Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Including Students with Low Incident Disabilities in the Mainstream Academic Setting

Downing, June E.; and Peckham-Hardin, Kathryn D. (2007). Inclusive Education: What Makes It a Good Education for Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities?. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 32, 16-30.

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

Friedlander, Diana. (2009). Sam Comes to School: Including Students with Autism in Your Classroom. Clearing House, 82, 141-144.

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

Keane, Elaine.; and Roberts, Jacqueline. (2008). Making Inclusion Work. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 41.2, 22-27.

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

Pearson, Sue. (2007). Exploring Inclusive Education: Early Steps for Prospective Secondary School Teachers. British Journal of Special Education, 34.1, 25-32.

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

Schwarz, Patrick A. (2000). Special Education: A Service, Not a Sentence. Educational Leadership, 64.5, 39-42.

Patrick Schwarz is an associate professor and chair of the Diversity in Learning and Development Department of National-Louis University, Chicago. The author advocates that segregation of students with disabilities into a special education classroom is can be detrimental to the development of the students. The author feels that all students should be in an inclusive classroom setting. The author believes an inclusive classroom setting is the least restrictive environment for all students. However, the author does not take into consideration the impact of a student with special needs on the other students or the impact on students who are far behind their classmates. Some students may be disruptive or some students may not be able to keep up with the curriculum in the general education setting. The author offers a process developed by Udvari-Solner that takes into account the range of learners in a classroom and honors diversity to help with the unification of the inclusive classroom. The author concludes that the betterment of the students can be found in a fully inclusive environment.
“Don’t underestimate a person with autism. Try to understand them.”
~ Anonymous

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Review of “Beyond F.A.T. City”

