Posts Tagged ‘Special Needs’

We Need to Learn How to Teach Special Needs Students More Effectively

October 13, 2016

 

Special needs students can be trying at the best of times. They can test your patience, are often unresponsive to your wishes and can cause you great stress. But even still, they deserve a quality education. They also deserve to be treated fairly and properly.

It was upsetting to watch this video above, and even though a video doesn’t paint the entire picture and the teacher in question deserves the opportunity of reply, it is a shocking look. Nothing and nobody could ever cause me to drag a student by the hair!

But this shouldn’t be about a teacher’s conduct. It should be about the merits of a system that glosses over the practical needs of teachers such as what to do with students who are volatile, harmful and erratic? What do you do when you are confronted with a special needs student who doesn’t have the capacity to moderate their reckless behaviour?

The teacher in question will get her consequence, but the rest of us will be poorer for a lack of real leadership on this very important issue.

 

Click on the link to read my post on Special-Ed Teacher Includes Her Students in Her Wedding

Click on the link to read my post on Autistic Girl’s Heartwarming Letter

Click on the link to read my post on The Difficulty of Going Back to School for Bullied Students

Click on the link to read my post on What This Teacher is Accused of Doing to an Autistic Boy

Dreams Come True When People Show they Care

October 18, 2014

 

Blind kids don’t score touchdowns. Or do they?

Justin Olenginski scored his first touchdown on Oct. 11. It was an extraordinary moment for the 15-year-old, who was born blind and has special needs that prevent him from participating in sports.

His Dallas, Pennsylvania, community wanted to give him a memory he’d never forget, ABC News reports. So, the freshman’s high school football team named him captain for that Saturday’s game. After halftime, the announcer called Olenginski onto the field. While the other players watched, he took the quarterback’s handoff and walked down the field — with another player guiding him — to score a touchdown.

When he reached the end zone, the crowd erupted, fireworks were set off and his older brother, Michael, a senior and captain of the team, lifted him into the air as players from both teams crowded around them.

 

Click on the link to read my post on Hitchens: Dyslexia is NOT a Disease. It is an Excuse For Bad Teachers!

Click on the link to read my post on Valuable Tips for Teaching Children With Autism
Click on the link to read my post on Autistic Boy Gives an Inspiring Graduation Speech

Click on the link to read my post on Girl Banned from Museum because Her Wheelchair May Dirty Their Carpet

Click on the link to read my post on Disabled Children: A Missed Opportunity for Us All

 

More than 1 in 10 U.S. Children Diagnosed with ADHD!

November 23, 2013

 

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Does anyone actually believe this figure is a true reflection of how many children actually legitimately suffer from the condition?

The number of U.S. children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder continues to rise but may be leveling off a bit, a new survey shows.

More than 1 in 10 children has been diagnosed with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which surveyed more than 95,000 parents in 2011.

ADHD diagnoses have been rising since at least 1997, according to CDC data. Experts think that’s because more doctors are looking for ADHD, and more parents know about it.

The condition makes it hard for kids to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. It’s often treated with drugs, behavioral therapy, or both.

The latest survey found about 11 percent of children ages 4 through 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD. That translates to nearly 6 ½ million children. Half of children are diagnosed by age 6, the study found.

A 2007 survey put ADHD diagnoses at 9.5 percent of kids.

The CDC survey asked parents if a health care provider told them their child had ADHD. It’s not known how thorough the assessment was to reach that conclusion.

ADHD diagnoses were increasing at a rate of about 6 percent a year in the mid-2000s, but slowed to 4 percent a year from 2007 to 2011. That may reflect that doctors are closer to diagnosing most of the kids with the condition, said the CDC’s Susanna Visser, the study’s lead author.

 

Click on the link to read my post on Doctors are Hypocrites When it Comes to ADHD

Click on the link to read my post on Shock Horror: Sleep Deprived Children Diagnosed with ADHD Instead!

Click on the link to read my post on ‘If my Son was a Dog, I’d Have him Put Down’: Mother of ADHD Child

Click on the link to read my post on Why Are There So Many Children Exposed to Prescription Drugs?

Click on the link to read School Nurse Arrested for Stealing Students’ ADD Pills

Click on the link to read The Rampant Misuse of ADHD Pills

The Inspirational Moment a Brave Student Overcomes His Stammer (Video)

October 26, 2013

Wow! What a brilliant clip this is!

