Week in Review - January 29, 2010


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

Working with Paraprofessionals in Your School

Related Services Paraprofessionals

A variety of non-instructional roles currently are performed by paraprofessionals in schools today. Under federal legislation, schools must ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.
Related services may include health-care services, therapies, or psychological services according to the individual needs of students. These non-instructional roles have federal and state regulations reflecting specific standards. This issue of the NASET's Working with Paraprofessionals in Your School addresses the unique aspects of supervising health assistants, paraprofessionals assisting with speech-language programs, and occupational and physical therapy assistants.
To read of download this issue - Click Here  (login required)

NASET Q & A Corner

Questions and Answers About Spina Bifida

The human nervous system develops from a small, specialized plate of cells along the back of an embryo.  Early in development, the edges of this plate begin to curl up toward each other, creating the neural tube-a narrow sheath that closes to form the brain and spinal cord of the embryo.  As development progresses, the top of the tube becomes the brain and the remainder becomes the spinal cord.  This process is usually complete by the 28th day of pregnancy.  But if problems occur during this process, the result can be brain disorders called neural tube defects, including spina bifida. The focus of this NASET Q & A Corner will be to address frequently asked questions about spina bifida.
To read or download this issue - Click Here  (login required)

Quick Links To NASET

Dealing With the Financial Burden of Autism

When Jeff Sell's twin sons were found to have autism 13 years ago, he, like so many other parents in the same situation, found himself with a million questions: Will my children be able to function? What are the best treatments and where do I find them? How will this affect the rest of my family? And besides those monumental worries, Mr. Sell kept asking himself another fundamental question as he began the long string of doctor and therapist visits with his sons: "How in the world am I going to pay for all this?"Autism trends, treatments and therapies routinely make headlines. Often overlooked, though, is the financial burden for many families with autistic children. Treatment is extremely expensive. Direct medical and nonmedical costs can add up to as much as $72,000 a year for someone with an extreme case of the disorder, and even $67,000 a year for those on the lower end of the spectrum, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health. To read more, click here

Rethinking Brain Injuries

Phineas Gage accidentally drove a pole through his head - and survived. Gage sustained one of the world's most famous traumatic brain injuries. Today, 1.4 million Americans suffer one every year, with effects ranging from mild to severe. Of them, 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 50,000 die. Gage's was an extraordinary case, with incredibly mild repercussions given the extent of his injury. But the normal prognosis for patients with severe head injuries is not so hopeful. Astonishing tales of recovery such as Gage's do not help us understand the normal course of brain injuries, nor do inaccurate dramatizations of patients recovering from them, especially in the movies. It's only through working closely with professionals - physicians, neuropsychologists, neurologists, etc. - that people can really understand these injuries and the best ways to deal with them. To read more, click here

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Identification of the Gene Responsible for a New Form of Adult Muscular Dystrophy

A study published in the January 21 online edition the American Journal of Human Genetics, allowed the first identification of a new form of adult onset muscular dystrophy. The research team led by Dr. Bernard Brais, neurogeneticist at the Research Centre of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) and associate professor, Université de Montréal, in collaboration with European collaborators, demonstrated that recessive ANO5 mutations will lead to abnormal membrane repair of muscle fibers. The continuous stress induced by contractions of muscles lead to tears of its membrane that need to be rapidly repaired. ''An understanding of how the loss of AN05 will lead to defective membrane repair will lead to better treatments of all muscular dystrophies were such abnormal process play a role. '', notes Dr. Brais. 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

Australian Report Calls for Action on Dyslexia

National recognition of dyslexia as a disability, with improved training and professional development for teachers to deal with the problem, are needed to address a source of poor literacy skills, says a report to the Federal Government. The report to the federal parliamentary secretary for disabilities and children's services, Bill Shorten, says up to 10 per cent of people struggle to cope with dyslexia. It says there are no pathways to diagnosis and support for children and adults with dyslexia. ''In the education system there are few qualified to diagnose, and the wait time for school psychologists is up to a year,'' the report by the Dyslexia Working Party says. To read more, click here

