Friday, November 30, 2012


Many people do not realize that most children with autism may also have a seizure disorder. Back when we first moved to Texas, we had difficulty getting professionals to diagnose Damien's autism. Though he had been diagnosed at 16 months of age in Indiana, the diagnosis was not accepted in Texas. Therefore, we had to go through all of Damien's testing all over again. I guess the professionals in Texas thought, at the time, that autism does not cross state lines with the child.

Actually, after going to school, I realize what was going on. Diagnoses through the school districts do change crossing state lines. Different tests are done as determined by the state's education agency. Furthermore, the ages as to which the diagnoses can be given change. Because Damien was younger than seven years of age, the state would not recognize his autism. Therefore, the doctors in the state were reluctant to give us the diagnosis we had begun with. Now, that autism is on the rise, and we have become aware that early diagnosis is key, the rules have changed.

It was while we were going through these tests, that we discovered Damien's seizure disorder. Below are the posts from when we first learned of Damien's petit-mal epilepsy. They range from May 10, 2001 to June 14, 2001.

May 10, 2001
I had Damien at his counselor's office just a few minutes ago. Damien came in while we were talking and kind of zoned out. The counselor tried to get his attention, but couldn't. Damien all of the sudden got up like nothing ever happened, but he was wet. The counselor thinks he may have had a petit-mal seizure. We got Damien a doctor’s appointment set up for 10:30 in the morning.

May 12, 2001
At Damien's doctor's appointment yesterday, we found out that he did have a seizure. The doctor asked how long he has been staring of into space like that. I told him that he has every since he was an infant. He asked me why I did not inform him of this. I told him that I told Damien's previous doctors and they told me it was just Damien's way of tuning me out. They said it was not anything serious. The doctor thinks now that everything seems to be tied in together. He said that the memory loss, wetting, and aggressiveness might be very well caused by whatever is causing the seizures. The doctor seems to think now that Damien may not have Asperger's Disorder, ADHD or COBPD. That is kind of a relief, but also kind of scary to since we don't know what is causing this.

When Damien was a baby, I noticed that he would stare off into space and then just come back. He only did this once, maybe twice a month. Then in late September of 1997 Damien had a high fever which caused a Grand Mal seizure. Then it became more frequent to where it was every week, then every day. Now, since March, it has been more than once a day. He is up to doing this four or five times a day that we have noticed, maybe more. Apparently, everything has begun to progress at a very fast rate, and most likely will not slow down or stop progressing.

The doctor has scheduled a MRI and EEG for May 17, 2001 at 8:45 a.m. The results for these tests won't be in until about 1 to 1 ½ weeks later. The doctor is got Damien in to see a neurologist sooner than July. He will be seeing him on May 15, 2001 at 3:00. I don't know how long it will take to get the results back on this testing.

May 15, 2001
Damien had his appointment with the neurologist today. The neurologist wants to do additional testing. He said he is almost certain that Damien is Autistic. He said, "However, it could be much worse." He said there are signs of other problems as well. He also said that there are petit-mal seizures, and they are not related to the other problems. He was totally disturbed by the thought that Damien's previous doctors did no testing whatsoever on Damien. We won't begin new medication until after the MRI and EEG scheduled on Thursday. I am so glad that I am finally getting answers.

May 17, 2001
Damien had his MRI and EEG done. We are still waiting for the results. During the EEG, the technician printed up a page just for Damien to show to everyone. He pulls it out and asks people, "Do you wanna see my brain?" He had four seizures yesterday. He seems so out of it. I cannot wait till we can find out what exactly is going on.

June 6, 2001
I have forgotten how difficult it is to care for Damien all day now that school is out. We finally have a definite diagnosis for him. He has PDDNOS (pervasive developmental disorder non-specific). In English, they don't really know what the hell is wrong with him. I have been doing quite a bit of research on all of his diagnosis's and found many similarities with these and Damien's behavior. I am going to use my next few blogs to relate to everyone my findings in my research.

June 11, 2001
We were told today that Damien has epilepsy. I am to take him to see his neurologist on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. I hope it is not too serious.

June 13, 2001
Every day becomes more and more of a struggle with Damien. I have not been able to get him to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning for the last four nights. No, I am not letting him stay up that late. I start telling him to go to bed around 9:30 to 10:00. Around 10:30, I have to physically put him in his bed. He still gets up. This goes on for about an hour or sometimes two. We argue until I cannot argue about it any more. I just end up turning off all of the lights and going to bed myself. This is where our second argument begins. He has started wanting to sleep with me again. He has been wetting himself so much, I will not let him. The Desmopression does not seem to work anymore to stop this. When all is quite, Damien tries to sneak in bed with me. He finally told me that he is afraid that the bugs are going to eat him. I told him that we don't have bugs that eat people; just crickets and a few rollie pollies. I am beginning to fear for him. I am really nervous about where this all is heading. His fears are getting too great for me to even begin to understand. He often screams real loud in a shrill voice like he is being hurt badly. I feel the neighbors are beginning to think there is abuse in the home. Some have actually made comments. I wish there were more I could do for him. I am living my life on my last nerve. I am never going to give up on Damien. I just wish I could get him to help me understand. "I love you, Damien!"

June 14, 2001
Today was the big appointment at the neurologist. We haven't found anything out, but that he definitely does have epilepsy. He has been put on Tegratol and I had to buy him one of those medical alert necklaces. The neurologist did say that it was a problem, from what he can tell, from birth. He said that the neurons in his brain are like a computer that has been wired wrong. I am kind of sickened, however, that it has taken so long for the test results to come in.

The neurologist told me that the reason Damien has regressed and started forgetting things is due to each and every seizure causes damage to the brain. He said that Damien is consistently in seizure mode while he is sleeping. The neurologist seems to believe this is why Damien is wetting the bed every night. He said that since Damien wets himself each time he has a seizure, that is most likely what is going on. I just pray the medication helps.

Though the journal entries are from years ago, seizures had been persistent throughout Damien's life. We say that we have been seizure free since Damien was 12, but we cannot be certain if that is the case. What I can say is that Damien has been on seizure medication to help with his headaches and mood swings, so it is quite possible that the seizure disorder is still there. It is possible that the medication is just preventing the seizures. Whatever the case, I can say, for sure, that I am glad he is progressing, and the seizures are not preventing him from doing so.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Pervasive Development Disorder Non-Specific

Deficits in Social Behavior

"Some infants with PDDNOS tend to avoid eye contact and demonstrate little interest in the human voice. They do not usually put up their arms to be picked up in the way typical children do. They may seem indifferent to affection and seldom show facial responsiveness. As a result, parents often think the child is deaf. In children with few delays, lack of social responsiveness may not be obvious until well into the second or third year of life." Damien was never what you would call a clingy child unless he was very sleepy or sleeping. We had to teach Damien what emotions were. We often felt that Damien may have a hearing problem. We had him tested and he passed with a 98% on his hearing test. This lead to speech therapy. Now he knows when he is supposed to laugh, smile and cry, however, you can tell it is not sincere. He laughs because others are laughing , he smiles because others smile first and he cries because he knows he is supposed to but there are never tears.

"In early childhood, children with PDDNOS may continue to show a lack of eye contact, but they may enjoy a tickle or may passively accept physical contact. They do not develop typical attachment behavior, and there may seem to be a failure to bond. Generally, they do not follow their parents about the house. The majority does not show normal separation or stranger anxiety. These children may approach a stranger almost as readily as they do their parents many such children show a lack of interest in being with or playing with other children they may even actively avoid other children. A lack of response to other people's interest and emotions, as well as a lack of understanding of humor, often results in these youngsters saying or doing things that can slow the development of friendships." When you hug Damien, he does not hug back. When tickled, he doesn't laugh and very seldom does he even crack a smile. The scariest thing about his behavior is he will talk to anyone even if he has not ever met him or her before. He knows no stranger. No matter how much we try to teach him not to talk to strangers, he does anyway. Damien will only play with other children when prompted to. Children often will not play with Damien because they feel he is rude and odd.

Impairment in Nonverbal Communication

"In early childhood, children with PDDNOS may develop the concrete gesture of pulling adults by the hand to the object that is wanted. They often do this without the typical accompanying facial expression. They seldom nod or shake their heads to substitute for or to accompany speech. Children with PDDNOS generally do not participate in games that involve imitation. They are less likely than typical children to copy their parents' activity.

Some children do develop imitative play, but this tends to be repetitive.

Generally, children with PDDNOS are able to show joy, fear, or anger, but they may only show the extreme of emotions. They often do not use facial expressions that ordinarily show subtle emotion." We are lucky if we get any kind of emotion out of Damien.

