Week in Review - January 9, 2009


New NASET 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 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:  The Practical Teacher & Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

The Practical Teacher

School-Wide Strategies for Managing Mathematics

Deciding what specific math interventions might be appropriate for any student is a highly individualized process, one that is highly dependent on the student's developmental level and current math skills, the requirements of the school district's math curriculum, and the degree to which the student possesses or lacks the necessary auxiliary skills (e.g., math vocabulary, reading comprehension)  for success in math.

The focus of this issue of The Practical Teacher is to present some wide-ranging classroom (Tier I RTI) ideas for math interventions that extend from the primary through secondary grades. 

To read this issue of The Practical Teacher on NASET - CLICK HERE  (login required)


Autism Spectrum DisorderSeries

Structured Teaching: Strategies for Supporting Students with Autism?

Structured teaching is an intervention philosophy developed by the University of North Carolina, Division TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children).  Structured teaching is an approach in instructing children with autism. It allows for implementation of a variety of instructional methods (e.g., visual support strategies, Picture Exchange Communication System - PECS, sensory integration strategies, discrete trial, music/rhythm intervention strategies, Greenspan's Floortime, etc.). The following information outlines some important considerations for structured teaching to occur. It is one of many approaches to consider in working with children with autism.

Eric Schopler, founder of Division TEACCH in the early 1970's, established the foundation for structured teaching in his doctoral dissertation (2) by demonstrating that people with autism process visual information more easily than verbal information.

This issue of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Series details the structured teaching intervention philosophy.

To read this issue on NASET - CLICK HERE  (login required)

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Dr. George Giuliani, Executive Director of NASET, Discusses Special Education Students Becoming Future Special Education Teachers

Alex Curtin once faced a tough week as a substitute teacher of special education students. But, when he walked into their classroom, he knew just how to get their attention. "We're all 'speds' here," he told them conspiratorially, he remembered later. The class fell quiet. His use of that word - a derisive slang term for a special education student - had the same effect as if he had just cursed in front of them, he thought. "My goal isn't to make you fail again," he told them a few moments later. "It's to make you feel that you can succeed." By the end of the week, they were begging him to stay, he said. Curtin, now 30, knows how students who receive special education think because, for his entire academic career, he was one of them.  On Dec. 12, he marked an achievement that must have seemed unreachable to his younger self, when he struggled through school in Ripley, N.Y., in the western part of the state. On that day, he graduated from East Stroudsburg University with a master's degree in special education. It's unclear how frequently students who once received special education as children become special education teachers as adults, said George Giuliani, Executive Director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers. The field has no specific research on that question, largely because identification of special needs is kept confidential. "I wouldn't say it was a common thing at all," Giuliani said. But he said he had encountered a few graduate students in the special education program at Hofstra University, which he runs. Like Curtin, their connection to the material runs deep. "There's a level of passion they have that I've found to be higher," Giuliani said. "There seems to be a real passion and a greater understanding of special education because they've personally lived through it." To read more, click here

Rising Autism Rates Challenge Schools

The number of students diagnosed with autism in South Carolina's public schools has more than doubled in the past five years, creating more challenges in programming and staffing for education officials. The state Department of Education counted 2,685 students in 2007, up from 1,283 students in 2003, with autism as their leading disorder. Official data for 2008 was not completed by mid-December, when school districts are required to update their totals. But Susan Durant, the retiring director in the office of exceptional children at the education department, said the numbers are clear. And, the toll it takes on parents and the children can't be overstated, she said. "I pray it doesn't continue to increase," said Durant, the parent of an adult child with autism. "And, I say that as grandparent, a parent, a professional and a child advocate." To read more, click here

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Report Outlines Cost-Savings, No New Revenues For Education

The MA governor's ambitious overhaul of public education -- from universal preschool to free community college -- appears likely to be placed on hold, as the state grapples with a massive budget deficit that could lead to funding cuts for local school districts. An education finance committee that was appointed by the governor last summer said today that the economic downturn is preventing it from recommending any immediate measures to raise revenue to pay for the governor's plan. Instead, the committee recommended modest cost-saving measures that could yield $550 million. "The commission recognized that the state is facing completely different fiscal realities than were contemplated this past summer," according to a report released today by the commission. "The most recent estimates for the fiscal year 2010 budget predict a deficit of between $2 and $3 billion dollars. ... The commission's deliberations, therefore, concentrated on the urgent need to find opportunities for cost savings and to maintain support for our education system in a time of inadequate resources." To read more, click here

Special Event - NYC Department of Education - District 75

Online Conference on Working with Students with ChallengingBehaviors

District 75, Office of Positive Behavior Supports is pleased to present an interactive, online conference for staff and parents working with students who present challenging behaviors. Nationally-recognized researchers and experts will outline evidence-based systems and practical tips. Speakers will include: Dr. Lucille Eber (Director, IL PBIS Network), Dr. Nicholas Long (founder of the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute), Dr. Marc Brackett (Yale University), and Dr. Laura Riffel (Behavior Doctor Seminars).This conference is probably the most practical event you'll attend all year!

