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Understanding the Importance of IEP Goals and Objectives

July 7, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The Goals and Objectives section of the IEP is the”meat” of the IEP. Goals and objectives should be directly linked to the child’s educational needs. Special educators determine what a child’s education needs are through formal and informal assessments, through observations of the child’s behaviors and social interactions, through parent feedback, through work products the child creates and through evaluating the child’s level of success with different teaching interventions. The goals and objectives are the specific skills the child is going to learn during the course of the IEP, which is usually one year. Read the rest of this entry →

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Communicating with Your Child

July 1, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Maybe They Need To See What You Say!   

We believe hearing sounds begins in the womb; perhaps learning to recognize a mother’s voice or benefitting from listening to certain types of music. So in all likelihood processing sounds, the beginning of language acquisition begins before birth. A parent may or may not enhance those opportunities. After birth those who have a significant role in a child’s life have a major part to play in language development.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Early Intervention: An Occupational Therapists Point of View

May 25, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Doug Goldberg

To correctly begin this article we have to start with, " ONCE UPON A TIME”. You may new be sitting with a puzzled look on your face, but let me explain. Lets look at students A, B, and C:

Student A is a 15 year old student who's teacher is ready to fail him because of his poor handwriting.

ONCE UPON A TIME.......when the same student was 4, he was unable to keep his alphabet aligned on his wide ruled paper nor was he able to complete simple mazes. His visual motor integrational skills were not addressed when he was young and is now a hindrance to his progress.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Reality and misconceptions about helping kids improve their social skills

May 24, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak with fellow Camp Directors who run camps designed for neurotypical children the topic often leads to discussing their campers who present with social-cognitive challenges. In other words, their campers who struggle socially in the camp setting.

Through my discussions with camp colleagues as well as professionals who work with children who present with social skill challenges I often hear that many parents are not interested in sending their child to a summer camp that is designed to meet their child's needs. In some cases the child may not want to go to a camp designed to meet their needs as they understandably want to see themselves as no different than their neurotypical peers despite the fact that they are frequently met with rejection from the same peers who's acceptance they crave. While these parents know there is a risk their child may be unsuccessful in the camp setting they believe that the best way for their child to improve their social skills and provide their child with a feeling of normalcy is through having their child participate in recreational settings (like summer camp) with their neurotypical peers. Often this well intended approach backfires for the child, particularly as they get older and social expectations increase. This led me to question as to where this widely held misconception comes from that children who present with social skill challenges can improve their social skills by simply being around neurotypical peers. Read the rest of this entry →

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7 Common Myths of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

May 23, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Proper diagnosis of a language concern is crucial to effective and appropriate treatment. Childhood apraxia of speech (aka developmental apraxia of speech/dyspraxia/verbal apraxia) is frequently both over, and under-diagnosed.  Ineffective and inefficient treatment can result.


Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a difficulty coordinating and planning out the production of sounds.  It is a disorder of motor planning. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but can’t get his or her mouth to do what the brain wants.

Specific signs of CAS include, but are not limited to: Read the rest of this entry →

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Is the IPAD Good for Kids’ Attention?

May 22, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess



Attention is the busy traffic cop managing the portal of information flowing into our minds. These days, the cop is working overtime and is overworked and burning out in too many of us -- especially kids.

Experts and teachers alike are now worried about how the chaotic tsunami of information pouring through iPads, iPhones, iTouches, computers, TVs, androids, and other devices into our children's minds may be overtaxing and damaging brain development, especially how kids learn to pay attention. Many believe we are just seeing the tip of an iceberg. Read the rest of this entry →

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Dyslexia: ‘I’ve never taught a student with dyslexia.’

May 21, 2014 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Have you ever asked yourself what your local school teachers know about dyslexia? What have they learned on their own? What professional development have they been exposed to since they finished their teacher training programs? Have you ever wondered what they know to be an intervention for dyslexia? I recently read a thread on a Facebook page dedicated to teachers when the topic of dyslexia was posed to 75,000+ teachers. How they responded was not completely unexpected, but it was unnerving.

Before I go on, let me assure you that I love teachers. There are many, many teachers in my life. We have five teachers who work for us as reading therapists and I think they are all intelligent, empathetic, creative and passionate people. So, this article is not a bashing of teachers, instead the purpose is to shed light on what they have been taught, or not taught, to do for children with dyslexia. Read the rest of this entry →

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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.


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.






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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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