Week in Review - December 5, 2008


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



Dear NASET Members,


Welcome to NASET'sWEEK 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 news@naset.org

Have a great weekend.

NASET News Team


 New This Week on NASET:


December 2008

Table of Contents

  • Message from the Executive Directors

  • This Just in....

  • News You Can Use From The National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities

  • Legislative Announcement

  • Calls to Participate

  • Special Education Resources

  • Upcoming Conferences, Workshops, and Events

  • Get Wired!-The Latest on Websites and Listservs

  • Funding Forecast and Award Opportunities

To read this month's issue - CLICK HERE


Stimulants Appear Not To Harm Chromosomes


Do stimulant medications, often prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, cause potentially dangerous genetic changes in children who take them? This study involved 63 children, ages 6 to 12, who had received an ADHD diagnosis but had never taken a stimulant. About half of the children were given Ritalin LA or Concerta (both methylphenidate-based drugs) daily, and the others took Adderall or Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts). Analysis of blood samples taken at the start of the study and after three months showed no indications of damage to chromosomes among children who took either type of stimulant. To read more, click here


Anti-Stigma Campaining Aims To Teach Youths About Mental Illness


Layne Lynch sat at her piano inspired by a feeling. A tune soon emerged. It was followed by the lyrics. "Trying to find words to tell you why I act the way I do. No limitations, but I feel restricted. All these thoughts in my head collide," sang Lynch, 17, a senior at Colleyville Heritage High School. The song, Dear Friend of Mine, is asking teens to be understanding with classmates, friends and siblings struggling with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder. It was inspired by a family member's experience with a mood disorder. "It's so cool to see people realize that it is OK to go get help," Lynch said. The song is part of Friendships Count, a new anti-stigma campaign produced by Mental Health Connection and Community Solutions of Fort Worth. To read more, click here


Researchers Mull Possible Autism Triggers


The journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine has this month published a new study by Cornell University researchers that provides evidence of a rainfall-related environmental trigger for autism among genetically vulnerable children. "This analysis is an important first step towards identifying a specific environmental trigger, or triggers, for autism," said the study's lead author Michael Waldman. While many autism experts believe that the disorder is triggered by the combination of an environmental trigger and a genetic predisposition, there are few clues as to what the important environmental triggers might be. "Our hope is that this study will spur those in the medical community to investigate what the specific trigger might be that is driving our findings, so that countless children can be spared an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis," said Waldman, a professor of management and economics. To read more, click here



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Even As 'No Child' Bar Is Raised, More County Schools Hurdle It


More Montgomery County schools made adequate progress under the No Child Left Behind Act this year than in either of the past two years, even as the academic targets dictated by the federal law continued to rise. Twelve of 193 elementary, middle and high schools missed performance targets, which measure how many students pass the Maryland School Assessment or High School Assessment exams, as well as attendance and graduation rates. The latest annual progress reports were released this month. The public school system fared better than last year, when 21 schools failed to make adequate progress, and much better than in 2006, when 38 schools missed their targets. "I think we're figuring it out," said Jennifer Baker, principal of Tilden Middle School, which made adequate progress this year and was taken off a state watch list of under-performing schools. To read more, click here


Change Becomes A Two-Way Street In The World Of Special Education


Disgruntled parents say that the Lake Oswego School District has misplaced their third-grade son in a special education classroom. They have filed a complaint with the Oregon Department of Education and a lawsuit with Clackamas County. The district says that it's progressing toward a model that is more flexible and provides more options for individual students' needs - including tailored placements that blend time in a specialized classroom and a regular classroom. "We have people that do not believe that we are addressing the needs of the students in the way that we would like them to be addressed," said Superintendent Bill Korach. To read more, click here


Report Calls For Improved Special Education


City schools must develop a plan to improve services for students with disabilities, a recent report from a consultant said. The report on Norwalk's special education program, released Wednesday by the Capital Region Education Council in Hartford, recommends increased collaboration among administrators, staff and parents, and more consistency among schools. Special Education Director Janie Friedlander said Wednesday afternoon that she hadn't yet read the report but she didn't anticipate surprises. "What I'm expecting we're going to see is things that Norwalk is doing well and things that we need to improve on," Friedlander said. "Obviously, every system has strengths and has concerns, and this report will hopefully outline them and help us develop very constructive plans." The document was e-mailed Wednesday afternoon to Board of Education members and was up on the district's Web site at 3 p.m. Superintendent Salvatore Corda said it has been "a year of significant introspection" with the special education review and a state-mandated study by international consultants last year. To read more, click here


People With Disabilities Encounter Many Hidden Barriers


Let's face it, because of weather-related delays, long security lines and crowded planes, traveling during the holidays is a hectic time. Offering designated security lanes for families is an improvement. As a person who has baby-sat, I know that a stroller or a car seat are necessary objects to have for babies and for young children; when accompanying children on a trip, there is no such thing as traveling light. The needs of other passengers who routinely need help have often been overlooked. Shouldn't there be security lines for all physically disabled passengers as well? People needing wheelchairs are routinely accommodated, but other disabilities are not acknowledged at airports and train stations. Other than braille signs at elevators, I am not aware of accommodations for blind and deaf passengers. To read more, click here


Learning Disability Reversed In Mice


Just as traffic signals enable safe traversing of the roadways, so too does the brain's machinery for learning and memory rely on its own stop-and-go signals. An NIMH grantee has traced a human learning disability to an imbalance in signals that increase and decrease neural activity - and demonstrated a way to correct it. A memory is held by changes that strengthen a set of connections between nerve cells triggered by a learning event, which gets reactivated when the memory is recalled. The ability of these connections to change is critical. To read more, click here


Autism Fears Lead Some Parents Not To Immunize Children


Trained as a physical therapist and married to a pharmacist, Julie Funk did not question the routine vaccinations that doctors gave her son Jason. But just before his second birthday, Jason was diagnosed with autism. And Funk, who lives in the Castleton area, started to question the safety of vaccines. Like many in the autism community, she had heard the debate over whether vaccinations contribute to or even cause autism, an increasingly common neurological disorder. When Funk's daughter was born in October of last year, she opted against vaccination. Allison showed no signs of autism, and Funk said she wasn't taking any chances. To read more, click here


'Fractured' School For The Deaf Faces Its Troubles


Five middle school students sit in a semicircle around their English teacher and discuss a short story one recent morning. Their hands move swiftly as they talk, comparing the characteristics of honey bees and yellow jackets. Their voices at times are blurred, indistinct. Yet the discussion is lively, the students laughing and interrupting each other. Their teacher, Dana Janik, reminds them to focus their eyes on whoever is talking, so as to not miss their comments. Janik, a teacher at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, interrupts one of her students who gestures as though she is pulling on a sweater or coat. To read more, click here


Costs For Students In Special Education Examined As Cuts In Education Loom


The Margaret Murphy Center for Children serves 70 students who require some of the most intensive educational and emotional support available in Maine. The students -- most with autism -- cannot function in public schools. They exhibit aggressive behavior. They sometimes injure themselves and destroy property if left alone, according to director Michelle Hathaway. Providing these students with the one-on-one attention they require costs the 20 public school districts that send them to its centers in Auburn, Lewiston and Monmouth more than $500 per student each day, plus the cost of transportation."The kids that we serve are really challenging kids who need this placement," Hathaway said. But in a season of cutbacks, it will become increasingly difficult for public school districts to meet their costly responsibility to students with special needs so acute they cannot remain in their schools. To read more, click here


Food for Thought........


Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

                                                                          John Wooden


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