ARCHIVED NEWS
2012

For the most part, you can see most of the stories in their entirety at ONE NEWS NOW. If the story is posted elsewhere, I will give the link so that you can research the original story.

January, 2012

TARGET FEATURES DOWN SYNDROME MODEL



My hats off to Target because on January 1, 2012, Targets circular featured a Down(‘s) syndrome child.

Ryan’s parents describe him as a kid who loves horsing around with his twin brother, who does not have Down syndrome. Amanda Langston says that Ryan is “very into it”, meaning modeling.

Ryan has also appeared in the Nordstrom catalog. He is being considered for other modeling roles for Target. Ryan has become very popular since the New Year’s Day Target circular. In fact, his parents are turning down modeling jobs for him because “school comes first.”

Jim Langston, Ryan’s dad, said, “…it’s a bit of a victory lap for us because the first three months of his life were pretty tough.” Ryan had open heart surgery at 3 months old. Mr. Langston applauds Target and Nordstrom for “not making any reference to his disability. He’s just another cute kid!”

If you have a child with Down syndrome OR any other disability, write a letter to Target and Nordstrom’s saying Thank You for including disabled people in their promotional circulars and catalogs.

This story can be found at: Disability Scoop.


NEW MANDATE? COMPULSORY AGE 18?

President Obama, during the State of the Nation speech, proposed that students stay in school until they turn 18 or until they graduate. He stated the obvious. Isn’t this what we want all students to do?

In 1918, compulsory education became law in the United States in every state of the nation. Compulsory education requires children to go to school starting at a certain age, usually 6, and stating the child must go until they are at least 16. Thirteen states already have the compulsory requirement until the age at 18. Eight states require that students must stay until the age of 17 and all the rest, 29 states, the age that a student can drop out of school is 16.

Have these requirements helped to keep the young people in school? NO. In fact, according boostup.org's radio advertisement, 7,000 young people drop out of school every single day. On third of all ninth grade students will drop out before graduating. Some will eventually obtain a GED or finish high school. One half will never finish school.

So how do President Obama and the Department of Education propose to keep these young people in school? I don’t know. More regulations? Your guess is as good as mine. But if it is anything like No Child Left Behind, they need to chuck it before it even leaves the committee. Let’s save the taxpayers from paying for another mandate that hasn’t worked.

MAYBE, schools need to think about a new way of reaching these young people. Some have finally started to do that. A few years ago when the state schools saw that they were losing big chunks of money because their students were being homeschooled and therefore lost the funding for that child, the schools started offering on-line virtual classes.

They advertised these virtual classes as school at home, and were able to get some students who otherwise may have dropped out and received the state funding for each student that was enrolled in this virtual school.

HOWEVER, the virtual school still requires the same classes to be taken for certain credits before a student can graduate. For students who have trouble with some of these more difficult courses like biology, algebra, geometry because of a learning difference or lack of motivation, a virtual school doesn’t work for them either.


February, 2012

TEEN WITH A DISABILITY BECOMES
HIGH SCHOOL'S JEREMY LIN




Memphis, Tenn. – People at Germantown High School are wondering if Andrew could be another Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks.

The coach let Andrew play during one game only after the team had a substantial lead. The coach hadn’t realized that Andrew’s specialty was making 3 pointers. In fact, Andrew makes 40% of his 3 point shots.

After this performance, Andrew was no longer a bench warmer but a regular starter. His team record was 22 and 1 this season. In fact, Andrew helped lead his team to the county championship.

Andrew has become an inspiration to not only his teammates, his peers but to the country and to other’s who have Down Syndrome.

Yes, Andrew has Downs but that didn’t stop him from doing what he loves, basketball. Andrew will tell you himself that , “I am the best!” Well, for Germantown High School, he certainly is.

video platform video management video solutions video player

Story source: Disability Scoop


NEW RESEARCH FINDING ABOUT AUTISM IN CHILDREN

Disability Scoop this week reported:

At 6 months, the pathways that connect regions of the brain were more developed in children who were later diagnosed with autism than those who were typically developing, the researchers found. But by 2-years-old, the opposite was true.

What the study found was that those children that have autism by the age of 2 didn’t show any signs of it at 6 months. In fact, the child’s brain was more developed at 6 months old than their peers who didn’t get autism.

The researchers are wondering if a biomarker might be able to be developed in order to detect autism at these early years which would then allow them to interrupt autism before it did real damage.

The abstract of the findings of the study can be found at Psychiatry Online.


APRIL, 2012

Obesity & Autism

Disability Scoop reported on April 9th that the Journal of Pediatrics found a link between obesity and autism.

Researchers found that the risk is 67% greater for a child to have autism if the mother is obese during the pregnancy. The journal also stated that according to CDC (The Center of Disease Control and Prevention) 60% of women of child-bearing age is considered overweight. One half of these women are considered obese.

