Week in Review - October 29, 2010



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

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New This Week on NASET

Q & A Corner 

Overview of Early Intervention for Parents  

Broadly speaking, early intervention services are specialized health, educational, and therapeutic services designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers, from birth through age two, who have a developmental delay or disability, and their families. At the discretion of each State, services can also be provided to children who are considered to be at-risk of developing substantial delays if services are not provided. Sometimes it is known from the moment a child is born that early intervention services will be essential in helping the child grow and develop. Often this is so for children who are diagnosed at birth with a specific condition or who experience significant prematurity, very low birth weight, illness, or surgery soon after being born. Even before heading home from the hospital, this child's parents may be given a referral to their local early intervention office. Some children have a relatively routine entry into the world, but may develop more slowly than others, experience set backs, or develop in ways that seem very different from other children. For these children, a visit with a developmental pediatrician and a thorough evaluation may lead to an early intervention referral, as well. However a child comes to be referred, assessed, and determined eligible-early intervention services provide vital support so that children with developmental needs can thrive and grow. The focus of this issue of NASET's Q & A Corner is to provide educators with a handout for parents on early intervention

To read or download this issue - Click here    
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Resolving Disputes with Parents

Mediation

In this Issue:
 IDEA require public agencies (school systems) to establish and implement procedures to make mediation available to parents and public agencies to resolve a dispute involving any matter arising under Part B, including matters arising prior to the filing of a due process complaint. Mediation is entirely voluntary. This issue of Resolving Disputes with Parents provides a summary of the mediation process.

To read or download this issue - Click here 
    
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NASET Special Educator e-Journal

November 2010

In this Issue:
 
Update from the U.S. Department Education: "Call to Service" Lecture at Harvard University by Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
Legislative Announcements
Germs at Your Fingertips!: Contaminated Keyboards in the Special Education Classroom.  By Kathy Espinoza
Calls to Participate
Update From The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
Latest Employment Opportunities Posted on NASET
Special Education Resources
Upcoming Conferences, Workshops, and Events
 Get Wired! Websites and Listservs
Funding Forecast and Award Opportunities
Acknowledgements 

To read or download this issue - Click here 

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    State Hits Detroit Public Schools for Over 5 Million Dollars for Children with Disabilities

    The educational system for the city's children with disabilities is in such disarray the state has taken the extraordinary step of withholding federal money from the Detroit Public Schools.

    The man in charge of fixing the system - Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb - received a letter from the state Department of Education dated Sept. 2, informing him that the state would block nearly $5 million in cash because of persistent noncompliance with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Never before has the state instituted a financial sanction for noncompliance involving students with disabilities, state officials said. "It is completely unacceptable for students not to receive the services" they're supposed to, said Dr. Eleanor E. White, director of the Michigan Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services. "These children have a constitutional right to a good education. It's an entitlement. We take that very seriously." To read more, click here 

    When Will States Spend Their Special Education Money?

    The Department of Education generates regular reports on states and their stimulus spending. But it shows every education program, not just stimulus funds for special education. So I took the most recent report, from August 6, deleted all the other programs and created a PDF file that shows where states are in drawing down their special education stimulus funds. So far, about 43 percent of the Part B allocation to the states has been spent; that's the largest portion of federal funding for special education, and it's used for students ages 6 to 21. About 36 percent of the section 619 preschool stimulus grant money, which would be used for children ages 3 to 5, has been spent. And about 45 percent of the Part C stimulus grant for babies and toddlers has been spent. Altogether, states received about $12.3 billion in special education funding, and have spent about 43 percent of it. To read more, click here 

    New York City Delays Plan to Release Ratings of Teachers Based on Test Scores

    A battle that erupted in Los Angeles this summer over the public release of teacher ratings is flaring in New York this week and could become prominent in the debate over school reform efforts nationwide. Last Wednesday, New York City education officials announced plans to provide news organizations ratings on teachers that are derived from calculations on how much year-to-year progress their students make on standardized tests. But on Thursday, a city education spokeswoman said, officials put that plan on hold for several weeks while a state court considers a teachers union petition to block the release. At issue is disclosure of records that include the names of thousands of teachers. "We think the public has a right to the information," city education spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said. She said the ratings are used in tenure and other personnel decisions. They cover about 12,000 teachers from fourth through eighth grades, she said, a significant portion of the workforce in the nation's largest school system. To read more, click here 

