Week in Review - October 3, 2008


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


Welcome to NASET'sWEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with NASET's latest publications for the week, 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 atnews@naset.org. Have a great weekend.

NASET News Team

NEW This Week on NASET:  The Practical Teacher & NASET Special Educator e-Journal

Integrated Writing Instruction

Students with writing disabilities typically find the act of writing to be both difficult and unrewarding. These students' resulting lack of motivation to write can lock them into a downward spiral, in which they avoid most writing tasks and fail to develop those writing skills in which they are deficient. Indeed, for some students, a diagnosed writing disability may not be neurologically based but instead can be explained by the student's simple lack of opportunities to practice and build competent writing skills.

This issue of The Practical Teacher provides an integrated approach to classroom writing instruction designed to accommodate the special needs of disabled writers, as well as those of their non-disabled peers. To read this issue - click here

NASET Special Educator e-JournalIn this issue:

  • Message from the Executive Directors
  • Letter to the Editor
  • This Just in... 'Doing What Works' Website Adds New Guidance on Effective Teaching
  • Update From The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
  • New Projects
  • 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 issue - click here

Toddlers' Focus on Mouths Rather Than on Eyes is Predictor of Autism Severity

Scientists at Yale School of Medicine have found that two-year-olds with autism looked significantly more at the mouths of others, and less at their eyes, than typically developing toddlers. This abnormality predicts the level of disability, according to study results published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.  The research scientists involved in the study used eye-tracking technology to quantify the visual fixations of two-year-olds who watched caregivers approach them and engage in typical mother-child interactions, such as playing games like peek-a-boo. After the first few weeks of life, infants look in the eyes of others, setting processes of socialization in motion. In infancy and throughout life, the act of looking at the eyes of others is a window into people's feelings and thoughts and a powerful facilitator in shaping the formation of the social mind and brain. To read more,click here

Software Makes iTunes Accessible to Blind

Jim Denham, the assistive technology coordinator at the Perkins School for the Blind, is looking forward to spending this rainy weekend, at home, on his computer. Thanks to a technological advance, Denham, who is blind, can sit at home by himself and browse among the thousands of audio books, podcasts and albums digitally stored on Apple's iTunes. "There's a podcast out there that identifies different bird calls, and I really want to check that out," he said yesterday, during a break from teaching two Perkins students how to use the new software.  The breakthrough was announced yesterday at Perkins, a storied school in Watertown. The new software - which transforms the written information on an iTunes-linked computer screen into speech or Braille - stemmed from an agreement between Apple, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company, the National Federation of the Blind and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. To read more,click here

FDA Warns ADHD Drugmakers on Misleading Advertisements

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday certain advertisements and other promotional materials for attention-deficit disorder drugs like Adderall, Concerta and Strattera were misleading and omitted important safety information. The agency sent formal warning letters to Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY), the maker of Strattera, and a U.S. unit of Shire Pharmaceuticals Group PLC (SHPGY), which makes Adderall, telling the firms to immediately stop disseminating "false or misleading" material about the drugs, which are approved to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The agency also sent three so-called untitled letters to Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which makes Concerta, and to two other ADHD drug makers. All of the letters were posted to the FDA's Web site Friday. Warning letters are considered more serious and allow the agency to take regulatory action such as seizing products if companies do not comply with FDA requests. Most companies address concerns raised by the FDA without the agency taking additional action. To read more, click here

Accessibility Experts:  Cultural Institutions are Not Inclusive of Everyone with Disabilities

Vizcaya was completed in 1916 at a time when America's wealthy created lavish homes inspired by Europe's palaces. Making the home friendly to people with disabilities was not part of its initial architectural design. Almost a century later, in its new incarnation as the county-owned Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, curators have had to come up with ways to make it accessible to all visitors. This is a challenge for cultural institutions throughout the United States as they focus not only a building's physical accessibility, such as wheelchair ramps, but on making programs inside more inclusive so that people with all types of disabilities can enjoy them. This means incorporating new technology, hiring sign interpreters, changing exhibition placement and even rethinking seating arrangements at events. To read more,click here


 To Learn more -Click Here

Complaints Bring About Special Education Compromise

After an outcry from parents, educators and advocates distressed about planned changes to special education, the state Board of Education approved a compromise set of regulations Thursday in Richmond. The regulations restore parental control over ending special- education services for a child. They keep oversight of the due process system with the Supreme Court of Virginia, rather than with the Department of Education, as had been proposed. Some advocates for disabled children said students and their families will lose some rights.  "This would be a tremendous backsliding on the rights of students with disabilities," said Maureen Hollowell, director of advocacy and services for the Endependence Center in Norfolk. She said she hopes the governor does not approve the changes . Parents and children are losing rights in the areas of discipline, appeals and annual goals, she said.  To read more, click here


