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There May Be Curves in the Road to Using Technology

November 29, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The road to using technology to support your child may not always be a straight road. I have travelled down this road as a parent.  At times I felt I wasn’t seeing any gains, only to realize the curves did lead to further progress.

There may be many curves along the way as you try to figure out what your child needs to best support them with their school work.  As a parent, this takes time and learning.  Becoming more aware of what your child needs and what best supports them will help you identify clear goals and will help you be more successful in helping your child.

As parents, we need to empower ourselves by developing a plan: Read the rest of this entry →

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Steps to Success

November 28, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Erin was having a tough time with her two-digit addition problems.  Looking over her shoulder, I noticed she was working from left to right; her problems were misaligned and she was failing to regroup.  I wondered how she’d managed to make it to third grade; however-as we know- many students matriculate even though they have not mastered certain skills.  This is an example of how she laid out one of her problems: Read the rest of this entry →

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What is going on here? Autism, Uneven Development and Periods of Consolidation

November 27, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Some time ago I was reading a post by a parent who was commenting on her surprise that her child was suddenly gaining a myriad of skills – seemingly out of the blue. This was not just happening in one area, but in multiple areas: her previously non-verbal child was using new words and in the correct social context, and also trying new foods, and open to new sensory experiences.

What I have noticed over the years with H is that his progress is anything but even – especially if we look at it on a small scale. There are days when it has definitely felt like the cliché two steps forward – one step back. (However, I suppose there is often truth or reality at the centre of a cliché – and a noticing of a pattern or a tendency – or it wouldn’t be a cliché in the first place.) Read the rest of this entry →

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11th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision: IEE reimbursement

November 25, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

A School District in Alabama decided it was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to try to invalidate a Parent’s right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense that has been part and parcel with the Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for decades.  Parent’s are at a marked disadvantage when dealing with a School District regarding their child’s Individualized Education Program and Congress was well aware of this when they crafted IDEA.  This is why IDEA includes various Procedural Safeguards for the sole purpose of leveling the playing field for Parents who are trying their best to raise a child with a disability and negotiate for an appropriate education for that child.  This is why it enrages me when a School District spends money that should have been used to educate students on lawyers when the intention of Congress regarding reimbursement of IEE’s is very clear.   Read the rest of this entry →

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Holiday Toy List for Infants

November 19, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Shopping season for the holidays is approaching fast.  Parents (and my own family members and friends) keep asking, what are the best toys to give to their child.  When choosing toys for children it is best to see what a child is currently capable of doing and what skills are emerging rather than using strict age guidelines.  Below you will find a few great toys for infants in different developmental stages over their first year.  Each toy has characteristics to match a child’s developmental stage of physical, intellectual, and/or social development.

During the first few months, a child’s “purpose” in play is all about sensation – to see, hear, touch, smell, and mouth.  An infant’s motor skills include following objects with their eyes, responding to sounds by turning their head, or grasping an object when put into their hand.  They are interested in people’s faces and voices.  Visual acuity is in the early stages of development and studies show that newborns prefer high contrasting colors (black & white patterns) but it is good to expose them to more subtle objects, like your face and eyes and their own little hands and feet.  Babies are born with a more developed sense of hearing versus sight.  They respond to familiar voices and are soothed by rhythmic sounds that mimic sounds they were exposed to in the womb, like a mother’s heart beat.  A newborn’s sense of touch is especially developed at birth, particularly around the mouth. As adults, we notice that babies put almost everything in their mouths.  This oral seeking behavior is not necessarily an infant’s response to teething, it is often the baby’s way of exploring or a means to self soothe.

Three great toys for this early infancy stage are:

 

Mirrors such as the Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror

Board books full of high contrast patterns like Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal

Manhattan Toys make a few great toys that are easy for small hands to grasp such as the Whoozit, which also has high contrasting patterns, little noise makers, and different fabric textures.

By four to six months more gross motor skills begin to develop like propping themselves up on their arms, placing objects in their mouth, reaching to grab objects, kicking their legs, and sitting upright.

There are a variety of activity mats out there, such as ones made by Baby Einstein, that are great for tummy time and placing toys on the arcs for the baby to reach for or kick when lying on their back. The positioning of the hanging objects can be adjusted depending on how you want to stimulate these developing motor skills.

Sophie la Girafe is a big crowd pleaser!  She is easy to hold onto, safe to chew, visually stimulating with her dark contrasting spots, has a distinct sweet smell, and squeaks when squeezed.

While seeking out sensations will continue to guide play throughout infancy, within a few months an infant is stimulated by starting to learn the relationship between an action and it’s effect.  There are many “cause-effect” toys that will stimulate motor and intellectual skills.  As infants become more physically active you will begin to see higher level gross motor skills develop like sitting with better balance and maybe reaching outside of their base of support, pushing up onto their hands and knees and starting to crawl, pulling to stand, cruising furniture, and walking. Their fine motor and object manipulation skills become more refined, as they move on from earlier stages of mouthing, shaking, and swiping at toys to using their fingers to poke at, push, or pick up small objects.  Socially, they start to interact more meaningfully, show humor by laughing and in anticipation, and initiate play activities (show and give objects to adult).

Here is a wider variety of toys to meet an infant’s developing skills at these later infancy stages:

 

Toy Smith’s Wiggly Giggly Ball

Playskool Busy Poppin’ Pals

Playskool Busy Ball Popper

Fisher Price Star Stacker is an all time favorite of mine for new independent sitters.

