Week in Review Mar. 14, 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.Sincerely,

NASET News Team


Professional Golfer to Bring Awareness to Son's Autism 

For all the tough losses he has endured on the golf course the last few years, Ernie Els found perspective at home in the blue eyes of 5-year-old Ben. His son was diagnosed with autism, which Els and his wife coped with privately until the Big Easy showed up on the PGA Tour this week with an "Autism Speaks" logo on his golf bag and a message he wanted to get out. "I feel comfortable talking about it now," Els told The Associated Press after he missed the cut Friday in the PODS Championship. "I've got a bit of a profile where it will grab attention. That's what this problem needs. And with that, hopefully, more people will get involved and we can start getting to what causes it and what can be done to help it."  To read more, click here


In Our Schools: Project Introduces Kids to Living with Disabilities

As Staci Earl talks about living with rheumatoid arthritis, the fourth-graders in Pam Merola's class at Cayuga Heights Elementary have lots of questions: How did she get the disease? Does she have to take medicine? Does it make it hard to walk?

Earl is just one of many speakers who will visit Merola's class this year as part of a special project titled "The Person Inside: Understanding Disabilities."  Merola received funding from the Ithaca Public Education Initiative for the project, which will also include lessons in sign language; a copy of "Helen Keller" for each student, which they will read and discuss in class; and a "first grade buddies" program, where the class will meet frequently with a younger class, including some students from a classroom for students with disabilities. To read more, click here


Knowing When A Child's Behavior Is "Normal" Or Not

With health experts using shorthand diagnoses like "ADHD," "PTSD" and "OCD," it might be hard for parents to know if their child has a mental health disorder or is simply misbehaving. But as the number of behavioral diagnoses skyrockets--ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) alone is said to affect nearly 5 million kids, though some believe that number to be inflated--doctors say making accurate diagnoses is key. "There's a whole spectrum of behaviors that can be considered 'normal,'" explains Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., founder and director of the New York University Child Study Center (CSC). "A child who talks back might be exhibiting bad--but normal--behavior, while a child who runs away might have a behavior problem. The best thing a concerned parent can do is seek information from professionals and trusted sources." To help parents understand normal developmental phases, CSC revamped its award-winning Web site. To read more, click here


Horse Therapy for Adolescents with Emotional and Behavioral Problems 

Inside an indoor ring here, eight adolescents huddled around several horses at the Rein Dancer Therapeutic Riding Center. One by one, they tried to get a halter on a horse as a social worker and the horse's owner stood by to help. Each of the youths, all students at the Garfield Park Academy, struggled mightily as the animal tried to shake them off. In the end, not one student managed to get a halter on a horse. Kathy Krupa, who owns the horses and founded Horsetime Inc., a program to help troubled adolescents by teaching them to work and ride horses, was not disappointed. "You can't prejudge what success is," Ms. Krupa said. To you, it might mean getting the halter on. To them, just getting close to the horse might be a success." Ms. Krupa and her staff are trained in equine assisted psychotherapy, a relatively new branch of psychotherapy in which individuals interact with horses to help them learn skills in communication, trust and discipline.To read more, click here


Children in Need:  Communities Struggle to Fund and Teach Special Education 

Across SouthCoast, MA, there are approximately 5,400 students who have special needs and require assistance to receive the public education to which all children are entitled, and school districts struggle against limited funding and resources to meet that obligation.  The facts are that School districts are spending almost 60 percent more on special education teaching instruction now than in the late 1990s. Despite some state and federal aid for special education, local districts shoulder a large portion of the funding. Furthermore, balancing mandated services for a few with the needs of the entire student population gets more difficult as budgets tighten.To read more, click here


Year of Child Focuses on Disabilities in March

In Terre Haute, Indiana, Vigo County's Year of the Child campaign is focusing this month on helping young people with disabilities.The Year of the Child effort is giving social service agencies, such as the United Way of the Wabash Valley and many others, a chance to highlight their programs and services for young people. Each month of 2008 has a different theme. March's theme is "Yes I Can," - disability awareness. Between 4 and 6 percent of the population has a disability requiring special services, said Dawn Carlson, director of First Steps for West Central Indiana. The percentage is 17 percent if learning disabilities are included, she said. First Steps is the coordinating agency for March's Year of the Child activities. One of the goals of Disability Awareness Month is letting people know what services are available, Carlson said. "We have great services in our community," she said.  To read more, click here


Children with ADHD at Risk 

New research has shown children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face social exclusion during their formative years. Children with the brain condition may also suffer low self-confidence, which is in turn linked to high teen pregnancy rates, smoking and antisocial behavior such as drug taking. According to the research, 79% of children with ADHD have no or very few friends, 53% spend the majority of their time alone, and 53% get picked on by other children often or most of the time.  To read more, click here


Prom May Get Accessibility Make-Over


The Austin Public School District is considering restructuring its prom so students receiving special education students may attend the event with their peers with fewer difficulties. A prom has been held in the past specifically for special education students, but a teacher who headed that project left the district in November. "We're really looking at our options," said Melissa Schaller, director of special services. "Some families like the separate event."Special education students have never been prohibited from attending the regular Austin High School prom, but a restructuring of the event and even a "model" prom-like event would give students a feel for what prom is really like.  To read more, click here


John Stewart to Host "Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education"

After being surrounded by the dramatic heavyweight stars of the Oscars, Jon Stewart will play host again, this time amid a bevy of comedians. Stewart will host the second biannual "Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education" on April 13 at the Beacon Theater in New York. The show will air live on Comedy Central (8 p.m. EST). The night will feature standup routines, sketches and short films from a gluttony of comic talent, including Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Conan O'Brien, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Silverman and Amy Poehler.  To read more, click here



Food for Thought........ 

Instruction does much, but encouragement does everything.


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