Week in Review - March 20, 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.

NASETNews Team

New This Week on NASET

Classroom Management Series

Controlling Student Outcomes

This issue of the Classroom Management Series IV provides a technique to control student outcomes and foster a sense of task completion and sense of accomplishment.
To read this issue on NASETClick Here (login required)

Behavior Management Series

Issue #14

Behaviors Covered in This Issue:
  • Why Children Are Unpopular
  • Why Children Procrastinate
  • Why Children Exhibit Risky Behavior
  • Why Children Are Shy
  • Why Are Some Children Slow Starters
To read this issue on NASET- Click Here  (login required)

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Special Olympics Announces "Spread The Word To End The Word-3.31.09,"A Youth Led Campaign To Raise Awareness About The "R-Word"

Special Olympics announced a new youth-lead effort -- Spread the Word to End the Word - 3.31.09, encouraging people nationwide to pledge to stop using the derogatory word "retard." The day will be devoted to educating and raising awareness about individuals with intellectual disabilities and the offensive use of the "R-word" in casual conversation. Spread the Word to End the Word is a collaborative promotion engaging Special Olympics leaders, celebrities, opinion leaders and the media. Actor John C. McGinley, star of the hit television show "Scrubs" and Ambassador of the National Down Syndrome Society, pledged his support for Spread the Word to End the Word after meeting with more than 130 young adults during a Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit in February held in conjunction with the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. McGinley was inspired by the motivation, creativity and passion the youth demonstrated in helping raise awareness about this issue and their dedication to stop the casual use of the "R-word." To read more, click here

Gifted Students Left Behind

Jonathan Miller could talk when he was a year old and read by the time he was 4. At that age, he memorized diagrams of human anatomy, drawing and naming the digestive, endocrine and circulatory systems. "His language progressed really quickly," recalled his mother, Rhonda Miller of Harrison City, who noticed similar abilities in Jonathan's younger sister, Kristen. But by the time her children were in school, pride in their abilities had given way to frustration. The lessons were too easy to hold their interest, and the children who loved learning began to resent school. "I would finish my work and just be sitting there," said Jonathan, 17, a junior at Penn-Trafford High School. "I would read a book, and the teacher would yell at me for being a distraction. School just became a hassle." Many people believe gifted kids can take care of themselves," said Miller, who is the president of a local chapter of the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education. "But that consigns a lot of kids to fall by the wayside and languish in boredom." 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

Socialization And The Homeschooled Child With Autism

Typically, it's easy to find opportunities for homeschoolers to socialize.  Whether they're playing football with the rec department program, starring in the community theater production, or just hanging out with other homeschoolers, there are always ways to connect with other same-age peers. Kids with autism, though, present more of a challenge. Sure, Tom goes to homeschool events.  From picnics to "geography fairs" to homeschool field trips, we've participated in them all.  Often, Tom has a fine time learning about the topic of the day.  And yes, he's in among typical peers. But just as in school, being in the vicinity of other children his own age does NOT mean the same thing as socialization.  In fact, Tom can play in a jazz band, join a bowling team, participate in a class, or explore  museum with a whole group of same-age peers - and never exchange two words with the kids around him.  True, he doesn't create any negative vibes... in fact, he creates no vibes at all. To read more, click here

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San Francisco School District Assignment Lottery Defies Federal Law

It's that time of year again.  The San Francisco Unified School District mailed out it's first round of school assignments to the special education students. There is one problem with that. It's illegal. Under federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that placement of special education students must be decided by the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team.  The IEP team is a group of professionals and the parents who look at the child's goals, Present Level of Performance (PLOP), strengths and weaknesses and choose a class placement.  The placement should have teachers and other support professionals who have the right training and experience to meet the child's needs.  The placement should, by default, be the school the child would normally attend if they were not disabled.  Of course in SF, what that placement would be decided by lottery. While this concept muddies the waters a bit to start., it is no excuse.To read more, click here

Contestant To Advocate For Disability Rights At Pageant

It's been 14 years since Cherie Armstrong first sat down in her wheelchair, and while her movement may be more restricted, nothing has been able to slow her down. "This chair hasn't stopped me from doing everything that I want to do. I go out more than some of my friends," said the Edwardsville resident, who ended up in her wheelchair after being in a car accident in which she wasn't wearing her seat belt. Now Armstrong, who is paralyzed from the chest down, is taking on a new challenge. Today, she will be one of three contestants competing in the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas pageant in Topeka. The contest is not a typical beauty pageant but rather a competition to find an articulate delegate to serve as a role model and spokesperson for people with disabilities in Kansas. Armstrong found out about the contest after a friend pointed out a small announcement in the Basehor Sentinel newspaper. She said she wasn't sure whether she wanted to enter at first, but after running the idea by her friends and family, she decided it would give her a chance to speak about an issue she is passionate about. "This contest is important because there are plenty of women out there (in a wheelchair) who have something to say and a point to get across. This is a chance to be their voice," she said. To read more, click here