Using techniques from the film A King’s Speech a teacher is able to help student Musharaf Asghar overcome his stutter and speak for the first time in front of his peers.  To watch supportive staff and students reduced to tears at the overwhelming power of his courage and achievement has touched me enormously.

Please forward this clip to others to shed some light on the positive role teachers and schools can play and what a fantastic thing it is to encourage risk taking as well as fostering a kind and compassionate student community.

Click on the link to read There Should Be No Children Left on the Outer

Click on the link to read Teachers Addicted to Referring Their Students to Specialists

If Only All Special Needs Students Were Treated this Way

February 27, 2013

What a fitting and miraculous end to an absolutely amazing story. I hope this gets played in classrooms all over the world:

A special needs student from a Texas high school scored a basket in the final game of the season after a player from the opposing team gave up the ball.

Mitchell Marcus, a teenage student at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, is the team manager for the Coronado Thunderbirds and an avid basketball fan. During the last game of the season on Feb. 12, Marcus, who has a “developmental disability,” was given the chance to play, according to Fox local affiliate KFOX 14 in El Paso. With 90 seconds left, Coach Peter Morales put Marcus into the game.

Mitchell’s a great shot,” his mother Amy told KFOX. “He took his first shot and missed. It hit the rim. You just hear the whole crowd sighing. It went out of bounds and Franklin got it. We all knew that he wasn’t going to have his chance.”

Then, Jonathon Montanez, a senior at Franklin High School and a member of the opposing team, down by 10 points, tossed Marcus the ball. “Since we were down and there was only 13 seconds left, might as well give Mitchell his last shot,” Montanez told KFOX.

Marcus finally scored, and the crowd went wild.

A video of the game and Marcus’ basket went viral after being uploaded online.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartnan knew he wanted to tell Marcus’s story. “It’s America at its best,” he told the El Paso Times. “When I grew up, kids like Mitchell got picked on, and to see how far we have come along is touching. I get emotional thinking about it.”

NBC Southwest station KTSM first reported on Marcus’ story the day after the game, calling it “the play of the year.”

“I was so happy then,” Marcus said about his shot. “It made my night.”

Over the past three years, Marcus has helped the Thunderbirds earn a No. 1 ranking in the city of El Paso.

Coach Morales spoke with ESPN’s El Paso radio station, KROD, about Marcus’s amazing experience.

“This kid is very very loyal to your program,” Morales told ESPN radio. “He’s dedicated. We’ve had kids that come to this program and play with us and this kid has been more loyal than some of those kids to us because he wants to be here.”

Click on the link to read I am a Proud Defender of the Mixed-Ability Classroom

Click on the link to read The Difficulties of Parenting a Special Needs Child

Click on the link to read Schools Have to Wake Up to Confidence Issues Amongst Students

Click on the link to read Would You Notice if Your Child Was a Bully?

Click on the link to read Labelling Children is Extremely Harmful

Click on the link to read The Insanity of Modern Educational Thinking

I am a Proud Defender of the Mixed-Ability Classroom

September 20, 2012

I hate labels, especially labels given to kids. Too often I have seen a child brandished as a “low ability” student prove everybody wrong. The beauty about mixed ability classrooms is that the group in question isn’t selected based on a label. This allows the students to be appreciated for who they are instead of what they know. This also provides more confident students with the fantastic opportunity of helping their less confident counterparts during whole class and grouped work.

But mixed ability classrooms forces teachers to accommodate for the learning needs of each student and they would therefore have to differentiate the curriculum? Of course we would! That’s our job!

It seems like others do not share my beliefs:

Bright pupils are losing out due to the ‘curse’ of mixed-ability classes, the head of Ofsted warned yesterday.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said thousands were failing to reach their full potential due to poor teaching methods.

Inspectors will now be critical of schools that do not differentiate between high and low achievers.

This could lead to schools falling into the new category of ‘requires improvement’ (which replaces the old ‘satisfactory’ description), or even being labelled ‘inadequate’.

Statistics published following a  Parliamentary question show that  55 per cent of lessons in English state secondary schools last year involved children with different academic needs.

Ofsted cannot force schools to adopt setting – grouping pupils according to their academic ability in single subjects – or streaming, where ability groups cover most or all subjects.

However, Sir Michael’s intervention is likely to make headteachers rethink their practice of mixed ability classes for fear of being marked down in future inspections.

