Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Review of: The Adventures of ARD Man: Seven Steps Toward Effective ARD Meetings

????, ???. (Writer), ???, ???. (Producer). (1999). The Adventures of ARD Man: Seven Steps Toward Effective ARD Meetings. [Motion Picture]. United States: Texas School Administrators Legal Digest.


The purpose of the ARD Man video was to teach parents and adult students of their rights when it comes to the ARD meetings. It was also to teach ARD committee members of the rights of the parents and students, the order that the ARD must be held, and the rules and regulations regarding the ARD.

Essential Points

Membership of the ARD Committee. One of the major points from the video is the membership of the ARD committee. There should be at least five committee members at the ARD. The committee members include at least one of the child’s regular education teachers if the child is participating in the regular education environment. At least one of the child’s special education teachers or providers must be present. A representative of the public agency (administrative representative). Someone who can interpret the instructional implications of the evaluation results must be present. The other committee member is the parent(s) of the child. The student may attend the ARD and is required to attend the ARD after the age of fourteen if the committee will be discussing the plan of post high school transition. The parents can invite anyone they may feel helpful to the ARD as well. For instance, if the parents wish that a specialist, advocate, case manager, or expert on the child to attend, their presence must be accepted by the rest of the ARD committee. The school may also call in experts or specialists; however, they must first notify the parent if they choose to do so. If the school cannot get the parents to attend the ARD meeting, then the rest of the committee may hold the ARD without them.

Importance of The Assessment Data. Another main point that I found in the video is the importance of the Assessment Data. Assessment data includes formalized testing, information provided by classroom teachers, grades, informal assessments and recommendations, information provided by parents, and information provided by outside experts. The IEP comes from all of this data and this data forms the base of the ARD pyramid.

The Order of The ARD. The ARD Pyramid (or order of the ARD) is the next main point. It is important for the ARD committee to make their decisions in the proper order. First, the committee is to carefully examine every piece of assessment data, which is the foundation for the pyramid. This is when the committee must look at the student’s present levels of performance. Next, the ARD committee builds the next level of the pyramid, or the IEP. Committee members should discuss and agree on the goals and modifications set forth in the IEP. They should also agree on short-term objectives or benchmarks for the student as well as special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, as well as program modifications or supports for school personnel. Last, the ARD committee members should agree on placement in the least restrictive environment for the student. This arrangement should give the student as much contact with non-disabled students as possible.

The Commitments. The next point that I will discuss is the commitments to ensure a quality education for the student. The district should be clear about its commitments with the parents. The parents should not leave the meeting without a promise list, which identifies specific commitments made. This list should have the commitment, the individual responsible for making sure the commitment is followed through, and the date that the commitment is to be completed. The district is bound by the ARD’s commitments listed in the IEP. The district or any member of the commitment cannot “unilaterally change the statement of special education and related services contained in the IEP. After the IEP is developed and the placement decision is made…the public agency must implement the IEP” (Letter from OSEP @ 18 IDEL R 627 (1991)). The promise list works best when the parents and the committee are at a consensus.

Consensus of The ARD Committee. The consensus of the ARD is the final main point of the video. In order to handle a non-consensus ARD, alternate method must be provided by the agency. ARD meetings are not a democracy; a majority vote cannot be used to determine the provisions set forth in the IEP. Parents may also ask for a recess if a consensus cannot be reached. The recess must not exceed ten days. After such recess, if a consensus still cannot be reached then the district can put forth an IEP that they feel suits the student’s needs. However, when the student’s behavior is a danger to himself or others, or when the student has done something that can cause him to be expelled, then a recess is not required. Though adhering to the law is important, the most important part of the ARD is to listen to what the parents have to say.

Application of the Essential Points

This video has helped me understand when I begin to teach that I must adhere to the law. When I am part of an ARD committee, I will know to make sure that everything is done in proper order. I must also remember that what I think is important is not as important than what the student’s parent(s) think is important. I should also make sure that I listen to specialists’ and experts’ recommendations when helping to construct the IEP. Once the IEP is in order, I must make sure that I follow the IEP closely. I should not change anything or discontinue any modifications unless an ARD has been called, and the IEP is changed. I must remember that it is my responsibility to make sure that the child receives all services that have been implemented. On a more personal note, I have learned when a teacher stops using the assistive technologies that are in my son’s IEP, this is a violation of his rights, as well as a violation of law. I will not plan or threaten to file a lawsuit on the teachers that have told me that he does not need what is in his IEP. However, I do know, now, how to handle situations like this, and think I will be able to make sure that he does not get left behind just because it is an “inconvenience” to the teacher.

Personal Reaction

I enjoyed this video. It was very goofy, but also informative. I feel the way the film was made, helps the viewer remember what was said and done in the video. I liked it better than the RTI video because it was quite a bit more interesting and less difficult to understand. The reason that I feel this video was easier to understand is when they would say something in legal terminology; they would then explain in English what they mean.
“I didn’t get where I am today by not being autistic.”
~ Larry Arnold

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills – Alternate

Module 1 – Overview of New TAKS-Alt Assessment

The first Module of the new TAKS-Alt begins with an overview of the changes made due to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which states that without exception every student must be assessed. Therefore, the Texas Education Agency developed the TAKS-Alt to be administered to the 1% of students that are found to have significant cognitive disabilities. Therefore, the TAKS-Alt is not a traditional multiple choice or paper and pencil test. It is an observation-based assessment filled out by the student’s teacher as the student completes task aligned with the TEKS.

In order to be qualified to take the TAKS-Alt, the student’s ARD committee must determine whether the student is able to take the TAKS with the accommodations and modifications. For the ARD Committee to determine a student’s qualification, they must assess the student’s level of functioning, determine how the student performs at grade level, review participation requirements, and document assessments with “allowable” or “approved” modifications and accommodations. It is important to remember, not all students who qualify for special education services will qualify for the TAKS-Alt.

The participation requirements of the student are listed as:

  1. The student requires supports to access the general curriculum that may include assistance involving communication, response style, physical access, or daily living skills.
  2. The student requires direct, intensive, individualized instruction in a variety of settings to accomplish the acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of skills.
  3. The student accesses and participates in the grade-level TEKS through activities that focus on prerequisite skills.
  4. The student demonstrates knowledge and skills routinely in class by methods other than paper-and-pencil tasks.
  5. The student demonstrates performance objectives that may include real-life applications of the grade-level TEKS as appropriate to the student’s abilities and needs.

There are three key resources for accessing the grade-level TEKS curriculum in order to assist educators with administration of the TAKS-Alt – the TEKS Vertical Alignment documents, TEKS Curriculum Framework documents, and Standardized Assessment Tasks for TAKS-Alt. The TEKS Vertical Alignment documents are a listing of the TEKS that provides the expectations of students’ knowledge and skills from kindergarten to exit level. The TEKS Curriculum Framework documents provide the objectives, knowledge and skills, and student expectations of those participating in the TAKS, and are aligned with the TEKS Vertical Alignment documents. The Standardized Assessment Tasks for TAKS-Alt provides three complexity-varied tasks for each essence statement based on predetermined criteria. The assessment tasks are like test items rather than activities used for instruction. The tasks are broadly written to allow access to most students who qualify and vary in complexity to meet USDE requirements.

The module ends with the following four steps to administer the TAKS-Alt

  1. Choose the assessment TASK for each required essence statement.
  2. Determine IMPLEMENTATION of the assessment task.
  3. OBSERVE and DOCUMENT student performance on the predetermined criteria.
  4. EVALUATE student performance and enter the information into the online instrument.

Module 2 – Implementing the TAKS-Alt Assessment

The first step is to select the appropriate TAKS-Alt assessment task. There are 3 assessment tasks for each essence statements. The teacher must choose the appropriate complexity level for an assessment task based on the student’s current level of performance, targeted prerequisite skills, complexity levels of the assessment tasks, and specific verbs in the assessment tasks. The verbs used in the essences statements define the complexity level. Level 3 Assessment Tasks are the most difficult and requires higher-order thinking skills. The tasks include: determining distinguishing features, organizing information, comparing components, generating ideas, making inferences, and justifying answers. An example of a verb used at this level is ‘determine.’ Level 2 Assessment Tasks are mid-level tasks and involve rote memory. Tasks at Level 2 include: identifying or sorting elements, assisting in procedures, choosing options, matching components, replicating information, and examining features. Examples of verbs used at this level are ‘review’ and ‘identify.’ Level 1 Assessment Tasks are the most basic tasks and involve beginning awareness response. Level 1 Tasks include: acknowledging features, indicating preferences, responding to stimuli, participating in process, exploring materials, and anticipating outcomes. Examples of verbs used at this level are ‘explore’ and ‘acknowledge.’ If the student has difficulty accessing the Level 1 Assessment Tasks, the teacher should evaluate the instruction and student supports provided, confer with other school professionals, consider the No Response Observed designation, and call TEA for further guidance. However, if the student does respond to some of the tasks, then No Response Observed is inappropriate.