Lavoie, R.  (Writer), Allen, D.; Vettel, N. (Producer). (2005). Beyond F.A.T. City. [Motion Picture]. United States: PBS Video.
The purpose of this video was to reinforce what the viewers of the F.A.T. city video and the participants of the F.A.T. City workshop learned. This video also served as a tool to teach about the changes in special education since the late 1980s. Although the first video was designed to “create sensitivity” and to “make teachers to want to know how to help these kids.”
It is important to know that children with learning disabilities need to be treated fairly. As Mr. Lavoie stated, “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” It may seem that children with learning disabilities get special treatment. However that is because children with learning disabilities need special treatment. Most often these children are asked to do schoolwork that they are not ready for. This leads to tension and conflict between remedial and compensatory education. In remedial education, the children work on and are taught skills that they do not have. In compensatory education, their work is modified to where they can understand it better. Both types of education are good, but they should work in tandem with one another. For instance, making modifications so the information is accessible to the student only treats a symptom of a bigger problem. With books on tape, the student may be listening to and understanding the tape; however, they still cannot read. Children with learning disabilities are not lazy they want to learn, but do not believe that they can do it; therefore, they give up.
As educators, it is important for us to remember several things about students with learning disabilities. You should never make assumptions about your students. They often get confused because they do not have any background information on the task that they are having difficulty with. Children with learning disabilities may seem that they have behavioral problems; however, they may just have a need for attention. If you feel that the child is acting up for attention, then give them the attention. Children with learning disabilities also have a hidden handicap. The rest of the world has great difficulty understanding that an attractive looking, well-groomed individual may have a learning disability. When an educator is dealing with an adolescent, adolescence is the most difficult time of these children’s for various reasons. First, as a teen, students are expected to succeed in several different areas. Second, this is the only time in a person’s life that “different=bad.” Third, this is the first time in life that people realize that they will never be much different than they are at this point in their lives.
Children with learning disabilities struggle in many areas that were not previously discussed. Due to research, more is known about learning disabilities than ever before. These children often have difficulty with social contracts. There is a direct correlation between the comprehension of reading and math skills and the comprehension of social skills. Their inability to develop social skills leaves the children with many social struggles such as isolation, rejection, and ridicule. Normally children with learning disabilities consider anyone who does not make fun of them their friends.  Another area children with learning disabilities struggle in is that of performance inconsistency. This means that they may be able to complete a task one day, but unable to complete the task the next. Kinetic melodies are usually not developed for children with learning disabilities. Although they are walked through a task every single day, it is like they are doing the task for the first time.
 “When elephants fight, it’s the grass that gets trampled” (African Proverb). As an educator, it is very important to remember families of children with learning disabilities are constantly in crisis mode. The disabilities affect everyone in the family, even the siblings. The parents of these children may agree on everything, but the child with learning disabilities. They may feel that it is them “against the world.” It is also important to change the multidisciplinary teams to trans disciplinary teams, where all points are taken into consideration and woven together. When addressing behavioral problems, it is important to remember that children with learning disabilities rarely respond to punishment, and they may not understand how their voices and body languages change the message of what is being said.
Each child with learning disabilities is different from the next; they are different from children without learning disabilities as well. Therefore, there are different approaches to teaching these children, as well as different ways to reach them. There are about 100 different symptoms to learning disabilities. One child can have anywhere from eight to twelve different symptoms. Not all children have the same cluster of learning disabilities; therefore, there is no set way to teach a child with learning disabilities. Though competition is often looked at a positive way to motivate children, it will not motivate a child with learning disabilities. After all, only children who believe that they have a chance of winning will compete. These children also need to believe that it is okay to take risks. Even if they do not succeed, it is okay, and we need to be sure to teach them this. It is important to recognize that these children are often the victims of bullies. Many children with learning disabilities have been picked on their entire lives. These children are normally happy children until they enter school. Once they enter school, their spirits are crushed. School is where children spend the most of their days.
I liked this video because it touched on ground that was not touched on in F.A.T. city did not touch. This was due to the first video being almost twenty years old. There has been a great deal of research on learning disabilities in the last couple of decades. Today, we know a lot more about children with learning disabilities. It was interesting to hear him speak of a technique that I use with my son. However, I never thought to use pictures to get him to clean his room. We use it for other routines, such as morning grooming routines, making toast, etc. I also noticed that the way that Lavoie spoke about children with learning disabilities in this video differed from the prior. Instead of calling the children learning disabled, he referred to them as children with learning disabilities. He also stressed that it is not “the child is a problem,” but it is “the child has a problem.”
This video will help me to better understand how to help these children. I always need to remember that I will never know what is like to be a person with a learning disability. I will never know the hardships and obstacles children with learning disabilities must overcome every day. However, I know I can relate to the parents of children with learning disabilities. I should also give them room and listen to them, because every learning disability is different. What may work for Damien may or may not work for another child with learning disabilities. These two videos have opened my eyes and given me more insight into the lives of people with learning disabilities.
Beyond F.A.T. City
Exec producer – Niki Vettel, Dennis Allen
Washington D.C. production
Boston, MA production
Director – Bob Comiskey
Date – 2005
Editor – Scot Broderic

“Autism is not something I have. It is integral to who I am. Eliminate the autism, and you eliminate me. When you say you want a cure, you are saying I should be put to death. Think about it."

~ Parrish S. Knight

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Review of “How Difficult Can This Be?” The F.A.T. City Workshop

Lavoie, R.  (Writer), Rosen, P. (Producer). (1989). How difficult can this be? The F.A.T. City
Workshop. [Motion Picture]. United States: PBS Video.

The purpose of this video was to teach people who often deal with children with learning disabilities what it feels like to be learning disabled. It also gave some insight into many misconceptions about learning disabilities.

Those with learning disabilities are not mentally retarded/impaired; emotionally disturbed, modality deficient, or those will little opportunity to learn. Learning disabilities are not just a “school problem.” They are struggles that affect every aspect of those with learning disabilities’ lives. These people deal with frustration, anxiety, and tension every single day. They are not out to mess up a teacher’s class, or to cause problems for their families at home.

