Week in Review - November 13, 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

Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

Articles on Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

This last part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Series provides  you with a variety of newspaper, magazine, and online articles on every aspect of Autism. Many sites contain numerous articles for you to read and gather information. We hope that you have enjoyed the Autism Spectrum Disorder Series and that the information has been helpful in working with students with this special need. 

 
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Parent Teacher Conference Handouts

Least Restrictive Environment Placements

There may be times when a parent of a child with special needs may ask you about alternate placements. If this occurs you will need to provide the parents with information on the least restrictive environment. The concept of least restrictive environment (LRE) applies to the placement of disabled students in the most advantageous educational placement suitable for their needs . Contrary to the belief of many teachers and parents, LRE does not mean every disabled student being placed in a regular classroom. The concept should be fully understood by special education teachers so that they can relieve the anxiety of teachers, parents and students when it comes to appropriate educational placement. The placement of disabled students is the responsibility of the Committee on Special Education (Eligibility Committee, IEP Committee depending on the state in which you live)  with the input of staff and consent of parents. The Eligibility Committee must analyze all the available information and determine the best "starting placement" for the child that will ensure success and provide the child with the highest level of stimulation and experience for his specific disability and profile of strengths and weaknesses.
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Quick Links To NASET

Writing Study Ties Autism To Motor-Skill Problems

Many children with autism not only struggle with social skills and communication, they also have great difficulty with handwriting, according to a new study in the journal Neurology.
Researchers compared 14 typical children with 14 diagnosed with mild autism - and found that the children with autism had much more difficulty forming letters."It was really striking," says Amy Bastian, a neuroscientist who directs the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. The finding offers scientific evidence of something parents have been saying for years, says Barbara Wagner, whose son Austin, 14, was one of the children on the autism spectrum who took part in the study. Wagner says Austin's struggle with handwriting began when he got to first grade. "He would have nights when it took three hours to do homework," she says. Austin is bright and understood the assignments, Wagner says. What was hard for him was the act of writing. "He doesn't actually write like you or I would write," Wagner says. "He draws his letters. It was almost painful to watch." To read more, click here

Can Drugs Help College Sudents Get Great Grades?

College students are using drugs. Astonished? You should be. Academic doping - the usage of cognitive enhancing drugs - is compounding on college campuses, and preventative methods are unrealistic, suggests a study in the October edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics. And according to the account of a recent Northwestern graduate, using them can feel necessary. Healthy students use drugs prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder, dementia, and schizophrenia for the purpose of enhanced focus, mental clarity, and improved memory retention. This practice, known as nootropics, is spurring ethical and logistical questions: Is nootropic usage unfair to other students? Can it be curtailed? To read more, click here

Clinical Tests Begin on Medication to Correct Fragile X Defect

NIH-supported scientists at Seaside Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass., are beginning a clinical trial of a potential medication designed to correct a central neurochemical defect underlying Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability. There has to date been no medication that could alter the disorder's neurologic abnormalities. The study will evaluate safety, tolerability, and optimal dosage in healthy volunteers. The work is the outcome of basic research that traced how an error in the fragile X mental retardation gene (FMR1) leads to changes in brain connections, called synapses. The changes in turn appear to be the mechanism for learning deficits in Fragile X syndrome. The new trial tests Seaside Therapeutics' novel compound, STX107, that selectively and potently targets the synaptic defect. Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said, "This project is the culmination of years of fundamental research, first identifying the genetic mutation and later deciphering the biochemical consequences of this mutation. Now, with the initiation of this first clinical study, we move one step closer to understanding how this novel candidate may play a critical role in improving the lives of individuals with Fragile X Syndrome." To read more, click here

White House Calls For Overhaul On Education Programs

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a speech late last month that college programs geared toward preparing teachers are "cash cows" that need "revolutionary change." He cited both the universities that offer these programs and the government as failing the country's future teachers. According to an Associated Press report from late October, Duncan said large enrollment in these universities and low overhead make the programs inept because funding has been cast toward smaller graduate programs rather than training teachers. Duncan said state governments have been insufficient in properly testing teachers before licensing them, testing with written exams only and not ensuring classroom-ready experience. To read more, click here

NYC DISTRICT 75

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Virtual Reality Games Could Help Bullying Victims

Virtual reality games could help children to escape victimisation and bullying at school, according to researchers at the University of Warwick. Children who took part in a three-week anti-bullying virtual learning intervention in schools in the UK and Germany showed a 26% decrease in victimisation. In the study, published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Maria Sapouna and Professor Dieter Wolke from Warwick Medical School and the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick led a team of researchers to examine the effects of an anti-bullying virtual learning intervention called FearNot! The team recruited 1,129 children aged between eight and nine from 27 primary schools across the UK and Germany. They split the children into intervention and control groups. The intervention group took part in three sessions, interacting individually with the FearNot! software. Each session lasted around 30 minutes over a three-week period. The children were assessed on self-report measures of victimisation before and after the intervention. To read more, click here

When Is A Fetus Able To Survive Outside The Womb?

