Week in Review - March 6, 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

ThePractical Teacher

Positive Peer Reports

Some students thrive on peer attention-and will do whatever they have to in order to get it. These students may even attempt intentionally to irritate their classmates in an attempt to be noticed. When students bother others to get attention, though, they often find themselves socially isolated and without friends. In addition, teachers may discover that they must surrender valuable instructional time to mediate conflicts that were triggered by students seeking negative peer attention. Positive Peer Reporting is a clever classwide intervention strategy that was designed to address the socially rejected child who disrupts the class by seeking negative attention. Classmates earn points toward rewards for praising the problem student. The intervention appears to work because it gives the rejected student an incentive to act appropriately for positive attention and also encourages other students to note the target student's good behaviors rather than simply focusing on negative actions. Another useful side effect of positive peer reporting is that it gives all children in the classroom a chance to praise others-a useful skill for them to master! The focus of this issue of The Practical Teacher will be to discuss Positive Peer Reporting as a strategy for teachers to use in order to effectively change negative behaviors of students.
To read this issue - Click Here

Quick Links To NASET

Underlying Sleep Problem Linked To Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) In Children

A study in the March 1 issue of the journal SLEEP suggests the presence of an intrinsic sleep problem specific to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and supports the idea that children with ADHD may be chronically sleep deprived and have abnormal REM sleep. Results show that children with ADHD have a total sleep time that is significantly shorter than that of controls. Children in the ADHD group had an average total sleep time of eight hours, 19 minutes; this was 33 minutes less than the average sleep time of eight hours, 52 minutes, in controls. Children with ADHD also had an average rapid eye movement (REM) sleep time that was significantly reduced by 16 minutes. According to the principal investigator and the lead author, Reut Gruber, PhD, director of the Attention, Behaviour and Sleep Lab at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, results of the study were encouraging, as the researchers were able to control for many confounding factors, which reduced some of the confusion and contradictions discovered in previous studies. Measuring sleep architecture in the children's beds at home using portable PSG, also allowed researchers to better represent the natural sleep pattern, thus increasing the validity of the study. To read more, click here

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 Program Pairs Special Education and Gifted Students

Anastasia Giddens-Merritt and lab partner Kevin Peña watched the robot they had built and programmed try to hurl a ball over a wall. The throw, however, was a bit short. "The robot's arm went all the way down and crashed into the floor," said Anastasia, 10, who is in a program for gifted and talented students in the Westbury school district. So the two went back to their shared computer, made some adjustments and this time the robot lobbed the plastic ball right over the wall at a Westbury school. "It's fun," said Kevin, 10, a student in the special education program. The students are fifth-graders at Powells Lane Elementary School and Drexel Avenue School, both in Westbury, and are part of a program that teams special education students, who are learning-disabled, and counterparts in the gifted and talented program. To read more, click here

How Much Will Stimulus Help Local Education?

Faced with pending cuts in state funding - one of their biggest sources of revenue - many school officials are turning to the federal government for help. The $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress promises an estimated $21 billion for existing federal education programs that target poorer and special education students. Local school officials say they're hoping the money will be enough to offset anticipated state funding cuts. "At this point we have nothing but questions," said Eric Beavers, spokesman for Whitfield County Schools. "We do not know for sure how much money we are going to receive, what conditions will be put on that money, or when we will get that money." To read more, click here

California Court Denies Extra MCAT Time For Students With Learning Disabilities

In California, aspiring medical school students with learning disabilities lost their bid to get extra time or other accommodations when taking the Medical College Admission Test. The state Supreme Court in February declined to review the case. The decision leaves intact an appeals court ruling that California's disability and antidiscrimination laws do not require the Assn. of American Medical Colleges to grant special treatment to candidates diagnosed with dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or other learning disabilities. Four applicants diagnosed with reading-related or other learning disorders sued the association in a class-action lawsuit in 2004 after their requests for more time and a private room to take the MCAT were denied. In evaluating the petitions, the AAMC, which administers the test, relied on a narrower definition of disability under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. But the students had argued that broader state standards should apply. To read more, click here

Despite Assurances From Medical Experts, Parents Wonder About Vaccination-Autism Link