Because children with learning disabilities have trouble processing information, the regular pace of a class may be too fast for them. When asked a question, immediately the mainstream children begin to process the answer; however, the child with a learning disability is still processing the question. The result from this the child may seem disruptive in the classroom. If you know that the child has difficulty processing the questions, try to work out a system that they may be comfortable with. If you call on the child, try to make sure that you are asking a question you are sure the child can answer.

Before discussing some of the basic types of learning disabilities, it is important to understand there is a difference between distractibility and short attention span. These problems are extreme opposites. A distracted child pays attention to everything and cannot focus anything out. They often have too much stimuli to concentrate. A child with a short, little, or no attention span pay attention to nothing. Many children with learning disabilities have problems with visual perception, as well. They can see what they are looking at, but cannot bring meaning to it. As a result the child needs direct instruction from a trained, experienced teacher. Similarly, children with auditory and visual capability difficulties often need to hear the instructions instead of reading them or vice versa. There are also disabilities that cause reading to be difficult. Children with visual learning disabilities may confuse letters like p d b q for one another. All four letters contain the same strokes, but are spatially oriented differently. Problems with spatial orientation can cause great confusion for the child. Many children with learning disabilities also have trouble with reading comprehension. Most reading comprehension is taught by vocabulary. It is important to know that reading comprehension has less to do with vocabulary knowledge, and more to do with the person’s background. Many people with learning disabilities may have difficulty with eye-hand coordination. Because there is a problem with the processing of the information in the child’s brain, the child may be getting mixed messages from their brain. Difficulty with the storage/retrieval process causes dysnomia for everyone about two to three times a day. This is what many of us know as the “tip of the tongue” syndrome. Children with learning disabilities can experience this problem hundreds of times a day. For them speaking and/or listening are cognitive tasks (only one can be performed at a time) not associative tasks (many can be performed at a time).

There are several effects of learning disabilities. They cause can anxiety, frustration, and tension, all of which affects performance. Therefore, those with learning disabilities are often unable to get the correct answers. When we begin to accept the answer, “I don’t know” from these children, we are setting the child up to give up. They begin to hide and believe, “If I can’t see the teacher, the teacher can’t see me.” As humans, it is natural for us to look away from stimuli that cause anxiety. Most often, children with learning disabilities will not volunteer to answer questions. This is a learned behavior, which is not the result of the fact they do not like surprises. If they get no recognition or positive reinforcement when they do something correct, they will not be willing to take the risk. Another problem that arises with children with learning disabilities is how their perceptual problems can affect their behavior. Children with perceptual problems may get in trouble in school and actually not know what they got in trouble for. This is due to their inability to see things the same way people without perceptual problems do. Furthermore, children with eye-hand coordination problems normally have great difficulty writing, and writing for them takes a lot of energy.

When considering fairness, it is important to remember Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development. Children learn more from what they see than what they do, and morals do develop. If we tell a child with a learning disability that we want them to behave in a certain way, we must make sure that we model the same behavior that we wish them imitate. It is also important to remember when considering fairness, everyone must get what they need. What everyone needs is not always the same thing. A teacher or parent should never think that being fair to the child that has a learning disablity is not fair to the other children. It is not about the others; it is about the child with learning disabilities.

This video helped me to learn what it is like to have a learning disability. When the presenter showed the pictures of the woman and the cow, I did not see either one of them. With the cow picture, I saw a man’s face in the top right hand corner, and a man with a heavy coat on and his back turned to the camera in the lower left had corner. In the picture “Vanity,” I saw a skull too. This literally opened my eyes to the effects of difficulties with visual perception. Earlier in the video, I had trouble thinking of answers when the presenter kept asking questions at a fast pace. I could not keep up and got frustrated. I feel it is a very good video not only for future educators, but also for future parents.

