Week in Review - May 29, 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

NASET Q & A Corner

Questions and Answers About Vocational Assessments

Crossing the threshold from the world of school to the world of work brings a significant change in everyone's life. School is an entitlement, meaning that it is an environment that our system of government supplies for all of our citizens. The workplace is the opposite; no one is entitled to a job. One of the most important aspects of transition planning is the preparation of students for the world of work. Up to now, the focus has been on helping students fulfill the educational requirements for graduation from a secondary school. Now comes a very real and practical issue that can create many concerns. With the proper information and resources, this next phase of the transition process can also be very rewarding. Parents and educators must fully understand vocational options in order to help children make the best decisions for his or their future.
The purpose of this issue of the NASETQ & ACorner is to give you a strong working knowledge of vocational assessments.
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Dr. Roger Pierangelo, Executive Director of NASET, Discusses Study On Restraint And Seculsion Of Special Education Students

According to last Tuesday's report by the Government Accountability Office, more special education teachers than once thought are crossing the line between discipline and child abuse. The GAO found that there were not only no federal laws that determined appropriate use of seclusion or restraints, but also that state laws varied widely. There is also no entity, government or otherwise, who is responsible for keeping track of the types of seclusion or restraints or the possible abuse of these methods. The GAO did find, however, hundreds of cases from the last twenty years that pointed to alleged child abuse and even death due to the misuse of restraints and seclusion. Most of the time, however, little is done for the teachers or the students who have suffered. In fact, out of ten cases in which a sentence was handed down (either a conviction, a finding of liability, or a large monetary settlement) teachers from five of those cases continue to teach.   Dr. Roger Pierangelo (Executive Director for the National Association of Special Education Teachers) says that Teachers have not been trained to handle the large influx of children with special needs. The United States is educating more that a half million more special needs students than it did just ten years ago. "When you have an out-of-control student threatening your class -- it's not right and it can be very damaging -- but seclusion is used as a 'quick fix' in many cases." he says.To read more, click here

Growing Old With Autism

In mid-2007, I set off to meet with geneticists, epidemiologists and doctors who specialize in researching and treating autism. I was seeking a novel therapy for my 42-year-old autistic younger brother Noah. I was also looking to discover how heightened awareness of autism - it is now among the most financially successful and mediagenic diseases ever, with hundreds of millions of dollars a year going to research, and regular press coverage - might have resulted in new and innovative programs for adult autistics like Noah....Noah has been my family's focus for decades. As a baby, he had been very slow to turn over, crawl or walk, and each subsequent developmental milestone was even more delayed as he grew into adulthood. My parents did everything they could for him, moving us from New York to Los Angeles in the early 1970s to be closer to a pioneering autism program at the University of California at Los Angeles, opening their own day care center for the developmentally disabled, even creating a one-on-one assisted-living situation for Noah - years before this became common - so that they could delay institutionalizing him. To read more, click here

Gifted Girls Conceal Their Talents

Parents need to watch their daughters closely to work out whether they might be "gifted", experts say, because girls are far more likely than boys to deliberately "dumb down" to fit in with their friends. Worse still, says Chris Herbert, head of the assessment team at the Gifted Education Centre (GEC), girls who hide their talents are likely to become bored and frustrated, setting them up for failure at secondary school because they lose all motivation."Gifted" children are defined as those who achieve, or have the potential to achieve, at a level far above most other children their age. If they make an effort at school, their marks are likely to be in the top 5% of their class. A child can be gifted in one area such as mathematics or music or many, and there are different levels of giftedness. Research suggests that about half of all gifted kids are never identified. But Sheryl Burns, assistant director of the GEC, says gifted boys are much more likely to be identified than girls. To read more, click here

Students With Learning Disabilities Finding More Success After High School

Kayla Constantine and Ashley Long are looking forward to college. "I'm excited about getting out there and being on my own," Long said. "I like to learn," Constantine said. "I want to take up French, culinary arts, history." The Penn-Trafford High School seniors, both 18, will graduate in June and start at Westmoreland County Community College in the fall. But they have worked harder than most to get to this point. Now poised and articulate young women, Constantine and Long have struggled with learning disabilities since they were in elementary school. "It affects you as much as being in a wheelchair, but you can't see it," said Long, one of thousands of students across the nation who have made life-altering progress with the help of special education classes increasingly focused on helping students transition to their adult lives.This trend seems to be having a positive impact, according to a long-term Department of Education study that will be completed this year. To read more, click here

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Dance Classes Help Children With Disabilities

Keeping nearly a dozen children on track during a dance class is no easy task, but Jennifer Allender at Dance Creations Dance Studio does that and more. Allender teaches dance to developmentally disabled children and adults. It is exercise, therapy, socialization and a whole lot of fun for the participants. Armed with patience, perseverance, commitment and a couple of enthusiastic volunteers, Allender gives her students their own "special time." "The other children have their sports," said Cathy Koskey, whose daughter Kate, 8, has been coming to Adaptive Dance Classes for two years. "For her this is very special, her special time." Koskey and Kathy Seelbach said the classes offer their children organized social interaction, which is tough to find for developmentally disabled children. To read more, click here

APA: Borderline Personality Often Missed First Time Around

Borderline personality disorder may be underdiagnosed, according to a study of lifetime diagnostic and treatment histories in patients eventually found to have the disorder. The substantial lag in correct diagnosis frequently results in polypharmacy with medications that are not the most effective for the disorder, David Meyerson, of DePaul University in Chicago reported here at the American Psychiatric Association meeting.  "Diagnosing borderline personality disorder can be complicated and difficult because its symptoms overlap with other disorders," Meyerson said. In the study, done at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, Dr. Meyerson and his colleagues found that 34% of patients given a psychiatric diagnosis before entry into the study had been given the wrong one or sometimes more than one. To read more, click here

