Week in Review - June 25, 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.

NASETNews Team

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New This Week on NASET

Lesser Known Disabilities

Issue # 6 - June 2010

Each issue of this series contains at least three lesser known disorders. Some of these disorders may contain subtypes which will also be presented. You will also notice that each disorder has a code. These codes represent the coding system for all disabilities and disorders listed in the Educator's Diagnostic Manual (EDM) Wiley Publications.>

Disorders in this issue:
  • Dysgraphia
  • Turner Syndrome
  • Landau-Kleffner Syndrome
To read or download this issue - Click here

Assessment in Special Education Series

Part X:  Understand What is Required for a Presentation to the IEP Committee

Once the assessment process is completed, and the report is written, the results will be shared with the IEP Committee, the district wide committee responsible to determine whether a student has a documented disability, what type of educational setting will best suit his or her needs and the student's Individual Educational Program (IEP). As a result, the evaluator will need to prepare for this presentation of results. There are several things that the evaluator will need to take into consideration. These are presented in this isse of Assessment in Special Education Series.
To read or download this issue - Click here

Quick Links To NASET

ADHD Drugs Have No Long-Term Growth Effects: Study

Previous studies have shown that medication may make kids with ADHD eat less and grow slower than their peers without the condition - at least at first. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10 percent of boys and 6 percent of girls have been diagnosed with ADHD. "There have been concerns in the literature about the use of ADHD medications and their effect on growth," Dr. Stephen Faraone, a psychiatrist at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and one of the study's authors, told Reuters Health. "We found that that (growth) delay tends to be most prominent in the first year or so, and tends to attenuate over time." Dr. Faraone and his colleagues measured and weighed 261 kids with and without ADHD that they had been following for at least ten years. Most of the kids with ADHD had spent at least some of that time on stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall. To read more, click here

Family Returns Diploma, Sends Son Back To School

A Chicago family makes their son give back his diploma. He's missed a lot of days, and they can't understand why he still received a passing grade. CBS 2's Kristyn Hartman reports even the student, Abraham Esquivel, agrees and wants to stay in school. By law, as a special education student, he can until he's 22. That's exactly what his parents fought for -- and got. Even though he'll have less than a year in another school, they say something is better than the nothing they believe he's gotten thus far. Esquivel, 21, walked at graduation. But his family says they're returning his diploma. They wrote a letter to CPS citing their concerns he wasn't ready. The bottom-line: They're not happy with the education he received at Las Casas Occupational High - a school for some of the district's most challenged kids.  To read more, click here

Intervention School for Students with Severe Behavioral Problems to Open in Tenn.

A handful of Metro Nashville special education students with severe behavioral problems will get a chance to learn in a new intervention program opening this fall. Spectrum Academy will gather about 30 high school students for whom the traditional school setting has proven unsuccessful in advancing academically and socially. All have a wide range of problems, from emotional disturbance to developmental disabilities. "We know that with these students, we have gone through every other option," said Linda DePriest, who oversees special education and other programs as Metro's assistant superintendent."If we put all the support in place, and the student still has such intense needs, we look to this. It's not the first resort. It's a last resort. This is the most restrictive setup." To read more, click here


Guess the answer to this week's trivia question and we'll recognize you in next week's Week in Review.

Congratulations to:

Phyllis Wilson, Marcel Chambers, Ronna Jonas, Jenny  Bassford, Michele Degati, Terry Koogle, Sasha Shlyamberg, Alexandra Pirard Virginia Abate, Dawn Cox, Patty Arvin, Ruth Elmakiss,  Gayle Pellegrino, Gary Golden, Rajasri Govindaraju,  Ann McGrath , Lisa Rotella, Marilyn Haile, Barbara Heckelmann &  Emily Miller

What do Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Ludwig van Beethoven and Orlando Bloom all have in common?

ANSWER:  They all had/were suspected of having a learning disability.


In 1982, the first case based on Public Law 94-142 reached the United States Supreme Court.  What was the name of this New York case that addressed the question of what defines a free "appropriate" education for students with disabilities?
If you know the answer, send an email to contactus@naset.org

NASET Member Benefit - Group Savings Plus from Liberty Mutual 

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Some Misunderstandings About Reading

The federal government encourages the use of "scientific, evidence-based" methods of teaching the "essential components" of reading. For instance, the National Institute for Literacy web page for reading components states that Scientific research has identified five components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension. However, this seems to me to contain certain misunderstandings about reading which I have summarized along with some other misunderstandings that I have seen in the literature on reading. To read more, click here

