Week in Review - August 28, 2009



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

Dear NASET Members:

Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with the latest publications from NASET 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

NASET Q & A Corner 

Questions and Answers About Secondary Transition

IDEA and its implementing regulations continue to address transition services for children with disabilities. Transition services may be special education, if provided as specially designed instruction, or a related service, if required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.   The term "transition services" means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that: (a) is designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, and community participation; (b) is based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths, preferences, and interests; and (c) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.  The focus of this issue of the NASETQ & A Corner is to address secondary transition services

To read and or download this issue - Click Here

Quick Links To NASET

Hawaii Students Getting Better At Math, Reading:  But Number Of Schools Making 'Adequate Yearly Progress' Hits Record Low

Middle school and high school students posted steady gains in math and reading in this year's Hawaii State Assessment, while elementary school students made little to no improvement, according to testing under No Child Left Behind. Nearly a month following the release of preliminary NCLB test results, the state Department of Education yesterday released a school-by-school breakdown of the latest round of standardized testing. The biggest improvement in literacy scores was posted by sixth-grade students, with 65 percent proficient in reading at their grade level, compared to 57 percent last year. Seventh-grade students posted the largest improvement in math, with 47 percent proficient, compared with only 40 percent last year. To read more, click here

Genetic Link Between Physical Pain And Social Rejection Found

UCLA psychologists have determined for the first time that a gene linked with physical pain sensitivity is associated with social pain sensitivity as well. Their study indicates that variation in the mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), often associated with physical pain, is related to how much social pain a person feels in response to social rejection. People with a rare form of the gene are more sensitive to rejection and experience more brain evidence of distress in response to rejection than those with the more common form. The research was published Aug. 14 in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and will appear in the print version in the coming weeks. The findings give weight to the common notion that rejection "hurts" by showing that a gene regulating the body's most potent painkillers - mu-opioids - is involved in socially painful experiences too, said study co-author Naomi Eisenberger, UCLA assistant professor of psychology and director of UCLA's Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. To read more, click here

NASET Offering Members Two Million Dollar Educator's Liability Insurance

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

Research Suggests Special Education Vouchers Prevent Mislabeling

Earlier this week, I asked what single thing people would change about the special education system to make it function better. Marcus A. Winters and Jay P. Greene, two fellows at the Manhattan Institute, suggest that one solution could be vouchers. The authors have written several papers in support of special education vouchers, and their latest report, released Tuesday, says the voucher program in Florida, called McKay Scholarships, has worked to slow down mislabeling of students as being in need of special education...."We contend that the reduction in SLD classification observed in the Florida schools after the introduction of a voucher program results from denying public schools what they understand to be the economic benefit of receiving a supplemental payment from the state for every additional child designated as suffering from an SLD. Thus, special-education vouchers appear to constrain costly growth in special-education enrollments." That's an interesting contention. My first thought is that there also seem to be disincentives to labeling a child, because you can't just call a student "learning disabled" and wait for the money to roll in. There are certain responsibilities on the part of the school district that must be met for every child that is designated as being in need of special education services. To read more, click here

Teens With Autism Master Social Cues, Find Friends

Thirteen-year-old Andrea Levy ticked off a mental list of rules to follow when her guest arrived: Greet her at the door. Introduce her to the family. Offer a cold drink. Above all, make her feel welcome by letting her choose what to do. "Do you want to make pizza now or do you want to make it later?" the lanky, raven-haired teen rehearsed in the kitchen, as her mother spread out dough and toppings. This was a pivotal moment for Andrea, a girl who invited just one acquaintance to her bat mitzvah. Andrea has autism, and socializing doesn't come naturally. For the past several weeks, she's gone to classes that teach the delicate ins and outs of making friends - an Emily Post rules of etiquette for autistic teens. To read more, click here

Principal Sees Decrease In Special Services For Students

The Federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act gives children with disabilities the rights to attend their local schools with accommodations provided. For some children, they need to be in a specialized school with multiple services. Unfortunately, many of these services are disappearing. Montefiore School, a Chicago public school on the West Side was a special school before there was such a thing as "special education." Every student has a primary diagnosis of emotional behavior with a secondary disability ranging from cognitive to other mental illness. This school has been the only hope for this population. For parents, Montefiore is the best thing that happened to their boys. They fear the future, when schools like Montefiore are no longer an option. "Because Montefiore is more like a regular school than unlike. We have a wide array of services for children we had much more than we have today but we still do an outstanding job with limited resources," said Mary Ann Pollett. To read more, click here

Become Board Certified In Special Education Through NASET

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

Schools Fight Families Over Autism Service Dogs

Like seeing-eye dogs for the blind, trained dogs are now being used to help children with autism deal with their disabilities. But some schools want to keep the animals out, and families are fighting back. Two autistic elementary school students recently won court orders in Illinois allowing their dogs to accompany them to school. Their lawsuits follow others in California and Pennsylvania over schools' refusal to allow dogs that parents say calm their children, ease transitions and even keep the kids from running into traffic. At issue is whether the dogs are true "service dogs" - essential to managing a disability - or simply companions that provide comfort. School districts say they are not discriminating, just drawing the line to protect the safety and health of other students who may be allergic or scared of dogs. To read more, click here

