The term Free Appropriate Public Education is thrown around a lot in Public Education. There are two separate laws having to do with disabilities that specifically define this term. It can be found in the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). So what exactly is the difference between the two definitions? Let’s start by looking at how each law defines FAPE. Read the rest of this entry →
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Math “is the sole subject that is nearly 100 percent cumulative. Students must have a strong foundation in order to be successful. In the elementary years a child has to have a clear understanding of our place value system in order to add, subtract, and multiply large numbers. The basic skills, such as addition, provide the framework for understanding multiplication. Fractions and decimals lay the groundwork for ratios and percentages,” by Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed in How to Help with Math.
With this in mind it’s important to make sure students keep up in Math” One successful way to accomplish this is by making math fun!!! The iPad Apps listed below have found fun and creative ways to teach various math concepts. Read the rest of this entry →
The regulations that implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are complex, detailed and broad. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about them, and it is not uncommon for school staff, who generally have good intentions, to misstate a regulation or to rely on an assumption about a particular regulation. When school staff rely on special education mythology, two things occur: the school risks being in noncompliance; and more importantly, the all-important relationship with parents is undermined, eroding the trust that is necessary to achieve genuine consensus. Read the rest of this entry →
The following is a list of fun apps on my son’s iPad. The list is diverse in nature and encompasses many of my son’s interests including, Charlie Brown, Disney, Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street. Some of these apps are both fun and educational and help my son in an area of need such as inferences and idioms. Others are just plain fun such as Sonic Racing and Angry Birds!!
If you are the creator or developer of a Special Education Product, App, Book or Assistive Technology Device and you would like Special Education Advisor to review your product please contact us via the contact us form. We will be putting together both App Lists by category similar to this one as well as doing more in depth App Reviews on individual apps.
When I try to explain what I do for a living, I often say “I play in food.” Hopefully, that phrase doesn’t conjure up images of Jello™ wrestling, although I have certainly been elbow deep in Jello™ many times in my career. As a speech language pathologist who specializes in “feeding”, I work exclusively with kids from birth to ten years of age, helping with everything from breast and bottle feeding to learning to eat Brussels sprouts. I’m all about encouraging kids to try new foods in order to become adventurous eaters! True, it’s tempting for parents to say “Stop playing with your food and just eat it”, but playing in food is often the first step to tasting new foods.
Before I expound upon the joys of pudding painting and building towers of cream cheese and crackers, I want you to consider the human brain. Moment to moment, our brain receives information from all of our senses, sorts it and organizes it, decides what input is important and what can be ignored for the time being and then, asks the ultimate question: “What is the most vital piece of information that applies to what I am doing at this very moment?” It requires a very well organized brain to answer that question efficiently and effectively and the entire process is nothing short of amazing.
Over 40 years ago, Dr. A. Jean Ayres introduced the theory of sensory integration or the study of how the brain processes information from our entire sensory system. She was not just talking about the five senses commonly referred to as taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight but also the vestibular system (a function of the middle ear) and the proprioceptive system, which interprets the meaning behind a muscle contraction and movement in our joints. Thank goodness for proprioceptive input: It’s how we know how much pressure we need to peel that banana without squishing it. And where would we be without a fine tuned vestibular system? Without it, every time we leaned forward for a sip of soup, we would lose our balance and do a face plant directly in our chicken noodle!
Dr. Ayres explained it this way in her book, Sensory Integration and the Child: “Sensory integration puts it all together. Imagine peeling and eating an orange. You sense the orange through your eyes, nose, mouth, the skin of your hands and fingers, and also the muscles and joints inside your fingers, hands, arms and mouth…All the sensations from the orange and all the sensations from your hands and fingers somehow come together in one place in your brain” which allows you to make the decision on how to peel and eat the orange.
So, the next time you see your kids playing in their food, join in! If the best your little munch bug can do that day is roll a Brussels sprout across his plate, have a roller derby and make some ramps. Then, he has to PICK UP the Brussels sprout and place it at the top of the highest ramp. Then, when a leaf dangles and slows down the race, he has to PEEL it off. What happens if you LICK that Brussels sprout? Will it roll faster? The more your child interacts with a new food, the more likely he will decide on his own that he likes it. You can probably convince him to bite into it, but that won’t make him like it. Tasting food over and over is how we learn to enjoy new sensations in our mouth, but making that autonomous decision to taste something for the very first time is what builds confidence to do it again. Our role as parents is to present the food in a joyful and healthy manner and set our children up for success. And, if that means a few weeks of Brussels sprout roller derby or Yogurt Car Wash, then that’s half the fun of the exploration!
Learning to eat new foods is a process and requires all of our senses to join in on the journey! Keep in mind that we all have good and bad sensory days and your child may not be able to tolerate certain tastes, temperatures or textures if his sensory system is not organized and ready to accept new input. Take it step by step and keep it creative and fun. It’s not about the bite – he will get there – it’s about the memories your family creates in the kitchen, at the dining room table or in the backyard spitting watermelon seeds. Enjoy!
(Ayers, AJ. Sensory Integration and the Child. Los Angeles, CA: WPS: 1994. 5-6.)
About the author: Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, is a certified speech language pathologist and national speaker on the topic of picky eating. She is the author of Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids: How to Teach Your Child About the Joy of Food! and the executive producer of the acclaimed children’s CD, Dancing in the Kitchen. Mel’s tips to help your child be a more adventurous eater can be found on her My Munch Bug facebook page or on her website www.mymunchbug.com.