Impairment in Understanding Speech

"Children who have less severe impairments may follow simple instructions if given in an immediate context or with the aid of gestures (e.g. telling the child to "put your glass on the counter," while pointing to the counter)." I have to give Damien explicit instructions on what needs to be done. If I ask him to do something, I have to go through all of the steps. For example, Damien wants a glass of milk, and wants to get it for himself. I have to say "go get you cup out of the cabinet. Put it on the counter. Open the fridge. Get the milk out. Take off the lid. Pour the milk in the cup. Put the lid back on the milk. Put the milk in the fridge. Close the fridge." If I leave out any of these, he forgets. I have often forgotten to tell him to put the lid back onto the jug and have found the milk in the fridge with no lid. He has finally learned all of the steps to getting himself milk and I don't have to instruct him on it anymore.

"Humor, sarcasm, and common sayings can be confusing for individuals with the most mild PDDNOS." Damien does not get joke at all. When people try to pick on him, he says, "you better be kidding;" or he will ask, "are you just kidding."

Impairment in Speech Development

"Infants with PDDNOS may begin to babble in their first year but them stop. A child says words or phrases repeatedly without a communicative purpose." They may get their comments out of context. "For instance, when the child is asked "How are you?" he or she may answer "You are fine." This was a tough one to correct. Damien would either answer questions in this manner or just repeat the question. "Odd breathing rhythms may produce staccato speech in some children.

  1. some objects may be labeled by their use
  2. new words may be coined
  3. prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns may be dropped from phrases or used incorrectly

Their speech does not usually convey imagination, abstraction or subtle emotion. They may talk excessively about their special interests, and they may talk about the same pieces of information whenever the same subject is raised. Ordinary to-and-fro conversational chatter is lacking. Thus, they give the impression of talking "at" someone, rather than "with" someone.

Unusual Patterns of Behavior

  1. resistance to change Many children are upset by changes in the familiar environment. Some children line up toys or objects and become very distressed if these are disturbed.
  2. ritualistic or compulsive behaviors rigid routines (e.g., insistence on eating particular foods)" Damien must have peanut butter-jelly sandwiches and a bowl of cereal every day. "Some children develop preoccupations.
  3. abnormal attachments to odd objects" Damien must have a dinosaur around at all times he often acts as if he is a dinosaur.
  4. unusual responses to sensory experiences may seem under responsive or over responsive to sensory stimuli." Damien doesn't really like to be touched. one of the only ways we can get him calmed down is to get a cold wet wash cloth and roughly rub it on his face. "They may be suspected of being deaf or visually impaired. They avoid gentle physical contact, yet react with pleasure to rough-and-tumble games. They carry food preferences to extremes with favored foods eaten to excess. They limit their diet to a small selection and do not seem to know when they are full.

The typical motor milestones may be delayed but are often within the normal range. Young children with PDDNOS usually have difficulty with imitation skills such as clapping hands. They may exhibit grimacing, toe walking, lunging, jumping, darting or pacing, head banging. In some cases the behaviors appear only from time to time; in other cases they are present continuously.

Intelligence and Cognitive Deficits

Generally, children with PDDNOS do very well on tests requiring manipulative or visual skills or immediate memory, while they do poorly on tasks demanding symbolic or abstract thought and sequential logic.

Associated Features

The emotional expression of some children with PDDNOS may be flattened, excessive, or inappropriate to the situation."

These are the traits that only pertain to Damien.

Also, many different disorders may fall under PDDNOS. Damien has all of the following: clinical depression, audio processing delay, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), COBPD (childhood onset bipolar disorder), descriptive behavior of childhood with anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). I have also found similarities in Damien's behavior with Autism and Asperger's disorder. The most important thing that I have found being stressed with all of these is that the "parents do not cause any of these disorders." So those of you that may think that I must have done lots of drugs or drinking while pregnant or that I must abuse my child, you are absolutely wrong. I get that a lot. Anyway, if I did cause this, why is Dylan so much different. The only problem he has is excessive whining.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


This is a free PECS program for people who work with kids with autism. I thought all of my special education teacher friends out there might be interested, as well as my moms with kids with autism.

PECS For All

Friday, November 23, 2012


This is a good site for all of my English teacher friends out there, my special education teacher friends, and my friends with children with learning difficulties. I know with some students they understand a story more if the hear it than if they read it due to being audio learners. I use MP3s in tandem with the books for Damien. It is great because the MP3s can be put on his iTouch.


I have used this technique with Damien, and it seems to work. He had been reading The Scarlet Letter in his AP English class. He was just reading the book, and he was not passing any of the quizzes. I suggested that he go ahead and listen to the book while he read because he would be putting what he read into two different parts of memory in his brain, auditory and visual. He complained, but tried it anyway. The next day, he received an A on his quiz.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Writer

How I long for control over a people
I could scream my dominance from a steeple

Write my laws from my deck
Inspire fear like Glenn Beck

I have no will to hurt men
But I can scare people from my den

Strike deals like the company Dell
And make life a living hell

No one will die this day
And the war will hit the hay

So presidents make room for this
Damien Brown the bookwriting terrorist

by Damien A. Brown © 08/20/2012

This is a poem that Damien wrote. I love it so much that I had to share.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Autism Site Store

Do you need some autism awareness gifts? Check out this site. They have great gifts.

The Autism Site Store

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Unconventional Foundation for Autism

Autism / Special Education

Are you researching autism and/or special education? Here are some articles that have really helped Damien and me over the years:

“Autism.” ASHA. May 1994: 83. The article explains in detail the cause and diagnosis of autism. The article also explains how the developmental disorder affects the communication needs of those afflicted with the disorder.

Ahlgrim-Delzell, Lynn; Browder, Diane; Flowers, Claudia; and Spooner, Fred. (2005). "Teachers’ Perceptions of Alternative Assessments." Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30.2, 81-92. The authors state the purpose of the study is to “examine teachers’ perceptions of alternate assessments.” The authors surveyed 983 teachers from 5 states by using two inventories one with a 5-point scale rating and one with a 4-point scale rating to determine what influences the alternative assessment outcome and the impact of alternative assessment. The samples used were representative for each of the five states surveyed. The study shows that teachers often agree that students with disabilities should be included in general education settings and should be held accountable, but they did not agree that the alternative assessments were beneficial and added more paperwork and time to their schedules. Therefore, the researchers suggest that more resources should be offered to alleviate the demands of alternative assessments. The researchers state limitations to the study include confounding factors, and a lack of evidence that suggests their findings would improve the outcomes of students with disabilities. Also, the researchers warn about generalizing the results to states that were not sampled.

Attwood, Dr. Tony. “Albert Einstein, Andy Kaufman, and Andy Warhol: The Controversial Disorder They May Have Shared.” Biography Magazine. Dec. 2003: 86-88,114. Many people that others may feel is strange or unusual may have been afflicted with autism. Dr. Tony Attwood seems to feel this is the case with celebrities such as Albert Einstein, Andy Kaufman, and Andy Warhol. Attwood walks us through one of the many autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome. This is a high functioning autism.

Baird, Gillian, Simon Baron-Cohen, Tony Charman, Antony Cox, Auriol Drew, and John Swettenham. “Predicting Language Outcome in Infants with Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.” International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. July-Sep 2003: 265-285. This article is compiled of research done on a worldwide scale of the effects of autism on young children. The research was compiled in order to determine if the language abilities of autistic adults could be predicted from their language abilities as infants. A direct correlation in the studies has been noted in this article.

Baron-Cohen, Simon. “Need to Know Autism.” Pulse. 16 Feb 2006: 40-43. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen walks the reader through frequently asked questions on autism and autism spectrum disorders. These questions include topics such as causes for autism, the rise in the amount of people diagnosed with autism, possible risks to siblings, the prevelance of autism, etc

Cowley, Geoffrey. “Understanding Autism.” Newsweek. 31 July 2000: 46-54. The article gives a detailed description of what autism is, what symptoms autistic children have, how prevalent the disorder is, and treatments for autism. The article also explains how autism effects all types of language: verbal, non-verbal, and written.

Craig, Holly K., and Ann Sexton Telfer. “Hyperlexia and Autism Spectrum Disorder A Case Study of Scaffolding Language Growth Over Time.” Topics in Language Disorders. Oct-Dec 2005: 364-374. This is a case study about a young man that has developmental disorder that causes only single-word recognition and diminished comprehension skills. It teaches clinicians how to use what language skills those with autism have and how to use their skills to build new skills.

Crisp, Cheryl. (2007). "The Efficacy of Intelligence Testing in Children with Physical Disabilities, Visual Impairments and/or the Inability to Speak." International Journal of Special Education, 22.1, 137-141. Crisp indicates that the design of intelligence assessments may inhibit an accurate score for students with disabilities. Crisp states that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires all students, even those with disabilities to be held accountable on academic assessments, but it does not acknowledge that some of the students with disabilities may never attain the academic level of their peers. Crisp asserts that each person with a disability is an individual and must always be put before their disability, and each disability is different in that individual. Crisp argues that standardized tests fail to take the nature of the disability into consideration, and many fail to allow accommodations to be made to the test because doing so would hinder the integrity of the test. Crisp provides a list made by Fagan of those who are unable “comply with the requirements of standardized testing: cerebral palsy, all of the muscular dystrophies, dystonia, brain injury, some language disorders, developmental disorders, mental disorders, and cultural differences. Crisp provides several more appropriate options for measuring intelligence.