    Natural Killer Cells May Limit Inflammation in Central Nervous System

    Scientists at Barrow Neurological Institute have recently made discoveries about a type of cell that may limit inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS) -- a finding that could have important implications in the treatment of brain disorders such as multiple sclerosis. The research, led by Barrow's Fu-Dong Shi, MD, PhD, was published in the August 2010 issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine, and simultaneously highlighted in Nature.Dr. Shi directs the Neuroimmunology Laboratory and Flow Cytometry Core Facility at Barrow. One of his research interests is natural killer (NK) cells, a type of immune cell that destroys tissue that has been infected by pathogens and malignant cells. While recent research has shed more light on the role of NK cells in other parts of the body, Dr. Shi's research is unveiling important discoveries about how NK cells work in the CNS. To read more, click here

    Did You Know That.....

    Postsecondary education is no longer a fantasy for individuals with disabilities; it is a reality occurring with greater frequency than ever before in this country.

    Obsessing Over Strep Throat in Kids: Research Links Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to Common Childhood Illness

    A common infection in children, strep throat can lead to problems with a child's heart, joints or brain if left untreated. And when the brain is involved, motor and mental functioning may be compromised, leading to syndromes such as attention deficit disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While scientists have speculated on a link between OCD and childhood infections like strep for more than two decades, Prof. Daphna Joel and her team of researchers at Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology have now scientifically demonstrated that strep can lead to brain dysfunction and OCD. Dr. Joel says their breakthrough could lead to new drugs for treating OCD, and may in the future prevent the psychiatric disorder altogether. To read more, click here 

    Washington D.C. Lays Off Special Education Staff

    The District cut 24 staff from its "non public" special education unit Friday, in an effort to reduce one of its biggest expenses: transportation and private school tuition for special needs students, which cost about a quarter-billion dollars a year. In a statement, DCPS said it will save about $1.2 million annually with the cuts, which involve staff that work on private placement for students whose needs cannot be met in D.C. public schools. Much of that is now handled by First Home Care, an outside contractor, the statement said. It would appear that DCPS still has some cutting to do. An analysis by the office of Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi found that the system is facing a projected $30 million in overspending in the current fiscal year, primarily in special education at the public school level.The city is running a projected $175 million shortfall. Earlier this month, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty mandated $6.5 million in cuts, on top of a hiring freeze and a 10 percent reduction in supplies and materials. School officials have yet to say how they will deal with that directive. To read more, click here 

    Younger Brains Are Easier to Rewire -- Brain Regions Can Switch Functions

    A new paper from MIT neuroscientists, in collaboration with Alvaro Pascual-Leone at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, offers evidence that it is easier to rewire the brain early in life. The researchers found that a small part of the brain's visual cortex that processes motion became reorganized only in the brains of subjects who had been born blind, not those who became blind later in life. The new findings, described in the Oct. 14 issue of the journal Current Biology, shed light on how the brain wires itself during the first few years of life, and could help scientists understand how to optimize the brain's ability to be rewired later in life. That could become increasingly important as medical advances make it possible for congenitally blind people to have their sight restored, said MIT postdoctoral associate Marina Bedny, lead author of the paper.

    To read more, click here 

    Twelve New Epilepsy Drugs Usher in 'Era of Abundance'

    A dozen new epilepsy drugs are giving doctors and patients more options, but making treatment decisions more complex, a Loyola epilepsy specialist reports in the journal Neurologic Clinics. "Clinicians practice in an era of abundance of anti-epileptic drugs," Dr. Jorge J. Asconapé wrote. The new drugs provide "an opportunity to better meet the needs of more patients."Asconapé's article will appear in the November issue of Neurologic Clinics. Since 1993, the Food and Drug Administration has approved 12 new anti-epileptic drugs: felbamate (brand name, Felbatol®) gabapentin (Neurotin®), lamotrigine (Lamictal®), lacosamide (Vimpat®), levetiracetam (Keppra®), oxcarbazepine (Trilepal®), pregabalin (Lyrica®), rufinamide (Banzel®), tiagabine (Gabitril®), topiramate (Topamax®), vigabatrin (Sabril®) and zonisamide (Zonegran®).