Researchers at the University of California Davis MIND Institute interviewed 1,000 mothers and examined the medical records of their children to come to their conclusion linking obesity and autism.

Besides finding a connection to autism, the researchers also found that a pregnant obese mothers may cause other developmental delays in their to be born child. The researchers suspect it might have something to do with metabolic changes which occur during pregnancy which negatively affects brain development in the child.

Children of obese mothers were more likely to be behind the learning curve of their peers. Not all obese women have autistic children. Researchers don't know the particular cause of autism but mom's can give their child a better chance of not having developmental delays if they aren't overweight.

Related stories: 

Autism Linked to Genes and Father's Age

Fox News' Dr. Manny Alvarez Speaks About Reversing Autism

More Dr. Manny on Autism


MAY, 2012

Mainstreaming in the Classroom



What does mainstreaming mean? When is it beneficial and when does it become a classroom nightmare? When do policy makers draw the line between a disruptive student who has been mainstreamed and the rest of the class who are eager to learn?

Many new and inexperienced teachers have to deal with this issue. When a teacher spends 50% of class time handling (a) disruptive student(s) then it may be time to reevaluate mainstreaming. Scott Joftus is a policy maker who asks this question due to an experience in his daughters’ school. He wonders if the joy of learning is stolen when others in the class are disruptive.

Scott Joftus also questions the high academic expectations in certain school districts when teaching math and science. Mr. Joftus says that even though he is a “policy wonk” and pushes for academic excellence, he is concerned about how some districts are skipping grade level math classes and teaching skills for higher math classes.

For instance he gives the example of his 2nd grade daughter bringing home math papers that had to deal with probability. She didn’t understand that concept and yet was expected to be able to do worksheets about probability for homework. Soon they were cancelling play dates in order to stay home and do the required homework. Joftus said that by the end of the year his daughter HATED math.

Comment

Is it any wonder the United States ranks 25th in the world for math skills? Whatever happened to teaching math in a doable sequence? Why must we force higher math concepts on children who haven’t even learned their multiplication tables yet or simple division? Many parents don’t even understand probability and yet some school districts are expecting 2nd graders to “DO THE MATH”.

It’s been 50 years since I was in grade school. I know things don’t stay the same and the method of teaching has changed. But I understand frustration. When frustration hits a certain level, children shut down. They see themselves as stupid because they don’t understand what the teacher is teaching therefore they begin to believe they are the stupid ones.

These examples just go to reiterate why parents MUST be more involved with their child’s education.


JUNE, 2012

Lee Greenwood's Song Banned



Lee Greenwood’s song, God Bless the USA was banned from the Edna Cohen School (PS90) in New York.

This week Lee Greenwood’s song, God Bless the USA was banned from the Edna Cohen School (PS90) in New York.

A kindergartner graduation scheduled for June 20 was going to sing the Greenwood song as the finale while waving small American flags. Children from five kindergarten classes had been practicing the song and motions of waving the flag for months.

However, Principal Greta Hawkins deemed the song inappropriate because she “didn’t want to offend other cultures.”



The first line in the song is: “If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life and I had to start again with just my children and my wife, I’d thank my lucky stars to be livin’ here today…” Another line in the song is: “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free…”

A Department of Education spokesperson told the “New York Post” that the song was pulled because it was not age appropriate for kindergartners to sing. However, every morning the students at PS90 say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing America the Beautiful. Just last year the 5th graders performed the same Greenwood song God Bless the USA at their graduation.

What is the real reason Ms. Hawkins has banned God Bless the USA from the moving up ceremony and has tried to stop the morning ritual of saying the Pledge and singing America the Beautiful?

Could it be because she is a Jehovah’s Witness—a religion that forbids its members from saluting any nation’s flag. Perhaps the reason is because these songs and the pledge mention the word GOD.


COMMENT

Personally, I don’t see any better time to teach our children about loyalty to their country than to start in kindergarten or before. Everytime I go to a Major League baseball game, football game or any other major athletic event it starts with saying the pledge and singing the National Anthem. I have seen children still in their mother’s arms at these events.

Are we, as parents, supposed to cover the children’s ears until they are in 1st grade, 2nd grade or whatever grade is deemed appropriate to teach our children about loyalty to their country? I don’t understand the actions of this principal or the Department of Education that has backed Ms. Hawkins in her decision. Does this action indicate what will follow in the other public schools in New York State? Will their decision affect other state’s DOEs and whether the Pledge of Allegiance should be allowed in morning rituals? 

The website, Hollywood Reporter, quoted Greenwood as saying,

Our country was founded on the principle that it welcomes people of all cultures and gives them the same rights we have as citizens.
    However, I feel compelled to echo the faith of our forefathers who all believed in God and a respect of a higher authority. Personally, denying the children of PS 90 to sing 'God Bless the USA' offends me as a Christian. My song is about hope, faith, spirit and pride. How could that be wrong on any level?

