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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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Intellectual Disability Fact Sheet

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

Matthew’s Story

Matt is 15 years old. Because Matt has an intellectual disability, he has been receiving special education services since elementary school. These services have helped him tremendously, because they are designed to fit his special learning needs. Last year he started high school. He, his family, and the school took a good hard look at what he wants to do when secondary school is over. Does he want more education? A job? Does he have the skills he needs to live on his own?

Answering these questions has helped Matt and the school plan for the future. He’s always been interested in the outdoors, in plants, and especially in trees. He knows all the tree names and can recognize them by their leaves and bark. So this year he’s learning about jobs like forestry, landscaping, and grounds maintenance. Next year he hopes to get a part-time job. He’s learning to use public transportation, so he’ll be able to get to and from the job. Having an intellectual disability makes it harder for Matt to learn new things. He needs things to be very concrete. But he’s determined. He wants to work outside, maybe in the park service or in a greenhouse, and he’s getting ready! Read the rest of this entry →

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Occupy CHOP for Amelia

January 14, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

By now most of you probably know who Amelia is. If you don’t, she is a little girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome that needs a kidney transplant and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has refused to perform the life saving surgery. They have decided against performing the surgery because Amelia has an intellectual disability. If you haven’t seen the blog I implore you to take a few minutes and read her Mother’s story. I have so many problems with this story I don’t even know where to start. The ignorance of these Doctors is mind blowing but here is the section of the blog that blows my mind:

I begin to shake. My whole body trembles and he begins to tell me how she will never be able to get on the waiting list because she is mentally retarded.

A bit of hope. I sit up and get excited.

“Oh, that’s ok! We plan on donating. If we aren’t a match, we come from a large family and someone will donate. We don’t want to be on the list. We will find our own donor.”

“Noooo. She—is—not—eligible –because—of—her—quality– of –life—Because—of—her—mental—delays” He says each word very slowly as if I am hard of hearing.

Make sure you read the exchange above a couple of times and let it sink in. This isn’t a story about not being able to find a kidney for Amelia!!! This is a story about a group of Doctors and a Hospital that have decided they will not perform a life saving surgery because the child has a disability!!!! CHOP has decided that children with a disability have a poor quality of life and thus are not worthy of saving. This is unacceptable, and the first thing you can do is sign this petition. The second thing you can do is go on CHOP’s facebook page and tell them what you think of them.

Now that you have done that let’s talk about how this should play out if we all really want to help Amelia. You see CHOP is a nonprofit charitable organization and according to their patient bill of rights all patients and families have the right to, “Receive care, treatment and services regardless of race, color, age, sex, national origin, religion, handicap, disability, sexual orientation, who pays for care or your ability to pay.” The website also says “Our commitment to improving the health of all children has remained constant over 150 years.”

So you see CHOP, in my opinion, has strayed from its mission to help all children and to not discriminate. These are offenses that should be reported. The first place to start reporting this would be the Pennsylvania Attorney Generals office. It is their obligation to investigate and revoke CHOP’s nonprofit status if they have strayed from their mission. I am not an attorney but it also seems to me this is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I hope the parents consult an attorney, and if actionable, file a discrimination complaint and lawsuit against CHOP. The problem with either of these options is they will most likely take time Amelia does not have.

So this brings me to my final suggestion. According to Steven M. Altschuler, M.D. CEO of CHOP in the last annual report, “I’d like to provide a special recognition to our donor community. Your support is the engine that fuels our incredible staff s visionary ideas and helps us fast-forward them into real-life solutions. We cannot say it enough: thank you for your unwavering generosity and for traveling with us on the journey to improve pediatric healthcare.” The business of CHOP is not saving lives, but rather fundraising which is done through their foundation. Here is the contact information for the foundation. Let your voice be heard. Make CHOP understand that saying no to Amelia will not only hurt this family it can have substantial repercussions on their fundraising. How do you get a nonprofit to listen, you start with the foundation!!!! So I tell you all, forget Occupy Wall St. it’s time to Occupy CHOP.

