Instructing children with special needs in classrooms with peers who do not have disabilities has changed the teaching environment, writes an education expert in a Long Island Press column. Response to Intervention techniques have brought more teacher interaction with specialists, new teaching methods and greater involvement between children of varying ability levels, the writer asserts. Long Island Press (N.Y.) (8/24)
A new playground at a Florida elementary school is designed to offer play opportunities to children of all ability levels. Modifications include wider steps, a flat rubber foundation and swings with back supports. The $300,000 project was designed by Boundless Playground Inc. and is one of 160 in the U.S. Collier Citizen (Naples, Fla.) (8/20)
A new playground at an Oregon elementary school is not only wheelchair-accessible but is designed to offer play and positive sensory activities to children with autism. Three years of planning and fundraising went into the design and building of the $121,000 play area, which is expected to appeal to the more than 1,600 children with disabilities in the Medford, Ore., area. Features include padded-tile flooring, sensory panels and traditional favorites such as swings. Mail Tribune (Medford, Ore.) (8/17)
A Massachusetts school district is opening an inclusive preschool, educating 4-year-old children with and without disabilities in the same classes. The Timberlane Regional School District's intent is to improve the communication skills of children with disabilities and teach all students tolerance and acceptance, a district official said. Funded for two years by federal stimulus money, the program will eventually charge tuition to students without disabilities. The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.) (8/11)
A growing number of babies or children with disabilities are being abandoned in Haiti, a situation exacerbated by poverty and a culture that stigmatizes the children as burdens. According to child care advocates, the Haitian government's Institute of Social Welfare and Research is not equipped or funded well enough to care for children with disabilities, meaning many end up living at public hospitals or discarded by their parents. The Miami Herald (8/9)
A Toronto Star columnist takes issue with Canada for not having ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canadians need to remember the value of investing in social capital and the rewards of supporting an inclusive community, Helen Henderson warns. The Toronto Star (8/1)
Scientists from a variety of disciplines are working together in a variety of studies to discover how children learn. Three findings so far: Learning comes through patterns, learning is a social activity and learning affects brain areas involved in both perception and action. Researchers hope to use the findings to improve teaching materials and techniques. USA TODAY (7/20)
(July 2009) recently raised several concerns about the rapidly expanding prescribing of drugs to treat ADHD in an article, "Do ADHD Drugs Take a Toll on the Brain?".
First, they raised the concern that the drugs are being prescribed without justification: "Over the past 15 years...doctors have been pinning the ADHD label on — and prescribing stimulants for — a rapidly rising number of patients, including those with moderate to mild inattention, some of whom...have a normal ability to focus. This trend may be fueled in part by a relaxation of official diagnostic criteria for the disorder, combined with a lower tolerance in society for mild behavioral or cognitive problems.” Second, they observed that ADHD drugs may pose hidden risks: "A smattering of recent studies, most of them involving animals, hint that stimulants could alter the structure and function of the brain in ways that may depress mood, boost anxiety and, in sharp contrast to their short-term effects, lead to cognitive deficits."
Some Canadian families may not be able to continue caring for their children with severe disabilities at home because they cannot afford it and a national fund for residential care is depleted. An annual report by an Ontario ombudsman cites 24 cases in which families are facing giving up custody of children to the state. The report calls for reform to protect parents' custody and secure funding for home care. The Toronto Star (7/20)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University researchers believe that areas of the brain responsible for considering the thoughts of others may be developed as early as age 6. The results of a study on how typical children develop empathy could have implications for children with autism, who frequently display difficulty with social interactions. Forbes/HealthDay News (7/15)
David Cameron, leader of England's Conservative political party, wants his country to streamline the process families endure to secure special services for children with disabilities. "So many parents get stuck on a merry-go-round of assessments, appeals and tribunals to get a statement of special needs and the extra help their child needs," he says. Cameron has said that his experience with a son with disabilities helped to shape his opinion. The Guardian (London) (7/16)
Children ages 3 to 5 in Kentucky are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a disability than the national rate, a report shows. The promise of early education may be driving the diagnosis rate. Kentucky does not offer universal preschool, but has provisions for students with special needs. The Kentucky Post (Covington) (7/14)
At the Lighthouse International School in New York City, students with visual disabilities laugh, play and learn alongside other students. "They learn that it's good to be kind," a teacher said of the students without visual disabilities. "It's good to help people and help your friends, and then they get exposed to that at a very young age. ... It's a life lesson learned." ABC News (7/13)
A grant program supported by federal stimulus dollars will enable Maryland to offer special-education services to children with disabilities between age 3 and kindergarten. The state, the first to receive money from the program, will get $14.4 million. The Sun (Baltimore) (7/11)