When a fetus is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy, due to associated problems like a poorly developed heart, health concerns as severe as brain damage can result.The condition, known as Intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), prompts doctors to use ultrasound to track a baby's health and determine the best time for delivery. But these measurements are often incomplete, and obstetricians have had to rely on educated guesses about the strength of a fetus's circulatory system. Now, thanks to new research from Tel Aviv University, IUGR babies will have a better chance for a healthy life. To read more, click here

Judge Refuses To Halt Hawaii Teacher Furloughs

Though conceding it was a close call, a federal judge refused to halt Hawaii's teacher furloughs, and called on the state and lawyers for parents who filed two lawsuits to quickly reach an out-of-court settlement. The decision by senior U.S. judge Wallace Tashima on Monday to deny a preliminary injunction allows the state Department of Education to close schools for 14 more Fridays during the current school year. Three furlough days have already passed. Carl Varady, one of the two lead attorneys for parents who had sued to stop the forced unpaid days off, said he will appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Tashima acknowledged before announcing his ruling that children with autism and other special education students were suffering irreparable harm by losing 17 school days this year, said lawyer Carl Varady. To read more, click here

Intel Reader Takes Printed Text And Reads It Aloud

Intel is introducing a mobile device designed to help people who have difficulty reading printed text. Intel's Reader device, which is about the size of a paperback book and is powered by Intel's Atom processor, takes printed text, converts it to digital text and then reads it out loud to the reader. The Intel Reader, introduced Nov. 10, can be used in conjunction with the chip maker's Portable Capture Station, which can take and store large amounts of text-such as the chapter of a book or an entire book-to be read later. The Reader includes a high-resolution camera that lets users point, shoot and listen to the printed text being read. The device is aimed at helping those with such reading impairments as dyslexia or who have vision problems, including blindness. There are about 55 million people in the United States with disabilities that make difficult or impossible to read printed text, according to Intel. To read more, click here

NIH Awards More Than 50 Grants To Boost Search For Causes, Improve Treatments For Autism

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded more than 50 autism research grants, totaling more than $65 million, which will be supported with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funds. These grants are the result of the largest funding opportunity for research on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to date, announced in March 2009. Awards were based on the quality of the proposed study and how well it addressed short-term research objectives detailed in the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee's (IACC's) Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research. "These studies currently hold the best promise of revealing what causes autism, how it might be prevented, what treatments are effective, and how service needs change across the lifespan-questions noted in the IACC strategic plan as critically important to improving the lives of people with ASD and their families. The Recovery Act funding makes it possible to do the type of innovative research necessary to find these answers more quickly," said Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of NIH, and IACC chair. To read more, click here

NASET Offering Members Two Million Dollar Educator's Liability Insurance

Every day, special educators are faced with the stresses and potential liability issues involved in dealing with children with special needs. As a result you may be vulnerable to lawsuits, which have been on the rise over the last few years, from parents, or students themselves. In the past decade, the number of suits filed against educators and administrators has risen dramatically, causing the cost of insurance to increase as well. While some special educators may feel that they do not need this type of coverage and they are protected by their district, they should think twice. Even if you are 100% innocent of the charges or accusations, legal costs alone could run into the thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. In special education today, parents - and students - are more aware of their rights, and the laws that govern special education and hold teachers/educators to high standards. Don't try to convince yourself that the expense of your professional and public liability protection is unnecessary or unjustified. Experience shows that the cost of such coverage is by far lower than the risk a teacher takes by not having such protection. Why take a chance for less than $10.00 a month? To learn more about educator liability insurance available through NASET and our partnership with the Association of American Educators (AAE), click here

Drug Candidate For Treating Spinal Muscular Atrophy Identified

A chemical cousin of the common antibiotic tetracycline might be useful in treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a currently incurable disease that is the leading genetic cause of death in infants. This is the finding of a research collaboration involving Adrian Krainer, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and scientists from Paratek Pharmaceuticals and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. SMA is caused by mutations in a gene called Survival of Motor Neuron 1 (SMN1), resulting in a decrease in the levels of SMN protein in the motor neurons of the spinal cord -- the cells that control muscle activity. Without the protein, these neurons degenerate, and infants born with the mutations progressively lose the ability to move, swallow, and breathe. There are no approved therapies for the treatment of SMA, which affects approximately 1 in 6,000 babies born in the United States. To read more, click here

Change IDEA, Task Force Says

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is up for congressional reauthorization in 2010, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) last week released a report that offers data and insight and makes recommendations. For example, between 1995 and 2004, the number of students receiving IDEA services rose from 5.1 million to more than 6.1 million, "and the largest increase occurred for students in middle level and high schools," the report says. The study also points out that English-language learners are overrepresented in special education classes, suggesting that most teachers have difficulty distinguishing students with learning disabilities from students struggling for other reasons, such as limited English. The report was the work of the NASSP's National Task Force on IDEA, which was formed in 2007 to help develop specific recommendations. To read more, click here

Kids' Brain Development Charted As They Grow Up: First MRI Data Release On Young Children, Brain Chemistry

A landmark, multisite NIH-funded neuroimaging study of brain development in healthy, normally-developing children has posted its third release of data. This is the first release from the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study to include data from very young children - birth to 4 years old - and snapshots of brain chemistry at key developmental milestones. The data is accessible to qualified researchers via the NIH Pediatric MRI Data Repository website. Increasingly, NIH-funded researchers are being encouraged to share their raw data - not just report their research findings in journals. To facilitate this, data sharing infrastructure is being created in certain fast-developing fields. For example, to optimize use of burgeoning knowledge about autism, NIMH is leading a multi-Institute effort to develop a National Database for Autism Research (NDAR). Through this web resource, the broad autism research community will exchange data, tools, and other research-related information. Similarly, through its data repository, the multi-institute NIH Pediatric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development is sharing scan data and clinical/behavioral measures from a representative sample of healthy, typically-developing children, and providing researchers access to shared image processing tools. The study collected data between 2001 and 2007 from more than 500 children, spanning infancy to young adulthood, at 3-10 time points. Data is being released in stages. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

One of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled but few are educated.
                                 Thomas Moore

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