Montefiore Backers Question Use Of Private Special Education Schools

Moses Montefiore Special School will remain open even as more emotionally troubled students are sent to private schools, Chicago Public School officials said this week.  Supporters had feared proposed staff cuts would lead to the closing of the school serving emotionally troubled boys in the fifth through eighth grades throughout the city. During a 90-minute meeting Wednesday of the City Council's Committee on Education and Child Development, Montefiore supporters questioned why the district is sending emotionally disturbed students to 11 private therapeutic schools. Last April the district awarded a $25 million contract to these schools even as it faces a budget deficit of $475 million. Deborah Duskey, the district's chief specialized services officer, defended the way CPS places students with emotional disturbances. To read more, click here

Not In My School Yard

For the last nine years, Tim has battled for his daughter, Sally, to attend local - rather than special - schools and for her to receive the help she needs. Sally, 14, has Down's syndrome. It has meant entire nights on the computer preparing for two tribunals against the local authority as it denied Sally occupational therapy and then threatened to cut her speech and language therapy. It has meant ignoring Sally's more reluctant teachers who have told him his daughter's learning has "plateaued" when he can see at home how her reading is improving. And it has meant blocking out the comments of some parents in the playground who have questioned why the "Down's syndrome girl is at this school". Until yesterday, it was all worth it. To read more, click here

Inclusion Within Exclusion

Inclusion is the goal of every student with special needs placed in a public school setting. However, often "inclusion" consists of classrooms located in areas that are distant from other classrooms, sometimes even located in basements or annexes. Special education teachers may find themselves and their students isolated in a public school with little, if any, contact with other students and teachers. There are remedies for this exclusionary inclusion. Appearing on television with Susan Axelrod, wife of White House Chief of Staff, David Axelrod, to discuss epilepsy, Tim Shriver who is the national Special Olympics director offered a bit of wisdom about inclusion. "The only person who can make a 12-year old (with special needs) feel included is another 12-year old." Mr. Shiver further suggested that special education teachers become proactive and arrange for some of their students to visit other classes and talk to the students and teachers to eliminate their fears of interacting with students with disabilities. 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

Charters Seek To Run Their Own Ship On Special Education

Ten local charter schools want to turn to an office more than 500 miles away in El Dorado County to help them educate children with disabilities using the schools' own staff and strategies, instead of paying San Diego Unified to help meet those needs. If approved, it will be a groundbreaking step for the charters, which already enjoy freedom over hiring, policies and curriculum but have traditionally been bound to the district when educating kids with Down Syndrome, attention deficit disorder or other disabilities. Their hope is that turning away from the school district will empower them to manage their own special education programs and provide a less expensive, more effective alternative than paying skyrocketing fees to the school district. Under school district control, special education "is a whole component of your program that you don't even own and operate," said Jed Wallace, CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. "That is completely antithetical to what the charter school movement is all about." To read more, click here

How Down Syndrome Works Against Cancer

Surplus production of a cancer-suppressing protein may explain in part why people with Down syndrome seldom get cancer, a study in the May 21 Nature shows. People born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, instead of the usual two copies - one from each parent. The third chromosome causes genetic aberrations that result in the mental retardation and telltale physical traits that define the condition. But chromosome 21 carries 231 genes, including some that may well suppress cancer. In the new study, researchers provide evidence that the protein encoded by the RCAN1 gene reins in the rampant blood vessel growth that a tumor needs to thrive. Scientists theorized that having an extra copy of the gene would result in more protein being made and add to an anticancer effect. Scientists have long suspected that such genetic benefits might accrue from having an extra chromosome 21. A recent study found that people with Down syndrome are only about one-tenth as likely to get a solid-tumor cancer as are people without the syndrome. To read more, click here

Manchester Senior Shows What Students With Disabilities Can Do

There were doubts that he would graduate from high school, much less attend a four-year college. But Thomas Allen, a senior at Manchester High School in Chesterfield County, has come so far from being born two months premature and struggling to sit up as a toddler because of his cerebral palsy. He has diminished hearing and a mild speech impediment, and he uses a walker to support his weak legs. But his optimism and drive have won the hearts of an entire school, which elected him homecoming king this year. "They never look at my disability," he said. "They look at my personality. I feel like my disability is out of my way." After eight years of high school, Allen, 22, will graduate next month with a standard diploma and will attend Liberty University in the fall. "What works with Thomas is that he himself is determined," said Judy Averill, lead transition job coordinator who oversees transition services for students with disabilities in Chesterfield schools. To read more, click here

Ernie Els: I Want To Find The Causes Of Autism

To the outside world he seems to have it all. He is one of the world's great golfers, has a multimillionaire's lifestyle, lives with his young family in beautiful houses in England, South Africa and the United States, and travels the world in his private jet. But one day, two years ago, the world fell in on Ernie Els - or so he thought at the time. The South African was told by doctors that his son, Ben, who was 5 at the time, was autistic. And life for Els and his wife Liezl was about to change forever. Yet after a period of deep reflection, and not a little self-pity, Els is devoting much of his energy into promoting research and raising public awareness of the condition. "It's like an epidemic," Els says. "It's a complete mystery." Last week at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey, where he was competing in the BMW PGA Championship, Els, 39, talked at length about Ben's condition. As the winner of three major championships, including the Open in 2002, he knows that he is lucky to be able to fund intensive treatment and care for his son - in fact he has moved his family to America, where there are private schools for autistic children - but he is also determined to help others less fortunate than himself. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

To learn and never be filled --- is wisdom. To teach and never be weary --- is love.
                       Author Unknown

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