Downing, June E.; and Peckham-Hardin, Kathryn D. (2007). "Inclusive Education: What Makes It a Good Education for Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities?." Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 32, 16-30. The authors of the article are Professors with the Education Department at California State University. The purpose of the study was to identify the outcomes of inclusive classrooms on the education of students with disabilities. Although the study included a diverse focus group, the group used was not representative of the population as a hole. Furthermore, the study was isolated in a metropolitan area of southern California. Also the study was done with a small group of 58 participants at only 3 inclusive educational sites. The interview questions were open-ended which allows room for less objectivity and staff interpretation. Other problems in the study include the gathering of observation data in which the observations only lasted from 20 to 60 minutes and were not repeated. Therefore, the students being observed may not have acted normally since they were not desensitized to the presence of observers. The study shows that students with and without disabilities benefit from inclusive programs, a positive outcome is evident when the parent/teacher relationship is formed, and teachers in inclusive classrooms often need more support than what they receive. Unfortunately, the study does not address educational issues faced by all students in an inclusive setting.

Dykeman, Buce F. (2006). "Alternative Strategies in Assessing Special Education Needs." Education, 127.2, 265-273. Dykeman states that Response to Intervention relies on standardized, norm-referenced assessment to determine special education needs of students with disabilities. Dykeman argues that functional assessment, authentic assessment, curriculum-based measurement, and play-based assessment should be used within the RTI model, but psychometric issues of reliability, validity, and fairness have become issues when determining the needs of students. Dykeman explains how students with disabilities are assessed and outlines the guidelines of diagnosis according to IDEIA 2004. However, Dykeman argues that IDEIA 2004 does not tell how assessments and evaluations are to be conducted. Dykeman argues, as does Crisp, that standardized, norm-referenced tests cannot always be indicative of the cognitive abilities of students with disabilities. Therefore, Dykeman suggests the use of the alternative assessments he discusses, which the language of IDEIA does encourage. Dykeman suggests more evidence based assessments be used that address the individual needs of students in order to allow fairness while determining special education needs.

Friedlander, Diana. (2009). "Sam Comes to School: Including Students with Autism in Your Classroom." Clearing House, 82, 141-144. Diana Friedlander is a special education inclusion teacher in elementary education in Ridgefield, CT, and a doctoral candidate at Western Connecticut State University. The article tells the story of a boy with autism, Sam, and the issues faced by him and his teacher when he began school. The author covers in detail many struggles students with autism have as well as giving an in-depth definition of autism. Friedlander recommends communication with the parents of children with autism both before and during the school year. The author’s definition of the parent/professional relationship is supported by Downing and Peckham-Hardin. She goes over the supports and intervention strategies that can help a student with autism adjust to the environment around them such as organization, visual cues and supports, sensory supports, social supports and models, and behavioral intervention plans. Friedlander asserts that an inclusive education is beneficial for a student with autism, which is also supported by Downing and Peckham-Hardin’s article.

Gross, Thomas F. “Global-Local Precedence in the Perception of Facial Age and Emotional Expression by Children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities.” Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders. Dec 2005: 773-785. Gross explores the inability of most autistic people to read facial expressions. He tells us that autistic patients can be taught how to appropriately use facial expressions.

Keane, Elaine.; and Roberts, Jacqueline. (2008). "Making Inclusion Work." TEACHING Exceptional Children, 41.2, 22-27. The authors of the article are leading specialists and consultants in Australia on autism spectrum disorders and education. The project discussed in the article is centered on the Autism Spectrum Australia Satellite Class Project in which students with an autism spectrum disorder are put into small specialist classes and eventually transitioned into a more inclusive environment. At the time of the article, the project had been in operation since 1992 and had expanded to 57 classes throughout the Sydney, Australia area. The program has shown a sixty-one percent success rate in transitioning students with autism from the specialist classes to the general education classrooms. Of those students, 95% remain in general education and several students have gone on to continue their education past their high school education. Students in the program benefit from mainstream and special education supports, resources provided to educators, ASD consultants and ASD specialized teachers, as well as ASD-specific skills-based programs.

National Institute of Mental Health. "Autism Spectrum Disorders" (Pervasive Developmental Disorders). This publication gives detailed information on what autism is, how prevalent autism is, how autism effects every aspect of those afflicted with the disorder, how to diagnose autism, possible causes for autism, etc.

Pearson, Sue. (2007). "Exploring Inclusive Education: Early Steps for Prospective Secondary School Teachers." British Journal of Special Education, 34.1, 25-32. Pearson coordinates the MA (SEN) program in the School of Education at the University of Leeds. Her article explores the importance of preparing future secondary educators for an inclusive classroom setting. The 5 phase plus follow-up approach was a simulation of the development of provisions that form active learning required for special needs students in an inclusive classroom. The author stresses the appropriate resources will create problems for the students and a “lack of clarity about the role of teaching assistants can impact on the teacher and pupils.” The study shows that university-based learning activities can provide a foundation to assist prospective teachers in an inclusive setting. Though the study was only done in one subject area, Pearson asserts that the findings can be generalized across the curriculum. Therefore, the addition of such programs can enhance the initial teacher training of secondary teachers, thus enabling them to be more prepared for an inclusive classroom. The limitations to the study is that the study was centralized in one university. Because the programs in other institutions may or may not better prepare prospective educators for an inclusive classroom, the program may not be an effective approach.

Roach, Andrew T. (2006). "Influences on Parent Perceptions of an Alternate Assessment for Students with Severe Cognitive Disabilities." Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31.3, 267-274. Roach states the purpose of his research was to “understand the variables that influence parents’ perceptions of the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment.” The study included special educators in both elementary and secondary systems across the state of Wisconsin. The sample of students included was representative of the gender population and grade levels in which the study was done in Wisconsin. Demographics on parents were not gathered, but parents were given pencil and paper rating scale surveys to ascertain their understanding of the WAA. The findings show that parents were positive about the WAA process, supportive participation of all students, and pleased with the alignment of the WAA to Wisconsin’s academic standards. Roach also found that student age was directly correlated to parent’s perceptions of the WAA. Parents with older students were less likely to be satisfied with the WAA, which mirrors parents’ perceptions of inclusion. Furthermore, Roach found that parents were confident in the WAA results, and those parents who were more involved with their students education were more satisfied with the outcome. Therefore, Roach suggests that resources, support, training, and support materials be provided to facilitate parent understanding of the WAA.

Schwarz, Patrick A. (2000). "Special Education: A Service, Not a Sentence." Educational Leadership, 64.5, 39-42. Patrick Schwarz is an associate professor and chair of the Diversity in Learning and Development Department of National-Louis University, Chicago. The author advocates that segregation of students with disabilities into a special education classroom is can be detrimental to the development of the students. The author feels that all students should be in an inclusive classroom setting. The author believes an inclusive classroom setting is the least restrictive environment for all students. However, the author does not take into consideration the impact of a student with special needs on the other students or the impact on students who are far behind their classmates. Some students may be disruptive or some students may not be able to keep up with the curriculum in the general education setting. The author offers a process developed by Udvari-Solner that takes into account the range of learners in a classroom and honors diversity to help with the unification of the inclusive classroom. The author concludes that the betterment of the students can be found in a fully inclusive environment.

Vacca, John J. (2007). "Incorporating Interests and Structure to Improve Participation of a Child with Autism in a Standardized Assessment: A Case Study Analysis." Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22.1, 51-59. Vacca, an assistant professor of Individual and Family Studies at the University of Delaware, states that research indicates standardized assessments fail to predict concrete suggestions on supporting students with autism and fail to offer insight as to how behaviors of these children will be manifested in multiple environments. Vacca also points out that some attempts to assess children with autism by using standardized testing is unsuccessful, so researchers are looking at alternative assessments, which include interest areas to provide supports and instructional strategies for students with autism. Vacca accommodated the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Second Edition by using interest areas to assess the developmental level of a child with autism, who was once deemed untestable. Vacca found that the use of the interests particular to the child helped the child complete the BSID II. Therefore, Vacca recommends that assessments for children with autism be accommodated by using the child’s interest area.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Uncle David

When I was born, my uncle, David, was only eleven years old. I never realized he would become one of my closest friends, and an inspiration to me. David’s story is a unique one, just as is all stories of people with autism. David also has cerebral palsy. To fully understand autism, a person has to understand that they, too, are individuals.