The second step is to add supports to individualize the assessment task by the use of supports, materials, and identifying appropriate student response modes. Appropriate supports and materials are those that are effective and used in the classroom on a regular basis. They must reflect the student’s learning style and address the measured skill. They must be grounded in the content area assessed, be age appropriate, and include the student’s interests. Most importantly supports and materials must maintain the integrity of the assessment and not give the student a direct answer. The teacher must select the most appropriate response modes, which is also a component of individualizing the assessment. Response modes must allow demonstration of the skill and independence of the student. They, too, must maintain the integrity of the assessment and be effective and used in the classroom on a regular basis. The teacher must be certain the supports and materials maintain the complexity level, otherwise the integrity of the assessment has been lost and the supports are deemed inappropriate.

The third step is to conduct and document the observation. Before observation begins, the teacher must be prepared to observe, which includes the comfort and distractibility level of the testing environment. The teacher must plan for any personnel needed or an inter-rater observation. The pre-determined criteria must be reviewed to ensure the expectations of the student are met. All supports and materials should be available. A review of cueing and prompting hierarchy terms is required. If the student does not respond, the teacher must first cue then prompt the student. All cueing and prompting during the assessment affect the student’s score. The hierarchy of cueing is as follows: physical gesture, pointing, visual cue, verbal direct cue, and verbal indirect cue. The hierarchy of prompting is as follows: Physical assist, adult modeling, student modeling, visual graphic, gesture assist, and verbal direction. The teacher must record the date of the primary observation, the demonstration of the skill, and level of support, as well as, all cues and prompts. The fairness of the observation is determined by the amount of previous instruction provided, the time allowed for the assessment, the attentiveness of the student, the environment the assessment occurred, and the level of cueing and prompting provided to the student.

Module 3 – The TAKS-Alt Online Instrument

The fourth and final step to the TAKS-Alt is the evaluation of student performance via the online instrument. The purpose of the TAKS-Alt Online Instrument is to provide the teacher with ample time to provide instruction, and select and individualize assessment tasks. The teacher is provided with a submission window from January to April in which the tasks can be completed, observed, and documented. The window allows evaluation of student performance at any time, as well as submission of completed assessments at any time. Before online submission begins, it is recommended that the teacher review the observation notes and become familiar with the TAKS-Alt rubric.

The TAKS-Alt rubric is based on a point system from yes and no answers on the demonstration of a skill section. The student will receive two points for each yes answer to the predetermined criterion. The student will receive zero points for a no answer to the predetermined criterion. The student’s level of support will also be evaluated. Two points will be given for independent performance, one point will be given for cued performance, and zero points will be given for prompted performance on the predetermined criterion. The assessment tasks are weighted as determined by the complexity level of the task performed with Level 3 as the highest and Level 1 as the lowest numerical value. The teacher must make sure the demonstration of a skill is reviewed without consideration of level of support as they are scored separately.

Now the teacher can begin the automated scoring process. First, the teacher answers yes/no questions based on the predetermined criterion established to score the student’s demonstration of the skill. Next, the teacher answers questions based on student’s level of support. The teacher answers the questions as follows: independently, needed cueing, or needed prompting based on the student’s performance. The yes/no and independently/needed cueing/ needed prompting questions are answered by selecting the appropriate ‘radio button’ next to the word.

The online instrument will alert the teacher to determine the student’s opportunity to generalize the skill. The student is only eligible for generalization if he/she is assessed at Level 2 or 3, the student demonstrated the skill on all three predetermined criteria, and the student was not prompted for the completion of the tasks. The generalization process allows 3 points for the generalization of a skill. The student receives one point for each predetermined criteria completed on an independent level or with a cue. The student will receive zero points for any completed tasks that required prompting or any uncompleted tasks. It is recommended that observation begins early enough in the submission window to allow the generalization of the skill.

The maintenance of the data collection forms is determined by the school district’s procedures for maintenance. It is recommended that the teacher use the state’s forms for observations; however, other forms that contain the same sections as the state’s forms are allowed. If the student is in an inclusive classroom setting, the district is responsible for sending the documentation forms to Pearson for validity audit purposes.

The next part of Module 3 focuses on accessing and using the online instrument, which can be accessed from any computer system with the necessary system requirements. The district coordinator will provide user names and passwords required to access the TAKS-Alt online system at Once the teacher has logged in, he/she will gain access to the TAKS-Alt home page. From here, the teacher is recommended to check the ‘alert’ box for new messages after each log-in. The TAKS-Alt online instrument consists of six sections: home tab, assessment tasks tab, assessment status tab, historical assessment data tab, resources tab, manage account tab, and left frame with list of classes. The manage account tab gives the teacher information about the students and the teacher’s user profile. The assessment allows the teacher to choose the assessment task and answer the performance questions for each predetermined criterion. The historical assessment data tab displays student data from previous years. The resources tab provides access to sample forms, documents, and other information that can assist the teacher in implementing the assessment. The assessment status tab shows the status of each student’s assessment. In order to ensure the finalization of the assessments, the teacher must submit all assessments by the cut-off date determined by TEA. Any assessments that are not submitted at this time will not be finalized.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


This is Damien's latest triumph. Damien, with two other classmates, wrote and acted out a play as a project for Theater Arts I. For a child with autism, who did not know and understand how to emote, he does significantly well in this little play due to his studies in Theater Arts. Enjoy!

Another Setback?

I hope that we are not about to experience another setback in Damien's education. At his ARD meeting on Tuesday, we were informed that the way the new law reads Damien must pass the exit level math TAKS test in order to graduate with the recommended diploma that he has worked so hard for. Instead, failure of the test this year will mean that he graduates with a special education diploma, which will prevent him from getting into college.

Here is where I am disappointed. Damien started middle school with a full special education schedule. All of his classes were remedial, resource, classes. His dream to go to college had driven him to leave middle school and begin high school with no remedial classes and a full mainstream, recommended, schedule. He has worked so hard in high school to keep his grades up that he is in an Advanced Placement (AP) English course this year and will be in not only AP English but also AP History next year.

Damien has passed all of his classes including his math classes with fairly high marks (all As and Bs). He has pushed himself very hard, so that his dream of being a college graduate will be realized. However, this test, this one day in time, this snapshot of school will determine whether or not that dream will ever become a reality.

I do not understand the shift in standardized testing. This is not what standardized tests were designed to do. Standardized testing was developed by the Chinese and designed to gauge the teacher's performance in the classroom, not the students. The students' overall performance cannot be gauged by one day in time. Their overal performance can only be gauged in the classroom.

Do students' grades no longer mean a thing? Does all of this hard work and effort that Damien has made account for anything? Can you imagine an AP student graduating with a special education diploma because they did not pass one test? Texas Tech, Damien's dream school, will not even look at an application that has a special education diploma from high school. Damien knew this, and that is why he has worked so very hard.

I need advice on where to go from here. What am I to do to help my son? We cannot allow this to happen, and we cannot just let this go. The Texas Education Agency and U.S. Department of Education are sending the message to this one child and other children that look up to him that hard work accounts for nothing. Just the test does.

Adolescence with My Bipolar Sister

Throughout my studies, I have found that most articles and books on bipolar disorder in children and adolescents seem to focus on the child with the disorder and the parents. In the books that mention siblings, a short paragraph or a few of pages are written and little is said about the negative effects of the disorder on siblings. Therefore, it is my goal to bring awareness of the impact of bipolar disorder on “healthier” siblings and how this impact may be exhibited in school-aged siblings.

From personal experience, I understand how having a sibling with bipolar disorder can have negative effects on all areas of a student’s life, and when that sibling is only eighteen months older, there is no place to escape from the effects of the disorder; not even school can be considered a safe haven. At school, I had many negative experiences when it came to my sister’s diagnosis, but not everything was bad. Cassie and I had a lot of fun too. It seems, though, the negative outweighed the positive. From my peers, I received constant bullying and teasing about my “crazy” sister, and my teachers lacked compassion and understanding on days of or the day after a complete meltdown. Often my assignments were late, if they were done at all. Sometimes, my assignments had been finished but were destroyed during the volatile outburst of the evening before. Though Cassie and I scored slightly below 150 (149 and 147) IQ assessments, when she hit puberty, both of our grades began to drop.

Not only did my grades drop, but I also began to notice changes in the attitudes of teachers as Cassie’s bipolar disorder worsened. Whereas teachers were once excited to have me in their classrooms, I would be warned the first day of school every year that I would not be allowed to behave as my sister had. One teacher actually pulled me aside in the hallway before I stepped into her classroom and said, “You will not be the little troublemaker that Cassie was last year. I will not put up with that, and any failure to follow my class rules will result in a failing grade on your report card.” I had not even been given the opportunity to introduce myself to the teacher nor was I allowed an opportunity to make my own first impression; my sister had already made that for me. Furthermore, I was attempting to enter the classroom with my friends when I the teacher confronted me. Understandably, friends soon began to shy away from me, and I became isolated and alone.