  • Learn Practical tips for working with youngsters who display challenging behaviors
  • Find out how to break in to the conflict cycle
  • Become familiar with the basic tenets of emotional literacy

Conference Title:
Educating Children with Disruptive Behavior: Strategies for Classroom and Community

DATE: January 21st and 22nd          TIME: 3:15 pm -5:00 pm

To register for the conference please visit the link below: http://district75.net/behaviorconference

Kids Not Ready For Kindergarten Cost Minnesota Schools Over 100 Million Dollars A Year

Every year in Minnesota, thousands of the state's children enter school unprepared for kindergarten. And every year, the cost to the K-12 system of those children not being ready is about $113 million, according to a study released Monday. From lost revenue after students drop out to increased safety and special education costs, the system takes a hit when students aren't ready for school, according to Robert Chase of Wilder Research, which released the study. "The schools are losing $42 million a year just because of students dropping out early," said Chase, a consulting scientist with the St. Paul research company. "They start behind and they don't catch up." To read more, click here

Autism Study Needs Infants With Older Siblings With Autism

Here are some quick facts about autism from Autism Speaks: 1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism; 67 children are diagnosed per day. Boys are four times more likely to have autism. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States. Autism costs our nation over $35 billion per year, a figure that is expected to rise. Autism funding is at $42 million dollars; leukemia gets $130 million and affects 1 in 25,000. There is no medical detection or cure for autism. These figures are jarring. As a former special education teacher that worked closely with students with autism, this is a cause near and dear to my heart. According to King5.com, the University of Washington is currently looking for infants with an older sibling with autism to participate in a new study on autism being conducted by the Infant Brain Imaging Study. This study will examine changes in the brain of a child and behavior that may signal the onset of autism. The UW is hoping to recruit 84 infants that are six months-old from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. 34 infants are also needed that have typically developing older siblings. Infants participating in this study will need to undergo preliminary screening, have a comprehensive assessment take, and an MRI of their brains taken when they are 6, 12, and 24 months-old. The imaging must be completed in Seattle and money for travel is available. Families may earn up to $225 for being in the entire study. To read more, click here

From Special Ed To Gifted To Somewhere In Between

In a comment made on my recent article, Problems with the rush to label children, one commenter, Caroline observed that "the wildly different viewpoints about being "diagnosed" is very interesting.  For those who feel over diagnosed, they see Special Ed services as undesirable, but "the more-privileged families tend to see special-ed identification as a desirable benefit, not a bad thing."  She hit the nail on the head when she stated, "but what they're angry about is what they perceive as the inability to get SUFFICIENT support services."  As I see it, affluent people want more services for children labeled Special Ed.  Meanwhile, lower income, and minorities who feel that children are being unfairly labeled don't want to end up in the system at all where they won't get the help even if they need it.  So as I see it, everyone agrees.  Special Education programs do little to truly advance the children back to mainstream education.  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

'Tsunami' of Autism Cases Crippling To Schools and Parents

Mary Porter has always known that her daughter Leah Magnotti was exceptional. Since she was diagnosed with severe autism at age 2, Leah - now 14 - has struggled to make sense of a world whose sights and sounds often overwhelm her. She's come a long way: Where once she could not recognize her own mother, today Leah is able to tap a drum with other students in a music class at Jewish Family & Children's Services in San Rafael. Her mother has done her best to make sense of a condition few understand and no one can predict. "There's no such thing as a prognosis," said Porter, who put her career as an artist on hold in order to be her daughter's full-time caretaker and legal advocate. "You're just along for the ride. And it's a roller-coaster ride." To read more, click here

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National Group Reaches Out To John Travolta

Autism United, a national group representing over 15,000 parents of children with autism is reaching out to John Travolta and Kelly Preston to join a nationwide public awareness campaign about Autism. Whether the death was related or not, the support of John Travolta would bring a powerful message, Ain said. He is one of the most recogonized stars of our time. But more importantly, his role as a parent who dealt with a child suffering seizures, could help to educate thousands of families with children suffering similar problems. To read more, click here

ADHD Study: Meditation Relieves Anxiety In Children

The practice of transcendental meditation may help children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder manage their symptoms, research suggests. In a pilot study, researchers found that lessons in transcendental meditation, or TM, appeared to calm the anxiety of children with ADHD, and improve their behavior and ability to think and concentrate. TM is considered to be one of the simplest meditation techniques. Practitioners sit comfortably for 10 to 15 minutes with their eyes closed, silently repeating a mantra -- a sound, word or phrase -- to calm the mind and body. To read more, click here

Whites, Asian Americans Labeled 'Gifted' More Often

A recent report highlights a persistent disparity within the county school system: White and Asian-American second-graders are identified as "gifted and talented" far more than their black and Hispanic peers. The challenge is not unique to the Montgomery County system, the state's largest district with more than 139,000 students in 200 schools. For years, school systems throughout the nation have struggled with the gap in labeling gifted and talented students. A total of 3,806 white second-grade students were tested in the spring for accelerated instruction, according to a report released in November by the school system's Office of Shared Accountability. Of those students, 1,997 were identified as "gifted and talented," which represented 52 percent of white second-graders tested, the data show. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

One man with courage is a majority

                                                   Andrew Jackson

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