Education Industry Lobbies Congress in Favor of Seclusion and Restraints for Children

One has to wonder about the people in the education industry. Instead of serving their clients (who are children than cannot speak for themselves), they are only interested in self-serving easy solutions, and protecting themselves against liability.  Lobbyists have been pushing the cosponsors of the Miller bill to weaken the legislation so that it is almost useless.  At this point, they have already convinced the politicians to craft the legislation  so parents have no recourse if their children are killed or maimed by school personnel as the result of using restraints. This comes as a total slap in the face to the brave parents that came forth to testify at the Congressional hearings.  While Anne Gaydos was able to settle for some damages for her daughter Paige, foster parent, Toni Price here was not even allowed to press charges for the death of her foster son Cedric.  His killer is still out there and has worked for several schools around children. To read more, click here

Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Greater Risk of Relapse in Childhood-Onset Multiple Sclerosis

Low vitamin D blood levels are associated with a significantly higher risk of relapse attacks in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who develop the disease during childhood, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. "We have known for some time that vitamin D insufficiency is a risk factor for developing MS, but this is the first study to assess whether vitamin D levels influence the disease course of those who already have MS," said lead author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, a clinical instructor of neurology at the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center. The study, which is now published online in the Annals of Neurology, demonstrates that an increase in vitamin D levels by 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL) corresponds with a 34 percent decrease in the rate of subsequent relapses. To read more, click here

Nashville Schools Make Plea For Surrogate Advocates

For special education students without parents to advocate on their behalf, surrogate advocates are a lifeline. But these volunteers are proving hard to come by in Nashville at least. Surrogate advocates attend IEP meetings - where a student's individualized education plan is mapped out - on behalf of students with disabilities who are in foster care. School districts across the country match volunteers, who are trained by legal services providers, with students who qualify for an advocate under state or federal law. In some cases, these advocates are paid to help out. The advocates only work with students in a school setting, acting on behalf of the student - much like a parent would - to ensure that the student has the most appropriate educational plan. To read more, click here

Diagnostic Overlap Between Asperger's and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

I discovered at age 54 that I had been twice brain-injured, at three and at six. My parents knew this, but they didn't tell me: they let me thrash about unknowingly, upsetting people with challenging and then 'inappropriate' behaviour, rude and unempathic speech and actions, driving away friends, lovers, jobs and opportunities right, left and centre. In 2008, aged 60, I found out that I have all along had Asperger's syndrome, and may have had it since before the brain injuries. The way I arrived at the correct diagnosis of my problems, after decades of thrashing about in therapy with psychologists, reveals much about these overlapping categories. After we had been together for five years, my Missus read Ratey and Johnson's Shadow Syndromes. She formed the view that I had mild or 'shadow' autism spectrum disorder, which amounts to Asperger's syndrome, a recently defined neurodevelopmental disorder. To read more, click here

NASET Member Benefit - Group Savings Plus from Liberty Mutual 

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First Oral Bacteria Found Linking a Mother and Her Stillborn Baby

Yiping Han, a researcher from Department of Periodontics at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, reports the first documented link between a mother with pregnancy-associated gum disease to the death of her fetus. The findings are discussed in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. An Internet search in 2008 led a friend of a mother, who had just delivered a stillborn baby, to Han's research lab -- one of the few in the world working on understanding the role variations of the oral bacteria, Fusobacterium nucleatum, have on pre-term labor and stillbirths. To read more, click here

The United Kingdom Dismantles its Gifted Program

In 2002 Tony Blair, then the prime minister of the United Kingdom, supported the creation of a program for gifted and talented children. The system was similar to what we have in the United States. More than 200,000 students were identified and participated in this program for gifted students. Prime Minister Blair promoted the academy to make public state schools more attractive to parents, as upper income families often chose to send their gifted students to private schools. This plan was to ensure that the nation's brightest students from all socioeconomic groups would have opportunities to meet their full potential. However, according to the United Kingdom Telegraph website, January 23, 2010, the program is being dismantled because many have come to see the program as elitist. Apparently there was a problem, not enough of the poorest students were qualifying for the gifted program. To read more, click here