Before Cassie’s breakdown my freshman year of high school, I was recognized as one of the top students in school. Afterwards, I was struggling to stay afloat. I began to develop mixed and confusing feelings about my sister. Cassie was beginning to become more aggressive and volatile, and outbursts directed toward me became more frequent and dangerous. Although I felt like no one else in the world could understand what I was going through, I know now my experience is common for siblings of individuals with bipolar disorder. Evans and Andrews write in their book If Your Adolescent Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder, “Siblings may bear the brunt of a brother's or sister's angry outbursts” (2005). These outbursts began to foster a sense of loss, resentment, fear, embarrassment, and envy within me.

My sense of loss stemmed from many attributions, one of which was the loss of the close relationship Cassie and I once shared. It seemed as if Cassie’s body had been snatched in the middle of the night, and I was sharing a room with a stranger. Although Cassie had been aggressive toward me from the day my mother brought me home from the hospital, we did love each other very much, and we did get along. However, all of that was suddenly gone. Cassie bombarded me with “I hate you!” screaming sessions and left horrible wounds and bruises on my body. Other times she would tell me that I was a mistake and should have never been born.

For a matter of fact Cassie had me believe I was not my parents’ child, and their neglect toward me helped Cassie to convince me. Although I did believe it then, now I do not believe Mom and Dad intended on neglecting any of us. I know from recent research that neglect is all too common when families are dealing with bipolar disorder. In the book Understanding the Mind of Your Bipolar Child Lombardo states, “Because the bipolar child needs an excessive amount of attention, other children in the family receive less parenting – especially if they're healthy” (2006). My little brother, Scott, and I both received minimal parenting and support. Frequently, Dad worked from sunup to sundown, and Mom was so consumed with taking care of Cassie and/or keeping up with her that I would be left to help Scott with his homework, cook dinner, and do chores. I do not remember Mom ever being around for basketball games or to watch me as I marched in the band.

Because of the neglect, I began to resent and envy my sister. She, alone, had my mother’s undivided attention and nothing I did seemed to matter anymore. I began to become depressed, and I spiraled down a path I should have never been allowed to go. At the end of my junior year of high school, I tried out for drum major and actually won the competition. However, many of the school board members in our small town decided that I was not a “good representative for the school” because of our “family problems.” My overall GPA of 98.6 or my clean discipline record suddenly meant nothing. Mom did, on this occasion, go to the school board and fight for me. I was allowed to be drum major, but my family was still falling apart. While I was at band camp, my mother and father decided to separate on my birthday. By the time I returned home, it was to a different house without my father and sister’s presence.

Not having Cassie and Dad around did not make things easier; Mom had been stressed out for far too long. “Caring for a bipolar child is exhausting” (Lombardo, 2006), and it had taken its toll on my mother. Within three months of my return from camp my brother had been sent to live with Dad, and my mother was admitted to a stress unit due to a nervous breakdown. Before we knew what was going on, I had been living on my own. I had not seen my mother for weeks before her admission to the care facility. Not feeling as if I mattered, I began drinking, doing drugs, and cutting. With my arms full of wounds and a dazed look in my eyes, I still went to school because it was the only place I could get a meal. I continued to do well in academics but was often sent out of the room to the principal’s office because I cried all of the time. So, once my lunch ticket ran out, I stopped going to school. As soon as Dad found out what was going on, I was reunited with both him and my brother and finished high school with honors.

My feelings of depression and abandonment are common for siblings of individuals with bipolar disorder. As an adult, I have sought counseling and therapy because I have feared for years that I have bipolar disorder too. However, my therapist and psychologist have explained to me that when Cassie cycles, we all cycle with her. If she is in a good mood, then we experience good moods as well. However, when Cassie is down, she takes the rest of us down with her. Admittedly, Cassie’s bipolar disorder is part of the reason I left my family as soon I graduated high school. I love my sister, but drifting off from the family is the only way I can keep my sanity. The therapist has explained that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which explains frequent anxiety attacks during family functions. Apparently PTSD is common for siblings of people with bipolar disorder. According to Survival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar Disorder, “siblings of children with rage issues often show signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder such as hyper vigilant reactions, nervousness, and nightmares. These symptoms are caused by living under the continual stress of the threat of violence in the home” (Lynn, 2000). Though I do not blame Cassie, I blame the monster she has to battle each and every day. I know Cassie still struggles, and I am just now, twenty years later, beginning to be able to let go of some of the resentment and anger toward her.

I know if I had just one teacher, one youth minister, or one adult friend who understood my situation and the difficult times I endured, I would like to think I would not have suffered as much. Most of my school-aged years I blamed myself for my sister’s problems and would purposely do poorly on work to keep my sister from being jealous. Therefore this is my plea to any educator who reads this to show more compassion to their students who are siblings of children with mood disorders or other disabilities. Although they are typically developing and seem to be healthier than their siblings, life is anything but typical for them.


Evans, D. L., & Andrews, L. W. (2005). If Your Adolescent Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder (pp. 127-128). New York: Oxford.

Lombardo, G. T. (2006). Understanding the Mind of Your Bipolar Child (pp. 68-72). New York: St. Martin's Press.

Lynn, G. T. (2000). Survival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar Disorder (p. 64). Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Emotional Disturbance and Social Maladjustment

The question on many special educators’ minds is whether students with Social Maladjustment (SM) should receive special education services. Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) clearly states that Emotional Disturbance (ED) “does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance” (IDEA 2004 C.F.R 300.8(c)(4)(2)). The controversy surrounding emotional disturbance stems from IDEA not clearly defining social maladjustment. Without a definition, I have found it difficult to form an opinion on the issue. In their paper “Deconstructing a Definition,” Kenneth Merrell and Hill Walker bring up many valid points on the issue, and they tend to equate ED with SM (2004). The theory that ED and SM cannot be differentiated is reverberated in “Emotional Disturbance/Social Maladjustment” (Kehle et al., 2004). However, I do not agree with the argument that students with SM should be included in the ED category set up by IDEA. Students with SM, who do not have an ED, would not benefit from special education services.

First and foremost in my argument is that SM and ED are not the same thing. Students with ED normally engage in internalized behaviors. They tend to shy away from attention and show remorse for disruptive behaviors. Often students with ED who seem to exhibit these behaviors do so due to a compulsion. Their behavior is not a calculated response to gain attention or to avoid a task. It is clear, however, that students with ED are capable of acting in a disruptive manner as an avoidance mechanism. In these cases, teachers can remedy the problematic behavior by implementing a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). Once the desired behavior is successfully gained by positive reinforcement methods set up in the BIP, the student with ED should no longer exhibit disruptive avoidance behaviors.

Unlike the student with ED, the student with SM appears to act out in a calculated manner. Their behavior “may be considered strategic and consciously mediated” (Theodore, Akin-Little, & Little, 2004). If a student with SM engages in disruptive behaviors, a BIP could also be used to circumvent the problem behavior. However, the BIP may not be successful in ending problematic behaviors. Students with SM often belong to a culture outside of societal norms. If their culture dictates that education is not important, then the student would not look at education as an opportunity for future growth and development. Researchers argue that students with SM voluntarily act out, and their behavior is “strategic and deliberate” (Theodore, Akin-Little, & Little, 2004). Even when the behavior of a student with SM affects their educational performance, special education services are not should not be guaranteed. The articles by Merrell and Walker and Kehle et al. suggest that special education should be guaranteed to students with SM whose behavior results in the mitigation of educational achievement (2004). However, any student who refuses to do homework/class-work but is capable of achievement at their expected level should be excluded from special education services.

Including a student with SM in a special education program could be counterproductive for students with ED, a Learning Disability (LD), or students with other disabilities who qualify for special education services. Theodore, Akin-Little, and Little argue that “treatment for children with ED may be counterproductive for children with SM” (2004). Therefore, it would be a disservice to all students in the special education classroom that has combined students with ED and SM. An Individual Education Program (IEP) for a student that does not want to learn is not going to be beneficial for that student, while an IEP for a student that wants to learn but has a disability hindering his/her ability to learn would be beneficial.

Other concerns revolve around the welfare of the other students exposed to students with SM. I find Kehle et al.’s following statement problematic – “Children with ED or SM have few, if any, friends and are generally rejected by their peers and teachers primarily as a result of their dysfunctional behavior” (2004). Though it may be true that any dysfunctional behavior can lead to peer rejection, Kehle and company have equated the behaviors of students with SM with the behaviors of students with ED. I would argue that students with ED are often rejected for different reasons than students with SM. These reasons stem from a lack of understanding the disorder of the student with ED and lack of control the student with ED may have over the behaviors rather than unwanted malicious behaviors the student with SM may engage in. Merrell and Walker use anti-social behavior to argue that students with SM should be included in the ED definition. However, it is important to remember that anti-social behavior is not the same thing as difficulty maintaining peer relationships. Anti-social behavior often includes defiant behaviors and conduct disorders. In equating ED and SM, Merrell and Walker are building on preconceived notions that all students with SM also have ED. There is no evidence that can conclusively support this claim. In fact, students with SM often show little or no remorse when they have acted inappropriately (Theodore, Akin-Little, & Little, 2004). This lack of remorse should concern all people involved with students who receive special education services. All students with disabilities may be easy targets for the inappropriate behavior students with SM may engage in, which can and often does result in bullying.