Find the Letters by EdNinja is a fun app that also helps your child learn the alphabet and strengthen their visual perception skills. The best way to describe this app is, paint by letters!!!! According to the EdNinja press release, “Find the Letters is an educational resource & a highly enjoyable game that helps children with dyslexia overcome reading problems by improving attention & visual perceptive abilities. They go on to say, “Your child will improve visual perceptive abilities like:
- Position in space
- Spatial depth orientation
- Figure-ground perception
- Form discrimination
- Concentration & attention”
The App includes four levels of difficulty with 10 pictures for each difficulty level for a total of 40 different illustrations. As I started playing the easiest level my initial thoughts was this is a fun app for preschool aged kids just learning the alphabet. But as I increased difficulty levels I could see how Find the Letters is much more than that. For kids with dyslexia or visual perception challenges this is a great remediation exercise.
Letters are presented to you in a grid which you color using the corresponding crayon color. Once you finish painting all of the letters a picture is displayed. Like I mentioned, paint by letters.
To keep it interesting for the kids, that app also tracks your time so you can compete against yourself or others for the best time. Find the Letters currently sells for $4.99 in the iTunes app store. I would recommend this title for young children learning the alphabet or older kids with dyslexia and other visual perception challenges.
Below is a list of Special Education Twitter Feeds worth following. The list includes Parents, Educators, Advocates, Attorneys, Therapists and National Organizations. This list should keep you up to date on everything happening in and around the world of Special Education. Read the rest of this entry →
Consider this your call to action! The Common Core Standards are coming to your State and every Teacher and Parent of a child with special needs MUST have this free app on their phone, tablet or iPad. As a parent of a child with special needs I don’t go to my son’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting without a copy of California’s State Standards for his grade level. I use these standards to write goals for my son’s IEP based on his individualized needs. Check out Ten Steps for Writing Effective IEP Goals for more information. With this app I will always have the information at my finger tips and I get to save a tree as well (the standards for each grade level are quite long). Since, 45 States have adopted the Common Core Standards this change effects the majority of the United States. To double check if you State has adopted these Standards click here. Read the rest of this entry →
I planned on staying out of the fray when it came to the new show on Fox that aired last night called Touch. Many other blogs that focus on children with special needs had already thoroughly discussed and written about this new show. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in watching it, I was, but I didn’t want to rehash the same concepts as everyone else. Then three things happened, 1) before I watched the show on the west coast I saw a discussion on a facebook page by parents who had already watched it, 2) some of the comments on that discussion bothered me, and 3) I watched the show. I came to the conclusion that, at least in my mind, I had something to add to this discussion.
After watching Touch I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it but not for the reasons most people will. As you all know I am a father of a child with special needs. Similar to Kiefer Sutherland’s character, Martin Bohm, I originally struggled connecting with my son. All parents need to connect or form a bond with their children but if you are a parent of a child with special needs this is not always easy. According to the Fox Website:
At the center (of Touch) is MARTIN BOHM (Kiefer Sutherland, “24″), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his mute, severely autistic 11-year-old son, JAKE. Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son who shows little emotion and never allows himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Jake busies himself with cast-off cell phones, disassembling them and manipulating the parts, allowing him to see the world in his own special way.
What I needed to learn all those years ago was that to connect with my son I needed to embrace who he is, not who I wanted him to be. I had to experience life as he sees it and play with him on his terms not mine. Sometimes that means I must walk around a restaurant counting fans or driving around just to look at electrical poles. By the way, these have become some of my favorite moments with my son!!! So when Jake turns to his Father at the end of the show and hugs him I was ecstatic. Martin finally connected with his son on his terms, just like I had to learn all those years ago. If for no other reason I now love this show.
Now back to that discussion I viewed on facebook about the show. The majority of the comments were very positive about the show and Jake but a few were VERY concerned that Neurotypicals (NT) might think every child with autism has a superpower. I hate to tell you but most kids with special needs DO have superpowers. According to Wikiepedia:
There is no rigid definition of a “superpower”. In popular culture, it may be used to describe anything from minimal exaggeration of normal human traits, magic, to near-godlike abilities including flight, superstrength, projection of destructive energy beams and force fields, invulnerability, telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, super-speed or control of the weather.
Generally speaking, exceptional-but-not-superhuman fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes, Doc Savage, Batman, and Green Arrow may be classified as superheroes although they do not have any actual superpowers.
Make sure you read that description of superpowers a couple of times and let it sink in. Now think about your child’s strengths and I bet you there is at least one that could meet the description of superpower. I have long held that my son has superpowers. He can tell me the name of every street and freeway in Southern California and direct me to any location. Who needs a Navigation System when I have my son? He can also tell me the exact date we were last at a location. As we walked into Islands, the restaurant, the other day he turned to me and said we have not been here since March 2nd in 2011. That’s a superpower in my book. I have never met a child that didn’t have at least one strength that could meet the description of a superpower. So instead of worrying about it, embrace it. Tell me what your child’s superpower is in the comment section below.
A couple of months ago I gave a presentation on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for my local Parent Training Center. All of the Staff for this organization are parents of children with special needs. When I arrived early to set up I was met by a staff member and her son who has autism. As I was setting up I couldn’t help noticing the staff member’s son writing on the blackboard. In about ten minutes he had written down the names of all of the United States Presidents in order. I stopped what I was doing and walked over to his Mom and asked if he was learning about the Presidents in School. I don’t know about you but I can’t remember most of the Presidents names let alone their order. I know all of the early Presidents, the ones that led during specific events in U.S. History and all of the Presidents during my lifetime but the rest I have forgotten. To my amazement she said her son had learned all of the U.S. Presidents from an iPad app. She went on to explain that this was the third app her son had played from this particular developer. The first app had taught him all about the States in America, the second had taught him about all of the Countries in each Continent and this latest app the Presidents. I was hooked, who is this developer and what are the names of the apps. Read the rest of this entry →