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The Five Keys to Unlocking a Successful School Year

July 11, 2014 in Featured, Special Education Articles by Jess

Executive functioning skills are essential to succeed in life. Certain executive functioning skills, such as time management and organization, help individuals in their jobs, daily chores, and day to day responsibilities. Students with a variety of learning challenges, such as ADHD, learning disabilities, or autism spectrum disorders, may have deficits in such executive functioning skills, which can, in turn, adversely affect the school experience. Although these deficits may seem insurmountable at times, there are ways to tackle them to achieve success.

As a new school year is beginning, high school faculty and staff, parents, and students themselves, are searching for systems to put in place to develop such executive functioning skills and to maximize the classroom learning experience. To help, here are New Frontiers in Learning’s Five Keys to a Successful School Year: Read the rest of this entry →

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My Child has a Medical Diagnosis why doesn’t he Qualify for an IEP?

March 19, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

I often hear from parents, I have just gotten a medical diagnosis for my child and have set up my first IEP meeting to qualify them to receive services.  That medical diagnosis could be ADHD, a learning disorder, a mood disorder, an anxiety disorder, pervasive developmental disorder or a whole host of others.  These are typically the same parents that are blown away when the School District tells them they don’t qualify. Read the rest of this entry →

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In order to be fair we have got to treat them different

December 19, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

A couple of months ago I was touring an inclusive charter school that my wife and I want my son to attend for middle school. As we toured the different classrooms I noticed a sign hanging over the blackboard in every class. The sign read, “Fairness is not getting the same thing as everyone else, but getting what you need.” This motto seemed appropriate since the charter’s school inclusion “model allows for the individual needs of each child to be addressed in a manner that enhances each child’s strengths while also addressing learning needs” all within the general education setting.

Being the curious type I snapped a picture of one of the signs and went home to research the individual who came up with this philosophy. After doing some Google searches I found the following YouTube video from Rick Lavoie. Read the rest of this entry →

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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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Autism Spectrum Disorders Fact Sheet

October 6, 2013 in The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by Jess

Ryan’s Story

Ryan is a healthy, active two-year-old, but his parents are concerned because he doesn’t seem to be doing the same things that his older sister did at this age. He’s not really talking, yet; although sometimes, he repeats, over and over, words that he hears others say. He doesn’t use words to communicate, though. It seems he just enjoys the sounds of them. Ryan spends a lot of time playing by himself. He has a few favorite toys, mostly cars, or anything with wheels on it! And sometimes, he spins himself around as fast as he does the wheels on his cars. Ryan’s parents are really concerned, as he’s started throwing a tantrum whenever his routine has the smallest change. More and more, his parents feel stressed, not knowing what might trigger Ryan’s next upset.

Often, it seems Ryan doesn’t notice or care if his family or anyone else is around. His parents just don’t know how to reach their little boy, who seems so rigid and far too set in his ways for his tender young age. After talking with their family doctor, Ryan’s parents call the Early Intervention office in their community and make an appointment to have Ryan evaluated.

When the time comes, Ryan is seen by several professionals who play with him, watch him, and ask his parents a lot of questions. When they’re all done, Ryan is diagnosed with autism, one of the five disorders listed under an umbrella category of “Pervasive Developmental Disorders”—a category that’s often referred to as simply the “autism spectrum.”

As painful as this is for his parents to learn, the early intervention staff encourage them to learn more about the autism spectrum. By getting an early diagnosis and beginning treatment, Ryan has the best chance to grow and develop. Of course, there’s a long road ahead, but his parents take comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone and they’re getting Ryan the help he needs. Read the rest of this entry →

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Trying to Figure Out the Function for Problem Behaviors? Ask the Child!

September 10, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

When addressing problem behaviors in individuals with ASD, the first step is to determine the function the behavior serves.  The main reason why we need to determine the function for problem behavior is so that we can teach the child replacement skills that are more appropriate that can serve the same function.  There are many tools teachers and behavior specialists use when doing a functional behavior assessment to determine the function of a problem behavior.  They conduct functional behavior assessment interviews with caregivers and professionals.  They observe and record the antecedents leading up to the problem behavior and the consequences that follow the behavior.  They collect scatter plot data in which they document when and where the behavior is most and least likely to occur.  And if they are real savvy, they go as far as doing functional behavior analyses in which they actually manipulate variables in the environment to test out the hypothesis for the function of the behavior.  For more info on functional behavior assessment, click on this helpful link: http://cecp.air.org/fba/ Read the rest of this entry →

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A Taste of Autism in the East

July 8, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

There’s a hair roller stuck with a piece of Velcro to a piece of card on the wall. Alongside it is a separate strip of cardboard with a small card attached with Velcro, on which is a picture with the name of what’s on the image hand written underneath. These two strips of cardboard demarcate the gap between the least and most able students in this part of the autism school in Beijing, China.

I’ve taken a short, dusty walk from the original Stars and Rain autism school to this building which teaches around 6 students aged 13-18 at any one time. When I arrive there are only five students, four adolescent men and one female. Chinese Special Educational Needs teachers, who have little in-service training and still less status for their work, use TEACCH (the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Related Handicapped Children) methods and visual timetabling to achieve goals and develop communication. On the day I visit, there are two teachers and three German volunteers whose internships program sees them stay for a year in the capital’s suburbs, working daily in the upper school and sleeping in local accommodation. Read the rest of this entry →

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The Affordable Care Act and Autism Insurance: A bait and switch?

July 7, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The rate of autism is on the rise. Current estimates about the prevalence of the condition are that it affects one out of every 88 children. Among boys the rate is even higher at one out of every 54. It’s so bad that the advocacy group Autism Speaks has called it an epidemic.

For parents of autistic children the most effective option for treatment has long been Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of ABA both in the long and short term. The therapy helps children learn the essential life skills that help them succeed well into adulthood.

However many families face the issue of how to afford such treatment. Daily sessions can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 each year, and the therapy is not always covered by insurance. Read the rest of this entry →

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April, a Time for Autism Awareness……a Time to show Compassion

April 1, 2013 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

Once again April is upon us and while it brings the thought of spring time, it also reminds us as a community how important it is to address the subject of Autism.  While some of us discuss Autism all year long for many April is the one time of year when society discusses Autism; how does it happen, why does it happen and what can we do to not only be aware of Autism but to accept all forms of neurodiversity.  These are all valid discussions but let’s not forget those who have yet to be diagnosed.  In spite of what the statistics say, I believe there are many more children and adults who are never diagnosed. Read the rest of this entry →

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