Montana Autism Education Project News – September 2018

Upcoming Trainings:

Expanding Your Toolbox: How to Integrate the Zones of Regulation Across School Settings

September 25   Great Falls

Flyer LINK
Registration LINK

This training will provide strategies on how to integrate the Zones of Regulation within the classroom and school environment in connection with developing regulation tools to help guide a student’s self-regulation skills. Participants will be provided hands on materials and guidance on how to expand Zones of Regulation daily within their instructional practice to best support student’s social and emotional needs.


The 2019 General & Special Education Conference - Seattle

March 5, 6 & 7, 2019      Seattle

Some select autism-related courses: 

Course #1 – The SCERTS Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach for Children with Autism    Spectrum Disorders and Related Developmental Disabilities (2 days)

Course #4 – iPad Boot Camp: Awesome New iPad Apps, Adaptations and Accessories 

Course #5 – Combining Sensory and Mindfulness Strategies to Reduce Behavior Issues and Anxiety

Course #7 – Promoting and Coaching Executive Functioning in the Classroom

Course #16 – Practical Strategies for Implementing Social Skills in the Classroom and in Therapy

Course #18 – Practical Management of Tough Kids: An Evidence-Based Approach 

Course #21 – Behavioral Assessment and Treatment of Students that Exhibit Self-Injurious Behavior and Related Disorders 

Course #24 – Creating Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes

Find more information about the conference here. 


Accepting the Challenge: Effective Strategies for Students with Anxiety-Related Behavior 

October 29        Bozeman

Understanding the role anxiety plays in a student's behavior is crucial and using preventive strategies is key to successful intervention. Effective behavior plans for these students must avoid the reward and punishment-based consequences from traditional behavior plans and focus instead on the use of preventive strategies and on explicitly teaching coping skills and alternative responses.

This workshop will translate clinical information into doable and easy-to-implement strategies, tools and interventions, for reducing anxiety, increasing self-regulation, executive functioning, and self-monitoring.

Find more information and register here.

 We are working on additional trainings and will release information once we have completed the contracting process.

Online Training in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Behavior Interventions – NOW WITH MORE COURSES!

We offer subscriptions to a highly-rated online training in autism spectrum disorders and behavioral interventions. The training provides 83 hours of instruction in autism spectrum disorders and behavioral interventions.  The training must be completed in 90 days. OPI renewal units, ASHA and LCPC CEUs are also available. New groups start the middle and beginning of each month. 

If you are interested in taking the training please go here to register. You can go here to see the updated listing of courses.

Montana Autism Education Project recent blog posts of interest:

We have updated our demographic information on Montana students with autism, including gender and race data. You can find that information here. There is also a pretty cool short video showing the increase in autism by county from 2010-2017.

Inconsistent prevalence estimates highlight studies’ flaws

The lore about autism is that prevalence rates are rising — leading many people to call it, misleadingly, an ‘epidemic.’ Even among scientists, many assume that the largest prevalence estimates are the most accurate.

But epidemiologists know that the prevalence depends greatly on the methods used in the study.

In January, for example, the National Health Interview Survey in the United States reported an autism prevalence of 2.76 percent in 2016, up slightly from 2.24 percent in 2014. However, a 2014 survey of 8-year-olds by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a lower prevalence, at 1.69 percent. And preliminary data from a 2012 survey of 8-year-olds in South Carolina suggested a higher estimate: 3.6 percent.

What may not be obvious is that these studies varied greatly in their design, which contributed to the varying estimates of prevalence, says Eric Fombonne, professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health and Science University.

Read more here at Spectrum. 


Video Game Helps Kids Understand Experiences Of Peers On The Autism Spectrum

A new game developed by Carnegie Mellon University students is helping elementary schoolers understand what life is like for kids on the autism spectrum. Created by the university’s Entertainment Technology Center, Prism uses its animal characters as allegories for the challenges those with autism face.

The game begins in a lush, 3-D forest teeming with animals and scored with whimsical music. Players take on a fox character, and to save your home from a flood, you must work with the other animals to build a dam across the river.

Read more here.


'Cutting Edge' Program For Children With Autism And ADHD Rests On Razor-Thin Evidence

An NPR investigation of Brain Balance reveals a company whose promises have resonated with parents averse to medication. But Brain Balance also appears to have overstated the scientific evidence in its messaging to families, who can easily spend over $10,000 in six months, a common length of enrollment.

Read more here at NPR. 


Autism Spectrum Quotient Questionnaire

The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ) is a questionnaire published in 2001 by Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, UK. Consisting of fifty questions, it aims to investigate whether adults of average intelligence have symptoms of autism or one of the other autism spectrum conditions.[1] More recently, versions of the AQ for children[2] and adolescents[3] have also been published.

Take the questionnaire here.


Diagnostic tests for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in preschool children

Which ASD diagnostic tool ‐ among ADOS, ADI‐R, CARS, DISCO, GARS, and 3di ‐ has the best diagnostic test accuracy? 

Authors' conclusions: When we compared summary statistics for ADOS, CARS, and ADIR, we found that ADOS was most sensitive. All tools performed similarly for specificity. In lower prevalence populations, the risk of falsely identifying children who do not have ASD would be higher. 

Read the full article here. 


Study offers clues about eye avoidance in ASD

New research indicates that individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) avoid eye contact not because they lack interest in interacting socially, but because making eye contact causes them to experience unpleasant arousal in the brain’s subcortical system.

Based on the study’s findings, Hadjikhani says that forcing individuals with autism to focus on other people’s eyes may be misguided. Instead, she says, “An approach involving slow habituation to eye contact may help them overcome this overreaction and be able to handle eye contact in the long run, thereby avoiding the cascading effects that this eye-avoidance has on the development of the social brain.”

Read more here. 

You can find more autism news on our blog.


Upcoming and Archived Webinars

Archived Webinar - Apps to Teach Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

 In this webinar, Frances Amato, STEM Educator and Technology Liaison, reviews her favorite apps for ELA, math, behavior needs and schedules — all educational in nature. They can be utilized throughout the school day to support students’ handwriting, reading, spelling and more. The presentation goes through apps such as ClassDojo, School Schedule, Spellyfish, Simplex Spelling and others.

View the archived webinar here. 

Archived: Four Things You Should Know About Environmental Autism Risk Factors

Archived Webinar - Strengthening Executive Function in the Early Years: Designing Environmental Scaffolds and Child-specific Interventions Webinar Series

Executive functioning, an important area of growth during the early childhood period, is critical for school readiness and success. This webinar series will present easy-to-use environmental scaffolds, growth-promoting instructional experiences and child-specific interventions woven into the daily routines to develop and strengthen executive functioning in young children, those who have or at risk for developmental delays.

Learn how to engineer easy-to-use learner-specific scaffolds and adaptations to increase access, engagement and participation of young children with special needs to enable their attainment of social-emotional, language and cognitive competence, and school readiness skills.

View the webinar here. (account creation required)


Other items

The OPI Division of Special Education has a new blog that shows special education training opportunities from the OPI and the CSPD regions. You can also subscribe to our new Special Education Trainings mailing list on this page.

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 (

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 459-5303