I can use the information I learned from the video in both the classroom and at home. First, I need to remember that a child with a learning disability has to deal with the difficulties he has day in and day out every, single day. I need to remember that the “greatest gift” I can give a child with learning disabilities is time. For instance, a demand question/answer session with a child with learning disabilities can be frustrating, and often causes a great deal of anxiety and tension. I need to remember to give the child an ample amount of time to answer the question. Or work out a system for the child to help them know when they are going to be prompted for an answer. I need to remember that these children often do not understand what they have done wrong if they have perceptual difficulties. I also need to make sure that I do not react with children with these difficulties in the following ways: tell them to look harder, bribe them to get an answer, threaten them by telling them that I will take privileges away, and never blame the student for their behavior by telling them they are not trying hard enough. I should never put a child with learning disabilities under pressure because it does not help. I should not tell them that the task they are struggling with is easy or ask them rhetorical questions. I should try to combine my lesson plans with both written and visual aids and directions so that all of my students will be able to understand.
“Autism never sleeps, so mummy is cranky, and I think she needs a nap.”
~ Anonymous

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It’s So Much Work To Be Your Friend

1. What was the purpose of the video?

The purpose of “It’s So Much Work To Be Your Friend” is to bring awareness to parents and educators of how much more important social connections are to the future happiness of special needs children than education.

2. List and describe five (5) major points from the video:

Children with special needs are less likely to have meaningful relationships with their peers. For many this problem stems from their inability to act appropriately in public. Not being able to appropriately act in public is closely tied to the inability to solve social problems, and it can cause the child to be isolated and rejected by their peers. Furthermore, children with special needs may over react to minor social problems. Without peers and appropriate public behavior, children with special needs are less likely to be asked to join activities that other children may.

The social problems children with special needs have may be due to their inability to understand timing and staging, affective match, social memory, social prediction, and social relevance. Many have problems with timing and staging. This means they do not understand that making friends is a process, and it takes a lot of time to make a friend. They often tend to rush relationships with their peers, which tend to push their peers away. Another way children with special needs push peers away, is many of them do not know how to match their emotions with the situation around them. When a child laughs or smiles when the situation does not call for such emotions, the child’s peers may feel the child is awkward. Matching emotions is closely tied to not being able to predict how their own behavior affects the people around them. Also, many of these children often do not remember people’s likes and dislikes, which may cause them to offend people. Another way children with special needs may offend others is many of them often do not understand social relevance. For instance, when most people walk into a room they have not been in before, they observe the room to gain an understanding of the people, place, and purpose of the room. Many children with special needs may not understand the social situation. In other words, they will treat an arcade the same as they would a classroom.

Part of the reason that children with learning disabilities doe not understand social situations is due to their inability to understand paralinguistics. Only about seven percent of communication is done through verbal language, and the other ninety-three percent is done through non-verbal language. For the majority of the population, we understand the non-verbal language therefore our mental stability is not questioned.

Unfortunately, children with special needs’ mental stability is often called in question, because they do not understand one or all four of the areas of non-verbal language, kinesics, proxemics, vocalics, and artifactual systems. Kinesics is how we use our bodies to communicate; it is the gestures that we may use to get our point across. Many children with special needs cannot pick up on these gestures. Therefore, they do not understand when a person has their hands on their hips that they are serious or may be angry. If the children do not understand proxemics, they do not understand how the use of space communicates to people. This problem may vary from culture to culture, because proxemics varies from culture to culture. For most people in the United States, there are four types of space: public, social, personal, and intimate. However, for children with special needs, they may inappropriately utilize proxemics. Often, they may inappropriately encroach on another’s social and personal space. This can cause major problems for children with special needs. For instance these children are more vulnerable to molestation and to become molesters. Another significant problem to children with special needs is they may not understand vocalics, which is how the tone of voice changes what we say. The problems that may arise is punishment for the way they say things, or punishment because they do not understand the emotion behind what other people say. Similarly, children with special needs do not understand what artifactual systems, or the way we dress, say about a person. Unfortunately, they may inappropriately dress for the weather, occasion, comfort, activity, style, age, or gender.

