Week in Review - February 26, 2010


New NASET Publications and Articles of Interest in Special Education and Disability Awareness 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 and disability awareness.  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

Lesser Known DisabilitiesSeries

Disabilities Discussed in This Issue: 

  • Gerstmann's Syndromes
  • Hyperlexia
  • Cornelia de Lange Syndrome
To read or download this issue - Click Here (login required)

Assessment in Special EducationSeries

Part VI- Understand the Various Methods of Assessment Options Available to the Multidisciplinary Team

The assessment of a student for a suspected disability should be considered a very serious process. This is a process that will determine the educational direction of a student and there-by change many factors in his/her life. The purpose of a multidisciplinary approach is to make sure that the student is provided with the most comprehensive assessment by a variety of professionals who will evaluate the child on many levels. Once the team has all the paperwork, as previously mentioned, they will begin this process. The team must by law, keep in mind the required components of a comprehensive assessment. This issue of the Assessment in Special Education Series will go over the various tools used by this team in its goal of determining the presence of a disability.
To read or download this issue - Click Here (login required)

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Startling New Childhood Asthma Data

Researchers from The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services (GW) said today that asthma, a largely manageable and chronic disease, is on the rise in America and released new data on the magnitude of the asthma crisis, the surging cost of treatment, and the more than 1 million children with asthma who are uninsured. A new report from GW, Changing pO2licy: The Elements for Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes, found that asthma adds about 50 cents to every health care dollar spent on children with asthma compared to children without asthma. Those most at risk -- low income, medically underserved, and African-American and Hispanic children -- have the least access to preventive care and the most visits to the ER. To read more, click here

Autism Signs Appear in Babies' First Year, But Parents Don't Notice, Study Finds

The social disengagement that is the hallmark of autism-spectrum disorders begins to appear in the second half of a baby's first year of life, according to a new study. But California researchers found that parents typically do not notice the decline in their child's behavior until well into his or her second year. The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is among the first to glean the pattern of autism's emergence in very young children by following babies from the age of 6 months. At that age, babies who would go on to be diagnosed as autistic and babies who would develop typically showed no significant differences in social behaviors, including smiling, making eye contact and vocalizing responsively. To read more, click here

Unique Collection from Deaf Artists Exhibited in Washington

Deaf Access Solutions, a division of BayFirst Solutions LLC, is honored to announce the loan of 37 paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works from the permanent collection of the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a college of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York. This groundbreaking exhibition showcases works of varying aesthetic and form created by Deaf artists from the 1930's through present day. The collection will be on display at the offices of BayFirst Solutions in Washington, D.C. through September 2010. To read more, click here

Frustrated Schools Advertising How Much They're Owed

The cash-starved State of Illinois is months late and more than $700 million behind in paying its education bills, and at some school districts, taxpayers don't have to go far to find out exactly how much their schools are owed. Districts stretching across Naperville, Carpentersville and Rockford have posted signs outside their schools announcing how much the state owes them. Elgin, home to the state's second-largest school district, was dotted last week with school signs declaring: "The state owes U-46 $12.4 million.'' "We've updated them twice so far,'' said U-46 spokesman Tony Sanders. "It helps the public to see why we have some of the financial problems we have.'' To read more, click here

Reading to Kids a Crucial Tool in English Language Development

Poring over the works of Dr. Seuss, the adventures of the Bernstain Bears or exploring the worlds of Hans Christian Andersen with a child has always been a great parent-child bonding exercise. But, according to George Georgiou, a University of Alberta professor in educational psychology, it is instrumental for English-speaking children if they are to acquire the language skills, particularly comprehension, essential to their future reading ability. Georgiou and his colleagues recently published a study in Learning and Instruction examining the cognitive and non-cognitive factors that may predict future reading ability in English and Greek. Since the study was published, Georgiou has expanded his research to Finland and China, with the same outcomes. To read more, click here

House Denies Insurance Coverage for Treatment of Children with Autism

The House of Delegates today defeated a bill that would have required insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism. Senator Janet Howell (D- Fairfax) sponsored SB464 which would have expanded the availability of early intervention treatments that can lead to improved outcomes for children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The bill was defeated this afternoon by a voice vote in a sub-committee of the House Commerce and Labor committee. "This bill was a small step, but an important step in providing desperately needed services," said Sen. Howell. "This was a very limited bill crafted specifically to minimize impact on insurance premiums. I am very disappointed that so many children and families are going to have to wait another year for the treatment they need and deserve." SB464 passed the Senate of Virginia with bipartisan support despite opposition from business and insurance lobbies. Many of those same special interest groups testified in opposition to the bill at today's hearing. Senator Howell's bill would have required insurance companies in Virginia to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autistic children between two and six years of age when treatment has been shown to be most effective. To read more, click here