    To read more, click here 

    Pennsylvania School for the Deaf Students Take Anti-Bullying Pledge

    "I'm going to get you after school." Chilling words no kid wants to hear. I know I didn't. Yet, way back in junior high (that's what we called middle school during the dark ages) I had to deal with my share of taunts, threats, and plain old meanness. For what? Random stuff. Vilified for everything from hanging with a certain group of girls to wearing a too-big Afro. Bullying can be as innocuous as mean-girl exclusion in the cafeteria or as brutal as the beat-downs suffered by Asian students at South Philadelphia High School. Or as trite as a steady stream of "You're ugly!" texts or as sophisticated as the videocam invasion of privacy that victimized Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate allegedly posted online video of him with another man. And, if you have a disability, like the nonhearing students who attend the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, bullying is almost a foregone conclusion.

    To read more, click here 

    TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK

    Guess the answer to this week's trivia question and we'll recognize you in next week's Week in Review.
     
    Congratulations to:
    Christie Miller
    Maura Lindsay
    Elizabeth Bailey
    Deanna Krieg
    Jeannie Schiaffo
    Jessica L. Ulmer
    April Harper
    Barry Joel Amper
    Francine Caires
    Lorrie Weaver
    Jackie Freeman

    who correctly identified the answer to last week's trivia question: 
    Many gifted and talented students have already mastered much of the content of the general education curriculum when the school year begins.  Teachers often compress the instructional content and materials so that these academically able students have more time to work on more challenging materials.  What is this method of differentiation called? ANSWER:  CURRICULUM COMPACTING

    THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION: 

    Under the IDEIA definition of an "emotional disturbance", a child must exhibit the behaviors associated with this disability over "a long period of time."According to the U.S. Department of Education, how long is "a long period of time"? 

     

    If you know the answer, send an email to us at contactus@naset.org.  All answers must be submitted no later than 12:00 p.m. on Monday, November 1, 2010.

     

    NASET Member Benefit - Group Savings Plus from Liberty MutualLiberty Mutual Savings

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    Group discounts, other discounts, and credits are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state.  Certain discounts apply to specific coverage only.  To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten; not all applicants may qualify.  Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA.

    Governor Vetoes NY Autism Treatment Insurance Bill

    Gov. David Paterson has vetoed legislation that would require New York insurers to cover screening, diagnosis and lifetime treatment for autism spectrum disorders. The bill would direct state health officials to identify treatment and therapy options that are evidence-based, peer-reviewed and clinically proven that insurers must cover. Paterson estimates the state and municipal cost at $70 million annually, including higher health insurance premiums. He says Thursday he'll sign the measure if legislators send the bill back with a designated source of funding. Supporters say it would expand coverage for accepted approaches like routine toddler screening and speech and behavioral therapy. Opponents say it would give insurers standards to use in rejecting other treatments. To read more, click here 

    Education Department Staying Out of Restraint, Seclusion Debate

    The Department of Education's top special education official told a federal autism panel Friday that the department has no official position on whether or not restraint and seclusion should be included in students' individualized education plans, or IEPs. Legislation now under consideration in Congress would establish federal guidelines over the use of restraint and seclusion in the nation's schools. A version of the bill approved by the House of Representatives in March would prohibit the practices from being included in students' IEPs. But amid pushback from school administrators, a companion bill recently reintroduced in the Senate would permit restraint and seclusion within IEPs under certain circumstances. Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, said she and her colleagues at the Department of Education understand arguments for and against inclusion of the practices in IEPs, but are not taking an official position on the issue. To read more, click here 

     

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    Did You Know That.....

    Individuals with disabilities who obtain postsencondary education enjoy increased vocational options and greater lifetime earnings.

