The following is a list of the most viewed special education advisor guest articles from 2012. Thank you to all of the guest authors that have submitted articles to Special Education Advisor in 2012. The quality of articles and their content has been outstanding and we really appreciate every single submission. Without your submissions we would not be able to fulfill our mission to families with children who have special education needs. Enjoy the list: Read the rest of this entry →
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The road to using technology to support your child may not always be a straight road. I have travelled down this road as a parent. At times I felt I wasn’t seeing any gains, only to realize the curves did lead to further progress.
There may be many curves along the way as you try to figure out what your child needs to best support them with their school work. As a parent, this takes time and learning. Becoming more aware of what your child needs and what best supports them will help you identify clear goals and will help you be more successful in helping your child.
As parents, we need to empower ourselves by developing a plan: Read the rest of this entry →
Shopping season for the holidays is approaching fast. Parents (and my own family members and friends) keep asking, what are the best toys to give to their child. When choosing toys for children it is best to see what a child is currently capable of doing and what skills are emerging rather than using strict age guidelines. Below you will find a few great toys for infants in different developmental stages over their first year. Each toy has characteristics to match a child’s developmental stage of physical, intellectual, and/or social development.
During the first few months, a child’s “purpose” in play is all about sensation – to see, hear, touch, smell, and mouth. An infant’s motor skills include following objects with their eyes, responding to sounds by turning their head, or grasping an object when put into their hand. They are interested in people’s faces and voices. Visual acuity is in the early stages of development and studies show that newborns prefer high contrasting colors (black & white patterns) but it is good to expose them to more subtle objects, like your face and eyes and their own little hands and feet. Babies are born with a more developed sense of hearing versus sight. They respond to familiar voices and are soothed by rhythmic sounds that mimic sounds they were exposed to in the womb, like a mother’s heart beat. A newborn’s sense of touch is especially developed at birth, particularly around the mouth. As adults, we notice that babies put almost everything in their mouths. This oral seeking behavior is not necessarily an infant’s response to teething, it is often the baby’s way of exploring or a means to self soothe.
Three great toys for this early infancy stage are:
Mirrors such as the Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror
Board books full of high contrast patterns like Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal
Manhattan Toys make a few great toys that are easy for small hands to grasp such as the Whoozit, which also has high contrasting patterns, little noise makers, and different fabric textures.
By four to six months more gross motor skills begin to develop like propping themselves up on their arms, placing objects in their mouth, reaching to grab objects, kicking their legs, and sitting upright.
There are a variety of activity mats out there, such as ones made by Baby Einstein, that are great for tummy time and placing toys on the arcs for the baby to reach for or kick when lying on their back. The positioning of the hanging objects can be adjusted depending on how you want to stimulate these developing motor skills.
Sophie la Girafe is a big crowd pleaser! She is easy to hold onto, safe to chew, visually stimulating with her dark contrasting spots, has a distinct sweet smell, and squeaks when squeezed.
While seeking out sensations will continue to guide play throughout infancy, within a few months an infant is stimulated by starting to learn the relationship between an action and it’s effect. There are many “cause-effect” toys that will stimulate motor and intellectual skills. As infants become more physically active you will begin to see higher level gross motor skills develop like sitting with better balance and maybe reaching outside of their base of support, pushing up onto their hands and knees and starting to crawl, pulling to stand, cruising furniture, and walking. Their fine motor and object manipulation skills become more refined, as they move on from earlier stages of mouthing, shaking, and swiping at toys to using their fingers to poke at, push, or pick up small objects. Socially, they start to interact more meaningfully, show humor by laughing and in anticipation, and initiate play activities (show and give objects to adult).
Here is a wider variety of toys to meet an infant’s developing skills at these later infancy stages:
Fisher Price Star Stacker is an all time favorite of mine for new independent sitters.
V-Tech’s Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker this activity center grows with your child from sitting to standing and taking his or her first steps.
Blocks are a simple and fantastic toy for all these stages of development. Beyond developing motor skills and eye-hand coordination to stack them, they have a cause-effect and natural social component where you build and baby knocks down causing lots of reactions and laughs!
Two suggested options for infant block play are:
There are so many great toys out there and these are just a few of my favorites based on all my years working with infants…and being an Aunt that loves to buy great gifts!
Enjoy & happy shopping!