Not only does targeted behavior concern me, but also the inability for many students who receive services to determine appropriate peer relationships raises concern. These students may look up to the student with SM and may begin to mimic unwanted behaviors. They may be used as patsies in a devious plot or scheme. They also may be easily manipulated into engaging in inappropriate activities. Therefore, they become a victim to the unruly behaviors of a student with SM. I do believe that many of the students with both ED and SM that Merrell and Walker discuss in length are possibly such victims or students exposed to SM behavior. I find it interesting in “Deconstructing a Definition,” Kenneth W. Merrell suggests that students with SM should be included in special education, and SM and ED should not be differentiated, because the Theodore, Akin-Little, and Little article cites him as arguing “The combination of students with a pattern of rule-violating behavior and who demonstrate little remorse for their actions with students who evidence emotional disorders are naïve may result in bullying” (1992), which further supports my argument that SM and ED should be differentiated and warrant different treatments.

According to Theodore, Akin-Little, and Little students with SM require some treatments that cannot be implemented by the school district. Most treatment options for students with SM involve working with the families of students with SM. the only treatment option recommended that may be used in the school setting is the Cognitive Problem-Solving Skills Training. This method utilized self-monitoring as a way to learn problem-solving skills. However, students with SM who do not recognize the need for such skills will not be willing to engage in such treatment activities. A student cannot be forced to change if they see no need to change. Other methods recommended included Parent Management Training, Multisystemic Therapy, and Functional Family Therapy, all of which are based in a family approach. Again, students with SM may come from a culture outside of societal norms. If this is the case, the family of the student may not recognize the behavior of their child as problematic behavior.

Determining whether problematic behavior is due to SM or ED is confounded without a clear definition of SM from IDEA. Although Merrell and Walker support their argument with statistics that show 50% of students with ED have been arrested at least once “within 3 years of leaving school” (2004), it is important to recognize this statistic is twenty years old and may not be true today. The statistic was gathered before the 1997 and 2004 changes in IDEA and is a reflection of a generation before today’s students were born. Clear distinctions can be made between students with SM and students with ED. Such distinctions include remorse, internalized/externalized behaviors, and calculated/compulsive behaviors. The differences in behaviors of students with SM can cause difficulties in the special education classroom and can negatively affect the social, emotional, and educational growth of other students who receive special education services. Most importantly, students with SM often do not want help and no matter what an IEP or a BIP may say, a student with SM will not change their behavior to fit into a culture they do not see themselves as being part of.


Kehle, T. J., Bray, M. A., Theodore, L. A., Zhou, Z., & McCoach, D. B. (2004). Emotional Disturbance/Social Maladjustment: Why Is the Incidence Increasing? Psychology in the Schools, 41(8), 861-865.

Merrell, K. W., & Walker, H. M. (2004). Deconstructing a Definition: Social Maladjustment Versus Emotional Disturbance and Moving the EBD Fiend Forward. Psychology in the Schools, 41(8), 899-909.

Theodore, L. A., Akin-Little, A., & Little, S. G. (2004). Evaluating the Differential Treatment of Emotional Disturbance and Social Maladjustment. Psychology in the Schools, 41(8), 879-886.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mental Retardation

Explain this statement: To some extent, MR is a school-based diagnosis.

Many students with mild retardation are labeled as mentally retarded in the education setting. However, this often does not hold over into other areas of the person’s life. Outside of the constraints of the school setting, the students often behave in a socially appropriate manner, and have no problems succeeding in an occupational setting. Therefore, being labeled as mentally retarded by the school system does not mean the student will not be successful in other venues.

A person with an IQ of 64 nevertheless has excellent social functioning. Is this person rightly diagnosed as MR? Discuss and explain.

Many people with an IQ in the Mild Mental Retardation range are often not considered or diagnosed a person with mental retardation because they do not have adaptive behavior deficits. They may be diagnosed as retarded in the educational setting, but are fully capable of appropriate functioning outside of the school setting and in a social setting. That is why there is a dip in the 55th-70th-percentile range on the Normal Curve of IQ Distribution.

What is the importance in MR of the concept “incidental learning”?

Employers need to know to take the person with mental retardation’s difficulty with incidental learning into consideration when introducing them to their new career. Therefore, it is important for supervisors who deal with people with mental retardation to simplify instructions and training as much as possible to facilitate the ability to pay attention to the multiple aspects of complex situations. Allowing more time can be an effective method to help facilitate the adjustment of a person with mental retardation to their new position.

Will a child with significant intellectual deficit ever “catch up” to peers in intelligence? Discuss and explain.

Because the child with an intellectual deficit will always have the intellectual deficit, then they will always be behind their peers. Therefore, it can be assumed the child will always have difficulty catching up to their peers in intelligence. This happens because the child is developmentally delayed, leaving them with a mental level below that of their peers. Therefore, though they will still learn the new information presented to both the child and their peers, they will learn the information only through the mindset of their mental level, which means they will take away a different and less complex meaning of the material than that of their peers, which is due to their difficulties in engaging in higher-level thinking skills.

Explain, as if to a student, the concepts of “needed support” and “support intensities” and explain their application and process.

Supports are the strategies we will use to help you to reach your individual goals. Depending on your needs, these supports may or may not include peer supports, help with managing your money in order to make sure your bills are paid, in-home living assistance to make sure you are well taken care of, health care, and assistive devices and technologies. The amount you use these supports can vary in intensity, or amount of help used each week depending on your needs. For instance, if you need a whole lot of help, most of the time, you will receive pervasive support, which is daily help where somebody is with you all of the time. If you need a lot of help, but not all of the time, you will receive extensive support, which is regular help only in the environment the support is needed. If you need some help, just some of the time, you will receive limited support, which is help only when you need it and only in the environment you need. If you need support only when you have difficulty with a new task, when you are learning something new, then you will receive intermittent support, which is help only as the new or different situation comes up.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Blind, the Deaf, and the Lame Summary

Yong, Amos. (2007). The Blind, The Deaf, and the Lame: Biblical and Historical Trajectories. Theology and Down Syndrome – Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity. Waco: Baylor University Press.

The author covers the references to the blind, deaf, and lame in order to gain an understanding of the historical beliefs as they pertain to people with disabilities. The Bible does not address mental disabilities. Amos Yong states dualistic beliefs in “Disability” in Ancient Israel. Yong feels the Bible draws connections between the sovereignty of God and disabilities, and people with disabilities are to be cared for just as others who are marginalized are to be cared for. In ancient Israel, people with disabilities were considered unholy and imperfect. They believed disabilities were the result of broken covenants with God, and people with disabilities were not whole and could not be included in the kingdom of Yhwh.

In the next section, “Disability” and the Early Church, the early Church believed in inclusion only after healing. They felt that Jesus’ healing of those with disabilities meant people with disabilities should be pitied, and their future is secured by God alone. Jesus’ healings also led people to believe there was a direct connection between disability and sin. Therefore, many people associated disabilities with evil. Those with disabilities were marginalized and dependent on the grace of God in the gospels. However, it can be assumed the disabilities were only metaphors for the sins of man.

The next section, “Disability” in the History of Christianity, covers how the biblical accounts affected disability. Before Christianity in ancient Greece and Rome, most people with disabilities were included. Disabilities were treated as a family/civic matter. Not much was written about mental retardation in ancient writings, possibly due to high mortality rates, and the inclusion of people with disability. The ancient god of fire, Hephaestus, was crippled, but had magical powers. Therefore, many Greeks believed people with disabilities were thought to have amazing abilities. They often believed deformities were due to sinful parents, or omens, such as broken covenants with the gods. Therefore, they believed infants with deformities belonged to the gods. However, many with disabilities were still scorned, and Aristotle said deformities were caused by uncompleted pregnancies.

In the section titled The Patristic and Medieval Periods, we learn people with mental disabilities were included. For instance, Nicholas Thaumaturgos protected the feeble minded. Zotikos cared for discarded children who were to be put to death. A few Christians opened homes and hospitals for those with disabilities. Augustine believed God made the creatures of the world diverse to “manifest his glory and power” (31). Saint Dymphna was martyred by her insane father. Because her grave was a place of pilgrimage for those with mental disabilities, her resting place, Gheel, became known for its “tradition of caring for the mentally ill” (31). Hildegard of Bingen endured physical pains led to lack of mental maturation, which led to inspiration and service. Margaret of Castello completely gave herself to god after being abandoned by her family due to her disabilities. She performed more than two hundred miracles. Teresa de Cartagena was deaf by fourteen, and saw herself as an “admirable work of God” (33). She believed disability helps develop patience and other virtues. During this period, people believed that God is the creator of all things, even disabilities, disabilities are necessary to promote holiness, and the Church should help those with disabilities.