     

    Functional MRI Helps Distinguish Pediatric Mental Disorders

    Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe brain activity related to emotional responses and working memory can help distinguish between pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conditions which may have similar symptoms in children, according to a study in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Alessandra M. Passarotti, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues performed fMRI on non-medicated children with either PBD or ADHD, as well as a control group of healthy children. The children, aged 10 to 18, underwent the fMRI while performing a working memory task in which they were shown pictures of faces with angry, happy, or neutral expressions and tried to match them to the same faces and emotions seen in an earlier round. To read more, click here 

    Employment of People with Disabilities Improving, but Disparities Remain

    Twenty years after the enactment of Americans with Disabilities Act, gaps and disparities in the employment situation of people with disabilities still remain, according to recent surveys conducted by the Kessler Foundation and the National Organization on Disability (NOD).

     

    While 59 percent of Americans without disabilities polled in a July 2010 survey were employed, the number was only 21 percent for Americans with disabilities - a 38 point gap. The survey found a 43 point gap in 2004 and a 49 point gap in 2000. To understand how employers are addressing the goal of providing job opportunities for people with disabilities, the Kessler Foundation and NOD also conducted a survey of 411 human resource professionals and top executives at companies with more than 50 employees. Though many employers in the survey released on October 5 recognize the need to hire people with disabilities, only 29 percent have a disability program or policy in place - despite the view of a majority of employers (62 percent) that the costs of hiring a person with a disability was the same as hiring a person without a disability. To read more, click here 

     

    Attention Processing and Perception May Be Involved in Fetal Alcohol-Related Learning Difficulties

    It has been known for many years that drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause serious and irreversible damage to the fetus. However, new research exploring memory deficits in children diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may be able to aid in the creation of new therapies and treatments. The results will be published in the January 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. Joseph Jacobson, one of the study's authors and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, said that the mechanisms associated with the deficits in children with FASD and FAS are still not well understood. Therefore, the researchers decided to focus on the mental difficulties that the children experience to help determine the specific mechanisms that cause them. 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

     

    'I'm Not a Label; I'm an Individual': Soccer Fundraiser Shines a Light on the Athleticism and Humanity of Special Olympians

    Special Olympian Becky Emery says competition keeps her busy. But Special Olympics is more to her than the athletic contests. "Being able to compete makes me feel more positive, and it improves my self-confidence and self-esteem," she said. "That is why I do it." Emery was part of a diverse group of athletes from Lancaster County who gathered at the second Special Olympics Soccer Tournament, a daylong benefit held at Lanco Fieldhouse in East Petersburg. Saturday's tournament was organized by volunteer Sue Patterson. "I became aware that the organization did not have enough money to send the special Olympians to the games, so I decided to do something about it," she said. In partnership with Lanco Fieldhouse, Patterson and a support team organized the soccer tournament to raise the funds. This year's tournament included 10 female over-30 teams and four coed teams, a championship game and an exhibition game by 15 Lancaster Special Olympians, including Emery, that drew loud cheers from a crowd of more than 200 spectators. To read more, click here 

    Did You Know That......

    Postsecondary education is increasingly becoming an option for students with significant disabilities, such as mental retardation (intellectual disabilities), autism, or multiple disabilities.

     

    As Poverty Rises in Suburbs, New Preschool for At-Risk Kids Takes Shape

    Discussions about the value of targeting at-risk students in preschool and preparing them for kindergarten traditionally have been held in inner-city communities, not the suburbs. A DuPage County preschool for at-risk children 6 weeks to 5 years old, to be built with donations from private foundations, highlights what experts consider an emerging problem: The growing number of students in suburban schools considered likely to have academic difficulty because of factors such as limited English skills, teen parents or low-income families. It's an issue that many suburban residents have had a hard time accepting. "The at-risk kids who live in the suburbs are hidden," said Theresa Hawley, an early-childhood consultant leading the Educare project in West Chicago. "In many cases, school districts are just waking up to the need." To read more, click here 

     

    Students Learn Respect for Peers

    Its efforts aren't limited to October, but the Special Education Advisory Committee and department are hard at work in the schools this month, which has been designated Disability History and Awareness Month. Students are partaking in the "People First Language Pledge," physical education activities and other events this month to help create a culture of mutual respect, understanding and equal opportunities. "Disabilities are a part of life and we want our students and staff to recognize, understand and be sensitive to students who have them," said Antoine Hickman, coordinator of special education for Suffolk Public Schools. "While recognizing the differences we have, we also want students to identify the commonalities they have with the students." To read more, click here 

    Food for Thought........

    Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others.

                                                             Danny Thomas

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