Week in Review - July 18, 2008

WEEK in REVIEW

Articles of Interest in Special Education That Were Reported This Week

 

Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with some of the most interesting issues that have happened this week in the field of special education.  We hope you enjoy this publication.  Feel free to send us articles for this publication or let us know your thoughts about the WEEK in REVIEW at news@naset.org. Also, please note that we will be on hiatus next week but will return on August 1, 2008.  Have a great weekend

Sincerely,

NASET News Team

 

Autism Gene Search Turns Up Hope for Treatment

Researchers studying more than 100 families prone to autism said they had identified at least six new genes that appear to underlie the disorder -- and said they suggest it may be possible to treat it sometimes. Their study, published in the journal Science, reinforces the common wisdom that autism is not just a single disease but can be caused by a range of genetic and environmental factors. It also showed that, at least in many of the families studied, autism appears to be caused by the combination of faulty DNA and something in the physical or social environment of an affected child after birth. To read more, click here

In Canada, Special Education Improvement to Be Explored

A new committee will look at ways of improving the quality of special education across the province. The Setting the Direction for Special Education in Alberta project, chaired by MLA Naresh Bhardwaj, will develop an interim report with recommendations by the fall of next year. It will include input from disability associations, parents of children in special education, and health care professionals. Last fall, the government looked into the files of 16,000 students with severe disabilities across 64 municipal jurisdictions. "What the review did was let Alberta Education know that jurisdictions and the ministry are interpreting information differently," said Zoe Cooper, spokesperson for Alberta Education. In some cases, documentation wasn't complete or there was no proper diagnosis in the student's file.  To read more, click here

 

Suit Filed After Bristol Special Education Placement

The family of a special-education student is suing the city, claiming it is entitled to legal fees after hiring a lawyer to challenge a decision about where the boy should attend class. The school system this week filed court documents to contest the family's claim, indicating it intends to fight the case. Details about the issues are scarce. The federal lawsuit was filed in April under the name "Mr. and Mrs. T" to keep the boy's identity secret, and schools Superintendent Philip Streifer on Thursday evening said that the matter had been turned over to city attorneys and that he would not comment on it. The suit says the boy, a 9-year-old at Stafford Elementary School, was suspended from school last fall because of "a number of behavioral incidents." The suit says the boy suffers from hyperactivity, but did not describe the incidents or say whether they involved violence or threats. The schools provided two hours a day of home education for the boy. To read more, click here

 

Depression and Anxiety in Kids

We like to believe that childhood is a happy, carefree time, that little ones have nothing weightier on their cheerful minds than the next video game or trampoline leap. The sobering reality is that anxiety and depression are sometimes childhood companions, obviously uninvited and unwelcome. As their parents' lives grow more complex, the lives of children can easily become edgy and anxious, too. Happily, there's a place in Philadelphia whose mission it is to diagnose and treat children with anxiety disorders. Eight therapists/clinicians are on the staff of Temple University's Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic, where Dr. Philip Kendall is at the helm. Dr. Kendall is an expert in this highly specialized field and has developed a national profile for the pioneering work done at Temple over the last two decades. To read more, click here

 

Emerging Technology Makes Learning More Accessible

A free, open-source online screen-reading program that gives visually impaired students the ability to surf the web from any internet-connected device, and a system that enables students with severe physical handicaps to control computers or wheelchairs with only their tongues, are among the latest developments in assistive technology (AT) that aim to lessen--if not completely obliterate--the gap between the able and the disabled. "We are seeing exciting trends that open the door to increased access with greater simplicity for less cost. The emergence of open-source tools and hardware that is easy to use will enable more people with special needs to have access to technology that will improve their quality of life," said Tracy Gray, director of the National Center for Technology Innovation, which advances learning opportunities for persons with disabilities. To read more, click here

 

In Pennsylvania, Some Believe Autism Bill is Good, But at a Price

House Bill 1150, which requires insurance companies to cover essential autism services in Pennsylvania, now is law. Gov. Ed Rendell signed the measure, championed by Speaker of the House Dennis O'Brien, R- Philadelphia, on Tuesday. It's a good bill because parents of children with autism need help. However, the Legislature must tell the rest of the story about mandates like this -- they mean extra costs for businesses and individuals. Businesses with 51 or more employees will have to provide up to $36,000 coverage for autism therapy for people under 21. Above $36,000, a Medicaid program kicks in. It's estimated that about 21,000 children have autism and related disorders. About 66 percent of them are covered by Medicaid. This bill is a good idea because it fosters parity for those trying to cope with a particularly difficult diagnosis. To read more, click here

