Week in Review - Apr. 18, 2008


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. Have a great weekend. 


NASET News Team



Legos Can Be Building Block to Teach Children with Autism

The Lego raft carrying the Lego castaways approached the Lego island, ''chased by raptors.'' Lewis Roberts, a 12-year-old from Medford, N.J., moved the raft an inch, then another young filmmaker snapped a digital camera. A third boy consulted their script. ''Quiet on the set!'' In the sudden silence, the boys let out a raptor-like ''ROAR.'' Lego animation is like a cartoon. The illusion of movement is created with a sequence of slightly different photographs of the colorful plastic brick construction sets. But this wasn't just fun and games. It was ''Dr. Dan's Lego-based Social Development Therapy'' - one of the many interventions that have been developed to teach social skills to children with autism.  To read more, click here


Research Suggest That Sleep Problems Are Common In Children With ADHD

Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear likely to experience sleep problems, according to a new report. Sleep problems in these children may be associated with poorer child psychosocial quality of life, child daily functioning, caregiver mental health and family functioning.  Valerie Sung, M.B.B.S., of the Centre for Community Child Health, Parkville, Australia, and colleagues studied families of 239 schoolchildren (average age 11.7) with ADHD to determine the prevalence and broad effects of sleep problems in these children. Sleep problems affected 175 (73.3 percent) of the children, with a 28.5 percent prevalence of mild sleep problems and 44.8 percent prevalence of moderate or severe sleep problems. Some of the most commonly occurring sleep patterns were difficulty falling asleep, resisting going to bed and tiredness on waking.  To read more, click here

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Maryland First State to Pass Sports Equity Law for Students with Disabilities

Atholton senior and wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden has won races against some of the best competition in the world, but her most recent victory came away from the track.  McFadden's testimony in front of the General Assembly was pivotal in it unanimously passing a bill that requires schools to provide disabled students with access to high school sports teams, either among themselves or with able-bodied students.  "This whole journey has been a little bit of a bumpy ride," she said. "But at the end of the day, look what happened."  The bill, which takes effect in July, is called "Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities." Under the legislation, schools have three years to comply, and it will cost an estimated $2.8 million for schools to implement the program.  To read more,click here


Broader Rule Sought to Pick Gifted Pupils

Faced with a deluge of children vying for coveted slots in gifted and talented programs, and a dearth of top-scoring applicants, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced plans on Wednesday to broaden the city's new policy for admitting children to the programs. The change, which is expected to be approved at a meeting on Thursday by the Panel for Educational Policy, would guarantee students scoring in the top 10th percentile on admissions tests, as measured nationwide, a slot in kindergarten or first-grade gifted and talented programs. Under new rules announced last fall, only those scoring in the top 5th percentile would have been admitted.  The revision would nearly double the number of children guaranteed slots in kindergarten and first-grade gifted programs next year, to 2,999 citywide, from the number that would have been guaranteed seats under the 5th-percentile rule. If the 5th-percentile policy had been used, only 1,637 children would have been guaranteed slots in those grades, and in some districts there would not have been enough students for even one class. 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



Baseball League for Kids with Disabilities Kicks Off Season

In Cary, North Carolina, It's one the most exciting weekends of the year for hundreds of kids around the Triangle, as they throw out the first pitch for "The Miracle League."  The games are played on a special field designed for children with disabilities, and they mean so much to both the players and their parents.  "We opened September 2006 with zero children," said Tammi Dittmar, Executive Director of The Miracle League of the Triangle. "This season we are getting ready to have 196 children play baseball."  More than a dozen teams are dressing out this year, and the players are more than a little psyched.  To read more, click here


Ritalin and Other Stimulants Used by Adults to Boost Brain Power

One in five respondents to a new survey in the journal Nature say they've used drugs to boost their brain power."We were putting our finger in the air to see what our reader response would be. And it was tremendous," said Brendan Maher, an editor with the widely read scientific publication. "What it's suggesting is there are a high percentage of adults using these drugs."  About 20 percent of respondents to an unscientific survey said they have used drugs -- most commonly Ritalin -- in an effort to increase their brain function.  The informal, nonscientific survey, conducted online, polled 1,400 people in 60 countries. Most of the responders, the majority of whom said they worked in biology, physics, medicine or education, reported taking the drugs to improve their concentration.  The drug of choice was Ritalin; use of a similar drug, Adderall, also was reported. The stimulants are approved to treat attention-deficit disorder, but scientists say they would have a noticeable effect on almost anyone. To read more, click here


Mapping Genetic Abnormalities in Autism

A new project to study the brains of people with autism in unprecedented detail could finally pinpoint subtle neurological changes that underlie the disorder. Researchers will use an innovative set of tools developed to study gene expression to analyze exactly where early brain development goes awry. "The technology now exists to be able to examine in fine detail the organization of brain cells--for example, whether brain cells have their proper number and position," says Eric Courchesne, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who is leading the project. "This could provide a major insight into the cause of autism."  To read more, click here


Hawaii Department of Education Falls Short in Special Education Annual Performance Report

The possibility of racial discrimination in special education, as well as confirmation of serious noncompliance in integration, inclusion of parents in decision making, and the quality of curriculum, was reported by the DOE to the federal government on February 1 of this year. The report, required annually by federal law and called the "Annual Performance Report (APR)," was posted on the DOE website around March 2 for the 2006-2007 school year. The new report is much like last year's report, which also detailed widespread noncompliance with the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Ironically, the media erroneously stated in June of last year that the DOE had been found fully compliant with the IDEA. At that time, the DOE accepted congratulations and did not correct the information.  To read more, click here



UNICEF Launches Initiative to Provide Assistance to Children with Disabilities in Vietnam

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF announced this week the launch of a fundraising campaign to raise $1 million to bring quality healthcare and education services to all children living with disabilities throughout Vietnam, including many that may be affected by exposure to dioxin left over from the spraying of Agent Orange during the war.  All donations to UNICEF's program will be matched dollar for dollar by a $1 million grant from the Ford Foundation, which has been funding work that addresses the environmental and health legacy of Agent Orange/dioxin since 2000.  The funds raised will help UNICEF coordinate a community-based pilot intervention program in the south-central city of Da Nang, providing healthcare, nutrition, clean water and sanitation, as well as training to social workers, teachers and welfare workers.  Actress Tea Leoni, who is a U.S. Fund board member and who recently visited Da Nang, said: "As a mother, after seeing the pain of children and their families, I implore others to join this important campaign so that no child lives without the care and assistance so desperately needed."  To read more, click here


Food for Thought........

                                                                                     Ellen Key

The educator must above all understand how to wait; to reckon all effects in the light of the future, not of the present.

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