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How Do You Get Organized with ADHD

April 9, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often struggle with prioritization and organization. Items get lost, bills go unpaid, and projects go unfinished. Creative, smart, and loving individuals suffer from chronic feelings of “not being good enough”. Relationships flounder and lives can spin out of control. People with ADHD can tell you that they simply feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

Fortunately, it is possible to manage ADHD symptoms. There are many extremely effective strategies for coping with difficulties in these areas. In fact, you can become organized and an effective prioritizer if you learn to utilize some of the techniques below.  The first step is to be aware of your weaknesses and take action to address them. The realistic goal is not to become perfect, but to make daily life less stressful. The way you prioritize should depend on your individual needs and problems. Below, we’ll take a look at useful tips that can get you started: Read the rest of this entry →

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Do You Need A 504 Plan for Your Child’s Health Needs?

March 21, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

More students than ever are currently attending school with such chronic conditions as diabetes, cancer, asthma, severe food allergies and seizure disorders.

For more than a decade, I supervised the school nurses in an 11,000-student school district. I often consulted with parents, principals, and nurses about students’ health concerns.

If your child has a specific condition, you are your child’s best advocate. Make sure you are thoroughly informed about your child’s needs and rights. It is critically important for you to communicate with the school principal, school nurse, and your child’s teachers. Be actively involved in helping the school to understand and provide the services and attention your child needs to succeed.

Prescriptions, doctor’s orders and other necessary paperwork should be updated by parents at the start of each school year or when there is a change in your child’s treatment. You should also check the school’s policies, protocols and guidelines in regard to the handling of specific health conditions.

Often, health issues can be addressed successfully by developing a medical management plan that gives the school guidance on your child’s specific needs. Creating a medical management plan for how your child’s health needs will be handled at school should be a team effort that includes you, your child, school personnel, and your child’s doctors. It is very important that the plan is documented in writing.

Parents often ask about whether they need a 504 Plan to manage their child’s health needs at school. Whereas a medical management plan provides guidelines, a 504 Plan is legally binding. It is your call whether you want to request a 504 Plan for your child.

School districts are required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794) to provide all students, regardless of disability, with a “free appropriate public education.” This provision, found in section 504, applies to any condition – physical, mental, or emotional – that might interfere with a student’s ability to receive an education in a public school. That means that no student with a disability can be excluded from school. 504 Plans are comprehensive plans created collaboratively by parents, nurses, and other interested parties to address the student’s individual needs.

Severe peanut allergies, diabetes, and seizure disorders are a few of the conditions that may or may not fall under the Rehabilitation Act. For example, 504 Plans may address the use of anaphylactic medications, such as epi-pens, and how staff will be utilized to recognize and respond to allergy symptoms. 504 plans sometimes require nurses to be on school premises at all times to administer glucagon for diabetes or seizure disorder medication. 504 plans may also address specific responsibilities of students and staff.

A student must have a condition that “substantially limits one or more major life activities,” to qualify for a 504 Plan. Students have to be evaluated by the school district to determine whether they are eligible. The district will take into consideration the age and capability of the child. If parents are dissatisfied with the outcome, they may appeal.

In addition to the Rehabilitation Act, several other laws protect students with health issues. These include the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While the Rehabilitation Act offers protection to public school students, the ADA extends protection to students in private schools and day care centers

What are the pros and cons of a 504 Plan?

• A 504 Plan is a legal document. 504 Plans can be enforced in court, or with the United States Office of Civil Rights

• A 504 Plan makes expectations for all concerned — parents, students, classmates, teachers, aides, nurses, and administrators – crystal clear.

• 504 Plans can provide specific guidelines for handling your child’s health issues even if there are changes in school personnel.

• 504 Plans can address your child’s health needs in a variety of school-related activities, including field trips, fire drills, lunch, and extra-curricular activities.

• Obtaining a 504 Plan will be time-consuming. There will be an evaluation and assessment of your child and several meetings to arrive at agreement on the specifics of the plan.

• Although you are not required to have a lawyer, you may decide to hire one to represent your child’s interests or to appeal a decision. This could be quite costly.

The bottom line has to do with the seriousness of your child’s symptoms and how capable he/she is to take care of his/her health needs. You are the best judge. It is your decision whether you want to have a legally enforceable plan or if you are comfortable with a medical management plan. Whichever you choose, it is always a good idea to make sure everything is in writing. If you are in doubt, consult with your child’s doctor and an attorney, who has expertise in this area.

Biography:

Dr. Meryl Ain has worked in several large Long Island, New York school districts as a central office administrator, teacher, and school building administrator. She shares her insights and expertise on her blog, Your Education Doctor. Dr. Ain offers consulting and other professional service to individuals, groups, teachers and school districts.

www.youreducationdoctor.wordpress.com

http://twitter.com/DrMerylAin

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Your-Education-Doctor/146852162063986

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/meryl-ain/37/90a/464

 

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Learning Attributes vs. Learning Disabilities

February 23, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Doug Goldberg

The other day I was shopping in the local grocery store, one that is part of a chain of supermarkets up and down the state.  It was later in the day and it seemed everyone in town was shopping in the same place.  The lines were long, the clerks were trying to hurry, and some customers were anxious.  But the baggers were methodical, calm and worked with smiles.  I began observing all the lines as patron after patron had their bags packed in the same disciplined way by these smiling baggers.

