Week in Review - May 23, 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



N.H. Commission Recommending More Attention to Autism


A special commission says New Hampshire must significantly improve its care of people with autism or face billions of dollars in medical costs.  The Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders says the state can help prevent the costs if action is taken.
Among its recommendations: bring education, medical and human service systems into alignment with nationally recognized best practices. These include universal screening at 18 and 24 months, at least 25 hours per week of intensive early intervention and new models to assist autistic adults find and keep jobs.  To read more,
click here



Officials Drop Some Special Education Changes

The reversal - first reported on freep.com Thursday afternoon -- came after the agency received more than 100 letters, phone calls and e-mails objecting to the idea. Word spread to parents and educators of special-ed students through a grassroots campaign and news media reports, including by the Free Press. Elena Schecter's son, Alex, 22, is severely multiply impaired and attends the Cooke School in Northville. "They think they can get away with it because the only voices these children have are their parents," said Elena Schecter of Novi. "They're entitled to this education," she said of the children. Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency Special Education Director Mark Francis said he hopes to use the outpouring of dismay over the proposed changes to help convince state lawmakers that more money is needed for these programs. To read more, click here



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Vaccine Case Draws Attention to Autism

When The Augusta Chronicle began following the Mann quadruplets in October, there was little attention being paid to autism outside of the advocacy community and some researchers. That all changed in March when it became public that attorneys for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conceded late last year that 9-year-old Hannah Poling, of Athens, Ga., had "features of autism spectrum disorder" caused in part by a series of vaccinations she received in 2000. The girl has a rare mitochondrial disorder and her condition was aggravated by the shots, the government contended in a court filing. The department, however, was quick to point out that it was not an admission that vaccines cause autism, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a teleconference to emphasize that all of the science points to no link between the two.  To read more, <click here


Mixed Results for Black Students in Report: Students Fare Better Academically, but Placed in Special Education at a Higher Rate


Black students in Anne Arundel County schools are doing better in reading, English and math, but they still get punished more frequently and get placed into special education at a higher rate than their majority peers, according to school officials. A progress report released Thursday comes three years after a landmark mediation agreement was reached between Anne Arundel County schools and black advocacy groups to tackle those problems. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the parties in the mediation agreement, viewed the positive results in the report with skepticism and lamented the lack of progress in other areas. To read more, click here



New School Program Utilizes Two Teachers in Classrooms

Clovis Municipal Schools is having success with special needs students using a system that utilizes two teachers in classrooms, according to school officials.  Called inclusion teachers, both give tests, ask questions and direct discussions. In some classes, students with an individualized educational plan are mixed with other students. Inclusion teachers are aware of which students have an IEP, but the students in the classes aren't. Principal Alan Dropps at Yucca Middle School said he feels that the program has come into its prime. "We've started to understand what it takes to be successful with inclusion," Dropps said. Inclusion teachers work together in the core classes of math, English, science and social studies at the secondary level. Dropps said the format is the least restrictive environment for students who need more help than others. To read more, click here



School Advocates Distance Learning for Students with Special Needs

A charter school's founder is betting that instruction by Internet will be a good way to reach kids who have given up on formal education or whose lives are too complicated for an 8-to-3 school day. Many of these students have self-esteem issues. A 16-year-old, for instance, might have seventh-grade math ability, but doesn't want to go to class with 12- and 13-year-olds. Students with learning disabilities often lose a large part of their day in transportation to specialized schools far from their home. Their time might be better spent at home in front of a computer. Wayne Tanaka, the executive director of the new Delta Academy, formerly known as Westcare Charter School, likes online education for the flexibility it offers in meeting the educational needs of students with varying abilities and personal crises such as drug abuse and troubles with the law. To read more, click here


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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



Parents and Teachers Want More Special Education Services

In New Mexico, parents and teachers have said they want more special education services at small schools, more homework and organizational skills training for students. The participants in a programmatic school board meeting May 13 at San Antonio Elementary School discussed Socorro Consolidated School's mission and vision statements, as well as what knowledge, structure and help they wanted to see students receiving. They talked in small groups and then presented summaries of their conversations. Parent Catherine Romero said her freshman doesn't have homework, and she wants students to have those assignments. At the high school level, said another participant who declined to be identified, students need to know how to study.  To read more, click here



Identifying Older Children with Special Needs Can be Difficult

Identifying older children with special needs can be difficult
Michael Meyer is in a unique situation -- He said he understands the budgetary crisis many of the school districts across the state are going through because his job has been cut. "My position of assistant administrator of special education was cut because of budget cuts in Weymouth," Meyer explained during a May 13 public hearing held to help find a new special education director for the Harvard public schools. "It put me on the job search again, and that's how I ended up here." Meyer noted that identifying a child with special needs in middle and high schools can be a bit more difficult because the teachers don't have "ownership" of the students like they do in the elementary level. To read more,
click here



New Test to Detect Autism at 9 Months

McMaster University researcher Mel Rutherford has developed a 10-minute test to tell if babies as young as nine months are at high risk of having autism. At a conference in London today, Dr. Rutherford will present preliminary results from a continuing experiment in which she settles babies in a car seat and uses an eye tracker to assess their interest in images on a computer screen. Are they more interested in a face, or another image matched for lightness and contrast? Do they prefer looking at the eyes or the mouth? Do they follow the movement of the eyes in a face? Do they spend more time watching two balls that look like they are playing together, or two that are bouncing independently? To read more, click here


Identifying and Providing for Younger Gifted and Talented Children

Of all the children with special needs, younger gifted and talented children are the group most frequently ignored throughout the world. What happens if we continue to neglect the needs of these children? There are losses for the children themselves and for society at large. In societies that care about their children, it is difficult to justify continued neglect of those for whom the ordinary pre-school or school program may be a poor fit. Like all children, gifted children deserve a happy childhood full of vigor, joy, optimism and growth, whether or not early intervention produces long range differences in their attainment.  To read more, click here



Schools Struggle to Fund Special Education


When Mike Padavic took his first job as a social worker for the AERO Cooperative in 1985, his $16,000 annual salary seemed reasonable. So did the state's plan to begin issuing one $8,000 reimbursement check per teacher to school districts to help them pay for the special education services that people such as Padavic would provide. Nowadays, teachers, on average, make four times as much, but neither state nor federal reimbursements for special education costs have increased much since. And that's left local districts that are bound by tax caps squeezed to cover the costs, according to a report released by the Illinois State Board of Education, which estimates that Illinois school officials had to find more than $900 million in their budgets last year to cover the rising costs of wages and other supportive services.  To read more,click here



Food for Thought........

History has shown different people make great differences in our world! 

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