Growing up with David was so typical that I failed to realize he was different from me. In my early years, I thought I was the one who was different than everyone else, and David was neuro-typical. My grandmother worked in a living center for people with disabilities. I grew up spending several days a week with the people in the living center. Grandma was a cook and could take me to work with her if I wanted to go. Needless to say, I always wanted to go. My closest childhood friends were people with developmental disabilities, and my uncle, David.

At home, David would hum and rock. He would pace the floors and get aggravated if people messed with his stuff. David had problems reading, but he could read. He had no problems, though, with math and numbers. David knows all of the birthdays and anniversaries of all of the people in the family. He can do difficult calculations in his head. However, David still had trouble writing and tying his shoes. Things that were easy for me seemed to be difficult for him, but things that were difficult for me seemed to be easy for him. I was perplexed by our differences, but I knew that we complemented one another.

Not until middle school did I realize David was not like other people his age. I did not realize it the way other people would. Thinking back, I think it was because I was too close to the autism. I was the niece of a person with autism, and I did not realize that people with autism did not exist in every family.

Anyway, David was driving us to school because we lived a little way from the school. I played the Bass Clarinet, and it was too heavy for me to carry to school if I walked. The case of the instrument was heavier than the instrument itself. I could not take the instrument to school on my bicycle because it was too bulky. Therefore, David offered to drive us to school.

We excitedly rode to school in the backseat of David’s banana yellow Grenada. I gave David a big hug good-bye and barreled out of the car towards the steps of the entryway. The weather was still warm so I had left the windows down in David’s car. As I approached the boys lounging on the steps of the entryway, one of them yelled to David, “Retard!” The other boys laughed and circled me. They danced around me singing, “Pam’s got a retarded uncle… Pam’s uncle is a retard… retard, retard, your uncle is a retard… no man will ever marry you because you will have retarded babies…” I broke from the center of the circle and ran away as fast as I could with tears rolling down my cheek.

I never asked about David not being neuro-typical, because I never realized he wasn’t. I do not know today if I was more upset because of being teased or because I saw the saddened look on David’s face when that boy yelled ‘retard.’ I could tell he was hurt and bothered by it. From that day on, David dropped me off across the street of the school. I do not know if it was because his feelings were hurt, or if it was like he said, “I don’t want the boys to pick on you because of me.” I really believe it was because he did not like to see me cry.

As the years passed and I began to mature, the bond between the two of us grew weak. I became interested in boys and was very involved with school. I played in the band, was in basketball and track, and I worked as a waitress. David married my dad’s cousin, Donna, (no blood relation, my mom is David’s sister), and he became involved in his own life. David owned his house, and he worked in the kitchen of a cafe. Donna is also a person with a disability.

Although our bond was weakened, it was still there, and it was never severed. We visited occasionally, and would frequent each other’s place of business. I would hang out at his house when I had time, and David would tell me Donna and he wanted a baby. He said they wanted a girl, and they were going to name her Laura (after one of Donna’s nieces) Nanette (after me).

Unfortunately, David and Donna divorced after several years because she could not handle the isolation that David craved. The routines and collections also seemed to be a problem for her. As for me, I graduated high school, went to business school, married an abusive man and soon divorced him, joined the Army and got a medical discharge, experimented with drugs, and met the man of my dreams during my darkest hours. Within a year, my man and I married. Two months later I gave birth to my first son, Damien. This is where our story begins….

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Name Is Damien

Damien's first self-advocacy video.

Uncooperative Teacher

I have had my fair share of uncooperative teachers over the years. However, on teacher has always stood out from the others. When Damien was in the sixth grade, his math teacher was unreasonable and often punished him by using detention for various manifestations of his disabilities. I had written the following letter to the administrators of the school. The teachers' and administrators' names have been removed in order to protect their identities.

December 28, 2007

Damien's most recent ARD went well. We got everything that I asked for in his IEP, and the teacher that has been picking on him is no longer teaching him. When Damien gets back to school, he will have another math teacher. Here is why we got everything:

Dear Sir,

I am very concerned about a problem that my son is having in school. My son is a sixth grader in your school, named Damien Brown. On Thursday, my son received a referral for an incident that happened in his math class. Apparently, the teacher said that Damien was sleeping in class. I came in and talked to Mrs. Xxxxx about the problem. Afterward, I agreed on discipline before I had a chance to speak with Damien. Unfortunately, I know that I have made a mistake.

Mrs. Xxxxxx had told Mrs. Xxxxx that Damien had fallen to sleep in her class. She went on to state that she and the other students tried to rouse him, but he would not wake. After he regained consciousness, Damien was sent to the office for disciplinary action. I am confounded as to why this is considered a discipline problem, and here are my reasons:

Damien said that he did not fall to sleep. He said that all of the sudden everything went black; and when he came to, the teacher was yelling at him.

If the teacher could not rouse any other student than Damien, that student would have been sent to the nurse's office, because medical attention may be warranted.

Damien has epilepsy. His seizures are absence (petit mal) seizures. (Medical Definition – seizures characterized by a short lapse in consciousness. According to Introduction to Special Education: 6th ed., "…a teacher might wrongly assume that the child is merely daydreaming, or not paying attention"). According to Damien's neurologist, Dr. Xxxx Xxxxx in Lubbock, any child that experiences a seizure episode my be groggy and may loose consciousness afterward. Again, had it been any other student, then they would have been sent to the nurse.

Damien has begun a new medication that has fatigue as a side effect. This would also be considered a need to send the child to the nurse instead of the office for disciplinary action.

The teacher told Mrs. Xxxxx that she has spoke with me about Damien sleeping in her class on numerous occasions. However, the last time any problem with Damien sleeping in class was mentioned was on November 8, 2007, and I have attached that email conversation. Furthermore, I have not heard anything about Damien sleeping in the classroom for the last two weeks as Mrs. Xxxxxx has suggested. The only two emails that I have received from her since then were to tell me when tutorials were cancelled. Therefore, I thought that everything was going great.

One thing I heard from both Mrs. Xxxxxx and Mrs. Xxxxx deeply concerns me. They both had the nerve to tell me that allowing my child to get away with something that he CANNOT control is "not fair to the other students." The first thing that my Teaching Special Education professor taught us in class this semester is that making accommodations and modifications for students that fall under the IDEA and Section 504 umbrellas is that the laws are made out of fairness. It is fair to allow accommodations and modifications for a child that already has to work twice as hard as everyone else. Special education is not about the other students; it is about making sure that every student gets what they need. Is it fair to punish Damien for something that he cannot control? It is unfair and illegal to punish a child for their disability or a manifestation of their disability, whether it is mental or physical.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal to punish a student for a disability. In regards to discipline, Section 504 OCR 1991 clearly states, if there is a manifestation (meaning there is a connection), the child cannot be disciplined. This keeps the child from being punished because of his disability. If there is no manifestation (meaning there is no connection between behavior and disability), then the child can be treated like any other student.

Furthermore, Section 615 (k) (1) (E) of IDEA and 300.530(e) backs up this claim. According to the Federal Register Vol. 71, No. 156 dated Monday, August 14, 2006, "the Act recognizes that a child with a disability may display disruptive behaviors characteristic of the child's disability and the child should not be punished for behaviors that are a result of the child's disability."

When Damien was attending Lee Elementary, he was allowed to sleep off the effects of a seizure in the nurse's office. I feel something like this should be put into place for Damien now. Therefore, I am calling for a manifestation determination committee to determine whether or not Damien's behavior in the classroom, "sleeping," or "passing out" is a manifestation of his disability. I contend that the cause of his behavior is either due to his physical disability, epilepsy, or it is due to his mental disability, autism. It is my intention to prove that Damien's medications for the comorbid disabilities and disorders of autism are the result of his behavior.

I feel like Mrs. Xxxxxx went behind my back and played me off as an uncooperative, unconcerned mother, which has never been the case. I have been very cooperative and taken action on every problem that has risen in her classroom. It is because of how much I care for Damien's future that I am just now attending college. I gave up my dreams so I could get him the therapies that have taken him this far. I do not understand why she is the only teacher that has complained to me about Damien's behavior.

I am frustrated, because Mrs. Xxxxxx constantly complained about Damien's behavior before we put him on the medication that he is on now. The first time I met with her, she asked if we ever had Damien on medication for ADHD, which I know now to be an illegal question for her to ask. Federal law states that a teacher is to never discuss or suggest medication for a child, because they are not a medical professional. Damien does not have ADHD and according to the American Autism Society, "autism is often misdiagnosed as ADHD." This is due to the similar characteristics. However, Ritilan, Concerta, and Adderall have the opposite effect on most children with autism. This held true for Damien. Furthermore, the last time Mrs. Xxxxxx said anything about his behavior, she told me that Damien was doing great. She said, "Also, he is staying very focused during class and tutorials, he is being quite the busy bee on his makeup assignments and the daily assignments in class." This is right after he began taking Zoloft. Now, that I have put Damien on medications, she is still complaining about his behaviors. These behaviors are the result of the medications, which, in turn, are a result of her previous complaints.