I wish this family the best and hope they will find a surgeon willing to do the operation. Every child’s life is valuable and it’s not up to any of us to decide who should live or die.

 

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Strengths and Challenges of Individuals with Fragile X Syndrome

August 30, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is an inherited genetic disorder that results in a range of characteristics which include autistic-like features, such as gaze avoidance, hand-flapping, difficulty with transitions, and impaired social and communication skills. It is the most commonly known inherited cause of intellectual disability, affecting 1 in 4000 males and 1 in 8000 females (Dykens, Hodapp, & Finucane, 2000). Organizations such as the National Fragile X Foundation and FRAXA are working to raise awareness about FXS; however, families continue to consistently hear “Fragile what?” when advising physicians, clinicians, teachers, friends, and neighbors of their child’s condition.

Read the rest of this entry →

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Thinking About the Future? Your Child’s Special Education Teacher Should Be

August 7, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Realistically, your child is going to grow older. Your child with autism, Down syndrome or any other genetic disorder or special need is growing each day and will become an adult. Are you thinking about this time?

Your child’s teachers should be.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Learning Disability Identification

August 2, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

What You Need to Know about the Discrepancy and Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses ("Third Method") Models.

The special education process for identifying a student with specific learning disabilities is one of the greatest challenges the parent of a child with specific learning disabilities can face.  Not only do you need to understand how your district defines/identifies what a specific learning disability is, but you need to know how your child qualifies for special education services under their definition.  This challenge arises because we do not have a hard and fast definition of a specific learning disability.  You as a parent see that your child is not performing well in school.  It would seem to be cut and dried that your child has a specific learning disability of some sort or another.  However, there are many factors involved with identifying a learning disability, and not all academic problems are caused by a specific learning disability. Read the rest of this entry →

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Blended e-learning to the Rescue: 6 Available Models

February 8, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

The Special Education student eagerly awaits modern educational approaches, as their cognitive skills weaknesses can be improved to make them functioning students. They can become even highly capable learners, and soon. Now, we can move forward without hesitation. 

For years, the typical solution was in-classroom or pull out tutorial assistance of daily assignments. Teachers, not knowing how to implement advanced instructional strategies, remained instructing within this inefficient model. In many cases, teachers feared additional, cumbersome work in learning and implementing new methodologies.  Read the rest of this entry →

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5 Remediation Solutions for Learning Problems

January 12, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

What are available solutions to activate inefficient learning pathways? My last article reviewed the importance of understanding the four primary sensory learning pathways; visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile pathways, (VAKT: Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic-Tactile teaching method, http://www.dyslexia-parent.com/VAKT.html) and these entrances must be in working order. If the senses do not integrate, there becomes a learning problem not only in the classroom, but with everyday interactions. 

Unfortunately, learning deficiencies are stigmatized. Although most of us have a learning pathway block, we are afraid to address or identify it, even though it is holding our processing speed down. Advanced processing speed can change your life, and even direct you to a new, more satisfying career. Let alone, determine your child’s future.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Special Education Done Right

November 29, 2010 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

When Special Education is done correctly, it is a powerful tool to educate children with a disability.   I spend a lot of time writing about special education laws, parental rights, writing IEP’s and non-compliance by School Districts but decided I would spend today writing about some of the most positive, recent examples I’ve seen in Special Education.   There are actually many different types of positive examples I can think of, but I decided to focus on three.  

The first is a program offered for pre-school aged children, in one of the many School Districts I cover in my advocate work, called the Kid Intensive Therapy Center.  This program is 2.5 hours a day 5 days a week and provides intensive/evidence-based early intervention.  The program utilizes applied behavior analysis (ABA) strategies and integrates speech and language into the classroom. Read the rest of this entry →

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One Step Closer to Removing the Disparaging Term Mental Retardation from IDEA

September 23, 2010 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

The House of Representatives approved Rosa’s Law a couple of days ago.  This law, once signed by President Obama, will replace the term Mental Retardation in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) with Intellectual Disability. Read the rest of this entry →

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