The new work, published in the July/August issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, also shows that regression can appear long after the toddler years.

A better understanding of regression could help researchers predict how children will fare over time and provide clues to autism’s biological basis. But despite decades of research, scientists continue to debate how prevalent regression is and even what it is.

Read more here. 

Using Public Restrooms - There Are Rules for Both Sexes

(This has come up in several workshops recently. Here are some links to resources.)


Using Public Restrooms - Autism Speaks (contains both male and female examples.)

A visual guide to bathroom usage at home and in public.


The International Center for Bathroom Etiquette - many things for both males and females. 


A learning urinal simulator


Upcoming and Archived Webinars:

Pre-ETS Resources around Interests, Aptitudes and Career Guidance

Helping students prepare for their transition into adulthood requires assisting them to take a look at a plethora of interests and abilities. One major component of transition assessment includes the identification of career interests, aptitudes and employment skills. This Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) webinar will look at a wide variety of options for assessments - including those that go beyond the typical paper and pencil type.

Register now!

Date: Thursday, September 8, 2016
Time: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM MDT
Cost:  Free

Archived Webinars - Social Competence

Social competence is the ability to interact successfully with peers and adults in a variety of situations and environments. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find this to be a significant challenge. This 5-part series provides an overview of social competence, guidance on assessment and intervention to improve social competence, and strategies to embed social competence instruction into everyday activities.

View the webinars here. 

Other items:

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.

Staff Trainings: If you wish to schedule an Autism 101 or other trainings for school staff, please contact Doug Doty at ddoty@mt.gov. We have trainers across Montana.

OPI Now 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 via e-mail (dkimmet2@mt.gov).


Thank you for subscribing to this mailing list. If you know others who might wish to receive this newsletter they can subscribe here.


Doug Doty, Statewide Coordinator

OPI Montana Autism Education Project

ddoty@mt.gov  459-5303