Week in Review - September 11, 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.

NASETNews Team

New This Week on NASET: 

The Practical Teacher

Bystanders: Turning Onlookers into Bully-Prevention Agents

Most students in a classroom or school do not bully others regularly and are not victimized by bullies. A common misconception about these student 'bystanders', though, is that they typically remain neutral or try to support the victim when they see bullying occurring. Unfortunately, the truth is that students who observe bullying are much more likely to encourage or assist the bully than to attempt to help the victim! With appropriate instruction and guidance, however, bystanders can be empowered to take an active role in preventing bullying from occurring and to report bullying to adults when it does take place. To 'win over' bystanders as bully-prevention agents, the teacher should (1) make bystanders aware that their own behavior can encourage or discourage bullying, (2) teach skills that bystanders can use to intervene when they witness bullying, (2) hold bystanders accountable for their behavior in bullying situations, and (4) structure classroom and schoolwide activities to encourage bystanders to develop positive relationships with potential victims. This issue of the Practical Teacher presents ideas for working with student bystanders.

To read or download this issue - Click Here

Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

Transition Planning for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Individuals with ASD frequently have difficulty with the unknown and may fear the unpredictable. It is difficult for them to take in all of the information within a new situation, determine what the expectations are and then generate appropriate responses. As a result, transitions are often difficult for individuals with ASD and Asperger syndrome and may result in increased anxiety and inappropriate or resistant behaviors.
This issue of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Series provides an outline of various transitions for students with ASD.
To read or download this issue - Click Here

Quick Links To NASET

Program Provides Helping Hand To Those With Disabilities

Ocean County residents with physical disabilities can get a helping hand through the Personal Assistance Service Program (PASP) administered through the Ocean County Department of Human Services. "Sometimes people with disabilities just need that little bit of extra help so they can manage their daily lives a little bit better," said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Human Services and the Board of Social Services. "This program provides just that." The Personal Assistance Service Program is a statewide initiative that provides routine, non-medical assistance to adults with physical disabilities between the ages of 18 and 65. The PASP gives these qualifying adults opportunities to work, attend school or vocational training and live independently in the community. To read more,  click here

Supreme Court Dismisses Disability Case

Pam Huber of Arkansas, while an associate at a local Wal Mart, was injured to the point of being disabled. Not being able to fulfil the requirements of the department she was assigned to, she requested a transfer to a department of her choice. The store management refused her request, on the basis of someone else was better qualified, and placed her in  another, lower paid, position. Ms. Huber filed suit citing violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The suit ruled out of her favor and in 1999, the case went to the 10th US Court of Appeals.  On Ms. Huber's appeal, the court ruled in her favor and an appeal was requested by Wal Mart. The next appeal was heard by the 7th US Court of Appeals in 2000. That court ruled in favor of Walmart, that the ADA was not violated. Ms. Huber filed with the US Supreme Court. This month, the US Supreme Court dismissed the case, citing court rule 46. To read more, click here

Special Education IEPs-How To Maneuver The Process

Public school systems are required to begin educating children at age three if they have a qualifying disability. By mandate of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), these children will have their educational goals delineated in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). A team of people develops the IEP. The actual team members will vary depending on the needs of the child. The IDEA does mandate certain individuals to be present, such as a regular educator, special educator, a local education agency representative, and the parent. The process can seem overwhelming. Following these ten steps will help keep you focused. To read more, click here

There Is A Solution To The Problems In Special Education

The special education system in the public school district is broken, but can be repaired. That was just one opinion provided by Jackie Townsend, a private consultant who evaluated the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District's special education programs earlier this year. Townsend's review was made public during a special called meeting of the school board Thursday afternoon. In May and June Townsend, who is the president of JWT Consulting Services, the Richmond, Texas-based firm hired by the district for the evaluation, spent 14 days split between special education classrooms, reviews of student folders and interviewing parents, teachers, principals and administrators to help formulate her report. To read more, click here

President's Speech Banned In Schools

A live address to students across the nation from President Barack Obama on the value of hard work and education has turned into a national debate that has school districts embroiled in controversy on the decision to show the speech or not. Local school districts' reactions to the controversy has run the gamut from support for the president's message to prohibiting teachers from showing the live address Tuesday morning. According to the U.S. Department of Education, "the president will speak directly to the nation's children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school." He also "will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility." Initially, the White House also suggested educators create a lesson plan around the speech, including writing letters on how students could help President Obama. The lesson plan is what stirred up the ire of some parents and the White House subsequently dropped the suggestion. Some school districts are refusing to allocate school time to hear Obama's speech, while others think it is a great moment in history.  To read mor, click here

Agency Makes Name Change from "Mental Retardation" To "Developmental Disabilities"

Lawrence County is dropping the words "mental retardation" from the agency that serves some 500 developmentally disabled individuals. "There was always a stigma attached to having mental retardation in the name," said Donna Fugett. Her daughter has been an employee at Tri-State Industries in Coal Grove for 11 years. "Hopefully, changing the name will remove that stigma and allow people to see the abilities of the individuals in these programs." The former Lawrence County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities changed the name to the Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities last month. The change is a move being done statewide as part of a bill passed by the state Legislature, said Paul Mollett, director of the county board. 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

Youth With Disabilities Becomes Eagle Scout

Lucas Wondra has Down syndrome and communicates with a few words, sign language and a PDA with a speaker and voice software. But when it comes to the Boy Scouts, he concedes no disability. On Monday, Lucas, a 16-year-old freshman at Hutchinson High, became an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America and the latest in a collage of medals and merit badges covering his uniform. Scout Master Bill Whitlow said Lucas is the first Scout with Down syndrome from Troop 301 to achieve his Eagle rank. "I feel like it's been a community effort," his mother, Leann Wondra, said. "The school helped with physical therapy, occupational therapy and communications therapy so he could earn merit badges." To read more, click here

Board Certification 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

Are There ADA Implications If Applicants Are Asked To Take Personality Tests?

