Week in Review - November 7, 2008

WEEK in REVIEW

New NASET Publications and Articles of Interest in Special Education That Were Reported This Week

Dear NASET Members,

Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you the latest publications from NASET for you to read and download, as well as 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 <//a>news@naset.org

Have a great weekend.
 
Sincerely,

NASET News Team

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New This Week on NASET:  The Practical Teacher & Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

 

The Practical Teacher

Strategies for Working with Emotionally Unpredictable Students 

Introduction:  Emotionally unpredictable students can often be very difficult to work with as an educator.  They can have many different issues impinging on their lives and can exhibit a wide array of behaviors.  Teaching them involves the use of effective strategies.  The focus of this issue of The Practical Teacher will be to examine strategies to use when working with emotionally unpredicatable students.

To read this issue - CLICK HERE - (login required)


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Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

Children with Asperger's Syndrome

Characteristics/Learning Styles and Intervention Strategies 

To read this issue - CLICK HERE  (login required)

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ADHD Tied To More Severe Nicotine Dependence

Young people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be particularly vulnerable to serious nicotine addiction if they start smoking, a new study suggests.Past research has shown that kids with ADHD are more likely than their peers without the disorder to start smoking. These latest findings suggest that once they do take up the habit, they also tend to become more severely nicotine-dependent, researchers report in the Journal of Pediatrics."The nicotine dependence appears to be about twice as bad," said lead researcher Dr. Timothy E. Wilens of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.The study, which included 166 15- to 25-year-olds with and without ADHD, found that those with the disorder scored significantly higher on a questionnaire that gauges physical dependence on nicotine.Their average score was double that of smokers without ADHD. To read more, click here

NASET Sponsor - RFB&D 

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 For more information - CLICK HERE 

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Official Pushes Effort To Teach Beyond MCAS

In a town known for top-notch schools, a Sharon School Committee member has launched a grassroots movement that she and other officials hope could lead to less emphasis on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System statewide."Accountability is a good thing. Learning standards are a good thing. But is focusing on one test a fair measure of student success? I think that answer is, 'No,' " said Laura Salomons, a School Committee member since May and a mother of four. Salomons has submitted a proposal that seeks community support for allowing teachers to avoid tailoring their lessons to the MCAS. Instead, she would like to see teachers directed to instruct students on skills the district has deemed necessary for survival in the 21st century, including critical thinking, invention, problem-solving, and multicultural collaboration. To read more, click here

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In N.Y., Enrollment In Gifted Programs Shrinks

The number of kids in the coveted gifted classes plunged 50% this year, as did the percentage of minorities enrolled - after the city changed the admissions process to level the playing field."I'm not surprised by the outcome," said Kim Sweet, executive director at Advocates For Children. "I think when you shift towards admission criteria that relies so heavily on standardized tests, it seems that you're bound to import some of the bias that comes with those tests." "We have taken critical steps to expand gifted and talented - including extensive outreach that has led to many, many more students being tested -but we won't compromise standards and thereby dilute our programs," he said. Thousands more children took the gifted and talented exam last year but it became clear in June that the program would be under-utilized. The Education Department dropped the passing score from 95% to 90% to get more kids into the program.To read more, click here

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Neediest of Australian Students Lose Special Funding

Schools catering to students from the most disadvantaged suburb in NSW have lost their funding under a program designed to help the state's neediest students. Claymore and Blairmount public schools, and Eagle Vale High School, all accommodating large numbers of students from the Claymore housing estate, have each lost more than $200,000 in annual funding after failing to make the cut-off for the state's Priority Action Schools program. Claymore, next to Campbelltown, was ranked the most disadvantaged suburb in NSW - except for the tiny Aboriginal community of Murrin Bridge - by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its 2006 index, a ranking it also held in the previous survey in 2001."We are gobsmacked," said Tina Crocker, the deputy principal of Claymore Public School. "We just can't understand it." To read more, click here

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It's Special Education, Indeed

In teacher Lisa Hough's classroom, pictures of letters loaded in a choo-choo train chug across the wall, and the clatter of rambunctious preschoolers livens the morning lessons. It's a typical preschool class - almost. A poster, tacked on a bookcase at kids' height, spells out the alphabet in sign language. As Hough goes over the day's activities with her pint-sized students she asks, "Did we do coloring today?" while fluttering her fingers against her chin. That's the sign for coloring. One by one, the youngsters respond, "Yes, we did coloring" out loud and in American Sign Language, and check off "coloring" on their daily planner. This is a typical day in a new preschool for deaf and hard-of-hearing children at Carter Lake Elementary School on McChord Air Force Base. To read more, click here

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Denis Leary And Autism: Apology Accepted, But Not Enough

After Denis Leary's apology for the comments he made about autistic children in his book, "Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid," autism activists say they have called off a nationwide protest but say they want a percentage of the proceeds of his book to go to help children diagnosed with autism -- either that, or deletion of the offending chapter. That chapter contains the following comments: "There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can't compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks . . . to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don't give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you -- yer kid is NOT autistic. He's just stupid. Or lazy. Or both."Autism United's statement today included the following: "Autism United acknowledges Denis Leary for his belated apology for the harm done by his statements about people with autism and their families made in his recently published book, "Why We Suck." "I feel that Denis' apology was enough," said comedian Mark Anthony Ramirez, a spokesman for Autism United and Gabby's Kids, and the father of a child diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. "But his claim that his comments were taken out of context is a veiled attempt to elicit more sales." To read more, click here

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Death Threats, Hate Mail: Autism Debate Turns Ugly