Furthermore, on several occasions I have made suggestions to her in order to assist him, and she told me that she did not have time, or that it would not be fair to the other students. As a resource teacher, it is her responsibility to make the accommodations and modifications for her students in the least restrictive environment. However, her methods with my son have made his learning environment so restrictive that he was constantly depressed and crying. I am beginning to feel as if her behavior toward Damien is more of a personal attack, and she is targeting him, because she does not know how to deal with him. Therefore, I request that Mrs. Xxxxxx take a class on Autism, and I know, by law, my request must be adhered to. And, I would also like a functional behavioral assessment done on Damien so that we may be able to teach him alternative behaviors for the negative ones that he exhibits in her class. If we can determine the function of Damien's negative behaviors, we can teach him alternative behaviors.

In Mrs. Xxxxxx's defense, I do know how difficult and frustrating it is to work with Damien. I have been going through this for a little more than twelve years. From the day this child was born, caring for him has always taken extra effort. I know that she may have good intentions for her methodology, but the expense is far too great. On November 5th, I found a method to help Damien; I tried to share it with her, as well as his other teachers, in order to make their jobs easier. I suggested having a step-by-step checklist for him. Mrs. Xxxxxx had said that she did not have time to do a checklist, but the other teachers were receptive and compliant. Mrs. Xxxxxx must have misunderstood; it was not for her to remind him what to do every day. It was for him to make sure he put his name on his papers, and make sure he turns them in. Also, it was so that he would remember to get his assignment sheet signed. Organizational skills are a major problem for children with autism. Therefore, I made the checklists, I paid for the materials, and I bought the color-coded folders for his classes. There was nothing on her end that needed to be done except to tell me if we left out a step for her class, but she said she did not have time. After Damien began to use them, he went from failing her class, to now making a B. Furthermore, I keep hearing from her that Damien needs to be responsible, and he will not get reminders from her. If she does it for him, she will have to do it for everyone. I feel as if the two of us keep butting heads and cannot reach a consensus.

Unfortunately, Damien's psychologist, Dr. Xxxx Xxxxxxx, said that Damien might never develop organizational skills. She said that when he is an adult, he will most likely be able to live on his own, but with support. What Dr. Xxxxxxx meant is that Damien will always have to have someone to remind him to do the routine things that to the rest of us is rote. I, however, am more optimistic and hope that he will be responsible for himself when he grows up. But for now, everyone needs to take into consideration that this is a child that has to be reminded to wash his face, every day. He has to be told to shower every day, to brush his teeth every day, to put on deodorant every day, and to flush the toilet every time he goes. Damien is a child with autism, and there are many more like him. Autism is a hidden disability, which makes it difficult to remember that he is different. It also makes it easier for us to expect much more from Damien than what we get.

If we must make more changes to Damien's IEP, I request that you attend. I will also have a case manager, and may be able to get an advocate from the TEA to attend on our side. I did not want to have to resort to calling an advocate in; but I do not feel that Damien is getting his education in the least restrictive environment, which No Child Left Behind requires. I have found some teaching methods for children with autism and have tested them at home. These work for Damien, and he is thriving at home. I would like to have these worked into Damien's IEP, so that he is a successful student.

If we cannot get what Damien needs from Abilene Independent School District, then I request that the District transfer him to a school in which he can get what he needs, which I also know is my legal right. This is not about you, it is not about Mrs. Xxxxxx, and it is not about me. The problem is about Damien and his future. It is about making sure that he gets to fulfill his dream of going to college and being a marine biologist. It is about making sure that he is able to thrive in the least restrictive environment. I only want what is best for my son, which should be your goal as well. I humbly ask for your assistance in giving Damien the same opportunities, which children without learning disabilities receive.

Thank you,

Pamela N. Brown

The letter worked. I do find it sad, however, that the school was not willing to work with me until they discovered that I not only know special education law, but I also understand and have been formally trained in it. What came of the letter was that the summer after Damien's sixth grade year, the teacher was put in two classes paid for by AISD. One was a basic special education law class, and the other was a class specifically on autism.

The following fall, Damien had the same teacher for math. However, she was more attentive to Damien's needs, and they both started fresh as if they never had met before. She ended up being Damien's favorite teacher of the year, and she stated that he had been a model student as well. I almost felt guilty for pushing the issue, but I am happy that I helped a special education teacher be a better teacher. I also helped a young boy to gain the education he needs to be a successful future adult.

Petition for Secession

As a resident and native of Texas, I am very disappointed in very few of my fellow Texans, who want to secede from the Union. I am also disgusted about the fact that people in other states are generalizing that we are all wanting to secede.

Fact #1: ALL FIFTY states have a petition to secede, and people have signed ALL of those petitions.

Fact #2: As of now, ONLY 101,328 people have signed the petion. There are 18,279,737 adults in the State of Texas. This means that 18,178,409 adults in the State of Texas have NOT signed the petition. Many of my colleagues and my self, who are all Texans, think the 101,328 are acting childish and immature because they did not get their way.

Fact #3: During the election, in Texas, 4,555,799 (57.2%) people voted for Romney. 3,294,440 (41.4%) voted for Obama. 112,560 (1.4%) voted third party. This makes a total of only 7,962,799 (43.6%) adults in Texas voting. This means that 10,316,938 (56.4%) of adults in Texas did not vote. Therefore, it is very possible that a lot of the people signing the petition did not vote. (I cannot be sure of this, but people, you have to admit it is possible.)

Fact #4: All you need to sign the petition is an email address. This makes me question the entire process. POSSIBILITIES: It is possible that people, who are not registered to vote, may have signed the petition along with people not eligible to vote, such as prison inmates. It is also possible that people have signed the petition more than once, and that some of the people that signed the petition are not adult. Furthermore, non-residents can sign the petition, as well as many of the illegal immigrants that live in the State of Texas (and, yes, we do have a lot of them).

Fact #5: Some cities in the State of Texas have petitioned to secede from Texas if Texas secedes from the Union, two of which are El Paso and Austin.

Fact #6: People say that the electoral college needs to be ridded of, and the popular vote does not count. GO BACK TO SCHOOL PEOPLE! The popular vote determines the electoral college. And regardless of what you may think, Romney did not get the popular vote either. 62,154,057 voted for Obama. 58,798,967 voted for Romney. The last time that I checked 62,154,057>58,798,967, unless math has changed since I was in school.

If you DO NOT VOTE, then you DO NOT have a say; so hush! Quit your belly-aching, and grow up. If you truly want the world to change, motivate people to vote; because your vote DOES count.

For the rest of you, please, please, please stop making generalizations about people in Texas. We are not the type of close-minded, rednecked, immature, boot-stomping, belly-aching conservatives that the media has led you to believe.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reflection on Reading Dyslexia Workshop

I attended a Reading Dyslexia and the Brain workshop, where I learned the definition of dyslexia and that dyslexia is not what I had thought. Dyslexia is unexpected poor reading and underachievement in reading. I never before realized that reading is the most difficult task a student has to learn to do in school, because reading came so easily to me. Dr. Lyon clarified that many students who cannot read cannot do so due to several factors such as poor teaching practices and illiteracy in the home.

While listening to Dr. Lyon speak, I could not help but to think of my client in reading clinic. He fit the profile of a student with dyslexia. He is very bright and achieves at high levels in comprehension. However, he only read at a first grade level when we began the Spring 2009 semester. Before meeting my client and before attending this conference, I doubted that I would need to teach phonemic and phonological awareness at the secondary level. However, my client helped me realize that I will come across a student with dyslexia every now and again. Dr. Lyon’s workshop helped me realize that I will most likely come across students with dyslexia on a regular basis.

I never before thought of how important teaching nonsense words to students is. Dr. Lyon stated, “If a kid can read nonsense words tells us they can generalize and apply their skills to a new text.” Because of this statement, I will find ways to teach my secondary students who have reading difficulties to read nonsense words. I will also remember that reading is the basis for everything. If a student cannot read in my classroom, then they will not be able to do well in math, science, and history. Therefore, I will work on phonics and phonemic awareness in my classrooms if I have students with reading difficulties.

High Stakes Testing and Students with Disabilities

Brimijoin, Kay. (2005). Differentiation and High-Stakes Testing: An Oxymoron?. Theory Into Practice, 44.3, 254-261.

Brimijoin addresses the bringing of differentiation and high-stakes testing together in order to benefit all learners. Brimijoin points out that “our nation dramatizes the importance of ensuring that all students have access to appropriate curriculum, engaging instruction, and supportive resources.” Brimijoin found that teachers often feel they can either differentiate instruction or focus only on material covered on standardized tests, which many of them claim compromises best practice. Brimijoin suggests teachers learn to clarify learning goals, engage in ongoing assessment, teach to students’ learning styles, understand the diversity and individual students enrich learning experiences, utilize research-based instructional strategies, be flexible in teaching and learning arrangements, and create a community of learners within the classroom. Brimijoin uses a case study as evidence to suggest educators should “develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills of differentiation in order to become responsive expert teachers.