Wayne State Researcher Secures $2.7 Million National Institutes of Health Grant to Track ADHD Changes

A Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher has secured a significant grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of <font color="#000000">the National Institutes of Health to track the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the brains of children and teens in the hope of developing more effective therapies. "The primary aim is to track at what age and where in the brain developmental differences start to occur in ADHD compared to the developmental course of healthy individuals," said Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences. The NIMH approved a $2.7 million grant for the research, which will involve brain imaging and other forms of testing. To read more, click here



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 U.S. Birth Weights on the Decline

Thirteen-pound babies may make headlines, but they aren't the norm. In fact, U.S. infants are getting smaller, according to researchers at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute's Department of Population Medicine, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Their findings, published in the February 2010 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, suggest that birth weights in this country have declined during the past 15 years. The study analyzed data on birth weight, maternal and neonatal characteristics, obstetric care and other trends from the National Center for Health Statistics Natality Data Sets, looking at 36,827,828 U.S. babies born at full-term between 1990 and 2005. Birth weight -- a combination of fetal growth and length of gestation -- was recorded in grams. The investigators teased out certain factors, including the mothers' age, race or ethnicity, education level, marital status and tobacco use, as well as the amount of weight the women gained during pregnancy and how early in pregnancy they received prenatal care. They also considered the women's risk of conditions like hypertension and use of obstetric procedures such as induction of labor and cesarean delivery. To read more, click here

Schools Know Score on Mental Health Issues

Public school teachers and administrators are trained in education, but schools are charged with so much more than educating students. Schools must see to students' nutritional and clothing needs, as examples, with the philosophy that children are less likely to learn when they have basic, unmet needs. Certain staff members spend a lot of time dealing with student mental health issues, without necessarily being trained in how to handle them. That's why officials in Sharon and Hermitage are excited about new mental health programs that will be launched for some of their districts' youngest students. Once launched, Hermitage and Sharon will be among only five schools in the state with the programs. "There has been a need for mental health services for a long, long time," said Hermitage Director of Administrative Services Bonnie O'Mahony. "This brings the therapists to our door." The Sharon Score - Score stands for Strengthening Concepts and Opportunities with Re-education - and Hornet SCORE programs will intertwine education and mental health services, giving children consistency on both fronts. To read more, click here

Law Change Allows Some Money for Children with Special Needs to be Funneled Elsewhere

Ohio school districts are spending money meant for disabled students to stabilize their shaky budgets, and the state has made it easier for them to do so. Statewide, schools are receiving an extra $438 million in federal stimulus money just for special education. For most districts, the influx has doubled the federal dollars they received for special education. Special-education advocates say vulnerable students are being cheated as the money is redirected, and that Ohio has taken the most extreme approach of any state that has paved the way for schools to use the money elsewhere. "It just seems completely mind-blowing to me," said Jennifer Cohen, a policy analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based New America Foundation. She tracks stimulus spending on education. "I think it's sneaky, and I know there are a lot of special-education advocates out there who are upset about the implications." To read more, click here

Surrogate Parents Fill Needs of Special-Needs Jacksonville Children

When children become wards of the state, a flood of new people come into their lives - investigators, caseworkers, psychologists, guardians and foster parents. But when those children have learning disabilities, none of those people can make important decisions about their education or ask for testing that would get them extra help. Their family lives in upheaval, facing multiple moves and sometimes multiple schools, all foster children are at risk of falling behind in school. Throw in the possibility of having a learning or other disability, and it can be a recipe for disaster. Enter the "surrogate parent." A relatively new phenomenon in the field, a surrogate parent is appointed either by the school district or a dependency judge to advocate for the education of children with special schooling needs. They don't take the place of foster parents, though: They aren't there to house the child, sign field trip forms or help with homework. They can request testing, meet to set a course for the child's education and fight to make sure they get the help they need in school. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

We all have abilities. The difference is how we use them.

                                                                       Stevie Wonder

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