Sari Ockner, OTR/L received her degree in Occupational Therapy at from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1998, in their extended Occupational Therapy program with an emphasis in her fieldwork studies in the scope of pediatrics. Sari began her practice in New York City and is currently living and practicing in the Los Angeles area. She has over 13 years of experience working with children with a variety of special needs in school, clinic, and home-based settings. Sari is certified in Sensory Integration Theory and Practice (SIPT) and specializes in handwriting and child development.Follow Sari on Facebook at Kidz Occupational Therapy or on Twitter at Sari_KidzOT for on-going information to support children in school, at home, and in the community. For further information visit : www.KidzOccupationalTherapy.com
Occupational therapists help children with special needs build the underlying skills necessary to promote their success and independence in daily activities. This includes building their physical strength and endurance, while regulating their activity level, behavior, and emotions. Additionally, occupational therapy facilitates and feeds each child’s creativity and imagination.
Now lets talk yoga.
If you are a yoga enthusiast, such as myself, you can likely already imagine all the benefits of incorporating yoga into a child’s life. I have recently been trained and certified by Shana Meyerson, owner of mini yogis®, to teach yoga to children. I have started to incorporate yoga activities within my typical OT sessions, and WOW, not only do the children love it but I clearly see progress in each child with a few simple additions to what we were already doing. Read the rest of this entry →
This rare but potentially devastating condition affects girls born to older mothers. And as we as OT’s working in schools and preschools have already observed, many of our “first time moms” are often in their late thirties and early forties.
It is not a given that all older moms give birth to children with issues. But in the case of XXX Syndrome that is one of the prominent factors. XXX Syndrome is characterized by the presence of an additional X chromosome in each cell of female children/fetus. If the extra X chromosome occurs only in some of the cells it is called a mosaic, and has less developmental impact. It is not an inherited condition and usually occurs during conception and is related to a delayed or incomplete splitting of the egg during fertilization. Occurrence is about 1 in 1,000. Read the rest of this entry →
Many children who have an IEP receive Occupational Therapy (OT) as a related service to address poor handwriting. While handwriting referrals are an appropriate use of Occupational Therapy services and OT’s are well equipped to address handwriting challenges that impact learning, illegible or sloppy handwriting can be a symptom of more significant processing or motor challenges and poor handwriting is not the only type of symptom that educators and parents should be considering when determining the need for OT services. Occupational Therapy is an underutilized and often misunderstood discipline, that can serve as a valuable resource to address many IEP related goals. Read the rest of this entry →
Chad has been known to me since he was a toddler and his older sister would come to OT and he would wait in the Clinic area with his mom. Having had the opportunity to observe him casually over time, it was not a surprise to me that he was also now participating in an OT program.
What did surprise me was the report from school that he was the “meanest” and the “worst” child they have ever had in their (public) school.
Sensory sensitive to movement with poor figure-ground discrimination, Chad is easily confused in large classrooms. The noise the movement, the rapid changes from one task to another are very unsettling for him to the point of frustration. Read the rest of this entry →
Special Education Advisor started out as a way to help parents educate themselves on the Special Education process in the United States. I wanted to create a non-threatening place for parents to come and learn to be their child’s best advocate in an IEP meeting. That was it that was my dream. What has occurred in the preceding 2 years has been nothing short of amazing. With no budget and 2 employees, my husband and I, we set out on this journey and many of you have come along for the ride. We now have a vibrant community which includes more than 40,000 visitors per month and growing.
Originally, my husband and I did all of the content on the website ourselves but then one day we got an email. A Special Education Professional introduced herself and asked if she could write a guest post for SEA. Wow, why didn’t I think of that? We added a page on the website where parents, educators and other professionals could submit guest articles and we never looked back. Today, we post a minimum of 5 new articles per week including 3 guest articles. The subject of these articles while still heavily IEP related, now cover a vast array of different special needs related content. We are constantly looking for new areas to cover and in the last 4 months added an app and product review section.
We wanted to take a moment and personally thank all of our visitors, members, twitter followers, facebook fans, pinteresters and google plusers for coming along for the ride. That was a mouth full, but you get the idea. We spend an abundant amount of our time, 7 days a week, on SEA and interacting with all of you makes it worthwhile. We hope you will continue with us on this journey and help us spread the word about SEA in the coming years.
In the meantime, below is a list of 25 of our most popular articles from the last two years:
Just as the 1970’s began the passing of legislation for children with disabilities it was also the start of some of its most important court cases. Two cases in particular were the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 343 Fed. Supp. 279, (1972) and Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia, 348 F. Supp. 866 (1972). In both PARC and Mills the judges struck down local laws that excluded children with disabilities from schools. They established that children with a disability have a right to a public education and access to an education.