Click on the link to read The Difficulties of Parenting a Special Needs Child

Click on the link to read Schools Have to Wake Up to Confidence Issues Amongst Students

Click on the link to read Would You Notice if Your Child Was a Bully?

Click on the link to read Labelling Children is Extremely Harmful

Click on the link to read The Insanity of Modern Educational Thinking

Parents Wiring Their Children to Catch Out Abusive Teachers

April 27, 2012

I’ve maintained all along that teachers found to be verbally abusing their students should be made accountable for their actions, regardless of whether the offence was captured without their knowledge. Even though I am of this opinion, I completely object to the secret filming of teachers by students.

To read that parents are now wiring their own children to prove allegations made against teachers is very disappointing and a trend that needs to be stamped out:

Teachers hurled insults like “bastard,” ”tard,” ”damn dumb” and “a hippo in a ballerina suit.” A bus driver threatened to slap one child, while a bus monitor told another, “Shut up, you little dog.”

They were all special needs students, and their parents all learned about the verbal abuse the same way — by planting audio recorders on them before sending them off to school.

In cases around the country, suspicious parents have been taking advantage of convenient, inexpensive technology to tell them what children, because of their disabilities, are not able to express on their own. It’s a practice that can help expose abuses, but it comes with some dangers.

This week, a father in Cherry Hill, N.J., posted on YouTube clips of secretly recorded audio that caught one adult calling his autistic 10-year-old son “a bastard.” In less than three days, video got 1.2 million views, raising the prominence of the small movement. There have been at least nine similar cases across the U.S. since 2003.

“If a parent has any reason at all to suggest a child is being abused or mistreated, I strongly recommend that they do the same thing,” said Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association.

But George Giuliani, executive director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and director of special education at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., says that while the documented mistreatment of children has been disturbing, secret recordings are a bad idea. They could, he said, violate the privacy rights of other children.

“We have to be careful that we’re not sending our children in wired without knowing the legal issues,” Giuliani said.

Stuart Chaifetz, the Cherry Hill father, said he began getting reports earlier in the school year that his 10-year-old son, Akian, was being violent.

Hitting teachers and throwing chairs were out of character for the boy, who is in a class with four other autistic children and speaks but has serious difficulty expressing himself. Chaifetz said he talked to school officials and had his son meet with a behaviorist. There was no explanation for the way Akian was acting.

“I just knew I had to find out what was happening there,” he said. “My only option was to put a recorder there. I needed to hear what a normal day was like in there.”

On the recording, he heard his son being insulted — and crying at one point.

He shared the audio with school district officials. The superintendent said in a statement that “the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district.”

Since taking the story public, Chaifetz, who has run unsuccessfully for the school board in Cherry Hill and once went on a hunger strike to protest special-education funding cuts, said he has received thousands of emails.

At least a few dozen of those he has had a chance to read have been from parents asking for advice about investigating alleged mistreatment of their children.

Mr. Chaifetz is clearly a loving father with the very best of intentions. Whilst I don’t advocate his methods, I understand that it comes from the frustration and shock of having his son labelled as a violent child. But the difference between Mr. Chaifetz and future copycat parents is that he underwent a long protracted process before going down this road. I fear that parents will be wiring their children in the first instance. It is also important to note that autistic children don’t have the same capacity to stand up for themselves and communicate verbal offences to their parents.

Teachers shouldn’t wire themselves to prove abuse on the part of students and vice versa. What we should be doing is working together instead of creating an us vs them mentality.

The Difficulties of Parenting a Special Needs Child

March 10, 2012


Teaching a Special Needs child can be a most difficult proposition, but parenting one is infinitely harder.

I read a brilliant piece entitled, “6 Things You Don’t Know About a Special Needs Parent.” It’s honesty provides the reader with great insight into the difficulties of raising a child that suffers from a disability. Maria Lin, the author of this wonderful article, is the parent of a 3-year-old suffering from a disorder of the 18th Chromosome. Up until now she has been tight-lipped about her experiences. I have no doubt that this article will serve to educate people like myself and will provide some comfort to other parents who are in a similar situation.

Below is her list of 6 insights:

1. I am tired. Parenting is already an exhausting endeavor. But parenting a special needs child takes things to another level of fatigue. Even if I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, or have had some time off, there is a level of emotional and physical tiredness that is always there, that simply comes from the weight of tending to those needs. Hospital and doctors’ visits are not just a few times a year, they may be a few times a month. Therapies may be daily. Paperwork and bills stack up, spare time is spent researching new treatments, positioning him to sit a certain way, advocating for him in the medical and educational system. This is not to mention the emotional toll of raising a special needs child, since the peaks and valleys seem so much more extreme for us. I am always appreciative of any amount of grace or help from friends to make my life easier, no matter how small, from arranging plans around my schedule and location, to watching my son while I am eating.

