Week in Review - February 6, 2009

Week in Review

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

Dear NASET Members,

Welcome to NASET'sWEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with the latest publications from NASETto 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</font

Have a great weekend.

NASETNews Team

New This Week on NASET:  The Practical Teacher & Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

The Practical Teacher

Preventing Graffiti and Vandalism: Enlisting the Power of the Classroom

Graffiti and vandalism can cost a school a great deal of money in repairs. They also may contribute to a perception that the school is not well-cared for and is an unsafe environment for students and staff. Because the writing of graffiti and acts of vandalism are usually carried out in secret, schools may discover that these types of misbehavior are difficult to curb. One intervention idea to reduce misbehavior directed against school property is to have classrooms of students adopt various school locations and to reward them for each day that these locations are kept in good repair (Watson, 1996). When student bystanders are given a personal stake in the maintenance of school property, they can quickly send a message to potential vandals that defacing or destroying property is not cool! 
The focus of this issue of The Practical Teacher is to discuss ways in which to prevent graffiti and vandalism in schools.
To read this issue on NASET - Click Here (login required)

Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

Increasing Expressive Skills for Verbal Children with Autism

Communication is a range of purposeful behavior which is used with intent within the structure of social exchanges to transmit information, observations, or internal states, or to bring about changes in the immediate environment. Verbal as well as nonverbal behaviors are included, as long as some intent, evidenced by anticipation of outcome, can be inferred. Therefore, not all vocalization or even speech can qualify as intentional communicative behavior.
This definition emphasizes that communication takes place within a social context. Speech/verbalization becomes communication when there is a desire or intent to convey a message to someone else. Therefore these two areas, communication and social skills, are tightly interwoven and interdependent. Unfortunately for children with autism, these are also two primary areas of difficulty. Therefore children with autism, even those who are considered "verbal", usually experience significant communication difficulties.
Therefore, the two-fold purpose of this issue is to provide:
I.  Key questions to consider in order to determine the child's current communication abilities
II.  The development of a communication intervention program for the child with autism that is based on his communication needs.
To read this issue on NASET - Click Here  (login required)

Quick Links To NASET

Parents Fight Special Education Discrimination in Religious Schools

Three families with disabled children who attend religious schools have filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Washington after it denied them access to the assistance normally provided under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. The lawsuit was filed in November, and the case will likely play out through 2009 as the families argue their case raises a valid constitutional issue. "Washington's regulation directly targets families who choose religious schools for their children," said Michael Bindas, the lead attorney on the suit. "Washington offers special education to everyone except those whose parents choose a religious school. That's religious discrimination, and it's unconstitutional." "It's really upsetting that families have to go through so much stress and so much haggling with the state because their children go to a specific school," said Andrew Campanella, director of communications for the Alliance for School Choice, a Washington, DC-based organization. To read more - click here

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Researchers Image Brains Of Infants At Risk For Autism

Autism researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are joining other scientists to image the brains of infants and attempt to identify anatomical and behavioral changes that may be linked to the onset of autism. The $10 million, NIH-funded Infant Brain Imaging Study allows investigators to analyze early brain development in children at risk for autism spectrum disorders by virtue of having an autistic sibling. The study builds on two key findings. The first is that children with autism tend to have larger brains - between 5 percent and 10 percent larger by age two - than children who don't have the disorder. Data from pediatricians measuring head circumference suggests the enlargement could begin at the end of a child's first year of life. The second finding suggests the onset of social deficits associated with autism usually cannot be detected until the end of the first year. To read more, click here

Idaho State Department Of Education Finds Native American Students Mislabeled

The state Department of Education of Idaho says a school district in eastern Idaho has labeled Native American students who struggle because of race or poverty as disabled and placed them in special education classes. The department has ordered Idaho School District 25 in Pocatello to direct nearly $368,000 from its special education budget to its general operating fund and use the money to pay for student intervention programs. The department plans to meet with district administrators, who govern schools in Pocatello and Chubbuck, in February. An analysis of student enrollment shows a significant and disproportionate number of Native American students have been identified as having learning disabilities, according to a letter the department sent district officials on Oct. 24. The federally mandated analysis uses race and ethnicity information to determine whether specific groups of students have been excessively placed in special education classes. To read more, click here

Teachers, Parents Gain Tools To Help Children With Dyslexia

More than 200 people from throughout Louisiana filled the halls of Nicholls State University Saturday to improve their understanding of dyslexia and its effect on human's intellectual development. Called "Unmasking Their Potential," many who attended said they welcomed the chance to learn of the learning disability without traveling far."It's important that it's close by. I've had to go to conferences in Baton Rouge," said Celeste Molaison, a Thibodaux resident whose daughter has characteristics of dyslexia. Instructional guides on reading big words, elementary sentence structure and college preparation were among the nearly two dozen courses centering on various aspects of the learning disability held throughout the day. Most who came were teachers, tutors or parents of children with dyslexia who sought to improve the lives of youth, according to Karen Chiasson, director of the Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders at Nicholls. To read more, click here