Johnson, David R.; and Thurlow, Martha L. (2000). High-Stakes Testing of Students with Disabilities. Journal of Teacher Education, 51.4, 305-314.

Johnson and Thurlow state that students with disabilities are now required to be assessed by high-stakes tests that were not intended for students receiving special education services. Johnson and Thurlow state, however, the use of high-stakes testing of students with disabilities is due to the recent exclusion of these students in the education setting. Johnson and Thurlow state the purpose for high-stakes testing includes the lack of accountability of schools for teaching students with disabilities, but Johnson and Thurlow also suggest high-stakes testing may interfere with learning and the student’s ability to develop at their full potential. Johnson and Thurlow address the controversy that surrounds both accommodations and alternative assessments for students with disabilities. Johnson and Thurlow warn that high-stakes testing will have lifelong consequences on students with disabilities. Johnson and Thurlow address numerable consequences that may arise when students with disabilities participate in high-stakes testing. Therefore, Johnson and Thurlow assert that the need to balance challenges without being unfair and damaging to students should be addressed by districts and educators.

Jones, Julie; Katsiyannis, Antonis; Ryan, Joseph B.; and Zhang, Dalun. (2007). High-Stakes Testing and Students with Disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 18.3, 160-167.

Katsiyannis, Zhang, and Ryan are professors of special education, and Jones is a grad student whose emphasis of study is in students with disabilities. The authors state that high-stakes testing is currently the means for assessing most students and is the method for measuring school performance. The authors address the controversy of including students with disabilities in high stakes testing. The authors argue that many schools that have not reached Adequate Yearly Progress would have reached AYP if students with disabilities were not included in high-stakes testing. The authors further argue that testing students with disabilities, especially those in sub-groups (race, and socio-economic), may cause negative life-long consequences such as dropping out of school, financial dependence, and crime related consequences. Therefore, the authors feel the negative consequences outweigh the positive consequences of students with disabilities, which is also a concern in the Johnson and Thurlow article. The authors conclude their article by giving recommendations from Johnson and Thurlow (2003) in order to keep high-stakes testing fair and controversy surrounding such testing out of the courtrooms.

Perkins-Gough, Deborah. (2005). The Perils of High School Exit Exams. Educational Leadership, 63.3, 90-91.

Perkins-Gough is the Senior Editor of Educational Leadership. Perkins-Gough’s article argues that high school exit exams are harmful to the students and to the school districts. Though Perkins-Gough claims to not take a stance on the issue, it is clear that she has. Perkins-Gough argues that high school exit exams can “reduce graduation rates, narrow the curriculum, and lead schools to neglect higher-order thinking skills.” These negative consequences are also concerns for Katsiyannis, Zhang, Ryan, and Jones, as well as Johnson and Thurlow. Therefore, Perkins-Gough suggests the use of multiple measures of performance to determine graduation. Perkins-Gough argues that multiple measures encourage development of higher-thinking skills, recognizes various ways of demonstrating learning, provides guidelines for who gets to graduate, allows instruction to be improved, encourages student participation and increases likelihood of graduation, and “rewards student investment in school attendance and course performance.” Another concern Perkins-Gough touches on is the financial demands of high-stakes testing.

Washburn-Moses, Leah. (2003). What Every Special Educator Should Know about High-Stakes Testing. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 35.4, 12-15.

Washburn-Moses’ article was written to explain to special educators how high-stakes testing affects them. Washburn-Moses explains what accommodations are suitable for students with disabilities, such as presentation, response, setting, and timing/scheduling. Washburn-Moses further explains that the accommodations for high-stakes testing must be aligned to the students’ IEPs. In order to prepare for high-stakes testing, Washburn-Moses suggests special educators teach test approach skills, test-taking skills, and test preparedness, as well as collaborate with general education teachers. Another suggestion Washburn-Moses makes is integrating end of unit assessments “that encourage students to use essential higher-order thinking skills,” and providing opportunities for student feedback (13). Washburn-Moses suggests special educators should be properly trained in test administration and inquire about suitable alternative assessments. Washburn-Moses agrees with Katsiyannis, Zhang, Ryan, and Jones; Johnson and Thurlow; and Perkins-Gough about the potential negative consequences of high-stakes testing that can impact the lives of students with disabilities, as well as the legal issues and controversy surrounding the testing of students with disabilities.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Adolescent Development

During Identity vs. Role Confusion, adolescents find their identity and place in society. They think philosophically and spiritually. During Generativity vs. Self-absorption or Stagnation, individuals no longer see the world as a place that holds them as the epicenter, but now see the world as much bigger than them.

General Psychology

Assessment and Anxiety Disorders

Maladaptive Behavior Approach – defines a behavior as psychologically damaging or abnormal if it interferes with the individual’s ability to function in one’s personal life or in society

Generalized Anxiety or GAD is characterized by excessive or unrealistic worry about almost everything or feeling that something bad is about to happen.  These anxious feelings occur on a majority of days for a period of at least six months.  GAD is also called “free floating anxiety.”

Panic Disorder is characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks.  The person becomes so worried about having another panic attack that this intense worrying interferes with normal psychological functioning.  Often interpreted by individuals as heart attack or “going crazy.”

Phobia – is an anxiety disorder characterized by an intense and irrational fear that is out of all proportion to the possible danger of the object or situation.  Because of this intense fear, which is accompanied by increased physiological arousal.  A person goes to great lengths to avoid the feared event.  If the feared event cannot be avoided, the person feels intense anxiety.

Social Phobia – characterized by irrational, marked, and continuous fear of performing in social situations.  The individual's fear that they will humiliate or embarrass themselves.

Specific Phobia – formerly called simple phobias, are characterized by marked and persistent fears that are unreasonable and triggered by anticipation of, or exposure to, a specific object or situation.  (spiders, flying, heights, seeing blood)

Agoraphobia – characterized by anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing.  If a panic attack or panic-like symptoms (sudden dizziness or onset of diarrhea) were to occur.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – a disabling condition that results from direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury from witnessing such an event or hearing that such an event has happened to a family member or close friend.

Obsessions – persistent, recurring irrational thoughts, impulses, or images that a person is unable to control and that interfere with normal functioning.

Compulsions – irresistible impulses to perform over and over some senseless behavior or ritual (hand washing, checking things, counting, putting things in order).

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – consists of obsessions and compulsions.

Somatoform Disorders – marked by a pattern of recurring, multiple, and significant bodily (somatic) symptoms that existed over several years.  The bodily symptoms (pain, vomiting, paralysis, blindness) are not under voluntary control, have no physical causes, and are believed to be caused by psychological factors.

Systematic Desensitization – a technique of behavior therapy, based on classical conditioning, in which a person is gradually and progressively exposed to fearful or anxiety-provoking stimuli while practicing deep relaxation.  Systematic desensitization is a form of counter-conditioning because it replaces, or counters, fear and anxiety with relaxation.

3 legal definitions of insanity
1. Involuntary commitment
2. Not guilty by reason of insanity
3. Competence to stand trial

Most abnormal behaviors fall in the middle on the biological-psychological continuum.

50% of Americans report at least one lifetime disorder. 40% seek professional help?

two most common mental disorders
Substance abuse
Anxiety disorder

two most common phobias
Social phobias
Specific phobias

Exposure treatment technique, including both imaginary and in vivo
Gradually exposing the person to the actual anxiety-producing situations or objects that he or she is attempting to avoid and continuing the exposure treatments until the anxiety decreases. Exposure treatment technique is effective for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Phobias.

Two treatments for specific phobias
Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Exposure therapy
Systematic desensitization

conduct disorders – a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaving that has been going on for at least a year and that violates the established social rules or the rights of others.  Problems may include aggressive behaviors such as threatening to harm people, abusing or killing animals, destroying property, being deceitful, or stealing.

some of the problems shared by adolescent shooters
Uncontrolled anger and blamed others for problems
Little parental supervision
Isolated and rejected by fears
Access to firearms in homes
Gave warning signs of violent intentions

Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia

Major Depression – (major depressive disorder) marked by at least two weeks of continually being in a bad mood, having no interest in anything and getting no pleasure from activities.  In addition, a person must have at least four of the following symptoms: problems with eating, sleeping, thinking, concentrating, or making decisions, lacking energy, thinking about suicide, and feeling worthless or guilty.

Bipolar Disorder – marked by fluctuations between episodes of depression and mania.  A manic episode goes on for at least a week, during which a person is unusually euphoric, cheerful, and high and has at least three of the following symptoms: has great self-esteem, has little need for sleep, speaks rapidly and frequently, has racing thoughts is easily distracted, and pursues pleasurable activities.