Then I watched the baggers more closely and suddenly I was struck by the fact that all of them  had some kind of disability.   Two had Down syndrome, some had different physical deformities like a crippled arm or extremely thick glasses, and many had problems I couldn’t identify.  But they were all persevering in their jobs – packing the bags carefully, loading groceries onto the carts, and courteously asking customers if they needed help to their cars. They all worked diligently and with kindness.  If a clerk asked one to run and get an item or check a price, the bagger complied happily.  Read the rest of this entry →

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What is Nonverbal Learning Disability (Disorder)

January 24, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

I was in a Team meeting once and the team chair said “I was surprised that the student with diagnosed with nonverbal learning disability because they talk all the time.”

The term Nonverbal Learning Disorders (or NLD) refers to a neurological syndrome believed to result from damage to the white matter connections in the right-hemisphere of the brain, which are important for intermodal integration. Three major categories of dysfunction present themselves: (1) motoric (lack of coordination, severe balance problems, and difficulties with fine graphomotor skills); (2) visual-spatial-organizational (lack of image, poor visual recall, faulty spatial perceptions, and difficulties with spatial relations); and (3) social (lack of ability to comprehend nonverbal communications, difficulties adjusting to transitions and novel situations, and deficits in social judgment and social interaction). Individuals with NLD generally have exceptional verbal skills, do well in school subjects requiring decoding (the word recognition aspect of reading) and encoding (spelling) written language, have excellent auditory attention and memory, and learn primarily through verbal mediation. This syndrome appears to be the exact opposite of dyslexia. This is taken from Nonverbal Learning Disorders Revisited in 1997 by Sue Thompson, Read the rest of this entry →

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How to Help Your Child with Special Needs be More Independent

January 19, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The ultimate goal of a parent is the independence of their child.  Parents try to set the stage perfectly – with love, support, encouragement, guidance and nurturance. As different developmental stages occur, opportunities emerge to foster skills that will lead to independence.  We want our kids to be ready when these chances happen.

This process holds additional complexities for parents of children with special needs. Everyone struggles with the age-old question of when to ‘let go’ at each developmental stage.  And the answer for every child and parent is different.  However, just because developmental progress occurs in a more idiosyncratic or even delayed fashion doesn’t mean that the moments for these decisions on how much to let go and transitions in parental behavior aren’t arriving at all.  They are, and with a special needs child, a parent’s approach to fostering independence needs to be even more intentional and sophisticated. Read the rest of this entry →

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IEP for students with motor and physical disabilities

January 12, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Equality is a key in every sphere of life. The basic rights have to apply equally for all irrespective of the class, creed, race, and motor and physical disabilities. A person suffering and subjugated by physical disability requires close attention and intense care. Teachers and fellow students should be equally kind and farsighted in welcoming other students with physical disabilities. The following points will introduce certain expectations and prospective resources to a student suffering from motor or physical disability that should be incorporated in pertinence to a daily routine by delving into their academic journeys to ensure success in the future: Read the rest of this entry →

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De-escalating Conflict in the Classroom

January 8, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Conflict is a necessary part of life.  It inevitably occurs in classrooms where groups of individuals, with varied needs and experiences, pursue shared and individual goals.  Successful classrooms are not “conflict free zones,” nor are they environments where every request, transition and interaction is a “battle of wills.”   The trick is to create an environment where conflict is strategic, fruitful and relatively rare.

The best way to promote constructive conflict is actually to avoid conflict whenever possible.  Learning from conflict takes patience and time, both of which are often limited resources in a classroom.  It’s important to pick your battles.  Avoiding conflict does not mean “turning the other cheek” or not holding young people up to expectations.  But there are myriad ways to address negative behavior that are non-confrontational and proactive. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia IEP Flow Chart

December 14, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Doug Goldberg

This flowchart is a visual aid to help a parent and/or advocate of a child with dyslexia navigate the special education process.  It is meant only as a general guide.  Adapted from the forthcoming book: Dyslexia Decoding the System.

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Functionally-Based Curriculum for Teens with Severe Cognitive Impairment

November 10, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Students with severe autism, severe intellectual disabilities, severe brain damage and other such disabilities often lack the capacity to understand and use traditional educational subject matter to improve any aspect of their life.  However, IEP-driven programs for low cognitive, low verbal students continue to overemphasize traditional academics, and underemphasize functional academics.  Over-teaching material that is beyond the cognitive capacity of a child to understand and apply to their lives in a meaningful way, is disrespectful to that child and to their disorder.  Alternate curriculums for these students should primarily focus on daily situations, and the people, objects, locations and functions within those situations. Instead of this functionally based approach, students are being introduced to information in academics which are irrelevant to their needs and interests, and which do not advance the opportunity for cognitive growth and social success in the school, home and community.

This practice of teaching is as disrespectful as it would be to instruct these students in a foreign language. Reactions by students to curriculum they cannot understand or use can range from aggressive behavior, emotional shutdown or social withdrawal.  Read the rest of this entry →

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13 Key Issues Autism, special needs and parents of disabled need for their Family – Today, tomorrow and …?

November 5, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

I call these my Baker’s Dozen – This is in no way a complete list, and each and every family’s situation will have nuances. Remember, it all can’t or doesn’t need to be done at once;

1. Get a proper diagnosis and assessments early. These are the building blocks for successful EI, IEP’s, ITP’s, ongoing evaluations, services, support, benefits, management and living options.

2. Accept your child. Accept yourself. Accept this community There are hundreds, even thousands of us close by. Just like you. Some may have more financial means, many may not. We all have many of the same needs, challenges and concerns… Sometimes scared, upset, and trying to understand, learn more, live a life, rebuild our dreams and thrive. Read the rest of this entry →

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