Montana Autism Education Project News – March  2017


Upcoming Trainings:

Understanding Life Skills, Intense Interests and Meltdowns

Great Falls   March 25, 2017

Jennifer McIlwee Myers, author of How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Aspergers and Growing Up with Sensory Issues, will give an enlightening understanding of how to teach life skills, how to harness the power of intense interests (i.e. obsessions) and how to comprehend meltdowns from the inside out.

Find more information and register here.

Autism Academy – Online facilitated course from OPI

The purpose of this Autism Academy is to provide paraprofessionals and teaching assistants with information and skills to be able to assist in the instruction of students with autism. This is different from the other online training we offer as this course is limited in the number of registrants and has online facilitators.

Go here for more information on how to register. 

Registration Note: We respectfully ask that only Montana para-educators register for this module. It is designed to meet their unique professional development needs.

Facing the Frontal Lobe: Strategies to Support Executive Function Skills in Students with Planning, Organization, Emotional Control, Working Memory and Attention Needs

Billings            March 29

Participants in the workshop will explore the impact of Executive Functioning on student learning and social interaction. The workshop is designed for all educators as attention is given to those skills needed by kindergarten through middle school students to be successful in a general and special education classroom. Participants will learn about the five domains of cognitive skills and will be given resource ideas and strategies that are designed to support strong cognitive skills in students. The strategies presented focus on skills that promote effective organization and time management, task completion, independent work, student goal setting and accountability. Additionally, the intervention ideas also provide a foundation to assist student self-monitoring, impulse control and emotional management. 

Register here.

Evidence-Based Instructional Strategies for Transition Planning

Billings  April 4

Looking for what works in transition planning? This interactive session will present validated approaches for transition assessment, instructional delivery, and data collection/analysis processes. In addition to modeling several evidence-based instructional strategies, this session will also demonstrate how educators can use existing resources to identify appropriate transition activities.

Find more information and register here. 

Social Thinking Returns to Montana!

Missoula  August 17 and 18    

Social Thinking (Kari Zwebel Palmer) will present the following workshops: 

Zooming In: Strategies for Concrete Learners

Zooming In: Strategies for Individuals with Subtle but Significant Social Problems

Registration will open in May.


Other Summer Trainings (we will share registration links as they become available.)

Glendive – June 13-16

            PECS –  Teaching Critical Communication Skills

            PECS –  Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviors

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

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.


Montana Autism Education Project recent blog posts of interest:


The Hidden Link Between Autism and Addiction

A new study in Sweden, however, suggests that people with autism who have average or above-average intelligence quotients (IQs) are more than twice as likely to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs as their peers are. The risk is even higher for people who also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study is the first to look at the general risk for addiction among people with autism. 

Read more here.


5 Tips for Preventing Dependency in Anxious Students

Tip 1: Pull Yourself Back: Don’t accept the word “help” in isolation

It’s exciting and a huge step when a student asks for help as opposed to putting their head 

down or avoiding the activity by going to the bathroom. But don’t stop there: now promote the 

use of a more self-reflective statement. In post-secondary school life, the word “help” won’t

be of much use. We can’t call the cable company and simply say “help.”

Read more here.


Don't Believe The Hype Around Autistic Women Having A Male Brain

A study just published in JAMA Psychiatry has made some waves with its conclusions that women with autism are much more likely than women without autism to have a "male brain." The study findings do not, however, live up to the breathless headlines or to claims of one of its authors, Simon Baron-Cohen, who excitedly tweeted that "79.6% of women with autism have a male brain, and women with a male brain are 3 times more likely to have autism."

But let's take a closer look at the study and its findings.

Read more here at Forbes.


Why do children with autism make less eye contact?

Children watched a series of carefully made videos. Before each video, we flashed a small picture to draw the child’s attention. When they looked to where the picture had been, they found that they were either looking right at another person’s eyes or looking away from the eyes.

It was when we presented varying levels of socially meaningful eye contact that children with autism looked less at other people’s eyes.

Together, these findings went against the idea that these young children with autism were avoiding eye contact on purpose or had an aversion to eye contact. Instead, they seemed to not understand or pick up on the underlying social cues and social significance of eye contact.

Read more here.

New autism diagnoses shifting toward mild end of spectrum

Although the number of people diagnosed with autism is on the rise, the proportion with severe features has declined since 2000, according to a study of children in Western Australia1.

The findings, published 19 January in Autism Research, highlight a shift in the perception of autism. Until the 1990s, clinicians typically diagnosed the condition only when a child had significant intellectual disability or language problems.

Read more here.


Upcoming and Archived Webinars


Webinar - Navigating the Transition Years for People with ASD: From Preteen to Adulthood

Tue, Mar 28, 2017 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM MDT

The journey from adolescence to adulthood is exciting and complicated, with unique challenges for people with autism and related disorders. This webinar will focus on some of those challenges and strategies to assist during this critical time of life.  

Register here with the Autism Research Institute.


Webinar - Live Q&A: Anxiety and OCD in ASD

Wed, Mar 15, 2017 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM MDT

Have a question about anxiety and OCD that you would like to ask an expert? Join Dr. Lauren Moskowitz for this as she answers questions about these challenging behaviors in real time.  

Register here with the Autism Research Institute. 


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 if you are interested in scheduling a consultation visit.

OPI 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 (

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Doug Doty, Statewide Coordinator

OPI Montana Autism Education Project 459-5303