Non-Profit From New Jersey  Lets Children With Disabilities Fly High

Motty Katz's bar mitzvah is just a few days away, but today he undertook a different rite of passage: Taking a trip without his parents. That's a major undertaking for Katz and the 86 other young people with severe medical issues with whom he is vacationing in Florida this week, including Ezra Kress, 11, of Highland Park. "Because he is so medically dependent on us, it's hard for him to gain independence," said Ezra's mother, Adena Kress, as she accompanied her son, riding in a wheelchair, to his departure gate at Newark Liberty International Airport today. "He's gained so much independence from going on trips like this." The week-long excursion is being coordinated by Kids of Courage, a year-old nonprofit group that organizes retreats year-round for kids with complex medical conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, spina bifida and organ transplantation. To read more, click here

People With Disabilities Helped By Robotic Systems

People might be surprised to learn that about 50 million individuals in the world use, or could benefit from the use of, a wheelchair. Wheelchairs are one of the most commonly used assistive devices for mobility, providing people with mobility in their homes and communities. While wheelchairs were once a symbol of inability and considered stigmatizing, they have evolved to be highly mobile forms of self-expression that are often fitted to each individual user. One may wonder what science and engineering can do to improve the wheelchair, and be surprised by the answer: much has been, and remains to be, done. One of the areas in which science and engineering are making the breakthroughs of tomorrow is in applying computer modeling, rapid prototyping and robotics to create electric-powered mobility and manipulation devices. Such devices provide people with very severe disabilities--those that affect both the use of arms and legs--the ability to perform tasks with minimal assistance, or even function independently. To read more,  click here

An Open Letter To President Obama

You've taken your lumps for that cringe-worthy quip on Jay Leno, and rightly so: "It was like the Special Olympics or something!" Ouch. Among parents, educators and service providers for the developmentally disabled, the emotional response was keen. As the mother of a teenage son with high-functioning autism, I responded plenty. Not only did your words belie the fact that many a Special Olympian bowls a better game than you, they also underscored the need for better reflection and more action on your part if the real potential of adults with developmental disabilities ("DDs") is allowed an equal role in the nation's economic recovery. The issue is urgent: Since the early 1990s, diagnoses of autism and other developmental disorders have increased six-fold. A quick crunch of the numbers and time-frame reveals an enormous swell of adults with DDs of whom many will attempt to find mainstream work in a few short years. Yet your administration has so far demonstrated a conspicuous lack of focus on expanding current access to community employment for them, much less addressing future prospects.  To read more, click here

New Website Promotes Programs And Services For People With Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor has launched disability.gov, a site offering comprehensive information about programs and services to better serve Americans with disabilities, their family members, employers, educators, and caregivers. The new website integrates content from 22 federal agencies and is organized into 10 subject areas: benefits, civil rights, community life, education, emergency preparedness, employment, health, housing, technology and transportation. It includes social media tools to encourage interaction and feedback, and new ways to organize, share and receive information. Visitors can sign up for personalized news and updates, participate in online discussions and suggest resources for the site. To read more, click here

Early Childhood Education 101: What Is Bibliotherapy?

Bibliotherapy came from two Greek words, biblion (book) and therapeia (healing). Semantically, it means healing through books. Bibliotherapy is used for children and adults who need help understanding their problems. Young children may already have personal issues caused by family, physical, and other environmental factors. These issues, if not given early intervention may lead to emotional disturbance which bars children from social and educational success. Divorce, separation and stepfamilies, adoption,alcoholism and drug abuse, bullying, death and dying, and disability are some of the many hardships that children experience. Teachers use bibliotherapy to help their students understand and process their issues by reading and discussing books that address such difficulties.These stories have characters who experience difficult situations but are able to succeed. Children love to enter a different world found in both fiction and non-fiction stories. Bibliotherapy helps them form a bond with story characters enabling them to feel their hardships as well as success. To read more, click here

Fighting Monsters With Rubber Swords: This Is Important Stuff

I recently saw a post on an AAC users forum by an actual end user, in which she expressed her frustration at the process for getting a speech device approved for her own use. In order to even see and evaluate a device, she was required to have an evaluation performed by a licensed clinician. This isn't unusual, particularly when outside funding is being secured. It makes perfect sense on paper. In reality, a number of obstacles related mostly to human ego and a lack of understanding seem to complicate the process almost every time. I could write a book about those obstacles. Oh, wait. I already did. The responses to this post seemed to fall in three categories. There were users or parents of users who agreed with the original poster's frustrations. Then there were a few professionals who agreed on some level that the system has serious flaws. There were a number of professionals who came on to defend the system. I don't have anyone's permission to quote them directly, but much of it boiled down to a few basic points.  To read more, click here

Monitor Set In Special Education Lawsuit

A federal judge last week appointed an independent monitor to oversee Milwaukee Public Schools as it prepares to find - and compensate - what could be thousands of students denied special education services between 2000 and 2005. In addition to appointing Elise T. Baach as the independent monitor of the class action lawsuit, U.S. Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein released documents that outline how to search for members of the class, which includes current and former students who missed being identified as eligible for special education services between September 2000 and June 2005. In the lawsuit, Jamie S. vs. Milwaukee Public Schools, Goodstein ruled previously that the district violated the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, and that it needed to figure out how to provide compensatory services to individuals whose rights were violated. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.
                    John Updike

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