Question: We would like to administer personality tests to job applicants. Would this violate the ADA?  Answer:  Personality tests are a good example of the types of policies likely to be affected by the recently passed ADA Amendments Act of 2008. According to a 2005 report, 30% of all companies use some form of personality test to assist with hiring decisions. Those tests may affect people who are hearing impaired or who have certain cognitive, developmental, learning or intellectual disabilities. For instance, as one commentator has recently noted, a person who is hearing impaired "may have difficulty understanding the nature of a question being asked by an employment test, as signed languages and spoken/written English have different grammatical structures." To read more, click here

Researchers Identify Critical Gene For Brain Development, Mental Retardation

In laying down the neural circuitry of the developing brain, billions of neurons must first migrate to their correct destinations and then form complex synaptic connections with their new neighbors. When the process goes awry, neurodevelopmental disorders such as mental retardation, dyslexia or autism may result. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have now discovered that establishing the neural wiring necessary to function normally depends on the ability of neurons to make finger-like projections of their membrane called filopodia. The finding, published as the cover story of the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Cell, indicates that the current notion regarding how cells change shape, migrate or differentiate needs to be revisited. Scientists have thought that the only way for a cell to morph and move is through the action of the cytoskeleton or the scaffold inside the cell, pushing membrane forward or sucking it in, said senior study investigator Franck Polleux, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology at the UNC School of Medicine. To read more, click here

Autism On The Warpath

The National Autism Association has officially named September 9 "How Much Longer Day." On that day, they are encouraging parents and other members of the autism community to get in touch with their federal representatives in support of a whole raft of issues in areas including health care, education, insurance, and more. The National Autism Association, for those who don't know, has a mission that states they will "...educate society that autism is not a lifelong incurable genetic disorder but one that is biomedically definable and treatable. We will raise public and professional awareness of environmental toxins as causative factors in neurological damage that often results in an autism or related diagnosis." Their mission places the NAA at odds with most mainstream autism-related organizations and researchers.  But for the NAA, the mission statement is just a start. To read more, click here

Parallel Play: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Asperger's

Are we who we are in spite of our afflictions, or because of them? This question beats at the heart of Tim Page's brief, unadorned memoir, "Parallel Play: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Asperger's." An odd, obsessive yet intellectually gifted man, Page was diagnosed in his 40s with Asperger's syndrome, part of a cluster of disorders that includes autism. Asperger's is often characterized by extreme awkwardness in social interactions, clumsy motor skills and a compulsive desire to collect encyclopedic details about random subjects. The Viennese pediatrician for whom the disorder is named noted that a "dash of autism" is essential for a successful career in the sciences. Perhaps he should have added music critic to the list, if Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning classical music critic, is any example. (Page has authored several books of criticism and biography, notably on the forgotten satirical novelist Dawn Powell). But this not a "how I trumped the odds" kind of book. Nor is it an account of how to cope with Asperger's. On its face it appears to be a middle-age man's reflection on his formative years and what led him to his profession, certainly a classic memoir structure and not exactly pulse-pounding. Yet in its quiet way, "Parallel Play" is simply lovely. To read more, click here

Intuniv Approved For Pediatric ADHD

Intuniv (guanfacine) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in people aged 6 to 17, drug maker Shire Plc said Thursday. The once-daily drug, to be available in 1-to-4 mg. strengths, is expected on pharmacy shelves in November, the company said in a news release. The way it works is unclear, but the drug is thought to directly engage receptors in the brain's prefrontal cortex, an area that has been linked to the disorder. Intuniv is not a controlled substance and "has no known potential for abuse or dependence," Shire said. To read more, click here

Federal Stimulus Helps Special Education, Struggling Children In Portland

More than half a million Oregon students head back to class this week, beginning a recession-tinged school year that will be marked by teacher furloughs and layoffs, fewer electives and extracurriculars, and swollen class sizes. What's gotten less attention is federal stimulus money that is enabling many schools to add teachers and beef up programs that educators say will pack an instructional punch. Oregon schools received roughly $150 million from the stimulus to spend this school year on special education and in schools with concentrations of low-income students. Portland-area districts report they have used the money largely to hire instructional coaches and teachers, hundreds of new jobs in all. To read more, click here

Simple Answers To U.S. Education Problems Don't Exist

President Barack Obama has figured out that, for African-Americans, the next epic civil rights battle will be fought not in the streets but in the classroom. In a recent interview with black journalists, Obama identified education as the most important challenge facing the African-American community. "If we close the achievement gap, then a big chunk of economic inequality in this society is diminished," Obama told them. "Now, how do we do that? Better teachers, greater accountability, and more resources combined with more reform." Not bad. Obama got three out of four answers right. Yes, we need better teachers, greater accountability and more reform. But, beyond repairing the crumbling infrastructure of some schools, we don't need more resources. To read more,  click here

Food for Thought........

Children are the messages we will send to a time we will never see.
                                                                                   Neil Postman

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