Week in Review - March 27, 2009

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 with the latest publications from NASET 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 news@naset.org

Have a great weekend.
 
Sincerely,

NASET News Team

New This Week on NASET

NASET ADHD Series

Part # 5 - Understand How Students with ADHD are Diagnosed

ADHD is considered a neurobiological disorder. Only a licensed professional, such as a pediatrician, neuropsychologist, neurologist, or psychiatrist, should make the diagnosis that a child, teen, or adult has ADHD. These professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revised (DSM-IV-TR) as a guide (APA, 2000).

Over the last 10 years, public awareness about ADHD has led to more children and adults being diagnosed with the disorder. Some people have expressed concern that the condition is being overdiagnosed. Some parents see signs of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in their toddler long before the child enters school. The child may lose interest in playing a game or watching a TV show, or may run around completely out of control. But because children mature at different rates and are very different in personality, temperament, and energy levels, it's useful to get an expert's opinion of whether the behavior is appropriate for the child's age. Parents can ask their child's pediatrician, or a child psychologist or psychiatrist, to assess whether their toddler has an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or is, more likely at this age, just immature or unusually exuberant. The focus of this ADHD Series is to address how exactly students with ADHD are diagnosed.</font>
 
To read this issue on NASET - Click Here 
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NASET Q & A Corner 

Questions and Answers On the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS)

NIMAS is the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard, established under sections 612(a)(23)(A) and 674(e)(4) of the IDEA. The standard is a file set that includes all information typically prepared for publishing, including metadata, images and text, and is used to produce accessible instructional materials for students who are blind or who have other print disabilities. Under IDEA, all State educational agencies (SEAs) must adopt NIMAS; however, SEAs and local education agencies (LEAs) may choose whether to coordinate with the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), a national repository authorized under section 674(e) of IDEA for NIMAS files received from publishers, SEAs, and LEAs. Because implementing NIMAS and NIMAC is a very complex process, is developmental in nature, and involves the integration of two Federal laws (IDEA Parts B and D, and the Chafee Amendment of 1996 to section 121 of the Copyright Act), the Office of Special Education Programs funded two national centers, the NIMAS Development Center and the NIMAS Technical Assistance (TA) Center, to help facilitate the timely implementation of NIMAS by SEAs and LEAs.
 
The focus of this issue of the NASET Q & A Corner is to address questions pertaining to the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard.

 
To read this issue on NASET - Click Here

Quick Links To NASET

'Special Olympics' Remark By President Obama Draws Fire

Louise Mikkelsen, of Abilene, didn't see President Obama compare his bowling skills to those of Special Olympians. But she heard about it soon enough. "It made me furious," she said Friday.  Appearing on "The Tonight Show" Thursday, the president told host Jay Leno he'd been practicing at the White House's bowling alley, but wasn't happy with his score of 129. He then remarked, "It was like the Special Olympics or something." Though Mikkelsen's daughter Laurie, 50, has not participated in Special Olympics for the past two or three years, she was active in the program for more than 30 years, competing in skiing, bowling, soccer and equestrian contests. Mikkelsen said she believes that Laurie, who is deaf and mentally challenged, "accomplished a great deal" in the time she was a Special Olympian.  And if she has a really good game, she can hit a bowling score of 140-145. "I would dearly love to tell him face-to-face that Laurie can outbowl him," Mikkelsen said of Obama's comments. Obama contacted Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, to say he was sorry -- even before the taped program aired late Thursday night. To read more, click here

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Shriver: "Words Hurt And Words Matter"

Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver accepted Pres. Obama's apology for framing the organization and its athletes in a derogatory way during his appearance last night on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.Obama told Leno that his notoriously weak bowling game is "like the Special Olympics or something," an insult that overshadowed the president's otherwise relaxed -- perhaps too relaxed -- visit to the show. It was Obama's first late night appearance as a sitting president. Obama called Shriver to apologize. Shriver in a statement posted online today suggested Obama hire a Special Olympics athlete to work in the White House, and he graciously suggested that the president's disrespectful offhand remark could be a "teachable moment" for the nation. To read more, click here

Board of Education Concerned About Special Diploma With No GPA Requirement

Members of the Kingsport Board of Education are getting some details of Tennessee's revamped high school graduation requirements and related mandates. They're not pleased that some less-than- stellar math students may be caught between special education and good math students, while career technical education students can avoid foreign language requirements if a school system agrees. And don't get them started about the "Honors" diploma that has no minimum grade point average requirement. Damon Cathey, director of curriculum for Kingsport City Schools, gave the BOE a rundown of details of the graduation requirements and elective focus areas during a Thursday night work session. To read more, click here