The most powerful part of this video is explaining how important reputations are to all people. Unfortunately, since many of the children with special needs are raised with their classmates, their reputations are often ruined by the time they leave elementary school. The children with learning disabilities that have problems with timing and staging as well as paralinguistics will have difficulty with social contracts, or their social expectations. This turns into destruction of the child’s reputation. Because reputations are permanent, other children may not want to be friends with children with special needs. Lavoie suggests that teachers intervene by rewarding the class for what the child with a learning disability does well, rather than punishing the class for the mistakes the child has made. Changing the way the child with special needs is treated by the teacher can change the dynamic of the classroom and possibly begin to repair the child’s reputation.

The best gift we, as educators and parents of children with special needs, can give the children is the gift of social competence. First, the child with special needs should be taught how to determine who their friends are. The child needs to be encouraged to seek out hobbies that will put them in social situations. The child needs to be taught social information, such as how to act in a line, or what certain symbols mean. We need to learn how to talk to the child with special needs. When a child says something about the way they feel reflect that emotion back to them so they understand ‘I felt like I wanted to hit someone’ means ‘oh, you were mad.’ When the child makes social mistakes, we need to work on only one problem at a time. Do not correct every mistake they make, but correct only one mistake at a time. We should give them a friendship test so they understand that ‘friend’ does not mean, ‘someone who does not pick on me.’ From social competence, children with special needs can develop social skills, which can prevent them from being shunned by other children.

3. Summary reaction: What were your thoughts and feelings regarding the video?

I enjoyed watching this video because it brought me a better understanding of how important social skills are to children with special needs. As a mother of a child with special needs, I know how important it is for educators to understand the stress the families of these children as well as the children themselves are always under. In this video, Lavoie brought these issues out into to the open. As a future educator, this video has brought me to a better understanding of how important the social skills are for children with special needs. I feel the video is the perfect tool for teachers to help them understand how they treat the class because of the child with special needs can permanently effect and damage the reputation of children with special needs.

4. Application. How will you apply the information you learned to your classroom and other areas of your life?

Before watching this video, I never thought of classmates as family. Now, I do. I like Lavoie’s idea on rewarding the class for what the child with special needs does well instead of punishing the class for the mistakes the child with special needs makes. I like the idea that by doing this a teacher can help to repair the reputation of the child with special needs. This reward system is something I will consider to use in my classroom.

More personally, I also realize how important those social relationships are for children. I have always thought that Damien is perfectly happy being alone, because he says he prefers to be alone. Therefore, I rarely have pushed him to make friends with other children. After watching this video, I talked to some friends of mine, whose children have autism. We all like the idea of using bowling as a way to give our children something they can excel at, as well as using it as a method to make new friends. One of the physical therapists at West Texas Rehab overheard us talking about it and decided she would join our bowling group, so that she can show the children how to bowl. I hope bowling is something that will help build Damien’s confidence and develop his social skills.
“People don’t always need advice. Sometimes all they need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart to understand them."
~ Anonymous

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sara: Mood Disorder

Personal Reaction

Sara’s story almost made me cry. I felt sad that she had been taken from her home at such a young age and then taken from the structured environment in which she was thriving to live with her father. I was a bit surprised to learn that she had been experiencing bouts of depressions since the age of seven.

Essential Points

Contributing Factors. Sara was taken from her mom at a young age because child protective services felt that her mother was unfit to care for a child. Sara lived with a foster family for four years and visited her mother on a weekly basis. Sara was about to be adopted by the foster family when her biological father was found. She was sent to live with him and her grandmother. Sara states that she missed her mother and had difficulties bonding with her father. He neglected both her and her half-sister and was put into her grandmother’s custody. Afterwards Sara was a victim of physical abuse. Sara is now living with another family (I am assuming it is a foster family), and she feels as if she is a burden on them.