Board Ceritification 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

Research Suggests That Ritalin May Be Addictive

Ritalin, a drug commonly used to treat children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), caused changes in the brain cells of mice similar to those seen with cocaine, a new study shows. The researchers, from The Rockefeller University in New York City, said the findings suggest that chronic exposure to Ritalin in high doses could prove addictive, and highlight the need for more research into its long-term effects. However, one ADHD expert said he doubted the findings were applicable to children with the condition because the doses used in the study were so high. Indeed, in experiments with mice, the researchers found that Ritalin in doses higher than those prescribed to treat ADHD caused changes in the reward region of the brain in a way comparable to cocaine. Ritalin and cocaine are both psycho-stimulants, the researchers noted. "Methylphenidate [Ritalin] and cocaine have similar chemical structures and their pharmacological effects appear to be similar," said study author Yong Kim, a senior research associate at The Rockefeller University. To read more, click here

In England, Exam Results Found To Be An 'Inaccurate' Way To Identify Gifted Students

Elise Lewis, director of the Young Gifted and Talented scheme, said it was "inaccurate" to assess its success on test scores alone. She insisted schools should take a more "holistic" view of pupils instead of merely encouraging them in the exams hall. The comments were condemned as making an excuse for failure. It follows the publication of figures showing one-in-seven of pupils officially recognised by Labour's Gifted and Talented programme fail to leave school with five good GCSEs, including the basics of English and maths. And it coincided with research which found encouraging students to go on to higher education is not a high priority for some teachers. To read more, click here

Students' Issues Force Teachers "Above And Beyond" The Call

Neurobehavioral disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), depression and anxiety affect as many as one in five children and adolescents, according to a local group of experts. Behind each struggling child, there is often a teacher struggling to help -- and too often, teachers don't get enough credit for the crucial role they play alongside parents and mental health professionals. All are vital in supporting special needs children, say members of the Kalamazoo County chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). To honor these efforts, CHADD on Thursday presented its second annual Celebrating Teachers conference at the Bronson Gilmore Center for Health Education. To read more, click here

Extremely Premature Infants Have Much Higher Risk For Autism

Premature birth occurs to more than half a million babies in the United States each year, often for reasons not yet understood. The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more health problems it is likely to have. Babies who are born extremely preterm, prior to 28 weeks gestation, are at high risk for breathing problems, brain damage, and digestive problems in the first few days of life, but they are also at risk for a wide range of lifelong health challenges in the form of cerebral palsy, hearing and vision loss, and learning and developmental delays. There is also mounting evidence that babies born more than three months early face a much higher risk of developing autism compared to babies born full-term. To read more, click here

Sports Program Helps People With Disabilities Learn To Ski And Snowboard

Molly Brown snaps the last ski buckle into place, tucks her ginger-brown hair into a wool cap and takes off down the slope at Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County, cutting a smooth S curve into the snow. Brown, 17, of Amherst, Va., is a six-season veteran of the Wintergreen Adaptive Sports Program, a nonprofit corporation that aims to make such sports as skiing and snowboarding accessible to people with disabilities. Brown was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that limits muscle movement, especially in her lower body. In her daily life, she moves slowly through the world. She walks with small, deliberate steps, her body hunched into what doctors call a "crouched gait." Even standing requires thought and effort. On the ski slopes, Brown is a self-described daredevil. She tackles jumps and moguls with the best of the snowboarders, and cruises down the toughest trails. "It's conceivably my favorite thing in the world," Brown said after a run at Wintergreen on a recent January morning. To read more, click here

Special-Needs Teacher Shortage Threatening Standards

A lack of special-needs teachers in Ohio might have an affect on whether some local district officials are able to keep highly qualified instructors in the classroom. Nearly all the school districts in Fairfield County had highly qualified teachers instructing core classes in the 2006-07 school year, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education. The districts that fell short in Fairfield County were Lancaster City Schools and Berne Union Local Schools. Ninety percent of the core classes at Talmadge Elementary School in Lancaster were taught by highly qualified teachers. Thomas Ewing Junior High School in Lancaster had 96 percent rate. Lancaster City School Assistant Superintendent Rob Walker said he believes the reason the district fell short is because of a lack of special-needs teachers serving as substitutes or long-term replacements in the classroom. "I think, what most schools are facing, is an increased number of students being identified as having some special need, but as those numbers increase, there are not as many teachers filling that market," Walker said. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.                                    

                                       John Adams

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