Costs for Special Education Rising

Walter Gloshinski's class has a similar routine every morning: Make and eat breakfast; make dog biscuits to sell; take a break for lunch.  Gloshinski teaches Newark High School students with multiple handicaps or autism, and they concentrate on measurements and reading they can use in their everyday lives. "They're working on speech and language in a real life setting," he said. When they are done with high school, the hope is the students will be as independent as possible, Gloshinski said. But the costs for special education programs are high and are not completely funded by the state. In fiscal year 2007, about $6.7 million of Newark's $11.1 million special education budget was paid for with local dollars. Of the nearly $52 million estimated general fund budget for this year, more than $6 million is going toward special education. To read more,click here


In South Africa, Inclusive Education is Excluding Children with Special Needs

"There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals". This statement seems, on the surface, to be a very strong contradiction of the principle of equality of human beings enshrined in the South African Constitution. But the Constitution refers to the equality of value of all human beings, regardless of their status, their race, their employment, their intellectual potential, or their handicaps or lack of handicaps. Equality of value, incorrectly used to claim that all persons are equal in all respects, or used to claim that differences between people should be ignored for the sake of making people feel equal, is to totally misuse the term "equality". Inclusive education, the South African version, is an attempt to meet the needs of children with special needs in mainstream classes and, whether admitted or not, is a socially driven approach with great emphasis on equality as provided in the Bill of Rights.  To read more, click here

NASET Offering Members Two Million Dollar Liability Insurance for Less Than $10.00 a Month

Every day special educators are faced with the stresses and potential liability issues involved in dealing with children with special needs. As a result you may be vulnerable to lawsuits, which have been on the rise over the last few years, from parents, or students themselves. In the past decade, the number of suits filed against educators and administrators has risen dramatically, causing the cost of insurance to increase as well. While some special educators may feel that they do not need this type of coverage and they are protected by their district, they should think twice. Even if you are 100% innocent of the charges or accusations, legal costs alone could run into the thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. In special education today, parents - and students - are more aware of their rights, and the laws that govern special education and hold teachers/educators to high standards. Don't try to convince yourself that the expense of your professional and public liability protection is unnecessary or unjustified. Experience shows that the cost of such coverage is by far lower than the risk a teacher takes by not having such protection. Why take a chance for less than $10.00 a month? To learn more about educator liability insurance available through NASET,click here


Virginia State Board Revises Rules, Eases Some Controversies

The Virginia State Board of Education approved revisions to special education rules yesterday that omitted two proposals that parents of disabled students had said would severely restrict their rights. But some parents said they are still worried about the state's procedures for evaluating children with special needs.  State education officials had come under fire in the spring for proposing changes that would have allowed school systems to eliminate services such as speech and occupational health therapy without parental consent. That proposal drew thousands of public comments, mostly negative, and was also opposed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). The board dropped the proposal yesterday and also eliminated language that would have switched appeals hearings for special education decisions from the Virginia Supreme Court to the Department of Education. To read more,click here


Unraveling Math Dyslexia

Although school has been back for less than a month, it is likely that many children are already experiencing frustration and confusion in math class. Research at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada could change the way we view math difficulties and how we assist children who face those problems. Daniel Ansari is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Western. He is using brain imaging to understand how children develop math skills, and what kind of brain development is associated with those skills. Research shows that many children who experience mathematical difficulties have developmental dyscalculia - a syndrome that is similar to dyslexia, a learning disability that affects a child's ability to read. Children with dyscalculia often have difficulty understanding numerical quantity. For example, they find it difficult to connect abstract symbols, such as a number, to the numerical magnitude it represents. To read more, click here


PETA Campaign Angers Autism Groups

The latest public anti-milk campaign by animal rights group PETA has stirred up controversy between doctors, parents and activists in the autism community. A new PETA-sponsored "go vegan" campaign billboard in Newark, N.J., includes the phrase "Studies have shown a link between cow's milk and autism." The animal rights group cites two studies by researchers at the University of Rome as reason for the purported "link," even though the studies themselves do not prove any connection between milk and autism. Dr. Susan McGrew, associate professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, said the billboard looks more like a scare tactic rather than an evidence-based statement. "I'm concerned more about the people who don't have autism," McGrew said. "They will be scared that they'll get autism if they drink milk." To read more,click here


Disability-Related Questions for Politicians

Health care. A shaky economy. Unemployment.Those are the hot-button issues being debated during this presidential race, and as usual, the candidates take such broad stands that even the most complicated issue becomes a one-size-fits-all sound bite. But citizens with disabilities (there are 54 million of them) would like some specifics before they cast their votes. It's not just that the devil is in the details, but that their futures may very well depend on those details. Since our job as journalists is to ask the questions, it's also our job to get the specifics on the record. Unfortunately, it's rare that a reporter asks a disability-related question, but it's time to start.Digging deeper means not just reporting that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has a baby with Down syndrome, but also reporting on what families in that situation need to raise their children. For many families, the need is great. To read more, click here


Food for Thought........

Excellence is not an event, it is a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.


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