Opinion: Parents, Not Money, Real Key To Quality Education

The column "Return on investment" in last Sunday's Opinion section focused primarily on Florida's failure to adequately fund public education. The writer seems to conclude that even with today's difficult economic conditions in our state we have to find ways to provide additional funds for our public schools, since it's the only way to provide quality education. The writer, of course, doesn't quantify the amount of additional funds that would be needed in Marion County to provide this quality education. He does estimate that a $100 tax increase on each land parcel in Marion County would raise $28 million each year. "It would go a long way towards solving the problem," he says, but he doesn't say it's enough. I would gladly pay the additional $100 for my share if that would provide the quality education that Marion County fails to provide. To read more, click here

Michigan Could Require Insurance Coverage For Autism

Could Michigan be the next state to mandate insurance coverage for autism? Several autism advocacy groups and handfuls of activist parents from across the nation think so, as a lawsuit against the state's largest insurer to force it to pay for autism treatments moves forward in federal court in Detroit and as state lawmakers re-introduce legislation to do the same. The tide is changing nationally: eight states have enacted legislation in the last two years to require insurance companies to cover autism treatments. They are: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. Florida's law takes effect April 1, making it the first in the nation. "We know that with early intervention all children are helped. Not everyone with chemotherapy gets better. With autism half will improve and be mainstreamed, the other half will make improvements where they won't have to be institutionalized," said Elizabeth Emken of Autism Speaks, a national advocacy group which has undertaken autism insurance reform in all 50 states. To read more, click here

Board Ceritification 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

Advocates For Gifted Children Wary Of Losing State Funds

Some school advocates fear that Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's education reform plans will cut in half the funds earmarked for gifted programs. His budget proposal, they say, will also eliminate funds that pay for testing to identify gifted youth. "In all likelihood, if this plan goes through as is, services will be eliminated in many districts, especially the poorer, rural districts," said Ann Sheldon, executive director of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children. But state officials say the budget proposal gives school districts more funding and more flexibility to spend state dollars on "enrichment" activities, which can include gifted programs but also can include such items as class trips, Advance Placement courses and after-school clubs. Enrichment funds would average $200 per student enrolled in a district, said Amanda Wurst, Strickland's spokeswoman. "The governor wanted to provide flexibility for school districts to utilize this money for their needs," she said. "This will be the first time the state will be specifically providing enrichment resources to school districts." To read more, click here

'Brain Gym' Session Helps Children With Disabilities

Exercises that incorporate the careful twining of young arms and legs can help calm and focus young minds and promote better learning among children with disabilities, officials say. The Brain Gym seminar at Providence Medical Center's Swindells Children's Center was filled to capacity Friday as parents, grandparents and foster parents learned a series of brain/body exercises taught by Carla Judge, educational and neuro-kinesiology practitioner and licensed Brain Gym instructor. Exercises taught at the two-day parent workshop Friday and Saturday were designed to help adults learn simple physical moves that can help their child learn to read, write, listen and focus better in school and at home, said Kathy Keese, resource consultant for Providence. "This is beneficial for all children - and adults, too," said Keese. "It teaches them how to feel more focused. How to slow things down and center." This was the first of other free Brain Gym training sessions that will be offered to local families, said Ann Saraceno, Swindells Children's Center director. To read more, click here

With Special Education Funding, The Numbers Can Be a Moving Target

Juggling the cost of Framingham's special education services have officials balancing the needs of students, the realities of finance and the schools' legal responsibilities. "It leaves us in a moral education dilemma," said Director of Special Education Pam Kaufman, who noted if the schools don't get enough funding next year, they may need to pull resources from traditional education to meet obligations for special ed. "It's very frustrating. I'd like to think we have a shared educational vision for all students." Part of the issue is handling the district's responsibilities to its special education students - who number about a fifth of the entire school population, and receive some level of service that totals about $15 million this year. State law requires schools to meet the needs of students requiring special ed services, and if a district can't do that, it is responsible for connecting those kids to those programs. The idea is to keep students together with their peers at their home district, or at the least, as close to home as possible, said Edward Gotgart, the schools' director of business administration. To read more, click here

Hyperbaric Treatment Shows Promise For Autism

Children with autism may benefit from a series of treatments in a pressurized chamber with boosted oxygen levels. The results of small trial indicate that hyperbaric oxygen therapy, as it's called, improves language ability, social interaction, and other functions in such children. The trial involved 62 children, from 2 to 7 years of age, diagnosed with autistic disorder. Dr. Daniel A. Rossignol, from the International Child Development Resource Center in Melbourne, Florida, and colleagues, randomly assigned the children to 40 one-hour sessions of hyperbaric therapy or sham treatment. The hyperbaric group was treated with 24 percent oxygen at a pressure of 1.3 atmospheres while the comparison group received a normal level of oxygen (21 percent) in a slightly pressured room (1.03 atmospheres). To be safe, the active treatment was actually a relatively low level of hyperbaric therapy; treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, for instances, is usually given at 2 atmospheres with 100 percent oxygen. The team found that, compared with the sham treatment, hyperbaric therapy significantly improved the kids' overall functioning, grasp of language, social interaction, and eye contact. To read more, click here