Status Quo Won't Work on Pennsylvania Special Education Funding

Children with disabilities often experience tremendous challenges when they reach adulthood. National research shows that about 70 percent of all adults with disabilities are unemployed. That often translates to a greater reliance on public benefits and significant isolation from the world of work, taxes, elections, shopping malls and everything else that constitutes full participation in Pennsylvania community life. Ensuring a quality education for all children in all public schools in Pennsylvania is the first step in preventing this unfortunate outcome. Each school district must have the resources to offer effective education and special supports for students with disabilities. Adequate funding is important and it must be spent on strategies with a track record of helping children succeed. To read more, click here

Progress Slow in New York City Goal to Fire Bad Teachers

The Bloomberg administration has made getting rid of inadequate teachers a linchpin of its efforts to improve city schools. But in the two years since the Education Department began an intensive effort to root out such teachers from the more than 55,000 who have tenure, officials have managed to fire only three for incompetence. Ten others whom the department charged with incompetence settled their cases by resigning or retiring, and nine agreed to pay fines of a few thousand dollars or take classes, or both, so they could keep their jobs. One teacher lost his job before his case was decided, after the department called immigration officials and his visa was revoked. The cases of more than 50 others are awaiting arbitration. 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 and our partnership with the Association of American Educators (AAE), click here

Parochial Schools Increasingly Serve As Special Education Alternative

Catholic schools are offering programs for children with disabilities more and more, with schools serving students diagnosed with everything from Asperger's syndrome to intellectual disability. Though traditionally out of reach for faith-based schools given the high cost of providing special education services, determined parents are fund-raising and getting grants to develop programs at Catholic schools across the country. In fact, the number of Catholic elementary schools with a resource teacher to assist students with special needs grew from 28 to 42 percent between the 2001-2002 school year and 2008-2009. The programs vary, but at one Virginia school, students have small, separated classes for their core academics and then join with other students for electives and extra curricular activities. To read more, click here

Fetal Surgery Continues to Advance

Repairing birth defects in the womb. Inserting a tiny laser into the mother's uterus to seal off an abnormal blood flow and save fetal twins. Advancing the science that may allow doctors to deliver cells or DNA to treat sickle cell anemia and other genetic diseases before birth. These are examples of the still-emerging field of fetal surgery. "Fetal surgery is a unique field in maternal-fetal medicine," said pediatric surgeon N. Scott Adzick, M.D., medical director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment (CFDT) at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Detecting birth defects prenatally has allowed physicians to provide better perinatal care," said Adzick, "but many of these babies were already too sick for us to treat them successfully after they were born. This dilemma led to the development of fetal surgery." To read more, click here

Parents Worry About Speed of Special Education Changes

Parents of special-needs students in Evanston-Skokie School District 65 are protesting what some say is a "fundamentalist" fervor to move students from self-contained classes into general education settings. Parents are calling on District 65 to continue offering a full spectrum of placement options, including the separate Park School for children with severe disabilities. "My concern is that the district is moving too quickly toward inclusion, that it is poised to dismantle proven programs and shift children with special needs into general education settings without adequate support," said Jill Calian, one of more than a dozen parents who appealed to the School Board Feb. 16 in a campaign spearheaded by Citizens for Appropriate Special Education. To read more, click here.

Four-Day Schedule Draws Curious.... Sometimes Furious Crowd

From the occasional applause, you might say most of the people gathered at Sunrise Elementary to hear a presentation on a four-day week schedule last week were against the concept. Yet, every so often someone would find a positive about the idea. The attendance nearly overwhelmed Superintendent Dr. Deb Henton who remarked that the crowd was probably the largest she has seen for a meeting since she started over three years ago. Quickly, Dr. Henton moved into a presentation of the four-day schedule from information she has researched and gathered in the past year. She began by explaining why NB schools are exploring a four-day week? Primarily, it is because the district continues to face financial challenges that are compounded by a poor economy, declining enrollment, flat, or possibly reduced state funding and the failure of last fall's operating levy. To read more, click here

Exercise Helps Protect Brain of Multiple Sclerosis Patients, Study Suggests

Highly fit multiple sclerosis patients perform significantly better on tests of cognitive function than similar less-fit patients, a new study shows. In addition, MRI scans of the patients showed that the fitter MS patients showed less damage in parts of the brain that show deterioration as a result of MS, as well as a greater volume of vital gray matter. "We found that aerobic fitness has a protective effect on parts of the brain that are most affected by multiple sclerosis," said Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul.

                                                                      Joseph Addison

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