Ontario children face wait for autism treatment: More than 1,500 Ontario children with autism are on waiting lists for intensive therapy, a figure one official called "alarming." Educators are working to integrate the therapy into additional schools, hoping that more children can be served. Toronto Sun (7/1)
Many programs for infants and toddlers with special needs probably wouldn't have survived the 2009-10 school year without the education-stimulus funds, said Susan Maude, president of CEC's Division for Early Childhood. While research has found that such early intervention helps children, states have been narrowing their definition of children who qualify, the CEC has found. Education Week (premium article access compliments of EdWeek.org) (6/29)
Nurses at a special New York school help ensure that 400 students with severe medical disabilities are ready to learn each day. The school aims to coordinate its life skills and academics with the students' therapy and medical interventions. Nurse.com (6/29)
A Toronto day camp allows children with and without disabilities to be outside and explore the arts with the help of 14 professional artists. Students decide which activities they'd like to sample. The Toronto Star (6/21)
Infants with hearing disabilities who get early intervention gain language skills and keep them, according to a study of 328 Ohio children screened at birth for hearing disabilities. Newborns enrolled in early intervention before they were 6 months old were more likely to do better than those enrolled later, researchers found. ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists (6/11)
Canadian children who don't have serious enough disabilities may fall through educational cracks, say parents and educators. While such students aren't eligible for intensive special education, their mild or moderate special needs keep them from doing well in regular classrooms, they say. Calgary Herald (Alberta, Canada) (6/8)
Alberta schools should do more to include students with special needs in mainstream classes and stop spending so much time on labels, a provincial committee said. "That is probably the last time you'll hear me use the words 'special education,' " said Dave Hancock, the Canadian province's education minister. The Edmonton Journal (Canada) (6/9)
with disabilities and their families should decide how much to share when disclosing a disability, says family therapist Diane Smith. Others may be more tolerant of behavioral outbursts if they know what causes them, she says. disability scoop
New Investments Kick-start Consultations To Build Foundation for Comprehensive Strategy. The province is renewing its commitment to a long-term strategy for Manitobans who have disabilities with a $30-million down payment on more accessible housing, enhanced access to public buildings, more support for children with disabilities in child care, better employment services and improved supports for caregivers, Family Services and Housing Minister Gord Mackintosh, minister responsible for persons with disabilities, announced today.
A Florida preschool class that includes students with and without special needs showed parents what they've learned this year. Preschool teacher Ann Tobin says the performance -- which included singing, dancing and public speaking -- helped students use both sides of their brains and incorporated large and small motor skills. St. Petersburg Times (Fla.) (5/27)
Young children with visual disabilities are gaining confidence in an Atlanta program that helps 4- and 5-year-olds stage a 20-minute opera, learning listening and other skills that will help them in mainstream kindergartens. The 10 young performers are part of a program that also helps parents better understand how to help their children with visual disabilities. CNN (5/15)
Inclusive education helped 5-year-old Ben Adams, who has autism, to have a breakthrough moment when a typically developing child befriended him, says his mother, Jill Adams. "Inclusion in school requires a shift in the paradigm; instead of getting the child ready for the regular class, the regular class gets ready for the child," says Beth Pellowitz, a special educator who co-founded a Virginia nonprofit with the aim of opening a school dedicated to inclusion. The Washington Times (5/13)
Stephen Booth, 18, who has autism, has won a CEC award for writing a play meant to explain his disorder. His drama "Autism ... It's My Life" is "a firsthand account of a young person speaking to young people. So it's accessible. And it's contemporary," said John Nabben, head of the drama department at a community arts center, who helped Booth with the play. The Windsor Star (Ontario) (5/11)
Deputy Premier and Education Minister Ken Krawetz has proclaimed
April 26 to May 2 as Early Childhood Intervention Programs (ECIPs) Week in Saskatchewan.
"During this week, we recognize more than 700 children and their families that receive support from ECIPs and the programming available to improve children's skills and abilities," Krawetz said. "We recognize ECIPs for their valuable contributions and accomplishments as they work closely with family, community partners and professionals to make a significant impact toward the future success of young children."
ECIPs provide a province-wide network of supports for families of young children who experience or are at risk for developmental delays, in reaching age-appropriate developmental milestones such as walking, talking, eating or interacting socially.
"This year's provincial budget provided additional support for Saskatchewan's 15 ECIPs, including a 10 per cent increase in funding as well as an increase of 24 spaces from 704 to 728 spaces. This funding will also address recruitment and retention issues," Krawetz said.
Supports are provided through home-based and centre-based services and focus on child development, family support and community involvement. ECIPs also work closely with professionals such as child care providers, speech and language pathologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, physicians, teachers and school administrators.