What Is a Mood Disorder? Sara feels abandoned and alone. She isolates herself from people when she is down. Sara states that she often hides from people because she fears abuse. Sara had begun to cut herself because she feels like there is no way of getting out. She says that she keeps her emotions bottled up inside her; and when she cuts, she is able to calm down so she can sleep. Sara explains her mood disorder as feeling like knots inside her chest and stomach. Because of the mood disorder, Sara does not recall any pain from the cutting. She states that she had disassociated herself from the pain and the actual act of cutting. Sara stated that she did not remember cutting herself, but knew that she had done it. Though Sara no longer cuts, she says the thought of cutting is always in the back of her mind. Sara often feels as if she has no place or purpose in the world, she feels hopeless, she cannot trust people, and she has only been put on the earth to be hurt by people. After hospitalization, Sara is still unable to sleep and fights with her friends a lot. Sara often cries herself to sleep, does not eat, isolates herself, and argues with teachers. Sara gets depressed anytime she is reminded of her past or that she is alone in the world. Most holidays cause bouts of depression in Sara.

Affects of a Mood Disorder on Education. Sara has difficulty in school because she often feels the need to isolate herself in order to gain control over her moods. Because she does not have anywhere to go to regain control, Sara becomes easily frustrated and argues with and swears at teachers. When Sara is down, she silently refuses to do her work and falls to sleep in class. Sara admits that her depression causes frustration, which, in turn, causes irritability. Because of Sara’s trust issues, she has difficulty reaching out to people. Therefore, she may not approach faculty with any problems she may be having. Sara does feel that school is safe haven, and it is her favorite place to be. Sara is unsure about the future and scared about graduating from high school and going to college.

Application of the Essential Points

If Sara was one of my students, I would come to her if I noticed she was irritable. I would help her figure out a safe place that she could go so she could regain control. Because Sara has trust issues, I would try to reach out to her without causing more stress or making her feel I was being pushy. I would see what kind of transitional supports I could help Sara put into place so she is more prepared for her future. I would also reassure Sara about her future and let her know that the school she chooses to go to does have supports in place for students who have mood disorders. I would talk to the counselor to see what we could do for Sara before she leaves high school to ensure a smoother transition for her.
“Autism (with a capital “A”) to me, says that I accept my child wholly. I celebrate his differences and his quirky-ness. I advocate diversity. I try to empower him. I am proud of his successes, no matter how small they seem. I hope he holds onto the compassion he has in his heart into adulthood. I do not think he needs “fixing”. I am proud that he is my son, and sometimes I am humbled by that very same thought.”
~ Anonymous

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ashley: Conduct Disorder

Personal Reaction

I think that this video was showed a classic example of conduct disorder. I really felt bad for Ashley because it seems that she just does not know any better. Her two older brothers have been in trouble with the law, which has caused Ashley to believe there is nothing wrong with being a criminal. Ashley also talked about her parents’ homes as Dad’s house and Mom’s house. Ashley’s home life has been so unstable that she does not act as if she has a home to call her own. I do have a problem with Ashley’s school situation. Apparently someone has told her that she is in the behavioral disorder classroom because she is a bad kid. It does not seem that her school is taking the time out to teach her behavioral management skills or coping skills. She acts as if the teachers at school do not care for her at all.

Essential Points

How a Conduct Disorder Looks. Ashley does not act as if she cares for anything or anyone but her mother, father, and little brother with Down Syndrome. Ashley knows that her behavior will have some serious implications on her future, but cannot clearly define a need to alter such negative behaviors. Ashley is said to have oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but refuses to take her medication because she does not like how they make her feel. Ashley obviously has anger issues because she states that she likes to anger with people because it is fun. She purposely picks on kids that do better than her in school and do the right thing. Ashley is selective about who she chooses to treat in a disrespectful manner; she will not pick on anyone who is slow because she knows how it makes her brother feel when others pick on him. Ashley states that arguing and fighting keeps her from feeling bored. Ashley has control issues and becomes angry if she is not allowed to control situations and people. Ashley admits that she can control her behavior if she wants to, but she doesn’t want to so her behavior gets out of hand. Ashley drinks and smokes at thirteen years of age. When beating up people, Ashley states she knows when it is getting out of hand and will stop to keep from hurting people. Though she has beat up other students, Ashley does not believe she has ever hurt anyone. Ashley says it is “kind of fun” having oppositional defiant disorder, because it lets her argue and gets her in trouble. Ashley has been arrested, is a risk taker, and believes she should “stand up to everything.” Ashley says she could care less if she gets arrested. When Ashley is acting unruly she does not think about the negative consequences of her behavior until she gets in trouble.

