February 2018

Greetings from the OPI Montana Autism Education Project. We hope you find the information below useful and interesting. You can always find more training opportunities and information on our blog.


Upcoming Trainings

ADOS-2 Refresher Training

Kalispell     February 15th

This is a one-day review of the ADOS-2 training, complete with scoring practice and practical question review. Participants are required to bring their ADOS manuals.

Register here.


Para Supervision Training

Missoula    February 22nd

This course provides the professional educator with core knowledge and skills to work effectively in teams composed both of professionals and paraeducators. Specifically, participants will refine their knowledge of the characteristics of paraeducators in education, the distinction between professional and paraeducator roles and responsibilities, liability and ethical issues.  This session is a continuation  of  Session I in August of 2017...but participants need not have gone to session I to benefit from this training.  Sessions will be continued at the Summer Institute in June.

Register here.

CEC Conference

Missoula    February 28 - March 2nd

Sessions of special interest include: "The Birds and the Bees: Puberty, Hygiene, Safety and Sexuality for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder" and "Penny vs. Sheldon: An Approach to Social Communication Instruction" and "Google Form Data Collecting Made Easy" and "Writing Data Friendly, Individualized IEP Goals" and "Social Skills Aren’t Rocket Science!" and "How to Write Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Goals for IEPs" and "Expanding Your Toolbox; How to Integrate Zones of Regulation across the School Setting."

You can find the full conference schedule here.


Autism: Managing Frustration & Anxiety and Teaching Social Skills

Great Falls          March 24th

Jed Baker, PhD. comes to Great Falls to share his vast expertise in “Managing Frustration & Anxiety and Teaching Social Skills.” Individuals on the autism spectrum and those with behavioral challenges often have difficulty regulating their feelings and interacting socially. This autism conference describes how to help individuals and their caregivers handle meltdowns and design effective plans to prevent frustration and anxiety. It will also detail effective social skills training strategies for all individuals and review some common skills needed for young adults, including the realm of sexuality and dating.

Find more information here. 


OPI Montana Autism Education Project Conference

Billings       April 8 and 9th

Monday April 8th

1. The Birds and the Bees: “Puberty, Hygiene, Safety and Sexuality for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder."

2. How To Build A Program For a Student With Autism

3. Strengthen Your Toolbox of Strategies and Activities for Students with Autism.


Tuesday April 9th


1. How to Implement a Program for a Student with Autism

2. How to Develop and Write Measurable IEP Goals

3. How To Prepare Students (and Yourself) for Post-school Transition

4. Reinforcer Surveys and Reinforcer Schedules (How to Increase Student Success and Your Happiness)

5. Analysis of Automatically Reinforced Behavior: Sexualized behavior, Sensory Regulation and Stimulation


Registration information will be included in our March newsletter.


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

Billings June 12

Participants in the workshop will learn 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. 

Find more information and register 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.


Recent Blog Posts of Interest

How to: . . .

These short videos are approximately five minutes long and are intended to provide a quick look at implementing a particular strategy. The How To videos provide a short description of the topic with real life video examples of how to implement the evidence-based practice in the classroom with students with ASD. How to topics include: Motivating the Individual with ASD, Asking for Help, Emotions and Regulation, Visual Supports and 24 more topics.

See the whole video series here at the VCU Autism Center for Excellence.

Suggested Curriculum Materials and Programs

There are suggestions for: Communication, Functional and Life Skills, Reading Literacy and Comprehension, Math, Science, Sensory, Social Skills and Social Studies.

Find them here.

Toddlers with Autism Indifferent to Eye Contact

Toddlers with autism are oblivious to the social information in the eyes, but don’t actively avoid meeting another person’s gaze, according to a new study. The findings support one side of a long-standing debate: Do children with autism tend not to look others in the eye because they are uninterested or because they find eye contact unpleasant?

If children with autism dislike making eye contact, treatments could incorporate ways to alleviate the discomfort. But if eye contact is merely unimportant to the children, parents and therapists could help them understand why it is important in typical social interactions.

Read more here.

Little Change in Proportion of US Kids with Autism

After steadily climbing for two decades, the proportion of U.S. children with autism may be leveling off, a recent study suggests.

As of 2016, approximately 2.8% of U.S. children from 3 to 17 years old had autism spectrum disorders (ASD), researchers report online January 2 in JAMA. While that’s up slightly from about 2.2% in 2014, the difference is too small to rule out the possibility that it was due to chance.

Read more here.

Learning to Manage Feminine Hygiene Needs

As with any skill you teach children and adolescents, it is important to use plain language and to avoid abstract terms as much as possible. It is also important to become comfortable with all of the terms involved in feminine hygiene, such as period, pad, blood, etc. As uncomfortable as it may seem at first, speaking about these things becomes a normal part of the teaching process over time.

Find some very good ideas and suggestions here. 

Social Competencies Resources

Assessments, General Information, and Instructional Strategies can be found here.

Upcoming and Archived Webinars

Assistive Technology Tools for Writing

February 20th     

For some students, writing can be a very hard skill to master. Whether a student struggles with getting their thoughts down on paper, spelling, grammar, or bibliographies, assistive technology or AT can help. Tools that will be demonstrated include Smartpens, apps, Chrome extensions, and more.

Register here.

Tools for the Behavior Specialist

February 27th

Supporting individuals who present with complex needs can be a challenge for even the most seasoned behavioral specialist. The challenge can be exacerbated when the team, especially those who provide the direct supports, are frustrated and unsure of their abilities. This training will provide tools and suggestions for assisting team members who are struggling.

Register here.

Developing Social Stories

February 15th

We will discuss how to target the need for the use of Social Stories, explore how to develop one, and identify effective methods to teach and reinforce the use of Social Stories.

Register here.

Conversation Skills for Teens with ASD

March 7th

Learn evidence-based strategies aimed at supporting emerging conversation skills in teens diagnosed with ASD.

Register here.


Other Information

Consultation Visits

Our Autism Consultants are available to provide consultations for students with autism for no charge. Please contact Doug Doty at ddoty@mt.gov if you are interested in scheduling a consultation visit.

OPI Has Behavioral Consultants

The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) has 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