Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Dec 22
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by Dennise Goldberg

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:

1. Preventing Meltdowns: Outsmarting the Explosive Behavior of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Meltdown behavior is quite common for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. And, indeed, the most frequently asked question by parents and educators is: “What do I do when my child has meltdowns?”

When the meltdown is occurring, the best reaction is to ensure the safety of all concerned. Know that explosive behavior is not planned but instead is most often caused by subtle and perplexing triggers. When the behavior happens, everyone in its path feels pain, especially the child.

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2.  Proposed DSM 5 Changes and Autism: What Parents & Advocates Need to Know

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).

One of the most discussed changes in the DSM 5 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the removal of Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS as individual diagnoses. Under the new diagnostic criteria, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS will come under the umbrella of ASD.

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3.  Five Practical Sensory Strategies for the Classroom

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.

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4.  A Letter to the MOTHER Who Rolled Her Eyes at My Son

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.

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5.  Spotting Inattentive ADHD

Spotting people with Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-I) can be as difficult as finding Waldo in those busy picture books. People with ADHD-I do not stand out, blend into the setting they are in, and are perfectly happy if they are never found. Trevor is a good example.

Trevor is a quiet, well behaved, seventh grader who always sits in the back of the classroom. He rarely listens to a word that his biology teacher says, instead, he spends his time thinking about the science fiction book that he is reading. There will be a biology test in five days and he will barely pass it.

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6.  Please Step Away From the Child! The Misuse of Paraprofessionals in Inclusive Classrooms

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:

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7.  In Home Sensory Items You Can Create or Find for Cheap

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.

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8.  Beware of the Color Chart

While the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is becoming more widespread in public schools across the nation, teachers are still struggling with how to deliver “consequences” for inappropriate behavior. I often hear things such as, “I do provide positive reinforcement, but what message does it send to children if we do not also punish them when they engage in negative behaviors?” Or my favorite: “What message does it send to other students if this child is allowed to act this way?” The problem is that there is a misinterpretation of PBIS in many classrooms. Consequences do need to be delivered when problem behaviors occur; however, the term consequence is not synonymous with punishment or aversive treatment.

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9.  Change Your Ways!

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.

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10.  Auditory Processing Disorder and Learning

Almost every school activity, including listening to teachers, interacting with classmates, singing along in music class, following instructions in physical education, etc, depends on the ability for students to process sounds and have a strong auditory system in learning. But what happens if this auditory system has deficits? Can a child still learn?

Does my child have Auditory Processing Disorder?

Auditory Processing (APD) is a very common learning disability and affects about 5% of school-age children. Auditory Processing can present itself with many different symptoms and behaviors. Often these behaviors resemble those seen with other learning challenges, like language difficulties, attention problems and autism. Most children with auditory processing difficulties show only a few of the following behaviors. No child will show all of them. However, any child who displays several of these symptoms should be carefully evaluated for auditory processing disorder.

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Honorable Mention - Only been up a couple of weeks and almost cracked the top ten

Dyslexia: Hear Us Roar

A recent IEP meeting began the same way they always do, “Jake is a great kid. He has a lot of friends and he tries really hard. We really like him and enjoy having him on campus.” Much to my surprise and my utter joy, Jake’s dad took off his glasses, leaned forward and said, “I know my kid is great. I know he has a lot of friends. But that is not why we are here. My kid can’t read, so let’s talk about that.” I beamed with pride and wished this could be said at every IEP/school meeting. Guess what? It can – just do it.

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