Week in Review - May 30, 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


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In Ohio, More Options for Students with Disabilities

Recently, Ohioans have been hearing that the key to building a stable economy is found in the state's workforce. It follows that a good education is one of the most important steps in creating this workforce, and Ohio students are fortunate to have equal access to the foundation of this education, K-12 schools. While most of the schools in Ohio provide a quality education, there are some under-performing school districts and the state offers a number of programs that address this issue. The EdChoice program, introduced in 2006, gives students whose public schools have been on Academic Watch or in an Academic Emergency for at least three years the opportunity to improve their educational environment by providing funding for them to transfer to a private school.  To read more, click here


School Officials: Special Education Students Responsible for Poor Test Results

More than half of local schools may not meet the state's educational standards, but most students made academic progress in the past year. Roughly 70 percent of local students scored better on state standardized tests than they did last year, according to reports released by the state Department of Education. That means the 26 local schools that didn't make adequate progress failed because of students who fall into a specialized category, such as economically disadvantaged or special education students. Only 46 percent of special education students improved their math and reading scores over last year's results. Administrators said those results aren't surprising because special education students typically have a harder time making progress on the state's standardized test. But for the first time, Daniel J. Bakie Elementary School in Kingston was added to the list of schools that need improvement - meaning the school did not make the progress the state wanted. But while 65 percent of the general population made adequate progress, only about 40 percent of special education students did the same. To read more, click here


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Looking Inside Kids' Minds Can Open the Future

Two million American children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It's so common now that one child in a classroom of 25 or 30 will have the disorder. But parents often struggle a long time to figure out exactly what's going on in their child's head. Is he tired? Is she confused? Is he just acting up? Does she need help?  Dr. Fernando Miranda, a neurologist at the Bright Minds Institute in San Francisco, says diagnosing children with behavioral disorders like ADHD and autism without looking at their brains is like trying to diagnose heart problems without actually looking at the heart.  On the other hand, some of Miranda's patients have found they had an attention deficit problem and didn't even know it. Miranda, and many other doctors, believe more objective tools for figuring out these puzzles are critical. To read more, click here


Florida Mandates Autism Coverage

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist recently signed legislation that will require insurance companies to pay for diagnosis and treatment costs for autistic children up to $36,000 annually with a lifetime cap of $200,000. Under the Window of Opportunity Act, SB 2654, major insurance companies that operate in the state of Florida, and companies with more than 50 employees, will be required to offer coverage for autism-related disorders.

The legislation gives insurance companies until January 2009 to negotiate a compact with the state to develop autism-coverage plans, before the mandate takes effect in 2010.

The legislation also calls on insurance companies to enhance consumer awareness of the benefits. To read more, click here


Therapeutic Vest Will Help Children with Autism, ADHD, Anxiety

Children with autism and ADHD may soon get anxiety relief from a novel "deep-pressure" vest developed by Brian Mullen at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The vest, which can also be used for adults with mental illness, delivers a "portable hug" called deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS).  "People with developmental disorders and mental illness are often overwhelmed in everyday environments such as school and the workplace, and solutions available to families and mental health professionals are limited," says Mullen, a doctoral student of mechanical engineering. "This is an alternative therapy that can safely and discreetly provide the treatment they need to function in mainstream society."  To read more, click here


Children With Both Autism And ADHD Often Bully, Parents Say: Researchers Caution Against Labeling

Children with both autism and attention deficit or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders are four times more likely to bully than children in the general population, according to a study released today in the journal, Ambulatory Pediatrics. However, the researchers caution against labeling these children simply as bullies. "This is the first nationally representative study of bullying behaviors among children with autism. The majority of parents of children with autism and ADD or ADHD were concerned about their children's bullying behaviors, but there is much we do not yet understand. It is too early to label these children as bullies." said Guillermo Montes, Ph.D., senior researcher at Rochester, N.Y.-based Children's Institute. "These children may have pent up energy that needs to be properly channeled, or they may have other underlying behavioral or medical issues that have not been addressed."  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