Here is the song God Bless the USA

- Proud To Be An American lyrics

Here are the words to the "The Pledge of Allegiance"




Pre-K Autistic Classroom

What most people might think questionable, I find inspiring. The following story shows me that anyone, children or adults, who have a learning disability CAN achieve anything they set their minds to do.

Harold Price teaches at the Veterans Park Academy in Fort Myer's, Florida. Price has Aspergers and teaches a class of pre-kindergarten children. These children all have autism or a developmental disorder.

What makes this so unique is that most schools would wait until these children were in kindergarten and then mainstream them into a regular classroom part of the day. These at-risk children will have a greater chance of succeeding in school because this class is focused on their needs and their learning style.

Price's mother is also a teacher at Park Academy. He used to help his mother in her classroom before he was hired as the pre-K teacher.

The principal saw that Price was there for the students; "that he had their best interest at heart," Dale Houchin told the reporter at NBC2 News, Nina Moini. And that is why he hired Price.

"Just give us a chance," Price says. "Just because we learn differently doesn't mean we are less capable."

Even though Price could read by the time he was 3 years old, he wasn't diagnosed with Aspergers until he was in his 20's. He says that he just worked hard so that he could get through school. Like most people with Aspergers, Price was not very good in social situations.

Click here to watch the news video from NBC2 News.


Special Needs Students Serve With the Young Marines Unit

Something rare happened at Kennedy Krieger High School in Baltimore, Maryland this last year.

The Young Marines Unit at this high school is composed of 24 students, all who are special needs students.

This unit is the only one of its kind in the nation. It is led by 1st Sgt. Vivian Price-Butler. She is a 30 year veteran of the Marines and has served her country in Iraq as well as at home.

Although 1st Sgt. Price-Butler is not a trained educator, she answered an ad in 2000 because the job sounded like something she was already doing--"developing leadership."

The Young Marines is an education and service program aimed at students 8 years of age through high school. Price-Butler teaches children in middle school (6th-8th grade) and high school students. There are over 300 Young Marines Units around the world.

1st Sgt. Price-Butler teaches not only military history but also values such as obedience to authority. Her Unit is involved with collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program. The students also assemble care package for the troops and visits the Veteran's Hospital.

Although Price-Butler isn't a trained teacher, she adapts readings to each student's ability. She accommodates these students' educational needs by giving oral and written exams. She creates games based on television quiz shows to help her students learn military terms and military drills.

Because of their disabilities, these young men and women won't be able to serve in active duty. However, just like the military, students can earn rank and have certain responsibilities.

One mother of one of the Young Marines said, "...it couldn't have come at a better time." She was talking about her son that had had trouble in 8th grade and didn't like the discipline at first. In fact, this young man was suspended from the unit for a while but has since earned the rank of Staff Sargent.

These students may never be able to serve in the military but they are learning valuable lessons that will take them into adult hood with an advantage that other special needs students won't have. They are learning discipline, honesty and how to serve others.

The students of 1st Sgt. Price-Butler's unit are learning how to be valuable and worthy citizens.


COMMENT

Is it any wonder the United States ranks 25th in the world for math skills? Whatever happened to teaching math in a doable sequence? Why must we force higher math concepts on children who haven’t even learned their multiplication tables yet or simple division? Many parents don’t even understand probability and yet some school districts are expecting 2nd graders to “DO THE MATH”.

It’s been 50 years since I was in grade school. I know things don’t stay the same and the method of teaching has changed. But I understand frustration. When frustration hits a certain level, children shut down. They see themselves as stupid because they don’t understand what the teacher is teaching therefore they begin to believe they are the stupid ones.

These examples just go to reiterate why parents MUST be more involved with their child’s education.


Micah's Voice

NY Daily News recently reported that Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men star's son has autism.

Stockman reported that he doesn't see how families and single moms can afford the expense of an autistic child. He does go on to say that he is "extremely hurtful" because he doesn't know what will become of his son, Micah.

He and his wife were devastated when they heard the news about Micah. Micah was the first to walk and the first to talk so seeing him lose all interest and become a boy that was totally different than he was, was heartbroken for a dad because he can't control things.

Stockman announced the establishment of Micah's Voice, a fund to help one to two families a year that don't have the ability to pay for the necessary support of an Autistic child.


July, 2012

AUTISTIC MAN FOUND ALIVE AFTER 3 WEEKS IN THE WILDERNESS

Why do I find the following story interesting? First, many people think that a person who is autistic is incapable of many things. This story proved to me that autistic people want to be independent, like most of us. LaFever set out by himself with food, equipment and a dog. He knew where he wanted to go and prepared for that. Along the way he ran into trouble.