V-Tech’s Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker this activity center grows with your child from sitting to standing and taking his or her first steps.

 

Blocks are a simple and fantastic toy for all these stages of development.  Beyond developing motor skills and eye-hand coordination to stack them, they have a cause-effect and natural social component where you build and baby knocks down causing lots of reactions and laughs!

Two suggested options for infant block play are:

B. One Two Squeeze Blocks  and IQ Baby Knock-Knock Blocks

There are so many great toys out there and these are just a few of my favorites based on all my years working with infants…and being an Aunt that loves to buy great gifts!

Enjoy & happy shopping!

Sari Ockner, OTR/L received her degree in Occupational Therapy at from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1998, in their extended Occupational Therapy program with an emphasis in her fieldwork studies in the scope of pediatrics. Sari began her practice in New York City and is currently living and practicing in the Los Angeles area. She has over 13 years of experience working with children with a variety of special needs in school, clinic, and home-based settings. Sari is certified in Sensory Integration Theory and Practice (SIPT) and specializes in handwriting and child development.Follow Sari on Facebook at Kidz Occupational Therapy or on Twitter at Sari_KidzOT for on-going information to support children in school, at home, and in the community. For further information visit : www.KidzOccupationalTherapy.com

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3 Things to Teach Your Kids Now About Their ADHD

November 18, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

What should you say to your kids about their ADHD?  When should you start talking about it?  The answer is simple to parenting ADHD kids: teach what they can understand, and do it now. Education and awareness are important tools. Knowledge is power, and it can help your kids be successful. There are three critical conversations that you can have at any age (with some minor adjustments for young ADDers).

1. Understand your Brain

It’s important, even at young ages, that all children understand what their brains need to do their job well. Since ADD brains work differently in some ways, it’s all the more important information for our kids to understand that: Read the rest of this entry →

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Just Appreciate Me

November 15, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

They’ve been standing on the brink of divorce. For seven years, they had devoted themselves tirelessly to their son with autism. They were worn out; all the joy had left their lives despite their son having made dramatic progress. Their boy was included in a regular class with supports; something they never dreamed of.

Their marriage was another story. He thought she no longer cared about their marriage. She thought he never noticed and appreciated what she was doing for their children. They both agreed that their only interaction was about their disagreements. They decided to take a step back from ending their marriage and came back to my office where four years ago they had recovered from their initial devastated response to their son’s diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Read the rest of this entry →

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What? – Auditory Processing Disorder

November 14, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The weird thing about the diagnosis of auditory processing disorder is that, although most everyone agrees on the variety of symptoms, the actual testing of it can differ widely. Assessments, and therefore instructive strategies, can fluctuate by state, district, profession and resources, both public and private. The California Office of Administrative Hearings for [Public School] Special Education has over 500 notices of fair hearings with the term Auditory Processing Disorder, meaning that either a parent or a school district was attempting clarification or a decision regarding some aspect of this disorder. Further, the California Speech-language Pathology, Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board has published a notice-

It is incumbent upon the licensed audiologist and licensed speech-language pathologist to use only diagnostic assessments and therapies that are supported by rigorous empirical evidence. While it is important to conduct research studies on new and emerging assessment tools, such studies should take place within the confines of an approved experimental protocol, and it should be clear to consumers that assessment with such tools is experimental only and provided at no cost. In keeping with B & P Code 651(b)(7), licensees are prohibited from making scientific claims that cannot be substantiated by reliable, peer-reviewed, published scientific studies. Read the rest of this entry →

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How the Brain Misleads Us

November 12, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Two questions underscore important points related to kids with special needs.

To understand that statement, answer each of the following questions: What color are road stop signs?  What color are yield signs?

If you answered “red” for stop signs, you were correct. Yet if you’re like the overwhelming majority who say yield signs are yellow, then you were wrong.

Yield signs have not been yellow since 1971. Truly. For more than 40 years, yield signs are red and white.

So, how is it possible people still think yield signs are yellow, and what does that have to do with special needs kids?

Well, we think yield signs are yellow for one of two reasons.  If you’re someone who drove in the ’60s—when they actually were yellow—then your brain never updated the information, even though you’ve passed thousands of red and white yield signs for decades.

In short, our brain doesn’t automatically renew and revise circuits. Instead, we have to consciously update our brain when new information comes our way.

If you thought yield signs were yellow—even though they’ve been red since you’ve been alive—then incorrect information was imprinted on your brain.  How could that happen?

Easy. The brain doesn’t have an automatic fact checker. For example, Google “clip art for yield signs” and we’ll find lots of yellow ones. We’ll also find red and white ones. Read the rest of this entry →

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Audio Recording an IEP

November 11, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

At least once a week I am asked if parents are allowed to audio record an IEP.  Most people think the automatic answer is yes but in reality the answer is maybe.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is actually silent on the issue but in June of 2003 the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a letter clarifying their position on audio recordings:

Part B does not address the use of audio or video recording devices at IEP meetings, and no other Federal statute either authorizes or prohibits the recording of an IEP meeting by either a parent or a school official.  Therefore, an SEA (State Education Agency) or public agency has the option to require, prohibit, limit, or otherwise regulate the use of recording devices at IEP meetings. Read the rest of this entry →

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