I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday! As befits the season, I'm spinning interesting bits of news here and there into a blog post. I wouldn't call these "leftovers," though...more like yummy tidbits: J.G. Fabiano, a teacher in York Maine writing for the Portsmouth Herald, says that special education has morphed into an "800 pound gorilla: I am by no means saying the special education laws protecting our real-special- students should be eliminated. For the past few decades, I have watched wonderful committed educators help children who could not have survived in any secondary environment. The problem ...


The National Conference of State Legislatures has created a great database for those who would like to keep tabs on autism legislation nationwide. The developmental disorder has garned attention from lawmakers around the country, who have introduced a number of bills designed to provide more early intervention and educational opportunities for children. You can access the autism legislation database here. An overview of state and federal efforts related to autism is located here....


The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. and four St.Paul-area school districts are embarking on a study that will help educators learn the best ways to teach gifted children who also have learning disabilities. From an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Raising children with learning barriers is a task in itself, "but when they're bright and gifted and have a high IQ, it's even more frustrating, because the teachers just don't understand how to work with these kids," said Bloomington parent Chelle Woolley, whose 17-year-old son, Matt, was in fifth grade when he tested out for both ...


The National Center for Children in Poverty, based at Columbia University in New York, has released a report that shows that states are still struggling to deliver adequate care to children and youth with mental health problems. The study revisits a topic that was explored in another report, Unclaimed Children, more than 25 years ago. According to researchers, there have been improvements since that time, but only seven states report "consistent support for children and youth across the age span, among young children, school-age children and youth transitioning to adulthood." However, in an article in USA Today about the report, ...


After years of intensive therapy, Jayne Lytel believes that her son, Leo, 9, has behaviors indistinguishable from his typically developing peers -- even though he was diagnosed with autism at age 2. Lytel uses her situation as the basis of an article in the Washington Post about whether autism can actually be cured. Her son is now part of a research study that is examining 35 children and teens who appear to no longer have the outward signs of autism. In addition to talking about her own experiences, Lytel is careful to note that the jury is still out on ...


A group of parents who have children in a Christian school are suing the state of Washington because it won't provide special education services to their children at the school; instead, the children have to leave campus. In the article, a lawyer representing the families says that the policy represents religious discrimination. The state attorney general's office responded that services are provided off-campus to parochial school students because state law bars the use of public funds for religious institutions. Some may not know that local school districts are responsible for devoting a portion of their special education funding to students ...


My colleagues at Edweek.org have posted a first look at an article I wrote this week on special education compliance and the states. The print version of the story will be in the Nov. 19 issue of Education Week. The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Act in 2004 came with some new compliance mandates for states from the U.S. Department of Education. States must collect information from their districts on a variety of topics related to students with disabilities, including graduation and dropout rates, parent involvement, transition planning, settlements in due process cases, and others. These topics ...


My colleagues at TeacherMagazine.org are hosting an online chat Thursday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. eastern time on response to intervention. Both of the guests are great: Judy Elliott, now the chief academic officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District and a longtime practitioner of response to intervention, and Douglas Fuchs, a longtime researcher on the topic. I had a chance to interview both Elliott and Fuchs for a story I wrote about response to intervention that ran in January. No special equipment is needed to follow the chat, just a computer with internet access. ...


The GothamSchools blog recently posted about a move in New York City to standardize the forms used to create individualized education programs, the blueprint for educating students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. One example of a problem for some advocates: A drop-down menu gives only two choices for a child’s Behavior Intervention Plan: Time Out Room and Other. “What does ‘other’ mean?” speakers wanted to know, questioning why more positive behavioral interventions hadn’t been specified as options. Since “Other” is vague, the drop-down menu will lead to people defaulting to Time Out Room rather ...


Mark Miller, who blogs at Special Needs Truth '08, has a list of actions that disability advocates can continue post-election. As I've said several times on this blog, I am not a one-issue voter, even though I care deeply about issues related to disabilities. The best thing for families dealing with special needs will be what's best for all families -- including a strong economy, dependable health coverage, and fairness in all government programs. His excellent suggestions include writing letters to Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin, encouraging them to continue promoting the needs of people with disabilities. He ...


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