An IEP is an Individualized Education Program for children who qualify for special education services by their local public school district. It is not an Individual Education Plan. Why isn’t it a Plan? As the old saying goes, “plans are made to be broken!” A program on the other hand must be followed!! Congress in their infinite wisdom got this one right. It is a legally binding document that must be followed to the letter of the law and tailored to meet your child’s unique needs. An IEP must include:
Life is hectic when raising a child with special needs. Parents are constantly dealing with therapies, medical appointments, administering medicine, and life in general. To make matters worse parents are telling me they keep hearing in IEP meetings from School District personnel, “If you don’t like our offer take us to due process”. This makes it even more important to be prepared for your next meeting. This article will help you truly prepare for the next IEP meeting.
In May of 2013 the new diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder will be distributed to doctors via the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). Think of the DSM 5 as the Bible of diagnostic criteria, developed and written by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
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:
The following list outlines the definitions of each of the disability categories established under the Individuals with Disabilities Education (Improvement) Act of 2004 (“IDEA”)
Below is a list of Special Education Twitter Feeds worth following. The list includes Parents, Educators, Advocates, Attorneys, Therapists and National Organizations. This list should keep you up to date on everything happening in and around the world of Special Education.
To develop IEP goals (and, in some states and situations, objectives) that are meaningful, measurable, and manageable, requires a preliminary step that too many IEP Teams rush though: Writing a quality Present Levels section (“present levels of academic achievement and functional performance”) of the IEP. This section forms the basis and justification for all goals and objectives. In turn, the goals and objectives form the basis for all services and placements.
If your child has an IEP, the following top ten list is comprised of generic questions that all parents should be asking. This list is not specific to any disability or situation.
Dear Other Mother at Physical Therapy,
For the past three days I have watched you roll your eyes at my son. I can see your annoyance with him when he gets loud and interrupts your quiet making it hard for you to read your book. I saw your anger when he accidentally bumped into you and just kept going instead of stopping to say he was sorry. I hear the hostility in your voice as you yell for the technicians to pay attention to your daughter and stop giving my boy extra attention. And for three days I have said nothing.
Prior to the 1970’s special education in the United States was in a dismal state. Many children with a disability were denied access to a public education. Most of these children were either home schooled, did not receive any education at all or worse yet were institutionalized. The foundation of today’s special education law was passed in 1975 and enacted in 1977. This was Public Law 94-142, The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (EHA). This law introduced the concepts of:
I have recently read your article, “What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents” and found it to be ill-conceived, short sided and quite frankly wrong on many accounts. I am aware of your accolades and achievements as written in the editor’s note prior to the article but I will also point you to Rule #51 in your Essential 55 Rules, “Live so that you will never have regrets”. If you don’t already, I feel you will learn to regret writing this article. This article has the ability to create an even bigger chasm between Parents and Teachers. Parent Involvement in a Child’s Education, as proven by 20 years of research, is one of the most effective methods in a child’s academic success. Educating our children needs to be a partnership between Parents and Teachers. Especially, since school age children spend 70% of their time outside of school. Your article makes it painfully aware that your idea of a Parent – Teacher partnership is one where Parents do everything you ask without input or questions.
The Orton-Gillingham approach is a unique language training system that was designed by Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham. Dr. Orton, a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist, was a pioneer in focusing attention on reading failure and related language processing difficulties. He revolutionized modern thought concerning learning disabilities, determining that language-based disorders were biological and not environmental in origin. He brought together neuroscientific information and principles of remediation, having extensively studied children with the kind of language processing difficulties now commonly associated with dyslexia and formulating a set of teaching principles and practices for such children. He strongly believed that such disorders would respond to specific training if properly diagnosed and if the proper training methods to meet the needs of each particular case were instituted.
The following is a list of Facebook pages that do a wonderful job of tracking, educating and informing on all aspects of Special Education and advocacy. Anyone that has a child with an individualized education program (IEP) or individual family service plan (IFSP) should like these pages.
10. Parents have the right to request that their child be assessed for Special Education without delay.
9. Parents have the right to list all of their concerns in the IEP.
When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reauthorized in 2004 the U. S. Department of Education through the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) required states to develop State Performance Plans based on 20 indicators. The data would be submitted annually, by each State, in Annual Performance Reports. The 13th Indicator, or Indicator 13, relates to transition services for students.