Washington D.C. Chancellor Says Fixes Likely Too Much Too Soon

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee told teachers yesterday that in the drive "to fix everything all at once," she and her staff might have overwhelmed them with new programs and initiatives to turn around the under-performing school system. Union officials responded by contending that Rhee was playing politics with the union membership rather than responding at the bargaining table to a contract proposal they submitted at the end of January. Since her appointment by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) in June 2007, Rhee has moved with urgency at all levels of the school system. Her most visible changes include closing 23 schools, firing dozens of principals and attempting to introduce a potentially groundbreaking pay-for-performance package in labor negotiations. Less visible, but just as significant, are a flurry of pilot programs and policy changes that have placed increasing demands on many teachers. They include Saturday programs to prepare students for the DC-CAS standardized tests; a push for inclusion of special education students in regular classes; a new accelerated math program; a cash reward program for students in selected middle schools that requires new paperwork and record-keeping; and new guidelines for bilingual, arts and health education. To read more, click here

Helping Kids With ADHD A Walk In The Park

Wondering how to help a child with attention deficit disorder to improve his or her focus? Try a walk in the park, say Andrea Faber Taylor and Frances Kuo of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign's Laboratory of Human Health and the Environment. The laboratory provides a unique setting to study the interactions of humans and their surroundings. For this study, the researchers enrolled 15 boys and two girls. Boys with attention deficit disorders outnumber girls by a ratio of four to one. A walking guide took each child on a stroll through three areas: an urban park, a downtown area and a residential neighborhood. Using a standard measure of concentration called a Digit Span Backwards test, the researchers found that children were significantly better able to concentrate and control their impulses after walking in the park than in the other two environments. To read more, click here

TALKS For Verizon Wireless Enhancing Mobile Accessibility To Individuals With Visual Impairments

Wireless is helping customers with visual impairments navigate their mobile phone services by providing audio feedback for messaging, dialing and other tasks. The service, dubbed TALKS by the New Jersey-based company, will initially be available for the MOTO Q9c smartphone beginning on March 15 and is powered by Nuance (News - Alert) Communications. The service offers voice-to-text translation with a new assistive technology that converts displayed text into "highly intelligible" speech. The technology, created by Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a company owned by Nuance, aids users with a myriad of functions including: caller ID, dialing contacts, adding and editing contact entries, writing documents in the mobile versions of Word and Excel, composing multimedia (MMS) messages and browsing the Internet with Internet Explorer Mobile. "TALKS for Verizon Wireless turns the MOTO Q 9c smartphone into a communications tool that will help customers with impaired vision stay connected to family, friends and colleagues through methods beyond voice calls," said Jeffrey Dietel, vice president - marketing operations for Verizon Wireless. To read more, click here

Can High Pressure Oxygen Help Autism?

Several anecdotal reports suggest that hyperbaric oxygen therapy, in which children are placed in a pressure chamber with above-normal levels of oxygen, can improve the behavior of children with autism,  and many parents have begun subjecting their autistic children to such treatments, even though it is expensive and not covered by insurance. Physicians, moreover, do not see a biological rationale for why the therapy should work, although some suggest providing extra oxygen to the brain might be responsible for the perceived benefits. Now Florida researchers have conducted the first controlled trial of the therapy and, although the trial was small, they also found beneficial effects. To read more, click here

Special Needs School Vouchers Squezzed

In a tiny classroom, children of few words trace the alphabet in shaving cream, flinging globs of white foam onto their clothes and hair. Their squeals and grunts show the promise of early language skills. The teacher rewards their baby steps. Across the yard, kids once labeled with behavioral disorders sit calmly around an art table sharing supplies, bumping elbows, drawing, pasting with no blowups. The teacher praises their work ethic. At Special Needs Schools of Gwinnett, where class sizes are small and every teacher has at least one or more assistants, the enrollment has doubled without any investments in glossy advertisements. Once Georgia parents were offered school choice for their special education kids, the Lawrenceville school began to grow. Now, school choice for many hundreds of parents is being threatened by state voucher funding reductions. Parents of special needs kids who counted on the money to help pay for private school in a weak economy are finding they may not be able to afford it after all. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

Every achiever I have ever met says, my life turned around when I began to believe in me.

                                  Robert Schuller

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