During the reformation and the early modernity, views on disability once again changed. Luther believed that people with disabilities were “mass[es] of flesh without a soul…the devil is himself their soul” (34). Therefore he believed people should drown or suffocate infants and children with disabilities. During the Renaissance, many believed deformities were cause by demonic activity. However, Paracelsus believed fools are restored by Christ, and they are not fools in their souls, just their minds, which makes them more pure. Paracelsus also believed after salvation, there will be no disabilities. Ambroise Paré believed there were twelve causes of deformities:

1) resulting from God, intended for God’s glory,
2) emanating from the wrath of God,
3) emerging from too great a quantity of seed, or
4)too little a quantity of the same,
5) being misshapened b the imagination of the pregnant mother,
6) by the narrowness/smallness of the womb,
7) by a traumatic pregnancy, or
8) by the mother’s fall,
9) deriving from other hereditary mechanisms or accidental illnesses,
10) rotten or corrupt seed, or
11) the improper mingling/mixture of seed, and
12) being changelings of the devil (36).

Paulus Zacchias identified intellectual defects as slow learners, who can be held accountable and can marry, fools, who can marry with permission from judges, but have difficulty learning, and stupid/mindless, cannot marry and exempted from penalties. John Locke believed humans are rational creatures. Therefore, those with mental disabilities are not human and incapable of reason. They are immoral and soulless; therefore can be killed as infants.

The final section covers the three notions of disabilities according to theology:

1) disabilities occur for God’s purpose, God creates all men, and people with disabilities are here to reveal God’s glory;
2) people with disabilities must trust in God, because suffering leads to holiness;
3) the Church must care for people with disabilities through charity.

The final section of Chapter 2 covers the new vision regarding theology and disabilities is required. Patty Burt, a person with mental retardation, has shown that through her disability, she was able to sort out what she learned from others and make up her own mind about religion. In religion, we are faced with a major dilemma. If we ignore conventional theology, we dismiss the views of people like Patty Burt. However, if we embrace conventional theology, we will be weighed down with ideas ingrained in historical tradition. Therefore, to move forward, we must reread biblical texts and look deeper for the positive representations of people with disabilities. Although the biblical stories are stereotypical, they also have a redemptive quality.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

UIL Journalism

Damien is off to his first UIL competition. He was approached by the school and asked to represent Cooper in journalism (editorial writing and headline writing). He has been studying so hard all week and seemed a bit nervous this morning. I don't know if it was because of the competition or the storm we had this morning. I am so proud that Damien is showing the world that a special education student can excel just as a typical student can. By the way, he's being placed in another AP course next year. Way to go, Bub, I'm really proud.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Other Health Impairments

Brown, Thomas E. (2007). A New Approach to Attention Deficit Disorder. Educational Leadership, 64, (5), 26-27.

The researcher states that 7.8% of students from ages 4 to 17 are diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and school officials are unsure how to respond. More researchers are beginning to believe ADD is not a behavior disorder, but it is an impairment of the brain’s executive system. Brown states there are six executive functions that people with ADD/ADHD have difficulty in utilizing, which are activation, focus, effort, emotion, memory, and action. A diagnosis of ADD/ADHD means the person has a significant impairment compared to their peers over a prolonged period of time and can vary depending on when the symptoms appear. ADD/ADHD are often thought to be a lack of willpower. Instead it is the chemical makeup of the brain that causes the impairment. For some students with ADD/ADHD medication helps only when it is in the system. However other students with ADD/ADHD have other learning disabilities, and medication alone is not effective in facilitating learning. Because it has been proven that ADD/ADHD is not a behavior problem, Brown suggests evaluations that address cognitive impairments. Brown concludes that early intervention is crucial to the mental development of the student.

Glimps, Blanche J. (2008). Are We Preparing Students with Physical and Health Disabilities for the 21st Century?, Physical Disabilities: Education and Related Services 26, (2), 1-12.

Glimps suggests that schools are not doing enough to prepare students with physical disabilities for their futures in the diverse job market in today’s world. Glimps believes the students are not being educated on global issues that may affect students’ future employment. Therefore the education system should strive to broaden the students’ understanding of the world, which should be accessible to students with physical or health disabilities. However, the issues are not addressed in NCLB. The National Council for Social Studies recognizes problems facing students today is the failure to provide a global understanding leads to a narrow view of the world and in some instances leads to prejudice. Glimps feels teachers of students with physical and health impairments often provide limited cultural knowledge to their students. Furthermore, Glimps suggests the technologies provided to students with physical and health impairments are not developing quick enough to keep up with the information technologies. Therefore, Glimps suggests the students are not properly prepared to enter the globalized workforce.

Potts-Datema, William, and Taras, Howard. (2005). Chronic Health Conditions and Student Performance at School. Journal of School Health, 75, (7) 255-266.

Research has proven there is a direct correlation between students’ health and their academic success. According to their research, Taras and Potts-Datema suggest an association between diabetes and cognitive ability. Their research concludes that the verbal IQ, visuospatial/ nonverbal functioning, memory, and attention all show a deficit in young students with diabetes depending on the severity of the diabetes. Students with sickle cell anemia may experience complications that prevent attendance or affect the student’s performance. The research shows the students with sickle cell anemia tend to score lower on IQ assessments, and they may be impaired in their language, processing abilities, attention, and memory. Students with have learning problems that vary according to the severity of the epilepsy, such as lower IQ levels, lower academic achievement, and inattentiveness. Students with other chronic diseases often experience lower academic achievement due to their inability to attend class on a regular basis.

Stormont, Melissa A. (2008). Increase Academic Success for Children with ADHD Using Sticky Notes and Highlighters. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43, (5), 305-308.

Stormont’s research states that students with ADHD account for 3-5% of the student population in the general education classroom. Their characteristics include selective attention problems, sustained attention problems, impulsivity, and high levels of verbal and motor activity. Stormont suggests using sticky notes and highlighters to help the students in and out of the classroom. They can use the notes as a guide to keep them on task, and to mark their ending point when taking a break. They can use the highlighters to either color code tasks or to determine the order of the tasks. Furthermore, the notes can be used to help the students study, prompt students, organize steps, keep students on track, and help them estimate time to spend on each step of a process or task. The sticky notes can also be used to remind students of materials to bring home or return to school. They can also be used to help students to outline or summarize reading material. Among other uses for the notes, they can also help students self-monitor their progress and their behavior. Another suggestion is to have the students to write down questions they may have while the teacher is leading class discussion.

Zambo, Debby, (2008). Looking at ADHD Through Multiple Lenses: Identifying Girls with the Inattentive Type. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44, (1), 34-40.

Female students with ADHD often withdraw from school and themselves often due to the lack of early intervention. Zambo gives a case study on a female student with ADHD. Unlike the boys, she internalized her behaviors. She was unable to become accepted socially and teachers did not think she cared about school. It was not until the student was in high school that teachers recognized her as exhibiting symptoms of ADHD. Today, students with ADHD are inattentive, and exhibit hyperactivity and impulsivity. Students with ADHD often have concurrent learning disabilities and learning problems. Girls often become stressed, depressed, and exhibit anxiety. Because they internalize their behaviors, girls seem to daydream and be in their own fantasy world. Female students also seem to be socially withdrawn, exhibit low self-esteem/image, and are rejected by their peers. Furthermore, they often do not set goals, are not organized, and have difficulty planning and self-monitoring. Therefore, Zambo suggests that faculty, who recognize internalizing behaviors in girls, should examine the possibility of ADHD.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Emotionally Disturbed

Brenner, Gregory J., Nelson, J. Ron, Neill, Stern and Stage, Scott A., (2006). Interrelationships Among Language Skills, Externalizing Behavior, and Academic Fluency and their Impact on the Academic Skills of Students with ED. Journal of Emotional and Behavior Disorders, 14, (4), 209-214.

The researchers claim students with emotional disturbance are more likely to have deficits at the academic level than their peers. According to their work, the researchers show a link between children with emotional disturbance and language problems. Furthermore, the researchers have shown that externalized behaviors are directly related to academic achievement, but internalized behaviors are not. The researchers admit the study under represents the minority classes, and the sample of students assessed was relatively small. From their studies the researchers suggest that intervention strategies that focus on developing language for students with emotional disturbance. However, it should be noted that the above-mentioned intervention only addresses the students’ language difficulties, and does not suggest an intervention strategy to address the students’ externalized behavior.

Gresham, Frank M., (2005). Response to Intervention: An Alternative Means of Identifying Students as Emotionally Disturbed Education and Treatment of Children, 28, (4), 328-344.

Gresham states that children with emotional disturbance can be disruptive in the classroom. Unfortunately these students are often underserved in the school setting, which is often the result of the inability to properly identify students with emotional disturbance. Once emotional disturbance is suspected, issues often can be addressed during the response to intervention process. During RTI the following factors must be taking in consideration: severity of behavior, chronicity of behavior, generalizability of behavior change, treatment strength, treatment integrity, and treatment effectiveness. The RTI model requires that the changes in behavior must be reliable changes, which are to be measured by the absolute change index, reliable change index, percent nonoverlapping data points, percent change from baseline, and effect size estimates. These changes should address the social impact the behavior has on everyday life of the student. The researcher concludes if the behaviors do not adequately change, the student should be considered for special education services.

