A special education legal resource discussing case law, news, practical advocacy advice, and developments in state and federal laws, statutes and regulations. Postings include insight and sometimes humor from Charles P. Fox, a Chicago, Illinois attorney who is also a parent of child with special needs, and other guest authors. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the second post from my colleague Lisa Hannum addressing the essential elements of Structured Language as the primary means of reading remediation, in contrast with Guided Reading which was discussed in the post from the previous day.
The following post is from a colleague who is special education advocate, a trained mediator, and past President of the Illinois Chapter of the International Dyslexia Association. She has a great deal of expertise and experience in the area of reading methodologies and knowledge of needed remediations for reading-based disabilities. She has written this post on the subject of guided reading, at my request, since many schools [mis]represent that Guided Reading is appropriate to teach students struggling with a reading disability. I will post a second part tomorrow relating to research-based methods that are appropriate to address the issues that students with reading disabilities face in the classroom.
Schools are frequently in a hurry to call things behavioral, manipulative or purposeful when they are confronted with situations that are challenging. In this instance, "behavior" has a negative connotation, unlike the IDEA definition which is value neutral. The following are some suggestions for school personnel and parents to engage in a more positive discussion and to help tease out behaviors from other factors.
It never ceases to amaze me the things that school personnel say at meetings, that parents relate to me, or testify to at hearings, Here are few a choice ones. I will supplement this list as I recall more and I invite readers to post their "darndest statements" in the comments:
I recently came across a story of a father, Dick Hoyt, who competes in marathons and Ironman competitions with his now adult son, Rick Hoyt, who is disabled. Besides being incredibly moving and motivating, it forms a metaphor for our lives as parents with children with special needs.
In the Ironman swim he pulls his son along in a raft. At times we all have felt that we are pulling and at times pushing uphill and against the current to achieve our goals for our children. This man and his son do that in real tangible ways and achieve their goals.
In every aspect of the races and competitions his son is always an integral part of his efforts, and they achieve success or experience failure together. Parents of children with special needs experience in very real and excruciating ways the successes and failures of their child. I know some will say that is true for all parents, but the successes are so much more hard won for our children with disabilities and the failures so much more disheartening.
The deep-seated sense I get from this story is of a father who wants to experience profound moments together with his son without regard to the fact of his disability. That desire is something that I face and think about all the time. At times I have a struggled fruitlessly to move my son's chair to a dinosaur dig site in Colorado to only get bogged down in the rocks and soil. I was glad that I tried even though my wife was anxiously waiting for me not to fall. Other times I have carried my son, when he was smaller and lighter, up to Native American wall paintings in New Mexico. These and so many other things are important to experience together between parent and child despite the challenges.
Apparently the father began running at the prompting of his son. The son drove the father to run, just as the father literally drives the son. In my own life, my son and the fact of his disability has been a life-altering experience. As much as I advocate for him and his future, his strength and determination drive me to go on and help others. The mutuality between this father and son pair is something that many of us can relate to and draw strength from.
The U.S. Department of Education, as required under IDEA 2004, has published model forms for procedural safeguards notice [Download modelform-safeguards.doc], forms for IEPs [Download modelform-iep.doc] and prior written notice [Download modelform-notice.doc]. While these forms are models and that does not make them mandatory, it could be argued that a significant departure is in violation of the law. I am particularly interested in the form for prior written notice.
A school board member in Oregon, Ron Chinn, referred to students with special needs as "slabs -slow,low and belows." While he gave what appeared to be contrite apology, this man needs to resign as several members of the school board have urged. There is no room on any school board for a person who has such impaired judgemnt to put it mildly.
What could this man been thinking at the time he made such a nasty statement ? He claimed in his apology that he was ill at the time, but still that hardly explains his willingness to share such gratuitious nastiness, especially given his public position. Mr. Chinn may not appreciate that his comments degrade children with special needs throughout the country, and give voice to others who hold low opinions of children who receive special education. Comments such as these should spark a public dialogue on the reasons and the remedies for the negative perceptions of children with special needs.
Even though it is January, it is time now to make requests for accomodations on high stakes testing such as the SAT , ACT and Advanced Placement [AP] exams. Every year in March and even in April parents come to me with requests for help in appealing declination decisions for high stakes testing. Very often the problems center on the age of the evaluations which substantiate the needed accomodations, the validity of the evaluations or the documentation contained in the IEP or other student records. In the Spring there is almost no leeway to correct gaps in documentation.
A very recent study investigating the brains of individuals with autism has discovered deficits in the "mirror cells" of the brain. The function of these cells is believed to allow developing brains to learn from and mirror the actions of others around them. This study may lead to new therapies including a more focused use of biofeedback.
COPAA, the Conference of parent Advocates and Attorneys, has posted on online a copy of the briefs in the Winkleman case which is set to be argued in February 2007. COPAA also filed an amicus brief as friend of the court. I discussed the ramifications of the Winkleman case in earlier posting.