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Reading Is Not A Natural Process

March 26, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Many proponents of ‘whole language’ feel that, since humans learn to speak their native language through immersion, the act of reading follows a similar pattern and exposure to the printed word leads to the development of reading skills.  This reasoning bears a false truth value.  A great deal of care and attention to detail must accompany reading instruction because reading is quite different from speech.

In speech, the listener is provided with many clues as to the meaning of the words presented by the speaker.  Intonation, pitch, cadence, and body language all provide context clues that assist in the comprehension of auditory signals.  Further, according to the Innateness Hypothesis, children are equipped with a blueprint for the innate principles and properties that pertain to the grammars of all spoken human language called universal grammar.  Barring neurologically-based developmental delays, children do not require explicit instruction to master the spoken language.  Universal Grammar aids the child in the task of constructing the “spoken language”.  Structure dependency of the native language and coordinate structure constraint are inherent.  Additionally, through stages in oral communication, a speaker learns from the surrounding linguistic environment the proper cadence, pitch, and intonation associated with the successful display of language ability, as well as, the rules of grammar that are language specific.  This presents speech as a natural process.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Tips for Parents: Dealing with College Admissions Tests

March 25, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Martin, a high school freshman with ADD, says, “The testing never ends, school tests, PSAT, ACT and Advanced Placement Tests. Even when you go to college or law school, there are tests and licensing exams. You just can’t escape.”

The pressure to perform on high-stakes tests such as the ACT or SAT is at an all time high. Although there are some students who can handle the pressures, many students, especially those with disabilities, don’t fare as well. The challenges are formidable. There are several reasons for this. College admissions tests: Read the rest of this entry →

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Reverse the Effects of Sequestration on Special Ed: Congress says No Way

March 23, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

In case you have not watched the nightly news in the last few months you might not have realized that sequestration began on March 1, 2013.  You may not even know what sequestration is but if your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) you will most definitely see the effect.  According to USA.gov, “Sequestration, sometimes called the sequester, is a process that automatically cuts the federal budget across most departments and agencies.” Read the rest of this entry →

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Spring Has Sprung and so Have IEPs

March 20, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

Spring is here, although you wouldn’t know it judging by the weather in some parts of the country.  Spring break is upon us; so many people will be taking family vacations to reconnect with their loved ones.  However, when the break is over, it will be time to get down to serious IEP business.  When classes resume, there are probably 8-9 weeks of academics left until summer break and during that time your child will be preparing and taking state tests.  When you think about it, the semester is almost over. Read the rest of this entry →

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The Importance of Inclusive Programming

March 19, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Inclusive Programming Is Beneficial For All Students

The compulsory education system aims at providing children with the tools they need to succeed in the academic school environment as well as life beyond the classroom. For the purposes of ensuring that every student receives an appropriate education, sometimes schools are required to divide students based on ability. In such a system, children with special needs are often separated from their mainstream peers for a portion, if not all, of the school day. While this division may be ideal from an academic perspective, it creates an artificial separation between children which might be mistaken for a natural division. In order to ensure that children internalize the inherent value of every individual, schools need to find a way to demonstrate the value of students, no matter what their ability levels are. Inclusive programming both during the school day and in extracurricular activities has the power to show all children the value of every individual. Read the rest of this entry →

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New Regulations for Parental Consent for the Use of Public Benefits

March 17, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

Tomorrow is March 18th and that means there are new regulations related to parental consent for the use of public benefits or insurance to pay for services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  These new regulations were published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2013, and are effective on March 18, 2013.  At the heart of this new language is reducing the School District’s requirement to seek parental approval each time the School District wants to access public benefits for IEP services to a one time approval.  Below you will find the prior language and the new language. Read the rest of this entry →

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To Spell or Not to Spell: Is it important?

March 11, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

It happened again. I was in an IEP for a student with dyslexia who is struggling with spelling the most. This GATE-identified young man is in the 5th grade and spelling phonetically, yet he was not receiving  services for spelling last year – which is why I am now involved in the IEP process. The meeting was somewhat tense from the beginning, but when we got to the spelling goal this is what was presented: Thomas will be taught to memorize and spell 200 of the most common sight words. Hmm. Ok. So, my response: Can we change this goal so that we are actually teaching him to spell versus just memorizing some words? This is when I got the death stare and then silence. I interpreted the silence to mean that the RSP teacher didn’t know how to write the goal because she did not know how to teach a kid who is spelling phonetically how to spell. Then she said it, and the general ed teacher agreed with a nod of his head: He is going to middle school next year and he really doesn’t need to know how to spell anymore. I mean they don’t give spelling tests. My heart started to pound and then she added the ubiquitous suggestion: He can just learn to use spell check. Read the rest of this entry →

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Least Restrictive Environment (Legal, Judicial and Practical meaning)

March 8, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

The term Least Restrictive Environment is thrown around a lot in special education but what does it really mean.

There is the legal definition which states:

“In General.  To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily” 20 U.S.C § 1412(a)(5)(A). Read the rest of this entry →

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The Importance of Including Your Child in Their Own IEP Meeting

March 6, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

We as parents spend a lot of time advocating for our children when they are young.  However, there comes a time when our children become older and they have to learn how to advocate for themselves; knowing when the time is right will depend on your child.  If your child is still attending elementary school, they are most likely NOT mature enough to participate.  For those of you who have children in middle school, now is the time to think about the prospect of someday having your child attend their own IEP meeting. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: The deconstruction of school testing

March 4, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

This may come as a surprise, but most school psychologists do not know how to identify dyslexia, and if they do identify a reading problem, it is usually mislabeled as an auditory processing disorder. To further complicate the problem, the report may do an excellent job of describing the reading and writing issues and then fall absurdly short in the recommendations section.  Recently, I read a report that did a beautiful job of explaining a young girl’s difficulty with decoding, spelling and fluency. The tests showed a clear deficit in phonological awareness, so what were the recommendations that got my blood boiling and provoked me to throw my arms in the air? Student needs to improve reading. Yes, that’s right. That was the recommendation to the IEP team. So, what is the underlying issue and what do parents and teachers need to know about the testing in order to make appropriate recommendations? Read on for answers. Read the rest of this entry →

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