2. I am jealous. It’s a hard one for me to come out and say, but it’s true. When I see a 1 year-old baby do what my son can’t at 4 years-old (like walk), I feel a pang of jealousy. It hurts when I see my son struggling so hard to learn to do something that comes naturally to a typical kid, like chewing or pointing. It can be hard to hear about the accomplishments of my friend’s kids. Sometimes, I just mourn inside for Jacob, “It’s not fair.” Weirdly enough, I can even feel jealous of other special needs kids who seem to have an easier time than Jacob, or who have certain disorders like Downs, or autism, which are more mainstream and understood by the public, and seem to offer more support and resources than Jacob’s rare condition. It sounds petty, and it doesn’t diminish all my joy and pride in my son’s accomplishments. But often it’s very hard for me to be around typical kids with him. Which leads me to the next point…

3. I feel alone. It’s lonely parenting a special needs child. I can feel like an outsider around moms of typical kids. While I want to be happy for them, I feel terrible hearing them brag about how their 2 year-old has 100 words, or already knows their ABCs (or hey, even poops in the potty). Good for them, but it’s so not what my world looks like (check out Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid). It’s been a sanity saver to connect with other special needs moms, with whom it’s not uncomfortable or shocking to swap stories about medications, feeding tubes, communication devices and therapies. Even within this community, though, there is such variation in how every child is affected. Only I understand Jacob’s unique makeup and challenges. With this honor of caring for him comes the solitude of the role. I often feel really lonely in raising him.

4. I wish you would stop saying, “retarded,” “short bus,” “as long as it’s healthy… “ I know people usually don’t mean to be rude by these comments, and I probably made them myself before Jacob. But now whenever I hear them, I feel a pang of hurt. Please stop saying these things. It’s disrespectful and hurtful to those who love and raise the kids you’re mocking (not to mention the kids themselves). As for the last comment, “as long as it’s healthy,” I hear a lot of pregnant women say this. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and share their wishes for healthy babies in every birth, but it’s become such a thoughtless mantra during pregnancy that it can feel like a wish against what my son is. “And what if it’s not healthy?” I want to ask. (My response: you will be OK. You and your child will still have a great, great life.)

5. I am human. I have been challenged and pushed beyond my limits in raising my son. I’ve grown tremendously as a person, and developed a soft heart and empathy for others in a way I never would have without him. But I’m just like the next mom in some ways. Sometimes I get cranky, my son irritates me, and sometimes I just want to flee to the spa or go shopping (and, um, I often do). I still have dreams and aspirations of my own. I travel, dance, am working on a novel, love good food, talk about dating. I watch Mad Men, and like a good cashmere sweater. Sometimes it’s nice to escape and talk about all these other things. And if it seems that the rest of my life is all I talk about sometimes, it’s because it can be hard to talk about my son. Which leads me to the final point…

6. I want to talk about my son/It’s hard to talk about my son. My son is the most awe-inspiring thing to happen to my life. Some days I want to shout from the top of the Empire State Building how funny and cute he is, or how he accomplished something in school (he was recently voted class president!). Sometimes, when I’m having a rough day, or have been made aware of yet another health or developmental issue, I might not say much. I don’t often share with others, even close friends and family, the depths of what I go through when it comes to Jacob. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to learn how to share our life with others. One thing I always appreciate is whenever people ask me a more specific question about my son, like “How did Jacob like the zoo?” or “How’s Jacob’s sign language coming along?” rather than a more generalized “How’s Jacob?” which can make me feel so overwhelmed that I usually just respond, “Good.” Starting with the small things gives me a chance to start sharing. And if I’m not sharing, don’t think that there isn’t a lot going on underneath, or that I don’t want to.

Fired For Challenging an Imperfect System

August 9, 2011

The scariest thing about education today is not that it doesn’t seem to be nearly effective enough, but that those that challenge conventions and think outside the square get castigated for their opinions.

I have a great deal of respect for teachers that do things differently, whether their methods work or not.  Experimentation and ongoing reflection is necessary at a time when curriculums all over the world seem stale and soulless.