1. You’re not alone. No, really, really not alone. About one in 110 of us are on the autism spectrum. Throughout the world, autism affects all races, social classes, religions, and income levels. You are going to meet some amazing people who are walking this road right with you. You may even find that you or your spouse are on the spectrum, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject.
Making friends isn’t easy for anyone but becomes even more difficult if you are a child with special needs who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP). While most schools use an IEP to primarily focus on academics, one of the most overlooked uses is to help with socialization and recreation. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows for support services, known as “Related Services” that helps the child receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The definition of Related Services as defined by IDEA says:
Disciplining a child with a disability is one of the most complicated issues surrounding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. Parents, a lot of times, feel helpless and don’t know who or where to turn when their child with a disability is constantly acting out at school and being suspended. This article will help explain what rights your child with an IEP has when dealing with discipline issues.
Children with special needs very often present with sensory integration difficulties, where their neurological systems are not organizing and responding appropriately to the multitude of sensory information that is entering their system. Intact sensory integration is important for all activities a child does, especially participating and being available for learning in a classroom environment. When a child’s sensory system is dysregulated we may see behaviors such as hyperactivity, poor attention, low arousal/energy, emotional outbursts, or inappropriate social interactions. Many of these children are in classrooms of twenty-five students (or likely more ) with one teacher. How can we support these children in school to better ensure their sensory needs are met in order to be successful students? Working in collaboration with teachers I have found these strategies to be effective and practical in general education settings.
I may upset a few parents with this post, but just know that I what I am about to say is in the best interest of your children. Many, many, many (did I say many?) parents insist that their children with autism have “shadows” when they are included in general education classrooms. Parents tell one another things like, “Whatever you do, make sure the shadow is assigned to your child, not the classroom.” In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is to assign a non-certified staff person to a child. In fact, it is not just my opinion. Research has shown that having a shadow assigned to a student can have detrimental effects (Downing, Ryndak, & Clark, 2000); Giangreco & Broer, 2005). Some of the documented negative effects of having shadows assigned to students include:
In General the term Related Service means services designed to enable a child with a disability to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as described in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. The Related Services most people are familiar with are Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Transportation.
Consider this your call to action! The Common Core Standards are coming to your State and every Teacher and Parent of a child with special needs MUST have this free app on their phone, tablet or iPad. As a parent of a child with special needs I don’t go to my son’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting without a copy of California’s State Standards for his grade level. I use these standards to write goals for my son’s IEP based on his individualized needs.
For most of us, the drive to change our own behavior emerges on or around on January 1st with the dawn of a new year and new possibilities for self improvement. Loose a little weight, stop smoking, exercise more, and eat leafy greens seem to be among the favorites. Most of us are pretty conservative and only select 1 (maybe 2) goals to tackle each year. After all, we are only human and it takes a lot of thinking to change a pattern or ingrained routine. If you’re diligent and work hard, you might see a change but for most of us….it’s an exercise in futility somewhere around March 1st. Why does that happen? How do we lose our “oomph” and why do we slip back into our old, familiar ways. Why can’t we learn to change our ways? These are all questions that we ought to be asking, but rarely do. Instead, we wait until the following year and begin the process all over again. Why? Because changing a behavior is REALLY hard, even when highly motivated to do so.
To Whom it May Concern,
I am the parent of a special needs child. I was overwhelmed, confused, heart broken and struggling to unravel the complexities before me.
Please do not pass judgement of me without knowing why I did not attend the school PTA breakfasts or community picnics. Please take a few minutes to understand why I did not take you up on your offer to have lunch or grab a cup of coffee. Although we see each other in the supermarket or at school functions, I don’t think you really ever knew me, actually, I can guarantee that you did not know me because just as my child was different, so was I.
If you are a parent of a child with special needs, the thought may have crossed your mind as to how you could create a fun, effective and sensory rich environment in your home. Space and budget are often reasons that may hinder families from doing so. The great news is that there are so many creative and affordable sensory solutions to bring much needed sensory input into your home. The suggestions provided below can help your child with sensory processing and modulation difficulties to better regulate their arousal state and activity level. Read the rest of this entry →
Occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists all provide essential services to help individuals recover or manage their disability. It’s apparent to these professionals, or students specializing in this field, that to be able to give the highest quality of care requires extensive education to enter professions as well as continuing education throughout the subsequent career. But what is the special recipe to maximize your lifelong learning as a therapy professional? Read the rest of this entry →