To this day, Kim Markley still wonders how one of her perfectly healthy children became an epileptic virtually overnight. When he was a year old, Markley's son Skylar received the recommended MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shot. A week later he started having severe, full-blown seizures. "It's a weird thing; he was healthy, then this happened," said Markley of Coshocton. "The doctors said the seizures could have been from the vaccination, but they're not sure. He has epilepsy now and has been on medication since he was three." The incident happened seven years ago, but her memories have been stirred up with the notion of the link between vaccines and autism or other disorders. "It probably could happen," Markley said. "I've only heard of it happening, but never saw any proof. You just have to take your chances." Scientific evidence, however, does not support the supposed connection. According to an Associated Press report on Feb. 12, a special federal court turned down families in three cases who argued that a combination of the MMR vaccines and other shots triggered autism. To read more, click here

Coach Takes Plunge Into Icy Waters For Special Olympics

The Special Olympics have always held a unique place with DePaul Coach Doug Bruno. After more than 30 years involved in them as a basketball coach, he will now participate in a different way by taking part in the ninth annual Chicago Polar Plunge, going into Lake Michigan on Sunday when temperatures are expected to be in the 20s. "The concept is simple," Bruno said. "When you work with athletes like I do every day that have been blessed with such physical and mental attributes, it is something that is a gift, a gift from God, and those physical and mental attributes should never be taken for granted. "The Special Olympics takes the Olympics concept and ideals to its most well-intended and full inclusion." To read more, click here

Children's Show Host With a Disability Draws Criticism and Praise

A children's show host who was born with one hand is facing criticism from parents over her disability. BBC spokeswoman Katya Mira said the corporation has received at least 25 "official" complaints recently about Cerrie Burnell, new host of two shows on the BBC-run CBeebies television network, which is aimed at children younger than 6. The official complaints do not count the dozens of negative comments lodged in Internet chat rooms, Mira said. In one chat room, a father lamented that Burnell being on the show forced him to have conversations with his child about disabilities. However, there have also been messages of support for Burnell. What do you think about the complaints? "We have also received 99 appreciations of her," Mira said. To read more, click here

Little Leaguers Play Ball Despite Disabilities

More than 100 youngsters in 19 communities across the South Shore will once again be able to participate in the Challenger Division of the Braintree American Little League. The games will be played on Sundays April 26 through June 28 at Hollingsworth Park on Pond Street. The Challenger Division was established nationally in 1989 as a separate division of Little League Baseball for boys and girls with physical and mental disabilities. Braintree's division will host eight teams. 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

Let The Good Times Roll--For Now

Hail the conquering hero! Martin O'Malley has saved the day for government programs in Maryland, thanks to the Obama stimulus package. Remember those 700 jobs Governor O'Malley said he had to cut to save millions? Forget about it. Their positions are secure for the next few years. Remember the nearly $70 million in reduced state aid for local schools, especially in struggling Baltimore city and Prince George's County? It won't happen. How about O'Malley's failure to give extra money to school districts in high-cost regions of the state? Not any longer. For the first time, that program will be 100 percent funded, at a cost of $176 million - all of the cash coming from that Washington windfall. There's also nearly $400 million for special education enhancements and for schools with kids from poor families; $600 million for "shovel ready" highway and transit projects, and a $1.3 billion federal infusion into the state's medical assistance program. To read more, click here

New Drug May Treat Learning Disorders

Toronto researchers are developing a medication that may one day help people with inherited learning disorders. According to a study released from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, published online in PLoS Biology, the way to treat learning disorders in the future may be via pills, not behavioral and learning techniques. With learning disorders, the brain cells needed for learning are all present, says lead researcher Rod McInnes. "What's lacking is all the machinery that's required for normal communication between the neurons," he says. In a study of mice, the researchers looked at the neural protein Neto1, which plays a crucial role in brain connections, and is responsible for the ability to recall where things are in your surroundings. The mice that had their ability to produce Neto1 removed were unable to find a hidden object in a maze, but when they were given a drug now being tested on Alzheimer's patients, they were able to locate the object. The drug is still being tested, and it will be several years before it would be ready for use. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.

Rosalynn Carter
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