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The MSHA Convention has moved to April in 2024!

Registration Coming Soon!

When:  Friday, April 19, 2024

Where: Conference Rooms at Scheels, 1121 Shiloh Crossing Boulevard, Billings, MT, 59102

When: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm

Please join us for an exceptional one-day in-person live event

Ride-share/housing-share interest form here.

Our Speakers:

Katja Piscitelli, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and owner of Total Spectrum Speech Therapy Inc, a neurodiversity affirming private practice located in Sacramento, California. Katja and therapists at Total Spectrum specialize in supporting autistic students with language development, specifically gestalt language development and AAC use. Katja also educates parents and professionals on gestalt language, AAC, and neurodiversity on her Instagram platform, @bohospeechie. 

Disclosures: For financial disclosures, Ms. Piscitelli is receiving an honorarium for her presentation. She also receives a commission for sales of online courses on Meaningful Speech. For non-financial disclosures, she is the owner of the private practice, Total Spectrum Speech Therapy Inc. 

Dr. Thomas Flass is a pediatric physician board certified in both Pediatrics and Pediatric Gastroenterology. Prior to medical school he received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in human nutrition and worked in the nutrition and wellness industry. He believes in a “food first” philosophy of medicine and is currently getting certified in Functional Medicine. He has lived and practiced in Montana since 2012. 

Disclosures: For financial disclosures, Dr. Flass is receiving an honorarium for his presentation. He is a published author and receives royalties from his books, Eating for Two- The Nutrition Pediatrician Guide to Building a Smarter, Healthier Baby During Pregnancy, and Feeding Our Children: A Comprehensive Guide For Having A Healthy Thriving Child During Their First Thousand Days And Beyond. He also works for the company Aware Families, LLC. Dr. Flass has no non-financial disclosures. 

Dr. Johanna Thompson has had the honor of practicing in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for over 15 years. She treats a variety of patients, but focuses mostly on feeding difficulties in infants. She enjoys being a resource to families during this difficult time by providing education and support during and after the NICU stay. She is a Certified Neonatal Therapist and has been certified in infant massage for over ten years. Johanna is a certified Lactation Specialist and is NOMAS (Neonatal Oral-Motor Assessment Scale) trained for feeding. She recently completed her Doctorate of OT at the University of Montana and is an Assistant Professor at Rocky Mountain College. Johanna has run a virtual statewide support group for new moms for the past three years to help with the transition into motherhood and support maternal mental health. When not working, she is a mom of two very busy kids and enjoys fly fishing, floating the river and attending every school concert, swim meet and dance competition. 

Disclosures: For financial disclosures, Dr. Thompson is receiving an honorarium for this presentation. She has no non-financial disclosures. 

Choose from two tracks: 

Track One 

All Day

Gestalt Language Processing and Neurodiversity Affirming Practices by Katja Piscitelli-Introductory Level, 9:30-5:30

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the differences between analytic and gestalt language processing

  2. Identify the signs that a student is a gestalt language processor

  3. Describe the stages of natural language acquisition (NLA)

  4. Identify strategies to move students through the NLA stages towards self-generated, novel language

  5. Perform language sample scoring for gestalt language processors

  6. Write goals to support gestalt language processing development

  7. Explain how to support gestalt processors who use AAC devices

  8. Describe the neurodiversity movement and what it means to be a neurodiversity affirming provider

Time Ordered Agenda for Track One

9:20-9:30 AM:      Opening Remarks by MSHA Convention Committee

9:30-10:45 AM:        Gestalt language processing, Analytic language processing, and Natural Language Acquisition, Stage 1  

10:45-11 AM:           Morning Break

11 AM-12:30 PM:     Natural Language Acquisition Stages 2-4, Question and Answer 

12:30 -2:00 PM:       Lunch Break

2-3:45 PM:               Language Sample Scoring, Assessment, Goal Writing, and AAC Discussion 

3:45-4 PM:               Afternoon Break

4-5 PM:                    Neurodiversity and Neuro-divergent Affirming Practices 