"ECIPs operate from a family-centered approach, building upon strengths within the family and involving the community wherever possible," Parkland ECIP in Yorkton executive director Michelle Yaschuk said. "Early Childhood Intervention Programs provide a window of opportunity to help children and families reach their full potential."5/8
Principal Makes J.P. Ryon 'A School for Every Child' By Jenna Johnson
A mother arrived at J.P. Ryon Elementary in Waldorf in 2006 to meet with the principal to discuss transferring her paraplegic daughter, Skye, to the school. Knowing how much work and money it takes to make a school accessible for the disabled, the mother worried that she was facing a long,... Washington Post (4/23)
Preschoolers with cochlear implants have educational options
Cochlear implants are changing teaching methods for children who are deaf, as well as causing fewer children to enroll in sign-language-only programs and causing more to seek out preschool programs aimed at teaching them to decipher sounds. Cochlear implants are controversial, and many educators try to stay neutral by offering a variety of programs from which parents can choose. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (4/12)
National Autism Awareness Month
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 150 children have an autism spectrum disorder. As early childhood professionals, we play a vital role in providing children with special needs the essential building blocks for their education. April is National Autism Awareness Month. The American Federation of Teachers has issued Helping Students with Autism, Tips for Educators. The report offers classroom suggestions for addressing challenging behavior, the encouragement of social skill development and building relationships with parents and families for professionals working with children with autism. (4/12)
Somalis in Canada report autism challenges
Like the Somali immigrant communities in Minneapolis and Stockholm, Somalis in Toronto are reporting what they say is an abnormally high rate of autism. The disorder is virtually unknown in Somalia, prompting Canadian research on the ethnic backgrounds of North American children with the disorder. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (4/7)
Class prepares kindergartners with autism for mainstream classrooms
Pairing fourth-graders with seven kindergartners with autism has helped a Pittsburgh school better integrate the youngsters, who are part of an autism program that aims to prepare them for a mainstream first-grade classroom. The fourth-graders take turns helping the younger students and treat them like friends or siblings, teachers said. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (4/2)
Stimulus Providing Big Funding Boost for Early Childhood Christina A. Samuels US Stimulus Providing Big Funding Boost for Early Childhood and services for young children with disabilities Education Week (4/1)
Fossils indicate early humans cared for children with disabilities
A 500,000-year-old fossil from a child with cranial deformities and probable mental disabilities indicates that human ancestors had cared for the child. Most animals do not display such behavior. "The obvious conclusion is that [this child] was being helped by other members of the social group," says Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis. New Scientist (3/31)
Applied behavior analysis can help some children overcome autism
Applied behavior analysis -- the best autism treatment available -- helps up to 60% of children overcome symptoms of high-functioning autism in part through "discrete trial instruction," in which the therapist cues a child and then gives a reward if there is an appropriate response. "The goal is ... to get them to a point where they're able to take advantage of a more typical or less restrictive educational environment," said Nathan Call, who directs treatment at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta. CNN (3/31)
Special Olympians ask people to stop using the "r-word"
The Special Olympics organization wants to banish the word "retard" from casual usage and on Tuesday announced a campaign that asks people to sign pledges agreeing not to use the word. "It's insulting, it's painful and it hurts people," says actor Eddie Barbanell, who has Down syndrome. MSNBC/The Associated Press (3/31)
Q-and-A: Parents of newly diagnosed children may need perspective
The families of children newly diagnosed with developmental disabilities face an emotional roller-coaster that can last for years, says genetic associate Louise W. Gane of the University of California, Davis. The journey typically involves "grief, anger, guilt and real sadness over the loss ... of the expectations that they had for the child," she said. She added, "It's really important for parents to ... understand that there is a future for their child. Their child does have possibilities, especially in today's society and even more so in tomorrow's society." Disability Scoop (3/9)
Canadian court requires free extra seat for people with disabilities
Starting in January, the two biggest airlines in Canada will have to give passengers with disabilities an extra seat for free after the nation's Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal from the carriers. The decision allows travelers with disabilities to bring an aide without paying for another ticket. Canada.com/Canwest News Service (3/9)
Disability lawsuit might force district to expand preschool
A federal court ruled that Madison, Wis., schools violated federal law by refusing to pay preschool tuition for a 4-year-old with a learning disability because it offered no mainstream preschool programs of its own. That might prompt the district to create kindergarten for 4-year-olds with and without disabilities. Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) (3/7)
Inclusion: Making the most of life; National Post (2/18/09) (don’t forget to read the rest of the articles!)