On July 12, a Colorado man was found alive sitting in the Escalante River after having gone missing for 3 weeks. William Martin LaFever, 28, from Colorado Springs, Colorado survived the three weeks in the wilderness by eating frogs and roots. LaFever is autistic.


October 5, 2012

ENOUGH SAID?

Here's an interesting article I ran across last week. It compares school readiness of children from homes of professionals with children from poverty. 

On October 5, 2012, Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times had a story entitled “Before the Test, A Poverty of Words.” This is a general interest story about the quality of education in New York City. Even though Ms. Bellafante addresses the problem of the widening education gap between socioeconomic groups in New York it could very well apply to any large city.

He reported that In September, 2012, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund was embroiled in a debate with New York City over the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test which is used to admit students to NY City’s elite public high schools.

The NAACP and other organizations are saying that the multiple choice exam is unfair. Their argument is that the test discriminates because only 51 blacks and Hispanic students (2%) were admitted out of 967 students who were offered admission to one of NY City’s elite high schools.

Ms. Bellafante puts forth the notion that this test is racial imbalanced because the children of means spend money to be tutored in order to prepare for the test. She claim that children from poverty don’t have this opportunity. In its defense, The Education Department offered free exam preparation for the low income students, (as required by law).

To further her support of the NAACP, she cited a study that was done in the mid 1980’s by two psychologists from Kansas. This 3 year study of the Head Start program and what impact it had on children’s academic success was done by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley. They studied children from 3 socioeconomic levels to see what impact Head Start was having on literacy and vocabulary on 3 – 4 year old children.

They found that professionals used more than 1500 words per hour with their children than parents from a lower income bracket. They concluded that by the time a child was 4 years old, he had heard over 32 million more words than a child in the welfare home.

Ms. Bellafante’s ultimate point was that children of the lower socioeconomic level come to school with a disadvantage. Therefore she concludes that literacy and vocabulary knowledge should be started earlier rather than later in school. She applauds the new school in New York City which will cater to pre-school youngsters as young as 6 weeks old.


DECEMBER, 2012


SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING AND AUTISM

This week Autism Speaks went to the air ways to dispute many false reports that autism was the cause for Adam Lanza going on the shooting spree at  the  Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

On December 17, 2012, Peter Bell, executive vice president of program and services at Autism Speaks, went on "Good Day New York", FOX 5 TV station, to explain that autism spectrum disorders and the planned violence of Adam Lanza, the known shooter, are not  linked.

Lisa Goring, vice president of family services for Autism Speaks also appeared on NBC Hartford, CT to offer her insights.

Comment

What can I say except what everyone else has said!  This shooting was a tragedy.  I don't know who's to blame but blaming won't bring back the lives that were lost.

One thing I do know is that blame should not be put on a "neurological disorder" such as Asperger's, an autism spectrum disorder.  Adam Lanza may have had Asperger's but it hasn't been confirmed as of this writing.  Even if he did, autism and violence aren't linked.

This young man very clearly had some mental problems that had not been addressed.  His mom took him to the shooting range quite often.  It's been reported that he watched violent video games.  Perhaps it is these two things that are connected and not Asperger's and violence.


300 MORE CLASSROOM HOURS?

What do you think of 300 more hours of school per year for your child?

5 states have adopted the policy to increase the required number of hours that students must attend school by 300 more hours per year. Will this help or hinder?

How would this help the student who is already achieving above average grades of 80 – 100% or B’s and A’s? Is 300 hours enough to help the child who has been left behind and is at the bottom of the grading scale?

Tennessee, New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Connecticut is adopting a 3 year pilot program that has as its goal to help students from the lower income level. It has been shown that students from the lower socioeconomic level perform lower on tests than peers from a higher socioeconomic status. What skills will be addressed in these extra hours of classroom time?

Here is a quote from an education official, “will give students access to a more well-rounded curriculum that includes arts and music, individualized help for students who fall behind and opportunities to reinforce critical math and science skills.”

Comment

Really, “to access well-rounded curriculum that includes art and music”? Do these educators think that a child isn’t doing well in school because they don’t have a grasp on art or music?

Most children and young adults are failing at school (over 40% drop out rate by the 11 grade) because they can’t read! Math and science skills are important but both of these disciplines require reading skills as well as reasoning skills.

Only 40 schools in the 5 states will be participating in this study. I hope that each school will focus on one subject so that at the end of the three years researchers will know for sure what students need in order to succeed. Will it be more time in art instruction or more time in the music room? OR will researchers determine once and for all that learning to READ is the cornerstone to success!


See inspirational stories about learning disabilities go to:


COMMENT

    I just love inspirational stories. Perhaps you have a child that has a disability such as Down's, ADHD, dyslexia or other learning difficulties. If your child has achieved a mile-stone, I and other viewers would like to hear or even see their story.


    Please submit your story using the form below.



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