FEMA Has No Plans for Individuals with Disabilities

The Federal Emergency Management Agencyacknowledged Tuesday that it has failed to implement a natural disaster plan for the disabled and told a congressional panel that the agency lacks the resources to put a plan in place. Marcie Roth, FEMA's senior adviser on disability issues and director of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, said FEMA has developed a plan to evacuate, shelter and supply disabled people in a disaster. However, she told a panel of the House Committee on Homeland Security that her agency has only one paid full-time position and a working budget of $150,000. Panel members encouraged Roth to establish a voluntary registry of potential disaster victims who are disabled so that rescuers could help them evacuate. To read more, click here

Anxiety/Panic Disorder Most Frequent Disabling Comorbid Disorder in Tourette Syndrome Patients, Study Finds

An assessment of patients with adult Tourette syndrome (TS) to identify clinical factors that contribute to psychosocial and occupational disabilities resulting from the vocal or motor tics that define TS found that anxiety/panic disorder may be the most disabling psychiatric condition associated with the disorder. The results of the study, based on the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale, will be used to identify patients who are more likely to have or develop significant disabilities related either to the severity of their tics, or to the psychiatric disorders associated with TS, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, mood disorders and drug or alcohol abuse. To read more, click here

Did You Know That.....

The percentage of students receiving special education under the learning disabilities category has doubled since the federal government began collecting and reporting child count data in 1976-1977.

School Districts Strive to Find Best Tools for Educating Individuals with Severe Disabilities

Donovan Forde was dozing when the teacher came around to his end of the table. It fell to his teacher's aide to wake him from his midmorning nap. She shined a small flashlight back and forth in his eyes like a dockworker signaling a ship, and called his name. Then she put her hand on his cheek, steering his head forward as he opened his eyes. The teacher, Ricardo Torres, placed a red apple against Donovan's closed left hand and held it near his nose so he could smell it. "Donovan, the fruit holds the seeds of the plant," he said. Then Torres held a plastic container of apple seeds to Donovan's ear, shaking it, and placed Donovan's hand inside so he could feel them. "And these are the seeds," Torres said. He watched Donovan's eyes and face for a sign he had understood, a smile, nod, a noise. Donovan gently pulled his hand away. No one knew if he had grasped it. At a time his peers are enrolled in college, or earning money at jobs, Donovan, 20, is in public school, being taught the most basic facts. Because of cognitive disabilities brought on by a traumatic brain injury at nearly 6 months old, it is nearly impossible to know what he comprehends and retains. After 15 years in the New York City school system, he is less reserved and more social, but otherwise has shown almost no progress, his mother said. To read more, click here

New Regs for Washington D.C. Private Special Education Schools

District officials proposed new rules Friday to more tightly regulate the quality and cost of private schools where special education students are sent at public expense. A 2006 law passed by the D.C. Council authorized more rigorous oversight, but only now is the District getting around to establishing specific regulations to put the measure on its feet. The rules, published Friday in the D.C. Register, will require the schools to obtain a "Certificate of Approval" (COA) from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education confirming that they comply with health and safety standards and are following each student's Individual Education Plan (IEP) -- the official document setting out the help that a child needs. It will also, for the first time, place limits on what the District will pay to private educators. About 2,700 disabled District students attend private schools, at a projected cost this year of $283 million in tuition and transportation. Parents pursue private schools as an option for their children under federal law when it is determined that the District system can't meet their needs. There are about 90 day schools in the Washington area and an additional 119 residential facilities as far away as Colorado where District children have been placed. To read more, click here

Possible Mechanism Identified for How Lithium Treats Bipolar Disorder

Lithium has been established for more than 50 years as one of the most effective treatments for manic depression, clinically termed bipolar disorder. However, scientists have never been entirely sure exactly why it is beneficial. Now, new research from Cardiff University scientists suggests a possible mechanism for why Lithium works, opening the door for better understanding of the illness and potentially more effective treatments. Laboratory studies with cells have shown that an enzyme known as prolyl oligopeptidase (PO) controls a set of genes that determine sensitivity to lithium. Among these genes is ImpA2, which like PO activity itself, has been associated with differences in some bipolar patients. These results reveal a new mechanistic link that could explain these changes in these patients. 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

Did You Know That.....

The percentage of students with mental retardation has decreased by well more than half (from 24.9% to 8.9%) since the federal government began collecting and reporting child count data in 1976-1977.