Biological Theory of Depression – genetic, neurological, chemical, and physiological components that may predispose or put someone at risk for developing a mood disorder.

Beck’s Theory of Depression – when we are feeling down, automatic negative thoughts that we rarely notice occur continually throughout the day.  These negative thoughts distort how we perceive and interpret the world and thus influence or behaviors and feelings, which in turn contribute to our feeling depressed.

Risk Factors for Suicide
Most who talk about suicide do not attempt.
Most who attempt do not succeed.
Most who succeed have discussed it.
Whites twice as likely to commit suicide.
Rates higher among rich, non-religious, and unmarried.
Women much more likely to attempt, men much more likely to succeed.
Suicide rate among 15-19 year olds has doubled since 1950.
3% of alcoholics commit suicide.
Highest rate is among elderly (20/100,000), almost double the national average (12/1000,000).

Personality Disorders In General – consists of inflexible, long-standing, maladaptive traits that cause significantly impaired functioning or great distress in one’s personal and social life.

Antisocial Personality Disorder – refers to a pattern of disregarding or violating the rights of others without feeling guilt or remorse.

Positive and Negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
Positive – reflect a distortion of normal functions: Distorted thinking results in delusions; distorted perceptions result in hallucinations; distorted language results in disorganized speech.
Negative – reflect a decrease in or loss of normal functions: decreased range in an intensity of emotions; decreased ability to express thoughts; and decreased initiate to engage in goal-directed behaviors.

Diathesis Stress Theory of Schizophrenia – says that some people have a genetic predisposition (diathesis) that interacts with life stressors to result in the onset and development of schizophrenia.

Biological causes of schizophrenia
Genetic predisposition
Genetic markers

Neurological causes of schizophrenia
Ventricle size
Less activation of the prefrontal cortex

Dissociative Identity Disorder is characterized by a person having a disruption, split, or breakdown in his, or her normal integrated self, consciousness, memory, or sense of identity.  This disorder is relatively rare and unusual.

How do persons who are depressed explain bad events that happen to them?

common drug treatments for mood disorders
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – work primarily by raising the level of a single neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Anti-depressants – may take 4 to 6 weeks to work, help about 65% of patients while the remaining 35% receive little or no benefit.  Although anti-depressants initially help, about half or more patients relapse when the medication stops.  One disadvantage of anti-depressants their unwanted side effects.

effectiveness of psychotherapy and medication therapy for depression
Psychotherapy alone or along with medication therapy is more effective than medication therapy alone.

nicknames for major depression and schizophrenia
Major Depression – common cold
Schizophrenia – cancer

Types I and II schizophrenia, including their likelihood for recover
Type I – positive symptoms such as hallucinations which are distortion of normal functions.  This group has no intellectual impairment, good reaction to medications, and a good chance of recovery.
Type II – negative symptoms, such as dulled emotions and little inclination to speak, which are a loss of normal functions, has intellectual impairment, poor reaction to medications, poor chance of recovery.

Social Psychology

Just World Phenomenon – the tendency to believe the world is just and people therefore get what they deserve and deserve what they get.

Attribution – things we point to as the cause of events, other people’s behaviors, and our own behaviors.

Fundamental Attribution Error – Tendency to underestimate effects of a situation and overestimate importancy of personal characteristics.

Self-Serving Bias – explaining our successes by attributing them to our dispositions or personality traits and explaining our failures by attributing them to the situations.

Cognitive Dissonance – catalyst to change – state of unpleasant psychological tension that motivates us to reduce our cognitive inconsistencies by making our beliefs more consistent with each other.

Conformity – any behavior you perform because of group pressure, even though that pressure may not involve direct requests.

Obedience – performing some behavior in response to an order given by someone in a position of power or authority.

Bystander Effect – an individual may feel inhibited from taking some action because of the presence of others.

Diffusion of Responsibility Theory – in the presence of others, individuals feel less personal responsibility and are less likely to take action in a situation where help is needed.

Deindividuation – the increased tendency of subjects to behave irrationally or perform antisocial behaviors when there is less chance of being personally identified.

Control, aggression, and power are the primary motives of rape?

Aggressive children perceive the world and interactions differently. For instance, they view the world as more hostile and overlook positive social cues.

People are most likely to offer help others when personal distress, empathy, and norms and values are present.

decision stage model of helping
1. Notice the situation
2. Interpret as one in which help is needed
3. Assume personal responsibility
4. Choose a form of assistance
5. Carry out that assistance

factors that increase obedience
People have learned to follow orders of authority figures.
People learned to follow orders.
Increased punishment for not following orders.

factors that increase conformity
Peer pressure
Social pressures

Asch experiment
People were showing 4 lines, two of the same length and 2 of different lengths.  They had to choose whether one matched A, B, or C.  Three of four people at the round table were told to choose the wrong line.  The fourth person went last and 75% of them, although knowing they were doing so, chose the wrong line as well.

Milgram experiment
Subjects were told to shock and raise the voltage of the shock when a person gave the wrong answer to a question.  The person answering the question was in another room screaming to stop, but 62% of the people did not stop and raised toe voltage to the max amount (450 volts).  They did so because they were told to do so by an authority figure.

Stages of Development

  • The infant relies on parents for almost everything, which is important to develop trust.
  • The infant’s gross motor skills are developing. He learns the difference between itself and others. He learns to sit, crawl, and some independence. He may begin to speak.
  • The infant cannot do anything for itself to start with and needs parents’ involvement for almost everything. They need to be stimulated to develop neurological pathways. This helps to develop much needed memory skills. Reading the same story to the infant over and over again helps to develop those pathways.

Erikson’s Stage: Infancy (Oral Sensory Stage)
Ego Development Outcome: Trust vs. Mistrust
Basic Strength: Drive, and Hope

  • They become independent form parents on some needs, but may suffer from separation anxiety if parents leave them with others.
  • Their fine motor skills begin developing. They learn to use the potty. They walk fairly well. They learn to climb, color, paint, and catch balls. Their speech continues to develop.
  • They are still very self-centered and rely on others for all of their basic needs. They need constant interaction with people to develop social skills.

Erikson’s Stage: Early Childhood
Ego Development Outcome: Autonomy vs. Shame
Basic Strength: Self-control, Courage, and Will

Preschool years:
  • They may still demand attention from their parents. They begin to bond with their peers if they are exposed to them in pre-school and daycare.
  • They begin to classify objects such as: colors, shapes, numbers, letters, animals, plants, and etc. some are still working on developing skills such as potty training, fine and gross motor skills.
  • They need interaction to learn both socially and educationally. They need to be read to and played with. They may depend on parents for many basic survival needs.

Erikson’s Stage: Play Age
Ego Development Outcome: Initiative vs. Guilt
Basic Strength: Purpose

Elementary school years:
  • They begin pulling away from their parents and making close bonds with their peers. They like to think they are more independent than what they are.
  • They begin to get an idea about morality. Their fine motor skills are being refined. They begin reading and writing on their own. They begin to think more logically and start learning about the consequences of their actions.
  • They need constant encouragement and praise to be able to fully develop mentally. This helps to build their confidence. They also need boundaries, but still rely on parents to take care of most of their basic needs.

Erikson’s Stage: School Age (Latency)
Ego Development Outcome: Industry vs. Inferiority
Basic Strength: Method, and Competence

High school years:
  • They generally pull completely away from their parents. The relationship between them and their parents may become strained and stressful for both parties. They may feel no one understands them. They start joining peer groups to help find their place in the world.
  • Their morality is still developing. They start to search for their individual identity. They begin to think more abstractly. They begin to make important decisions for their own life.
  •  They have a need for love and belonging. They still need their parents for their basic needs, food and shelter. They still need encouragement and need respect. They need to know that they are understood. They need boundaries, but also need freedom. 

Erikson’s Stage: Adolescence
Ego Development Outcome: Identity vs. Role Confusion
Basic Strength: Devotion, and Fidelity

College years:
  • Most people at this age begin to tear down the wall between their parents and themselves. They must have a strong social network to help them. They may begin to find love.
  • They begin to think more on morality. They move out on their own. For the first time they are responsible for almost every aspect of their lives. They are able to formulate their own motives and ideas.
  • They need approval and recognition. Most are now responsible for their own basic needs. They still need a family network and parents to be part of their social network, but they also have a need to completely break away from their parents.

Erikson’s Stage: Young Adulthood
Ego Development Outcome: Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation
Basic Strength: Affiliation, and Love

The professional years:
  •  Tight bonds are formed with others than their families. They begin their own family units and bond with their children and spouses. They have a different type of relationship with co-workers than with people they care for.
  • They consider issues from others’ viewpoints. They weigh information and try to make the best decisions based on their own ethic. They start truly finding out who they are. Many become parents; therefore they are responsible for others rather than themselves.
  • They need connections with others. They need to be understood, but also have a need to understand others.

