The Chicago public schools this week announced a new leader for the special education department, as part of an overhaul of how students with disabilities are served in the district, according to the Chicago Tribune. On Monday, the district named Richard Smith as head of the office of specialized services, the Tribune reported. He will replace Deborah Duskey in the role. Smith, a former principal, most recently served as a chief area officer at the district overseeing special education schools. The Tribune said he will begin overhauling special education by enforcing a more collaborative attitude toward students and parents. Education ...


I wanted to point readers interested in autism to news of two new studies linking the use of infertility treatments to increased risk of autism in children, according to an article in the May 20 issue of Time Magazine. One study, conducted by a team at the Harvard School of Public Health, found that autism was nearly twice as common in the children of women treated with the ovulation-inducing drug called Clomid, or other similar drugs, than in women who did not receive fertility treatment. The study, presented Wednesday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia, said the ...


The Georgia Board of Education has proposed new rules about the use of restraint and seclusion in schools that could be approved as early as its July meeting. The proposed rules would prohibit the use of seclusion, chemical restraints such as prescription drugs, mechanical restraints, or prone restraints. Physical restraint would only be allowed in extreme situations when students are in imminent danger to themselves or others, according to the Georgia School Boards Association's Capitol Watch online. If the policy is approved, Georgia would no longer be one of the nearly 20 states that do not regulate seclusion and restraint ...


A study in Detroit showed that low-performing students have higher levels of lead than other students, the Detroit Free Press reported on Sunday. About 60 percent of Detroit Public Schools students who performed below their grade level on 2008 standardized tests had elevated lead levels, the story said, according to the study conducted by Detroit Public Schools and the city's Department of Health and Wellness Promotion. The study also showed that students in special education programs were also more likely to have blood tests results that showed elevated levels of lead. "For years, we've blamed the schools and the teachers ...


The Council for Exceptional Children, a professional association for special educators, is featuring on its website the inspiring stories of 27 students with disabilities who are this year's winners of the group's "Yes I Can!" awards. The students from around the country and Canada, who received their awards at a special ceremony at CEC's annual conference last month in Nashville, were selected for excellence in one of nine categories: academics, arts, athletics, community service, employment, extracurricular activities, independent living skills, self-advocacy, and technology. The website says thousands of children and youths have been recognized since the program's inception in 1982 ...


The May 1 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics renews its call for pediatricians to work with school nurses and personnel to help honor Do-Not-Attempt-Resuscitation requests for students. Over the years, children who have complex chronic medical conditions have been increasingly able to attend schools, putting school personnel in the position of possibly having to carry out the wishes of a family to forgo life-sustaining medical treatment, including CPR. Some families make that difficult choice if such treatment would be ineffective or because the risks outweigh the benefits, Pediatrics says. In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics first called for ...


Stanley I. Greenspan, a child psychiatrist who has written parenting books and developed the popular "floor time" technique for helping children with autism and other developmental disorders, died April 27 of complications from a stroke. He was 68, according to an article in The New York Times. Floor time, special time allotted for child-led play with an adult, is used in special education classrooms and as part of early-intervention therapy. With floor time, Dr. Greenspan encouraged parents or teachers to let children lead them in play to encourage the children to use gestures and words to express what they want ...


The number of students qualifying for the gifted kindergarten program in New York City this year has increased by 10 percent, according to The New York Times. There were 3,542 Kindergartners qualifying for gifted programs citywide this year, up from 2,330, the Times said. So, why more gifted students? The article says the cause of the higher passing rates was not known, but increased preparation may play a role, with hundreds of students citywide having professional tutoring before taking this year's admission test....


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing for more inclusion of students with disabilities in public schools, reports The New York Times. To meet the needs of the increasing number of students with disabilities and bring the city's schools in line with the national trend toward inclusion, Bloomberg is overhauling special education by asking every principal to take in more of the students and allowing greater flexibility in deciding how to teach them, the article said. More than 250 schools will have to accept more students with disabilities this coming school year, rather than send them to the schools ...


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan aimed to inspire his audience last week at the Council for Exceptional Children's annual conference, calling special education a moral and civil rights issue. CEC, an advocacy group for special educators, has put a video of the seven-minute speech on its Web site. You can watch it here. Duncan's speech, in Nashville, Tenn., touched on many contemporary topics in education, such as the need to save school jobs as part of education reform. He also called for greater inclusion for children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms. The audience of special educators interrupted the ...


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