Little Is Understood About Alcohol's Effect on Fetal Development, Researchers Say

It's long been known that alcohol use in pregnancy can lead to children with mental retardation and birth defects, but researchers who study fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) have not made definitive progress on preventing the disorder, detecting it early, or effectively treating it, say researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center. In the issue of Developmental Neuroscience, four first-year medical students at Georgetown University School of Medicine looked into the science and clinical treatment of FAS, and found that although there is much ongoing study, no new medical strategies exist to change the grim outcome that can occur when a fetus is exposed to alcohol. "Although there is a lot of research in the field to determine how alcohol acts on the developing brain, there is not much translation into the clinic," says Sahar Ismail, now a second year medical student. "What surprised us the most was the lack of sensitive and specific diagnostic tools to identify children with FAS, given its prevalence and harmful effects on the child, family, and society." To read more, click here

Genes' Role in Autism a Complicated Connection

Though the causes of autism are unclear, and many researchers believe that environmental factors play some kind of role, they are sure of one thing: Genes are strongly involved. Scientists once harbored hopes that autism might be linked to a handful of genetic mutations that would clearly explain why someone develops it. But the genetic roots of autism (known these days as autism spectrum disorders because behaviors and severity differ widely) are proving much trickier to untangle than anticipated. One problem is that the number of people in most studies has been limited; another is that the small tweaks in genes that scientists have linked to autism so far are very rare in the human population. Nonetheless, as new techniques make it easier to inspect the human genome in fine detail, researchers are uncovering a dizzying array of genes that play a role in autism in different people. Clues to the biological processes affected by these genes are beginning to emerge - and some offer hope for one day reversing the symptoms of this range of related disorders. To read more, click here

Florida Increases Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Governor Charlie Crist last week attended the 12th annual Family Café to sign two bills benefiting persons with disabilities. The Governor signed the bills ceremonially, surrounded by individuals with disabilities, their families and advocates. The new legislation helps protect persons with disabilities from abuse and increases residential opportunities. "The Family Café is an excellent forum for Floridians to learn more about the services available for persons with disabilities and their families," said Governor Crist. "The bills I signed today continue my deep commitment to increasing opportunities for persons with disabilities to live independently and achieve their dreams." The Family Café focuses on providing information and resources to people with disabilities. Governor Crist provided the conference's opening remarks, applauding the efforts of all advocates of persons with disabilities, including Family Café participants, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and members of the Governor's Commission on Disabilities. To read more, click here

Summer Prime Time for Brain Injuries in Kids

With summer upon us, we are sure to see children engaged in sports and recreational play such as baseball, soccer, bike riding, Rollerblading, swimming and skate boarding. This should raise the issue of safety for our children and our need to be aware of hazards and preventions. An estimated one million children in this country sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury each year. Every 21 seconds, a head injury occurs in the U.S. The majority of these are called concussions. A concussion is a brain injury in which the skull has not been broken. The brain can be injured from the inside by banging and bouncing against skull walls which can cause bruising, tissue tears, swelling, and chemical changes. Often, x-rays and brain scans will not detect the damage. However, the impact on a child's functioning can be drastic. To read more, click here

A Struggle to Educate Students with Severe Disabilities

Donovan Forde was dozing when the teacher came around to his end of the table. Pale winter light filtered in through the grated classroom window, and the warm room filled softly with jazz. It fell to his teacher's aide to wake him up from his mid-morning nap. She shined a small flashlight back and forth in his eyes like a dockworker signaling a ship, and called his name. Then she put her hand on his cheek, steering his head forward as he focused his eyes. The teacher, Ricardo Torres, placed a red apple against Donovan's closed left hand, and then held it near his nose so he could smell it. "Donovan, the fruit holds the seeds of the plant," he said. Then Mr. Torres held a plastic container of apple seeds to Donovan's ear, shaking it, and placed Donovan's hand inside so he could feel them. "And these are the seeds," Mr. Torres said. He watched Donovan's eyes and face for a sign he had understood, a smile, nod, a noise. Donovan gently pulled his hand away. No one knew if he had grasped it. At a time when his peers are enrolled in college or earning money at jobs, Donovan, a handsome 20-year-old with a sliver of a mustache, is still in public school, being taught the most basic of facts. His vocabulary for this science unit, which lasted about two weeks, was three words: seeds, fruit and juice. And yet, because of his cognitive disabilities brought on by a traumatic brain injury at nearly 6 months old, it is almost impossible to know what he comprehends and retains. After 15 years in the New York City school system, he is less reserved and more social, but otherwise has shown almost no progress, his mother said. To read more, click here