A prominent infectious disease specialist's accounts of death threats he received from vaccine opponents exposes a kind of harassment in connection to fears of a link between vaccinations and autism, vaccine researchers say. Dr. Paul Offit, medical director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a vaccination proponent, recounted his experiences to Dr. Nancy Snyderman Thursday morning on NBC's "Today" show. Snyderman said on the program that the threats Offit received included a "phone call from an unidentified man who mentioned specific and private details" about Offit's family. "And then he hung up," Offit said. "But the implication was clear -- he knew where my children went to school." To read more, click here

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These Special Olympian Have A Goal

The Aces are one of three Kern County Special Olympics floor hockey teams and one of 75 teams in Sothern California. These athletes come from all over Kern County and some have been playing floor hockey for over 20 years. The athletes range in all levels and ages from 8-80 years old. The individual challenges are as diverse as the environments from where these athletes come from. From Downs Syndrome, Autism, and brain injury, these athletes come from special education school programs, supportive employment, group homes, and traditional family settings. As our nations economy faces its challenges, so too does the Special Olympics. Fundraisers become harder to operate and donations are harder to come by as companies and individuals tighten their belts. The Kern County Special Olympics has been prudent with their funding, and most if not all the programs will continue to operate even through tough economic times. The biggest challenge facing the Kern County Special Olympics is not monetary but voluntary. There is a constant need for volunteers as coaches. About one half of Kern Counties Special Olympic coaches are comprised of parents or relatives that have family members involved as athletes. The remaining half is made up of special education teachers, and interested individuals. To read more, click here

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Tongue-Drive Wheelchair: New Assistive Technology

New assistive technology could be the key to more independence for thousands of people with disabilities. Soon, controlling their environment may be as easy as moving their tongue. Two years ago an accident left Justin Cochran paralyzed from the neck down, but he doesn't let his wheelchair get in the way of much."I know what I want to do and how I want to live my life, and I'm not going to let something like a spinal cord injury stop that," Cochran told Ivanhoe. Cochran counts on sip-and-puff systems to help him control his environment; but soon, this tiny magnet could give him more possibilities. It allows people to control wheelchairs and countless other devices by moving their tongues. "It lets them use their tongue motion and translate it to different commands," Maysam Ghovanloo, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga., told Ivanhoe. To read more, click here

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University Wins One Million Dollar Grant To Launch "Universal Design" Program

When an international student struggling to understand Larry Shelton's lectures met with the Human Development and Family Studies associate professor after class several years ago, Shelton asked if making recordings of his lectures available on his website would be helpful. The audio files Shelton began posting helped not only the struggling student, it turned out, but many other students in the class, as well. Since making a habit of posting his lectures, Shelton has received a steady flow of emails from students saying, in essence, "thank you, thank you, thank you," he says. Although he didn't know it, Shelton was experiencing first hand a principal truth about universal design for learning, a pedagogical approach gaining traction in higher education. UDL, as the approach is known, emphasizes up front planning, rather than after-the-fact retrofits, to make course material accessible to students with disabilities and other special needs. By meeting these needs in a systematic and strategic way, its advocates say, UDL helps all students learn more effectively. A three-year, $1 million U.S. Department of Education grant won by UVM's College of Education and Social Services and Center on Disability and Community Inclusion in September will speed UVM's ability to integrate UDL into its instructional ethos. To read more, click here

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Child Medication in United States Surges

U.S. Child medical prescriptions for the most common form of diabetes doubled between 2002-2005, part of a general trend of increased medication for chronic illnesses among young people, a new study showed Monday. The research, published in the US journal Pedriatrics, found that medication for type 2 diabetes for five to 19 year-olds increased by 103 percent over the period, with the increase most marked among girls (up 147 percent) compared with boys (up 38.7 percent). Prescriptions for asthma increased 46.5 percent, while those for attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity leapt 40 percent and were three times more prevalent among boys than girls. Cholesterol treatments rose 15 percent. "Prevalence of chronic medication use in children increased across all therapy classes evaluated," concluded the study, undertaken by medical insurance group Express Scripts and St. Louis University. To read more, click here

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Study Of Mice With Learning Disabilities Shows Balance In The Brain Is Key

A new study in the October 31st issue of Cell has revealed the molecular and cellular underpinnings of one of the most common, single gene causes for learning disability in humans. The findings made in learning disabled mice offer new insight into what happens in the brain when we learn and remember. While most previous studies have focused on the role of brain cells that excite other brain cells in the process of learning, the current results suggest that inhibitory neurons and a careful balance between excitatory and inhibitory signals may be just as essential, according to the researchers. They liken the role of those inhibitory and excitatory signals in the brain to the role of red and green stoplights in directing traffic." The significance of these findings is two-fold," said Alcino Silva of the University of California, Los Angeles. "First, we have in great detail the exact mechanism for one of the most common single gene causes for learning disability known. It's also a beachhead in our understanding of the balance between excitation and inhibition critical for learning." To read more, click here

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Appeals Court Enforces Time Limit on MCAT For Individuals With Disabilities

Late last week, a California Court of Appeals overturned a 2006 decision regarding disability rights made by the Alameda County Superior Court, placing time constraints on medical school applicants with learning disabilities taking the MCAT. As a result of the decision, California students with learning disabilities will not be able to request additional testing time on the MCAT, the standard medical school admissions test. "The idea that people with disabilities don't have the right to reasonable accommodations when they need them ... is horrifying," said Joshua Konecky, the lawyer who represents the disabled students. Four students initially sued the Association of American Medical Colleges, the group that sponsors the MCAT, in 2004 on charges that the organization was discriminating against those with disabilities. "AAMC made a practice of denying extended access requests to everyone who asked for them except a very few," said Konecky, who said the practice was based on a belief by the association that those who made it through college and were eligible to take the exam would not require additional resources when taking the MCAT. To read more, click here 

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Food for Thought........

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.                                                       Jacques Barzun

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