Firing a teacher for daring to point out the flaws in our system is not acceptable:

New York City teaching fellow Alice McIntosh is fighting for her job at a District 75 school in the Bronx after receiving unsatisfactory ratings from her supervisor – even though she was given glowing recommendations from parents and peers after her second year of teaching.

“Ms. McIntosh should have gotten an award,” said Theresa Smith, 47, whose daughter Vernisha suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Instead, the experienced educator was fired, she said.

Assistant principal William Green, who gave McIntosh satisfactory ratings during the 2009-10 school year at P10X in Throgs Neck, deemed she was unfit to teach this past school year.

“I asked, ‘Why are you U-rating me?'” McIntosh recalled. “[Green] said, ‘I’m not going to get into that right now. I would suggest in your next job that you be more of a team player.'”

A city Department of Education spokeswoman said she could not comment because she was unable to reach Green.

So what did she get fired for?  Merely pointing out the bleeding obvious:
McIntosh said that, as a literacy teacher at the special-needs school, she openly challenged the curriculum and used books she thought were less outdated.

According to observations during the 2010-11 year by Green, her methods appeared to work.

“The teacher activates prior knowledge and incorporates it into the new lesson…. The teacher conducts an excellent development of lesson with clear expectations,” one review reveals.

But that same review was used as a basis for her poor performance, which charges she flunked in “planning and preparation of work” and “control of class.”

Green also cited grounds for the dismal ratings from the 2009-10 school year – when McIntosh received glowing reviews.

It appears that Ms.McIntosh’s great crime was that she was prepared to do things differently in a system where conformity is expected and change is frowned upon.  You are not considered a team player if you are critical or ignore traditions.

This is what is going to be the result of the stinking teacher evaluations.  Teachers who conform and play it safe will keep their jobs, while teachers who challenge the system and try new things will be given a cardboard box to collect their belongings.

Teaching to The Blasted Test!

March 29, 2011


It sickens me to see the Government so smug about the upcoming round of National Testing.  In Australia it’s called the NAPLAN (I refer to it as “NAPALM”), and like other National tests around the world it compares student data against the average.  The Government uses the National tests as an easy way out of doing something constructive about Education.

Before I slam these pathetic tests, in the spirit of goodwill, I will acknowledge some advantages of National Testing:

  • It uses these tests as a vehicle for pressurising schools and teachers to lift their game and secure good results for their students.
  • It forces teachers not strictly following the curriculum to adhere to the syllabus
  • It gives parents some real data to consider, rather than the deliberately vague school reporting, which essentially tells parents nothing.
  • It gives parents an opportunity to become more involved in their child’s education.

Now for the disadvantages:

  • It forces teachers to stop what they are doing, and spend weeks if not months practicing for the test.  Everything gets put on hold while the sample test papers get wheeled out.
  • It fills students as young as 8 years-old with anxiety, pressure and insecurity.
  • It causes schools to “encourage” the parents of special needs students to keep their kids at home during the testing week.  This is to ensure that their child doesn’t affect the school’s results.  It also achieves in further marginalising these children who, in many cases, already feel disconnected from their peers.
  • It puts enormous stress on teachers.  This stress has an effect on their quality of teaching.
  • It turns education into an extreme negative at a time when kids still show an interest in learning.

I am currently teaching Grade 5 for the first time.  I am preparing my students for the rigours of NAPLAN (they sat for them 2 year ago).  It means that my emphasis has had to change.  Instead of teaching in an engaging and creative way, I’ve been forced to teach to the tests.  The result has been a succession of comparatively boring and turgid lessons on strategies for answering multiple choice questions, “debugging” sample tests and revising basic skills.  My students are not enjoying these lessons at all!  I fear that when they sit these tests they will sabotage the process by rushing through it as revenge for what its done to their enjoyment of school.

What makes these tests even worse is that they are testing the children at Grade 5 level even though they have just started Grade 5.  Because of that, my students haven’t covered some of the concepts being tested.  Surely, if they wanted to test a Grade 5 class against the Grade 5 benchmarks they should have done it at the end of the school year, not at the beginning!

When are Governments going to stop being so lazy and start taking on a fresh and innovative approach to learning?  Why must my students be subjected to sample tests and other turgid preparatorylessons, instead of conventional, authentic lessons?

Parents have the right to know how  their child is progressing.  At the same time though, their children deserve the right to have a pressure reduced primary education, where the teachers are able to harness their natural curiosities, instead of burden them with weeks of test prepa
ration!


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