Levinson, Edward M., and Rudy, Heide L.. (2008). Best Practices in the Multidisciplinary Assessment of Emotional Disturbances: A Primer for Counselors. Journal of Counseling and Development, 86, (4) 494-504.

The researchers suggest the rules and regulations set up by the American School Counselor Association and No Child Left Behind has changed the role of school counselors without providing them with proper standards, guidelines, and training to work with children with emotional disturbances. The researchers suggest because the school-based counselors are only part of a multidisciplinary team needed to meet the mental health needs of students with emotional disturbance, the school-based counselors should work closely with the parents and community-based counselors. This is important because of the academic impact of emotional disturbance on students. Because of the lack of standards for identifying students with emotional disturbance, the researchers suggest a variety of assessments to be implemented by the counselor, such as empirically based assessments, standardized rating scales, interviews, direct observations, and functional behavior analysis. With the aid of the other members in the multidisciplinary team and the assessments, counselors will be more apt to provide appropriate services for the student with emotional disturbance.

Page, Patricia and Regan, Kelley (2008). “Character” Building: Using Literature to Connect with Youth. Reclaiming Children and Youth: The Journal of Strength-based Interventions, 16, (4), 37-43.

The researchers suggest literature can be used to help with the emotional, academic, and social skill development of students with emotional disturbance. The use of literature to help students obtain the coping skills needed when dealing difficult emotions can be an effective intervention strategy. The researchers suggest bibliotherapy should be used in conjunction with other positive behavioral programs. The Circle of Courage Model is suggested to be beneficial in the development of children with emotional difficulties. This model gives the students a sense of belonging, independence, generosity, and mastery. The researchers conclude the use of literature in this model allows students to align their own experiences with other human experiences. In this manner, the literature can be used as a powerful tool to help heal students with emotional problems and can provide positive experiences to the students’ lives.

Silver, Rawley, (2008). Identifying Children and Adolescents at Risk for Depression and/or Aggression. Online Submission.

The aggressive behavior of children with major depression plagues many schools throughout the United States. The researcher has proposed from six research studies that a stimulus-drawing assessment can help identify at risk students. In the first study there was a correlation between depression and negative responses on the Draw a Story task. The second study, which focused on incarcerated adolescents, showed that the respondents’ reactions to the drawings might not agree with the therapists’ findings. The third study found that both males and females responded similarly in their drawings. The fourth study showed that students who scored one point in Self Image and Emotional content were depressed. The fifth study showed little cultural differences between delinquent and non-delinquent adolescents. The final study showed that art therapy does help with the emotional behavior of children with emotional problems. All six studies seem to show that stimulus drawing assessments can be used to determine students who are at risk for emotional disturbance.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Speech Language Impairment

Bishop, D. V. M., Chipchase, Barry, Kaplan, Carole, Snowling, Margaret J., and Stothard, Susan E. (2006). Psychosocial Outcomes At 15 Years of Children With A Preeschool History of Speech-language Impairment. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 47, (8), 759-765.

The researchers claim that from various studies done on children with speech language impairments, there is an increased risk of psychological disorders. This study was designed to determine the affects of early intervention on the psychological development of adolescents with speech language impairments. The sample pulled seventy-one of eighty-seven students with speech language impairments from a previous study done at the pre-school level. These adolescents were put through psychiatric and cognitive evaluations. The overall prognoses is that children with speech language impairments in the pre-school years do not necessarily show a significant difference in psychological development. However, the study does show that the children that continue to have difficulty with speech and language throughout the elementary and middle school levels do show an increase in psychosocial disorders.

Brown, Barbara., Camarata, Mary N., Camarata, Stephen M., Leonard, Laurence B., and Pawlowska, Monica. (2008). The Acquisition of Tense and Agreement Morphemes by Children With Specific Language Impairment During Intervention: Phase 3. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 51, (1) 120-125.

The researchers’ investigation proved that children with speech language impairments showed improvements on target morphemes that mark tense and agreement after a one-month period. Although they did show gains, many of the subjects did not reach mastery levels during the study. The suggestions for the failure to reach mastery levels are that the intervention strategy was not designed well or the subjects in the study were too young. One month after the study was over, the improvements were maintained. The sample of children used in the study was small, thirty-three, and the ages were from three years to four years eight months. The treatment conditions stressed third person singular, auxiliaries, and general language stimulation. The children in the general language stimulation group did not show remarkable improvement, though they, too, showed gradual improvement.

Gillam, Ronald B., & Gillam, Sandra L. (2006). Making Evidence-Based Decisions About Child Language Intervention In Schools. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services In Schools, 37, (4), 304-315.

The researchers suggest speech language pathologist should move from basing their clinical decisions on child language interventions in schools on the information they were give in their graduate programs to basing the decisions on evidence-based practices. In order to make decisions, the speech language pathologist needs to stay informed on research discoveries. The researchers suggest a seven-step process: one – create a general or specific clinical question to ensure relevant evidence is collected, two – find external evidence that pertains to the question to find studies that answer the question, three – determine the level of evidence and critically evaluate the study to ensure their decision is based on the best evidence available, four – evaluate the internal evidence related to the student-parent factors for a weighing system that best fits the student, five – evaluate the internal evidence related to clinician-agency factors for a system that best fits the setting they work in, six – make a decision by integrating the evidence to avoid conflict between the interested parties, and seven – evaluate the outcomes of their decision to ensure the implemented program is effective. The researchers provide an example of these seven steps and feel SLPs who use recent research will be the best equipped to help their students.

Gillon, Gail T. (2005). Phonological Awareness: Evidence To Influence Assessment and Intervention Practices. Language, Speech, & Hearing Services In Schools, 36, (4), 281-284.

According to Gillon’s research, improvement in spoken language only in children with speech language impairments does not prove success in treatment of the children. To be successful, children with speech language impairments must also show improvement in written language. Gillon suggests the use of phonological awareness based programs to increase overall improvement with children with speech language impairments as assessment and intervention practices. These practices will address reading and spelling difficulties, which have been linked to poor phonological representations of words. Gillon’s claim is based on scientific research presented in a forum involving New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

McCabe, Paul C., Meller, Paul J. (2004). The Relationship Between Language and Social Competence: How Language Impairment Affects Social Growth. Psychology In The Schools, 41, (3), 313-321.

Because social success depends greatly on language, the researchers of this study suggest children with speech language impairments often seem socially incompetent. Because language development is often an interaction between peers, children with speech language impairments often do not receive the feedback needed for language development. This leads to the child’s difficulty in forming peer bonds. In turn, the inability of these children to interact properly on an emotional level may lead to the lack of emotional knowledge, or gauging the emotions of others, which may cause a lack of acceptance from their peers. The researchers sampled thirty-five children from three years ten months to five years seven months in age to prove how socially competent the children with speech language impairments. Through various testing methods the researchers gained an understanding that children with speech language impairments may have difficulty developing socially competent behaviors.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Learning Disabilities

Anderson, Peggy L., & Corbett, LeAnn. (2008). Literature Circles for Students With Learning Disabilities. Intervention in School & Clinic, 44, (1), 25-33.

From their research, the authors have learned though teachers in general education classrooms have recognize the benefits of using literature circles in the classroom, teachers in the special education classroom are less likely to use the strategy. Research shows literature circles increase oral language, reading, and writing skills. When literature circles are used students with learning disabilities are actively involved in their own learning. The authors explain what literature circles are, how they work, teacher involvement, and student involvement. They feel that the student with learning disabilities develop many important skills for further reading development such as accountability, critical thinking, and organization.

Boyle, Joseph R., (2008). Reading Strategies for Students With Mild Disabilities. Intervention in School & Clinic, 44, (1), 3-9.

Through his research, Joseph Boyle points out that most students with disabilities show poor performance on phonological tasks, which predict the success of reading fluency. His article reminds teachers that phonological awareness activities, sight words, and connected reading must be presented before, during, and after reading to ensure success. The author suggests that direct instruction may be useful for the student if the teacher correctly models the skill or strategy. Boyle also gives proven techniques and strategies for word identification to be used at different reading stages. He explains the importance of phonological awareness, syllabication, structural analysis, and the DISSECT strategy to develop fluency for students with disabilities.

Finstein, Rita F., Jones, Rachelle, & Yang, Fei Yao, (2007). 20 Ways To… Build Organizational Skills in Students With Learning Disabilities. Intervention in School & Clinic, 42, (3), 174-178.