 

Board Certification in Special Education - Available to NASET Members

Through an agreement with The American Academy of Special Education Professionals (AASEP), NASET members now have the opportunity to achieve AASEP Board Certification in Special Education - (B.C.S.E.) at a reduced fee.  AASEP Board Certification in Special Education - (B.C.S.E.) is a voluntary choice on the part of the candidate. The candidate for Board Certification wishes to demonstrate a commitment to excellence to employers, peers, administrators, other professionals, and parents. From the standpoint of the Academy, board certification will demonstrate the highest professional competency in the area of special education. Board Certification in Special Education establishes a much needed standard for professionals, across disciplines, who work with exceptional children.   For more information on Board Certification in Special Education, click here

 

Are Gifted Children Being Shortchanged Academically?

Here's the problem with public school education, as education professor Del Siegle sees it. Young children with great academic and creative potential enter school eager to learn. But because these children are already more advanced than their peers, their needs are sidelined. At some point, these children realize they are not getting much out of school and shut down. By the time they reach a grade level where they are challenged, they have lost interest. These are the dangers of marginalizing the needs of academically advanced students, Siegle said, in a time when public schools are more focused on helping low-achieving students reach proficiency, as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. To read more, click here

 

Teach India: Make Room for Special Children

Aranya is eight and in her drawings, elephants can fly. She enjoys art and has a vivid imagination, but when it comes to her studies, she struggles with writing and concentration. Aranya is suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a neuro-behavioural developmental disorder. The condition manifests itself during childhood and is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, forgetfulness, poor impulse control and distraction. Often children like Aranya are labeled 'lazy' or 'dumb' although they are neither. "My daughter is very creative. She loves painting animals and working with clay. All she needs is a little more time to grasp her lessons. It is unfortunate that in the pursuit of high scores the power of the imagination is under-estimated," says Aranya's mother. To read more, click here

 

Diagnostic Labels Need to Serve Several Functions

A recent article reported that state and local groups might remove the term "mental retardation" from their agency names. It's likely these changes will occur, as even the world's largest and oldest organization of professionals interested in mental retardation has recently changed its name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). But organizational change is slow. Even the AAIDD's flagship journal continues to be called the American Journal on Mental Retardation. If organizational change is slow, social change will be even slower. Although the AAIDD has updated the definition of mental retardation (now known as intellectual disability) 10 times in the past 100 years, hurtful diagnostic labels from centuries past (such as idiot and mental defective) continue to pepper our daily conversations. To read more, click here

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Obama Wins Endorsement of U.S. Teachers' Union

Barack Obama, the U.S. Democratic Party's presumed presidential  nominee, has won the endorsement of one of the country's largest teachers' unions. Members of the American Federation of Teachers, meeting Sunday in Chicago, voted to urge all of the union's more than one million members to support Obama in the U.S. general election in November.  Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, spoke by satellite to the union delegates afterwards to thank them for their support and discuss his education policy. He said current U.S. government policy on primary education, the so-called "No Child Left Behind" program, has been hampered by inadequate funding, and he also called for greater attention to special education programs aimed at helping children with developmental difficulties. To read more, click here

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Students with Disabilities Could Be Exempt: California Bill Would Excuse Them From H.S. Exit Exam

It's been nine months since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have helped special education students get their diplomas without having to pass the California High School Exit Exam. Now, an exemption plan for the exit exam will come before him again this summer, only in a different form: SB 1446 by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles. Similar to a CAHSEE waiver for special education students that expired in December, SB 1446 would exempt disabled students who have met all other graduation requirements from passing the exit exam in order to get their diplomas through 2009. The measure passed both the Assembly and Senate last week with a two-thirds bipartisan majority - a feat Romero described Friday as "remarkable." "We stand very strongly behind it," she said. To read more, click here

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Lessons in Living for Special Education Students

This classroom has no desks, no textbooks, no computers and no maps or posters hanging from the walls. Instead, it has a kitchen, plenty of dishes and utensils, a dinette set, a TV and DVD player, a washer and dryer unit, as well as the usual living-room complement of easy chairs and a lamp. This classroom is for those whose hardest subject is how to function day to day. The assignments include making a bed, calling someone on the phone, cooking a simple meal and doing laundry. The room is a facsimile of a studio apartment. It's one of the features of the new $25.4 million South Education Center, which recently opened in Richfield and targets special-education students and those who have trouble adapting to normal classrooms. To read more, click here

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Food for Thought........

The key to happiness is having dreams; the key to success is making them come true.

                          James Allen

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