5-5:30 PM:              Question and Answer

Track Two

Morning Presentation 

The Importance of Proper Feeding in the First Thousand Days: Early Life Nutrition Impact on Lifelong Health by Dr. Thomas Flass- Intermediate Level, 9:30 AM-12:30 PM

Course Description: This course is meant to instruct the provider on the importance of proper feeding and early life nutrition in child development. A better understanding of the “why” and “what” of infant and early childhood nutrition helps inform the all important “how” of feeding a child. What nutrients and foods are important at certain stages and why? How do we help ensure that children are getting these foods and nutrients? 

Learning Objectives: 

Participants will be able to…

1.Identify the role of proper feeding and nutrition in childhood outcomes

2.Explain the concepts of epigenetics and the gut microbiome in relation to child health outcomes and neurodevelopment

3.Demonstrate how feeding disorders and impairments affect nutrition and health outcomes

Time Ordered Agenda for Track Two- Morning Presentation:

9:20-9:30 AM:         Opening Remarks by the MSHA Convention Committee

9:30-10:45 AM:       Introduction and the “First Thousand Days” concept; 

                                Epigenetics and the role of the early diet

10:45-11 AM:          Morning Break

11 AM-12:30 PM:    The importance of the microbiome and early diet effects; Dangers of nutrient deficits in early development; 

Early recognition and treatment of feeding disorders and deficits, to improve outcomes

12:30-2:00 AM:       Lunch Break

Track Two 

Afternoon Presentation

Nourishing New Beginnings: Feeding Success Post-NICU by Dr. Johanna Thompson, OT- Intermediate Level, 2:00-5:30 PM

Course Description: The session will focus on feeding in the NICU and in the transition into the community. The course will explore examples of changes in neurodevelopment  and how neurodevelopmental changes can impact infant feeding in the acute and later stages. The session will also cover resources and assessments to support positive feeding outcomes. The psychosocial impacts of the family will be explored to gain a better understanding of the impact that feeding can have after NICU discharge. 

Learning Objectives

  1. Learners will identify how changes in brain development can impact feeding success. 

  2. Learners will be able to list 2 feedings assessments that can be used in their setting. 

  3. Learners will be able to describe psychosocial aspects of feeding and how it can impact parental relationships. 

Time Ordered Agenda for Track 2- Afternoon Presentation

2-3:45 PM      Overview of the NICU and impact on neurodevelopment related to feeding;

                       Research on feeding outcomes after the NICU; Discussion of age-appropriate standardized assessments

3:45-4 PM      Afternoon Break

4-5:30PM       Parent stories and the parent experience with feeding difficulties; Discussion of some limitations to feeding success and                        how to support these in the outpatient setting; Questions and Answers and Discussion of Mentorship Opportunities


ASHA CE Provider approval and use of the Brand Block does not imply endorsement of course content, specific products, or clinical procedures. This course is for full credit only, for the full 6 hours of content. There is not an option for partial credit. Delivery is live and in-person only. There is not an option to attend virtually or access recorded content. 

What’s in the bag?   MSLH Foundation Fundraiser

All proceeds from this fundraiser go to the MSL Foundation,

which supports student scholarships and  community outreach.

MSLH will have up to 50 small bags available for purchase for $25 each.

Each person that buys a bag gets a ticket to put in for the grand prize(s). 

You must be present at the conference to buy a bag but if you want to participate you can still buy a

ticket for the grand prize drawings online, or in person the day of the conference.

To buy a ticket online via PayPal or check, please contact Kristy Foss.

Grand Prize Drawing: April 19, 2024 during the afternoon break.

Grand prizes-

To be announced!


Thanks to the Montana Autism Education Program (MAEP)

through the Office of Public Instruction

for providing some scholarships to this event!

Thanks to our exhibitors:



    Does your business belong here? 

MSHA is currently seeking sponsors or donors for our convention. 

Contact or to sponsor this conference! 

Sponsorship levels and more information available in our store on the website.



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