Erikson’s Stage: Middle Adulthood
Ego Development Outcome: Generativity vs. Self-absorption or Stagnation
Basic Strength: Production and Care

Old age:
  •  Their bonds are close with their children and grandchildren. They may once again become close with their siblings. They may start losing their friends and family members, which may cause a great deal of grief.
  • Their ethic is fully developed. Their potential is fully fulfilled.
  •  They still have a need for acceptance and to pass on their wisdom. They need to be remembered and not pushed to the side. 

Erikson’s Stage: Late Adulthood (recovery)
Ego Development Outcome: Integrity vs. Despair
Basic Strength: Wisdom

Differentiating Instruction: Is It Necessary?

Differentiated instruction is not only important for the quality of education of the students, but it is also necessary. There are various reasons that instruction must be differentiated. The most obvious is differentiated instruction reaches more of the students in the classroom. In order to reach each student in the classroom, teachers must understand that no two children are alike, students differ in readiness, interest, and learning profiles, and no one learns in the same way. If teachers enter the classroom with these understandings, then they will be more effective, and productive educators.

Most traditional classrooms use the lecture format to teach students. This is an ineffective way to teach the students, because no two children are alike. In today’s classrooms, students come from different cultural, socioeconomic, and racial backgrounds. A more effective way to reach the students is to be empathetic to the various backgrounds in the classroom. For example, when teachers address the cultural backgrounds of the students, they should get to know as much as possible about the culture of the students they are trying to reach. “Tacos on Tuesday is not cultural literacy” (Tileston 70). Therefore, teachers should ask the students to relate the materials to someone they know. Teachers should eliminate cultural bias in the classroom.  One way this can be done is to have the student tell us about their culture and have the other students compare and contrast the different cultures with one another. Teachers should also recognize the cultural attitudes toward education, and gender. If teachers are successful in understanding the cultural backgrounds of their students, their students will be more apt to thrive in the classroom. Students who do not seem to thrive in the classroom are those that live on or around the poverty line. To reach these students, it is important for teachers try to build relationships with the students. Because lower-income students are constantly in survival mode, it is important that teachers eliminate any “threat” in the classroom. “If we are under threat, whether physical, emotional or otherwise, our brain pays attention to the threat over all other incoming stimuli” (Tileston 5). Educators should also be highly qualified teachers, who teach acceptable social skills, problem solving skills, and behavioral control methods, as well as the curriculum. Teachers can also get involved with community leaders in order to provide resources for the students. Some much needed resources for low-income students are tutoring, positive role models, health care, and food. If the students feel less threatened, and their teachers care; they too can thrive in the classroom. Another way a teacher can make sure her students thrive is to have a fully integrated classroom, by eliminating racial segregation. The teacher must be sure not to stereotype students because of their race. In other words, do not assume that one certain race will excel in academics and another race will fail in academics. One way to integrate the classroom is the elimination of linguistic bias. Having a rule fully explained at the beginning of the year and visibly posted in the classroom about degrading language will help eliminate linguistic bias. If material with degrading language is to be used in the classroom, teachers should explain to the students the context of the material. For instance, if the class is required to read Tom Sawyer; the teacher should give the students the historical background to the era it was written, give the purpose of the story, and make sure the students understand the views in the book are not their own. teachers must have each of her students understand that they are not to make fun of any other person addressed in the classrooms’ name. if the teacher has effectively eliminated racial segregation, each student should benefit and thrive in the classroom.

Most traditional classrooms assume that each student is on the same level, have the same interests, and have the same learning profiles. “An enriched environment for one student is not necessarily enriched for another” (Diamond). This holds true whether dealing with students’ readiness, interests, and learning styles.  For instance, one student may be ready for the material, yet another student is not close to being ready for the material, and yet another student may be beyond the material. Today’s classrooms have a wide range of students on varying levels of readiness. All integrated classrooms included gifted students, students with learning disabilities, and all of the students that fall in between the two at many different levels. Gifted students may need additional challenges that must be met. If teachers do not meet the needs of these students, they may lose them all together. Students with learning disabilities may have to have modifications and adaptive equipment to help them learn. The students that are in-between the gifted and those with learning disabilities may or may not need additional challenges or modifications. Having all of the modifications in place for students will help a teacher makes sure each of her students are ready for the challenges that lie ahead. One challenge that teachers face is not all students have the same interests. This is normally due to the students multiple intelligences, which are their learning preferences. This improves the quality of the student’s learning as well as the speed and ease of their learning. Teachers must recognize that all students may have more than one learning preference and differentiated instruction can usually give them instruction that helps the students thrive. Some students have visual intelligences. these students are normally artistic; therefore, they prefer to learn by using pictures, images, and spatial understanding. Other students have aural intelligence. These students tend to do better in music, and use sound and music to learn. Some students may have verbal intelligence; they tend to do better in language arts. They normally excel when using words, speech, or written language. Other students have physical intelligences. Normally, these students do better in sports, and must use their body and sense of touch to learn. Some students have  more logical intelligences.  These students are more analytical. They thrive and excel in math and science courses. This is due to the student’s ability to understand logic, reason, and systems. Other students have social intelligence and understand how people work. These students are usually popular, do better in groups or when working with other people. Finally, some students have solitary intelligences. These students cannot easily relate to others and tend to be loners. They enjoy working alone and doing self-study. These multiple intelligences can be easily addressed, if the educator has implemented differentiated instruction.

Next, teachers must identify the different learning styles of her students. These are closely related to multiple intelligences however they are not the same. Students who are visual learners have an ability to learn what they see before them. They use the teacher’s body language to clue them into the context of the material. These students have a need to sit in the front of the class because they are easily distracted by other visuals in the classroom. These students tend to thin in pictures and like using pictures, diagrams, graphic organizers, videos, charts, handouts, etc. Another learning style that teachers should be aware of is the auditory learning style. These children remember what they hear. They thrive in lecture / discussion classrooms. Auditory learners enjoy reading aloud, books on tape, and talking/listening segments of classroom instruction. The students that are neither visual learners nor auditory learners are kinesthetic learners. These students learn from engaging their bodies. They enjoy instruction that is hands-on, deals with touch, and deals with active exploration. These students like the teacher to  provide tangible models, explain how the material feels, and have them work the problem out.

Now that we understand the different intelligences and learning styles, we are aware that no one student learns in the same way. It is important for students to be taught how to think about ideas and how to make judgments on their own. If teachers implement effective differential instruction methods, then the students will continually grow in the classroom. Academic diversity must be met with various learning strategies. Discussed next are a handful of many methods that would be effective in addressing the needs of various learners. Teachers can have the students brainstorm. This triggers creative thinking. The teacher can choose to have the students either work individually or in buzz groups while brainstorming. Any topics can be used in brainstorming, and all ideas and questions posed while brainstorming are important. If the teacher uses buzz groups, the group members can pick out characteristics about the topic and compare/contrast individual thoughts about the topic. Next, teachers can involve their students in discovery/info search. This is when the students are asked to answer specific questions about the questions. When using this strategy, teachers must make sure to give the students the tools, to answer the questions. These tools may include, but are not limited to books, internet, and charts. Another strategy that teachers can use in the modern classroom, is peer teaching. This is extremely effective and can be used in more than one way. A teacher can have a gifted student sit next to a student with learning disabilities and have the students assist one another. Both students benefit from such a teaching method. The gifted student gains a better understanding of the material and learns how it can be applied, and the student with learning disabilities benefits from the assistance of a tutor. Another way a teacher can use peer teaching is to take the material being studied and split it into sections. She then may assign each student or group a section to analyze, interpret, and understand. Then each student can be asked to teach the material to the rest of the class. This strategy makes the students accountable for their understanding, gets them involved in their education, and teaches the students responsibility.

Many other strategies such as current events, storytelling, video/picture analysis, case studies, concept models, etc. can be used to reach each student in the classroom. An effective teacher is one who reaches each student in the classroom through differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction must address the different learning styles, intelligences, and readiness of each student. This instruction must reach across cultural, socioeconomic, and racial backgrounds. Differentiated instruction is  necessary to provide an enriched environment that fosters ongoing growth of each student and meets academic diversity in today’s classrooms.


Diamond, Miran. “Differentiating Instruction.” Enhance Learning With Technology. 8 October 2007. <>. 2004.

“Discover Your Learning Styles – Graphically.” 28 January 2007.

Advanogy. <>. 2007.

“Learning Styles Explained.” 8 October 2007. <>.

Tileston, Donna Walker. 10 Best Teaching Practices: How Brain Research, Learning Styles, and Standards Define Teaching. 2nd ed. 2005. Corwin Press: Thousand Oaks, California.

Tomlison, Carol Ann. “Differentiating Instruction for Advanced Learners in the Mixed-Ability Middle School Classroom.” ERIC EC Digest. v.E536. 8 October 2007. <>.