Dispute Over Pesticide for California Strawberries Has Implications Beyond State

Even as the sweet strawberry harvest reaches its peak here, a bitter disagreement has erupted between the State Department of Pesticide Regulation and a scientific review committee over the approval of a new chemical, the outcome of which could affect farmers across the country. In a report and in public testimony Thursday before the State Senate Food and Agriculture Committee, members of the review committee said the state's decision to approve the new pesticide, methyl iodide, was made using inadequate, flawed and improperly conducted scientific research....Once out in the environment, neurotoxic chemicals like methyl iodide contribute to neurodevelopment disorders including learning disabilities, conduct disorders, autism spectrum disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, said Dr. Slotkin, who called such health disorders a "silent pandemic." To read more, click here

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Brain MRI in Children: 'Incidental' Findings Yield Disclosure Dilemmas for Doctors, Patients

Pediatricians whose patients undergo "routine" brain MRIs need a plan to deal with findings that commonly reveal unexpected-but-benign anomalies that are unlikely to cause any problem, reports a research team led by Johns Hopkins Children's Center investigators. "Doctors need to figure out what, if anything, they want to share with patients about such findings because they seldom require urgent follow-up," says senior investigator John Strouse, M.D., Ph.D., a hematologist at Hopkins Children's. In a report published online June 14 in the journal Pediatrics, Strouse and team describe the results of what they believe is the largest study to date of the frequency and type of unexpected brain findings in children who get MRI tests for reasons unrelated to these benign anomalies. To read more, click here

Did You Know That....

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 does not apply to children who are gifted and talented.

Skateboarding's Therapeutic Effects on Children with Autism

Skateboarding saves lives. That statement has been repeated millions of times because it's plain and true. Whether it serves as an escape from a life of drugs and violence, sanctuary from a rough home life or means of overcoming poverty, skateboarding constantly finds ways to make people's lives better. And the most beautiful thing about skateboarders that have been saved? They pay it forward. Off the top of my head I can think of dozens of examples of skaters giving back: just to name a few there's Skatepark of Tampa's Boards For Bros program giving underprivileged kids skateboards, Etnies donating thousands of shoes to Downtown LA homeless and Deluxe Distribution donating proceeds from decks designed for special causes in their Actions REALized series. One cause Deluxe recently championed is treatment for autism. Last year Deluxe's Jim Thiebaud teamed up with long-time Eastern Skateboard Supply sales representative, John Pike. "When it becomes personal is when I get drawn in," says Deluxe's Brand Manager, Jim Thiebaud. And it got personal real quick. To read more, click here

In Fiji, 20,000 Pupils Can't Read

As much as 10 per cent or 20,000 students in primary and high schools in Fiji have difficulty reading and understanding English. This is according to senior education officer for special education, Mareselina Tabalailai. She made the statement while conducting a Reading Intervention for Low Progress Readers workshop at Nadi Special School last week. "This is an alarming figure when you consider that fact that there are approximately 200,000 students attending school and 10 per cent of this figure is 20,000 students with literacy problems. "A lot of these students drop out of school and a lot of them end up in prison, which is unfortunate, all because of a reading handicap," she said. However, Mrs Tabalailai said the situation was not unique to Fiji. "To my knowledge, developed countries like Australia and New Zealand have the same problem and their percentages are higher than ours." To read more, click here

The Kids Can't Read

Forty percent of Atlanta eight-grade students tested Below Basic proficiency in reading on the 2009 edition of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal exam of academic achievement. Essentially two out of every five Atlanta students heading into high school are functionally illiterate -- unable to comprehend a work as simple as Anne of Greene Gables or even complete mathematical word problems such as "Marty has 6 red pencils, 4 green pencils, and 5 blue pencils." Atlanta isn't an isolated case. Twenty-eight percent of Georgia's eighth-graders -- one in every four -- read Below Basic proficiency. This is a problem with nearly every race, age, and social class. Thirty-four percent of eighth-grade boys tested Below Basic in reading, as did one in every five white students and 40 percent of black students. The low levels of literacy also aren't confined to the Peach State: Twenty-six percent of America's eighth-graders and one in three fourth-graders are functionally illiterate.  To read more, click here

New York City Seeking New Test for Gifted Admissions

The city will search for a new admissions test for its gifted and talented public school programs, a Department of Education official said on Monday, in part to address concerns that some families were "gaming" the test through extensive preparation. The official, Marc Sternberg, the new deputy chancellor for portfolio planning, said the change could occur for the 2012-13 year. The city has one more year in its current testing contract. Mr. Sternberg announced the move at a City Council hearing on education, after extensive questioning from council members about why the city's gifted programs were not as racially and economically diverse as the city schools as a whole. David Greenfield, a council member from Brooklyn, asked whether the Department of Education was concerned about how families in richer communities were "expending thousands" of dollars on tutoring and classes before the gifted test, giving their children a better opportunity to get into the programs. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

Leaders do not create followers; they create other leaders.
                                                                      Author Unknown

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