NASA Technology Treats ADHD

Simple transitions can become inexplicably complicated, normal interactions can be laced with vitriol, and household peace can often seem to be a fleeting dream. It's no wonder that parents turn to what they hope will be the panacea of medication to try to find a balance between the needs of the child and the strains imposed by the disorder. Medication, although effective in 80 percent of cases, helping those who take it to focus more easily and concentrate more, comes with its own litany of problems often in the form of side effects like increased irritability, mood swings, weight loss and in some cases, impaired liver function. Many people are turning to neurofeedback as a far more enduring and healthier alternative to quick fix medications. Anthony Silver, a Westport neurotherapist, says that neurofeedback is just as effective a treatment modality, without the side effects of drugs like Ritalin, which are really no more than amphetamines packaged for kids. To read more, click here

'Square Peg' Students More Often Targets Of Bullies

In a school system designed for round holes, "square pegs" often get bullied. Sometimes that "squareness" is simply red hair or glasses, or being a goth or geek. Other times, it's more complicated. Studies show students with learning disorders or attention problems are especially vulnerable to bullying. Author and educator Richard Lavoie says that's because these students may have a hard time negotiating the maze of social interactions and "hidden curriculum" in the schools. When we think about learning disabilities we think about kids who have trouble reading or doing math. But there are a myriad of less obvious learning differences - like ADHD, Aspergers, Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NLD), Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder - that also cause difficulties outside the classroom - in the halls, recess, bus and lunchrooms. Their "differently wired brains" may make these kids too honest, socially awkward or have difficulties managing their own reactions and emotions. To read more, click here

Children Face Rejection By Neighborhood Schools In Manhattan

When Jeanne Shapiro received two letters on Saturday from Public School 290 on the Upper East Side, where she always assumed she would send her twin daughters, her husband cracked a joke about the way thin envelopes from college admissions offices tended to bear bad news. Mrs. Shapiro just laughed; P.S. 290 was a block and a half from the family's apartment, she figured, and every New Yorker knows that an address in a good school zone is tantamount to a guaranteed kindergarten seat. But the letters said the 5-year-olds had been placed on a waiting list for the school, on East 82nd Street. "We were so flabbergasted we missed our stop on our elevator," Mrs. Shapiro said. "We didn't even push the button because we didn't even believe what we were reading."The Shapiro twins were among about three dozen children put on a waiting list at P.S. 290 in what parents and public officials in some of New York's priciest precincts fear will become the first season in which Manhattan children will be turned away from their neighborhood schools. The combination of overcrowded classrooms in neighborhoods newly inundated with young children, a recession that is causing some families to rethink expensive private schools, and a new citywide admissions process that requires people to sign up for kindergarten earlier has spread fear of lotteries and rejections across playgrounds and online discussion groups. To read more, click here

Premature Birth Risk Higher For Pregnant Women Taking SSRIs Or Suffering From Untreated Depression

Untreated major depression, as well as the use of antidepressant medications, may increase the risk for premature (preterm) birth, but the risk of other problems in fetuses such as breathing, gastrointestinal, or motor problems, may not be increased, according to a study of pregnant women published online ahead of print March 15, 2009, in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Use of antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), is common among women of childbearing age. Although there is some concern regarding the use of SSRIs during pregnancy and their effects on the growing fetus, research results have been mixed. Overall, it appears the risk for major birth defects is very low, but the risk for other complications, such as minor physical anomalies-a specific type of birth defect-or preterm birth (before 37 weeks gestation), has not been consistently established. Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues aimed to determine whether the use of SSRIs or the existence of major depression during pregnancy was associated with minor physical anomalies in the baby, low infant birth weight, preterm birth or other issue. To read more, click here

Youths Exposed To HIV Before Birth Have Higher Chance Of Developing Psychiatric Disorders

Youths who were exposed to HIV before birth, especially those who were born HIV positive, have a high chance of developing psychiatric disorders, according to an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print February 27, 2009, in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has dramatically reduced the transmission of HIV during pregnancy, resulting in very low rates of new HIV infections among infants born in the United States. The advent of ART has also allowed children born with HIV to live longer and healthier lives. As a result, a large number of HIV+ youth are now reaching adolescence, a time when psychiatric disorders are likely to emerge and risky behaviors become more common. Claude Ann Mellins, Ph.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, and colleagues examined the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in 340 children in New York City, ages 9 to 16, who had been exposed to HIV before birth. Of these children, 206 were HIV+ and 134 were HIV negative (HIV-). Both the children and primary caregivers were interviewed for this study. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

There are 3 D's in life: Desire, Determination, and Dedication. You need all 3 to go somewhere...but it all starts with the 4th D...Dream.                                                                                 Author Unknown

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