The authors stress the need of direct instruction for the development of organizational skills for students with learning disabilities. They suggest the development of organizational skills can lead to the emotional well being of the child. The authors walk both educators and parents through the twenty steps: in the child, working with one another, posting information, using checklists, using a calendar, agenda, and planner, pairing with other students, using scripts, post reminders, keep everything in its place, determining what is needed for classes, establish routines, well organized notebook, reminder bracelets, titling assignments, guided practice, open communication between student and teacher, mentoring programs, and IEP goals that address organization. The authors believe if all of these steps are properly implemented, then the student will become more organized. This will lead to the improvement of overall success with the student with learning disabilities.

Martin, Don, Martin, Magy, & Carvalho, Kathleen. (2008). Reading and Learning-Disabled Children: Understanding the Problem. The Clearing House, 81, (3), 113-117.

The authors suggest that the majority of students with learning disabilities have developmental delays in reading, and there is not enough research on effective reading programs to address the problem. They suggest the implementation of both phonemic and whole-language instruction to teach students decoding skills, fluency, and comprehension. Because each student has specific needs, the instruction must address these needs to be effective. Their research shows a direct correlation between poor readers at both elementary and secondary levels. The authors suggests that because reading affects all subject areas, students with learning disabilities often associate negativity with reading, which further hinders the fostering of positive reading skills and behaviors. Their research has also shown that students with learning disabilities often have difficulties with both sequencing and processing. The authors suggest various instructional approaches for the student with learning disabilities to alleviate shame, frustration, and embarrassment, which can lead to academic success.

Steele, Marcee M. (2008). Helping Students with Learning Disabilities Succeed. The Science Teacher, 75, 38-42.

From her research, the author states that many students with learning disabilities take general education science classes, but have difficulty succeeding in the classes or passing the testing required by No Child Left Behind. Various processing disorders cause difficulties with science tasks especially those, which involve higher-order tasks. The authors feel that classroom modifications can be made to assist students with learning disabilities in their success in the science classroom. The author includes various researched and proven modifications, such as, lectures and class time, textbook readings, and homework assignments to help the student to help them focus on learning the material. This will help build a foundation that can carry the student through high stakes testing and improving their overall performance.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Devon: Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Personal Reaction

I have never fully understood oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Until I saw this video, I believed that people with ODD choose to act the way the do. I never before believed that people could not control their actions. However, after listening to Devon, I have come to realize that the control does not come easily to everyone. Some people have to be taught anger management techniques and other behavioral management skills so they can control their disorder. I am able to see that Devon shows remorse when he has lost control. In comparison to Ashley, he does seem to fully understand the implications of his actions and does care how his disorder affects how others view him.

Essential Points

Characteristics of ODD. Devon states that he swears too much and gets in fights at school. Devon argues with his parents and has to take medication to help him control his anger. Devon states that he does not think when he fights, he just reacts. Once he becomes angry, he pushes anything that gets in his way. He said it was like he could not control his arms and legs and they react in a way that he did not want. It has taken three teachers to hold Devon down when he is angry. He states that he does not become afraid when he is restrained and often has to be out of the sight of the person who has angered him in order to regain control. Devon knows that kids fear him and that brings him down.

Impact of ODD on Education. Devon has been expelled from his school. He is no longer able to attend the private school that he loves. He states that he misses his old teachers and his friends. Devon often reacts negatively when he is playing sports. He feels that teachers could be more helpful by providing warnings and giving him time and space for regrouping. He feels that teachers who argue with him push the issue too much and cause the problems to worsen. Devon worries about his grades and is afraid his mood disorder will prevent him from playing college basketball and being a NBA basketball star. Other students at school fear Devon, and he has very few friends.

Positive Impacts of Therapy. Devon states that he is now beginning to understand his disorder. In counseling, he is being taught behavior management skills as well as anger management techniques. Devon knows that he has choices when he is angered and knows that he should walk away when confronted. Though Devon still engages in fighting, he is able to calm down once he is pulled off of other kids and teachers. Devon does say that counseling has taught him to calm his anger by counting to ten, thinking of something else to do, or thinking happy thoughts. Sometimes Devon is able to stop his rage when prompted to stop. He does not like getting into fights and tries to forget about them, but counseling helps him to own up to his behavior, as well as helping him to get things off of his chest. Devon knows if he could control his anger, school would be much better and he would not be grounded as much.

Application of the Essential Points

I feel this video helped me to understand oppositional defiant disorder to an extent. I will probably teach students that have anger issues in my classroom to use the anger management tools taught to Devon. I would also be sure to give space to students once I realize that an outburst is about to happen. I will not push students who are being defiant and will give them space to regroup.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How to Read Websites Regarding Disability Categories (Examples)

Emotional Disturbance

How do the authors of the website create a sense of authority within the website?

The name of the website, the Doctor’s Guide to Medical and Other News, gives it a sense of authority as well as the use of credible sources.

Four points described that I was drawn to:

  1. I was drawn to the title of the article.
  2. I was also drawn to the fact that the report was done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  3. I was drawn to the fact they used quotes from the CEO of the National Mental Health Association, Michael Faenza.
  4. I was also drawn to the fact the article made bold claims, which were backed up by statistics from the study.

Four points described that indicate I should be cautious about:

  1. One of the things that made me a bit cautious was that all dot com websites are suspect because they are commercial sites.
  2. Another issue that was suspect was that the study only included 8 community-based studies, but the size of and type of community is not disclosed in the article.
  3. I was also suspicious about the fact that the sample size was not given; therefore, the results may be skewed.
  4. Another issue that was suspect to me was that there is a solution to the problem given, but the problem is not thoroughly discussed.

Speech Impairment

How do the authors of the website create a sense of authority within the website?

The authors of the website are employs of the Voice of America news group. The authors of the article use trigger words to gain a sense of authority. They do not successfully support their claim because the information included in the article contradicts itself.

Four points described that I was drawn to:

  1. The first statement in the article grabbed my attention because the authors started the article with “Researchers have identified.”
  2. Later, they keep my attention by restating the claim as “Scientists have identified.”
  3. The study identified in the article came from the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics at Oxford University.
  4. The findings of the study were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Four points described that indicate I should be cautious about:

  1. The study was only done on 184 families; therefore, the sample size was relatively small.
  2. A researcher at Rutgers University in New Jersey is concerned about the findings of the study.
  3. The same researcher believes that more research is needed.
  4. The study was not initially done to specifically prove that CNTNAP2 is linked to speech impairments.

Mild Mental Retardation

How do the authors of the website create a sense of authority within the website?

From the URL given, the website gives a sense of authority. The authors also lay the site out to where it looks like a professional website.

Four points described that I was drawn to:

  1. The top of the page grabbed my attention because it says the site is a Free Health Encyclopedia.
  2. The site mentions the rating scales often used to determine intellectual disabilities.
  3. The site uses a picture of and description of brothers that have mental retardation.
  4. The site has links to the American Association on Mental Retardation, and The Arc of the United States.

Four points described that indicate I should be cautious about:

  1. Although the site uses AAMR as a source, the definition is not the official definition of mental retardation.
  2. The descriptions of the levels of mental retardation do not mention the standard deviation.
  3. The authors give a lot of information as fact, but they do not cite the facts or statistics.
  4. Some of the information on the site can be misleading, such as an entire section devoted to putting the blame on the mother of the child.

Other Health Impairments

How do the authors of the website create a sense of authority within the website?

The name of the website, Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. gives the website a sense of authority.

Four points described that I was drawn to:

  1. The way the information was written made the site easy to understand.
  2. The site gives several statistics.
  3. The site has good links.
  4. The site helps to bring minimal awareness about the needs of children with OHI in the educational setting.

Four points described that indicate I should be cautious about:

  1. Although the site gives good statistics, it doe not mention where the statistics come from.
  2. There is no scientific based evidence mentioned to support the information given, and without scientific based evidence, the information may be biased or skewed.
  3. Although there are links to IDEA and Section 504, it is not mentioned in the article. Therefore, parents who see this website may not understand the process to which they can gain services for their child.
  4. There are very few specific details on disabilities, and what disabilities that are discussed are not thoroughly explained and discussed.

Learning Disabilities

How do the authors of the website create a sense of authority within the website?

The website looks very professional and the fact that the site is titled family education gives it a sense of authority.

Four points described that I was drawn to:

  1. There are good links on the site.
  2. There are good stats and citations in the links.
  3. The quizzes are easy to use.
  4. The site is part of Pearson Education, Inc.

Four points described that indicate I should be cautious about:

  1. Self-diagnosis and online diagnosis is dangerous.
  2. The site is a dot com site which is a commercial site, which takes away from the credibility of the authors.
  3. The quizzes rely on at home behavior.
  4. The quizzes also rely on parent’s input, which may be biased or skewed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Educating Peter

This video was made not to take sides with the controversy between integration of children with disabilities into regular education, but to give us some insight into the world of one little boy. It was made to help the general public understand what integration of children with disabilities means to everyone affected by such integration.