Learning-Challenged Students Beat Odds to Graduate from High School

Bachman Academy held its seventh annual commencement exercises on May 17 at First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland. The first graduating class of 2001 boasted a single student. However, at twelve students, 2008 holds the second largest graduating class since the Academy changed its focus in 1999 to educating children with learning disabilities. With a student body of 50 students, and an almost one to one staff to student ratio, Bachman students have the opportunity to achieve their academic goals in spite of unique learning styles."Students with learning disorders like autism, dyslexia, and Attention Deficit Disorder usually have long histories of academic difficulties. Considering that 27 percent of students with learning disabilities drop out of high school, for our kids, graduating is more than a milestone; it's an amazing achievement," said Paul Jette, headmaster at the Academy. "We are so proud of them, and proud to have played a part in their success." To read more, click here


Westport Parents Say Special Education Lacks Parity

Eva Greenwald, president of the group We Belong, said it first and perhaps most plainly.

"What [special education] parents see are low academic standards and low expectations by the staff ... Regular education focuses on academic excellence, but special education just offers the bare minimum, 'what's appropriate.' Parents believe that regular education students get the Cadillac while special education gets the Buick."

Marla Cowden, co-chair of the Special Education Committee for the PTA Council, worked into her point more slowly, but eventually came out and said it: "One of our global concerns is parity. Equality, if you will." She said the school system took pride in exceeding what the state required in regular education, but it talked about meeting minimum legal requirements in special education.  Cowden made an analogy. She had sat through many discussions of technology in the 1990s when technology was called a mere tool, just another pencil, but somehow technology had been elevated from its lowly place next to a pencil to having its own special review. "I don't know how that happened, anymore than I know how special education got left behind," said Cowden. "No one knew, back then, where to go in technology or how to get there, so a committee of expert volunteers was created to give advice, she said, adding, "I would like to see it happen with special education."  To read more, click here


In Malaysia, Plan Designed to Bring Out the Best in Gifted Kids

A working paper on how to bring the best out of a gifted child is being drawn up by experts to introduce a special education program to suit the needs of such children. The working paper, among others, will provide guidelines on how to optimise the skills and "gifts" these children possess and at the same time ensure their balanced growth to become wholesome individuals. The idea for a special education program for Malaysia's little geniuses is the brainchild of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor who has played an active and crucial role in promoting education, particularly early learning.  To read more, click here


Autism Awareness Gets Help From Jenny McCarthy

Chicago native and celebrity Jenny McCarthy is back home Friday night, shining starpower on a cause dear to her heart. The comedienne and mother of a son with autism is headlining the "Autism One" national convention. CBS 2's Susan Carlson reports on her story of hope and recovery. Jenny McCarthy brought her message of hope to about 2,000 parents of children with autism at the O'Hare Westin. She says her six-year-old son Evan has made great strides after she put him on a detox program. "Autism becomes triggered in a child when there is a toxic overload -- too many toxins in the body cause neurological problems...look at Ozzie Osbourne for chrissake," McCarthy said. In addition to laughter, there were some tears.  To read more, click here


Animal Therapy Helps Special Education Students

A North Texas animal therapy group is celebrating the anniversary of its relationship between their dogs and the students at an Arlington elementary school. The special education students at Webb Elementary School in Arlington look forward to the first Friday of every month. For the past 15 years Paws Across Texas, an animal assisted therapy group, has been coming to the classroom. "As soon as the dogs come in, you will see certain kids that will react, that will smile. They love to see the dogs. They love to watch the dogs and to feel them," said Lari Hileman, Webb Elementary teacher. The dogs help the students develop motor skills like throwing, petting, and hugging. "What I see is the strength that is in the arms, they get relaxed. They get calm if they are agitated. They get happy if they are sad. It's great. It not only helps the children, but helps us help the children. Which teaches us more about how they learn with the dogs," said Meg Stamp, Webb Elementary teacher. To read more, click here


Food for Thought........

"Children must be healthy to learn and learn to be healthy"
                                                                     Darlene Shirley

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