Read this interview with Debra Mayer of SpeciaLink and Dixie Mitchell of NBACL who promote inclusive early learning and child care and its importance for long-term inclusion; some of the challenges we face and NBACL’s work to address these. The article was part of an 8 page supplement sponsored by CACL (the Canadian Association for Community Living) in the National Post whose objectives were to highlight CACL’s 10-year Agenda objectives.
Obama's to-do list includes disability issues
Disability issues are among the 24 top Obama administration priorities posted on the the White House's Web site since Tuesday. President Barack Obama proposes improving education, employment and community-based housing opportunities for people with disabilities as well as tackling the growth in autism rates and discrimination against people with disabilities. Disability Scoop (1/21)
Six-month program helps those with "invisible disability"
People with an "invisible disability" often can hit road blocks in life that make them feel unsuccessful. However, Canada's Learning Disabilities Association is offering a six-month program that builds their self-esteem and their skills -- helping them keep a job and reach other goals. The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan) (1/21)
Group: Better acoustics could ease strain on teachers, students
Too many students miss out on key instructions due to background noise and poor acoustics while teachers are straining their voices to be heard above the din, according to the Concerned About Classrooms Coalition, an Ontario group. Children with learning disabilities or hearing impairments as well as English-language learners are especially at risk, said Linda Walsh, president of the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. North Bay Nugget (Ontario)/The Canadian Press (1/24)
Art project lets children of different abilities work together
Small groups of children with autism, children with academic gifts and their mainstream classmates worked together as part of a nine-week art project. "The project was more successful than we ever imagined," said autism teacher Marjorie Williams. "The post-test demonstrated a dramatic change in acceptance after the project ... [and] the children did not want to stop working with their new friends." Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Fla.) (1/27)
Woman with Down syndrome manages Canadian coffee shop
Natalie Stevanus, 25, has Down syndrome but nevertheless won a managerial position at a Canadian coffee shop. The shop has won the Canadian Down syndrome Society's Employer of the Year award in part for its efforts to accommodate Stevanus. Staff tweaked the manager's job to focus more on customer relations, at which Stevanus excels, than paperwork. "The customers love her," said general manager Corrina Newhook. "If she's off for a day, they come and ask 'Where's Natalie?' " TheRecord.com (Kitchener, Ontario) (2/3)
Classroom teachers may be improperly prepared for inclusion
Most classroom teachers don't receive enough training to help students with special needs assigned to their classrooms, say some educators, parents and disability advocates. "The trend toward inclusion really has caused some difficulties for teachers because you have to treat [students with special needs] differently," said Karen Lyman, a teacher-coach in a Florida district. "You have to learn how to teach that child without affecting the rest of the children." The Palm Beach Post (Fla.) (2/7)
Parents of children with special needs experience more chronic stress
Parents of children with disabilities face more stress and health issues than other parents, according to a study. Such parents reported more stressors and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, especially when they spent more time with their children, researchers said. RedOrbit/United Press International (2/17)
Behavioral specialists keep preschoolers in class
An Ohio YMCA preschool was on the verge of expelling Jaden Hubbard, who has a neurological condition, after violent tantrums until a nonprofit agency's behavioral specialist trained staff how to calm Jaden and use puppets to teach social skills. "Within two weeks, this child changed like night and day," said YMCA director Sandy Pittman. Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio) (1/11)
Study: Preschoolers benefit from early alphabet, phonics practice
Teaching children to identify letters and sounds before they begin school helps them develop better reading skills later on, according to a new survey of thousands of literacy studies. "Literacy skills start developing the moment we're born, and it is literacy that enables a person's ability to participate in society," said Timothy Shanahan, who chaired the National Early Literacy Panel. "We shouldn't leave children's literacy development to chance." Education Week (premium article access compliments of Edweek.org) (1/8)
Vancouver program helps children understand learning disabilities
Children with learning disabilities are getting individualized help to overcome their challenges at an elementary school in Vancouver, British Columbia. "Before my daughter entered [this] class, she was struggling so much," said Vickie Chesterman, whose third-grade daughter, Jessica, has dyslexia and was working at a first-grade level. "But within a few months, she was back to liking school again. It was amazing to watch the transformation." The Vancouver Sun (Canada) (1/7)
Column: Socioeconomics may color perception of special education
Different socioeconomic groups see special-needs and gifted labels very differently, writes Examiner special-education columnist Andrea Hermitt. Affluent parents tend to view special-education identification positively and lament what they perceive as insufficient services, while low-income parents see the same labels as a way for schools to remove students from mainstream classrooms. The Examiner (1/2)
Britain to screen all toddlers for speech problems
When British children turn 2 years old, they will automatically be screened for delayed language development under a new health and education initiative. A government report found up to half of children in some disadvantaged groups had language delays. The Daily Mail (London) (1/2)
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