Major Points

Everyone, including the teacher, is afraid of Peter. As the film begins, we see how everyone’s attitudes toward Peter are more or less negative. Though the teacher clearly states that her role as a teacher is to educate every student in her classroom, she states that she is worried that something will go wrong. She stated that she must be vigilantly on guard in regard to Peter and the other students. She also states that she is frightened that something will happen when she is not there. The other children state that they are frightened of Peter. It seems to me that no one stopped to think how Peter must feel to be in an environment that he does not quite understand.

Peter’s behavior is a major issue throughout the film. As with many students with disabilities, Peter tends to act up more that the other kids. His behavior is inconsistent and unpredictable. In the beginning Peter is very aggressive. Peter kicks, hits, chokes, pushes, tackles, and bangs other students’ heads together. The teacher decided it was time to give the children a more active role in the classroom. She had the other students get involved in the “peer planning” process of the classroom. They asked the children if they knew why Peter acted up in the classroom. She asked for suggestions from the classroom on how to redirect Peter’s behavior. She taught them what they can and cannot do to help Peter. One of the things pointed out was that the children should not give Peter attention for negative behavior, but should give him attention for positive behavior. The teacher took a more active approach toward Peter’s behavior as well. First she gives him tangible consequences for his behavior. She gives him the choice to either talk to her now about his behavior, or to speak with her during recess about his behavior. Then, she asks him what he did wrong and relates the problem to him directly. She asks Peter if he would he like being treated the way he treats the other students? She then has him apologize for his behavior.

The other students’ attitudes toward Peter are a major point. They admitted that they stared because he does not look like any of them. They do not know what to think of Peter because he makes loud noises. One little boy wonders why Peter is even there. He says that Peter will probably not learn anything. In the beginning, before the peer planning, the other children would shove back. However, they learned how to deal with Peter without using force. This caused his outbursts to be less and less frequent. Later in the video the students in the classroom state that they enjoy having Peter around. One little boy thought that he would not like Peter in the beginning, but ended up considering Peter one of his best friends. The overall attitude toward Peter in the end was best summed up by a little freckle-faced girl, “He changed because we changed. He changed because we changed our minds about him. He changed because we helped him.”

Peter’s self image is an issue in the film. Peter’s mother said that Peter comes home from school and is very happy. He is also tired, but he is still happy that he is given the opportunity to go to school. He has less and less outbursts throughout the year, which leads me to believe that he is no longer frustrated about the classroom. He feels comfortable and is made to feel comfortable in the classroom. He realizes that it is just not Peter, but he is part of something bigger. This does not mean that Peter does not continue to get frustrated. When working on his own, Peter feels bad about himself because he does realize that he is not able to do the same things that the other children are doing. He complains, “I’m stupid.” The teacher responds, “No you’re not.” Again, Peter says, “I’m stupid.” Then the teacher states, “You are not, you are a smart little boy.”

In the end, everyone felt they benefited from having Peter integrated into the classroom. One girl in the classroom says that they may have taught him how to do things, but he taught them how to think more and react to other problems. The teacher stated that she would gladly teach Peter again, if given the opportunity. She changed her expectations from, “I don’t think you can do this” to “I expect you to do this because I know you can.” Peter benefited as well. He learned academics, social skills, and how to control his behavior. Peter made many great friends and the rest of the classroom gained one amazing friend.

Personal Reaction

This is my favorite video by far. Watching this movie was a rollercoaster ride. To start with I, of all people, thought maybe there should be a limit for what types of children are integrated into regular education classrooms. I was taken back. I did not think I would ever feel that way about this topic. Me of all people, I have an uncle who is mentally retarded, and realize how unfair it was that he was always separated from the rest of the students. Me of all people, I have a son who I have fought all of his school years to keep him with his peers. I wonder if this was just my mothering response kicking in. I have been in a similar situation with Damien. At one point in his life he was extremely aggressive toward his little brother. When I caught him choking his little brother, and his little brother’s face turning blue, I wondered if Damien and Dylan would be better off if my husband and I separated residences taking only one to each home. I could not bear to do this and had to find another way to deal with the problem. From time to time, not very often, Damien is still aggressive toward Dylan, but Dylan knows how to handle the problem now. Peter, like Damien, just seemed so out of control and a danger to himself, and the other students. I understand that children like Peter, my uncle, and my son get frustrated so easily, but it seemed so unfair to the other students who were getting injured in the process. However, after the teacher implemented the peer planning process to the classroom, the out-of-control behavior began to subside. This made me cry because I thought I would be the last person to discriminate against anyone with a disability. I realize now that I am not perfect, and was too quick to judge Peter. I know that Peter was introduced to an entirely new environment that he had not been prepared for, and this must have been overwhelming and difficult for him. He did learn to adjust, which seemed to surprise everyone involved.


I will not be quick to judge a student with disabilities. I will make sure that the other children in the classroom understand why the student acts the way they do, and give them ideas on how to solve the problem without the use of force. I will also be more accepting to all students and make sure that I am patient with them.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Response To Intervention


This video was made to inform people of the difference between a child who may have a learning disability and a child that may be just a little behind. The videos approach was from an advocate’s standpoint. It focused on how important reading skills are, and how children who do not develop proper reading skills from an early age will remain to be behind throughout their education. The video explained the laws and how they affect those who are learning disabled.

Essential Points

I feel that importance of reading skills is a major point from the video. A child’s reading skills are very important. Children who do not develop effective reading skills by second grade may have difficulty reading throughout their education. This is why early intervention is so important to a child’s education. To teach children to read we must use the five building blocks of construction: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Children who fail to reach these goals may be learning disabled.

The ineffectiveness of the discrepancy model is another main point from the video. In the past, states used the discrepancy model to determine whether or not a child was learning disabled. This method was ineffective for a few reasons. First, the intelligence quotient tests that were given were culturally biased. Children of minority groups were usually labeled as mentally retarded, because they did not do well on the exams. Next, many children with high intelligence quotients may be learning disabled, but not recognized. Last, evaluation teams had to find a great discrepancy between intelligence and achievement in one of six areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation / reasoning. The ineffectiveness of discrepancy models has led to the banning of its use throughout the United States.

Another main point is how NCLB and IDEIA work together. In 2004, the United States Congress made a law that defined the criteria for determining the eligibility of children with learning disabilities. This was the first time he federal government mandated the criteria. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) work together to ensure that all children with learning disabilities receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The way that these laws are able to work together that they share several common elements. One element is accountability for all students. Each student will be tested, even children receiving special education, within their grade level. Another element is that highly qualified teachers will teach all students. This, too, includes students receiving special education services. Yet another element is the laws recognize that all children, even those with learning disabilities are capable of learning. Finally, another element of NCLB and IDEIA is making sure that all students achieve at their expected levels regardless of their race. In areas that the majority of the students are part of a minority group fifteen percent of the school’s budget must be filtered into early childhood intervention programs.

I also felt that determining learning disability eligibility was an important point in the video. Before educators can determine which student is classified as learning disabled. By law a child is considered to be learning disabled if he or she has a disorder that prohibits their use of language skills, audio processing skills, fine motor skills, and problem solving skills. This does not include children with “…visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, mental retardation, or emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage…,” or children who have not received a proper education. Instruction for children with learning disabilities must be based on the “…child’s response to scientific, research based interventions…,” or may use other “research based procedures” in order to discover what learning disability the child has. Once the learning disability has been discovered, the child’s special education and instruction can be planned and implemented. Children with learning disabilities must be assessed at least three times a year in order to see if the child is progressing.

The final main point is how Response To Intervention (RTI) works. Every child must receive a high quality classroom instruction. RTI assumes that all children are receiving at least ninety minutes of reading instruction, as well as ample math and science, and highly qualified teachers. The structure is differentiated in classroom to meet a broad range of needs and core reading programs are used. Children must receive universal screening to identify level of proficiency for student in both group and individual performance. Early intervention and research-based intervention should be used to make provisions early treatment strategies. Also the student should be monitored during interventions and instruction is to be fine-tuned based on student response to intervention in more substantial blocks of time. The schools must use the 3-tier model for those who are not progressing at an expected rate, before they are referred to special education. On the tier 1 level, the child gets four to six of intervention. If the child passes, they are reintegrated into the classroom. If the child fails, tier 2 is applied. On this level the child should get eight to ten weeks of intervention. If the child passes, they are reintegrated. If the child fails, the child enters tier 3, which is a referral to special education. At this level, additional testing may or may not be necessary.

Summary Reaction

I feel this video was helpful in teaching me more about learning disabilities. It made me realize how important early intervention is for a student, especially one who is considered learning disabled. The video also taught me how NCLB and IDEIA work with one another. I feel this is very important for any teacher to learn, because the laws have made it where special education is more of the general education teacher’s responsibility. I found it interesting that the video said that we should think of all children as general education first.


I will use what I learned from this video to help children who are disabled. I will also be able to use this information to help my son with his education. From this video, I have learned that I will have to make sure every student in my classroom receives a high quality education. I must understand that my lesson plans must be flexible in order to suit the needs for students with learning disabilities. It will be my responsibility to watch for inconsistencies in students’ progress and decide if a student may need intervention according to the three-tier model.