Affects of Conduct Disorder on Education. Ashley does not go to school because she has been expelled for fighting. She says that she wishes she were a “goody two shoes,” so that she could do her homework, do good in school, not fail, and stay out of behavior disorder classes that are for bad kids. Ashley starts arguments with teachers because she becomes bored and wants to have fun. She does not like being out of school because she misses her friends and is very bored at home. Ashley states that she wants to be able to go back to school and be a good kid so that she can graduate and go to college. Ashley states that she does wants to be a pediatrician or a veterinarian. Ashley does not believe that anyone can do anything to help her and that no advice from counselors has been helpful. Ashley is most likely far behind her classmates in school.

Social Implications. Ashley does not seem to have a close relationship with her brothers. Ashley acts as if she is angry with her two older brothers. She states that it is their own fault for ending up in jail. However, she is close to her brother with Down syndrome. Ashley states that she defies her parents’ rules and feels bad when she upsets them. She, however, shows little remorse for hurting others. Ashley does state that she has friends in school and she misses them very much. Ashley is defiant to all authority figures in her life. She states that her six counselors are useless and she never listens to a word they say. Similarly, Ashley ended up arguing with the police officer who came to question her about the windows she broke in the building next door to her home. The argument was the reason for Ashley’s arrest. As noted before, Ashley does not show respect to her teachers at school. Not only has she argued with them, it came out in the session that Ashley had hurt one in the fight that got her expelled from school. Ashley has inappropriate peer relationships, due to being placed in a classroom with only students with behavioral problems.

Application of the Essential Points

I feel this video will help me to understand how much of a difference teachers can make in a student’s life. Students like Ashley need, more than any other student, to have someone who really believes in them. If students with ODD/ADHD combination feel like no one cares and everyone has given up on them, then they will act out. Therefore, I hope I can be that one teacher that believes in them. I know that having students like Ashley in the classroom is going to be a challenge and hope that I will be able to be a positive role model in their lives. What I learned most from this video is to not argue with a student in the classroom. If I am having a problem with students like Ashley, hopefully I will be able implement the strategies suggested by Geoff Colvin in his video.
“When life gives you lemons, make grape juice, and watch the world wonder how you did it.”
~ Anonymous

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chandra: Anxiety Disorder

Personal Reaction

I felt the video was very informative, and allowed me to see what depressive disorders might look like in a student. However, they spoke very little about anxiety, and I felt this was a better case for discussing depressive disorders than anxiety disorders. I know how anxiety attacks look for me, but I would have liked to learn how an anxiety attack might look in another individual so that I may understand what to look for in students.

Essential Points

What is Anxiety Disorder? For Chandra, anxiety disorder is a reaction to her extreme depression. She states that her anxiety disorder first showed up shortly after 9/11 when she was in the eighth grade. Chandra exhibited extreme depressive episodes that resulted in uncontrollable crying. She stated that she soon became isolated and would lie on the couch, eat and sleep. Chandra also stated that she often felt lost, alone, and paranoid that others were speaking about her. When Chandra began to feel down, she started cutting on herself because she felt a release. The episodes of cutting attributed to mixed feelings of happiness and pride, but also guilt. Chandra said that sometimes she not only felt depressed, but she also began to feel numb, which would lead to more cutting. Chandra also stated that she began to feel physiological responses to the bouts of depression such as stomachaches and headaches. Chandra also stated that her parents have a history of mental illness. She said all of her maternal relatives have been diagnosed with depressive disorders, and some of her paternal relatives have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia.

Affects of Anxiety Disorder on Education. Chandra’s grades suffered as a result of her disorder. She was no longer a good student or a popular student. Chandra stated that public school was too overcrowded, which added to her anxiety. At public school, Chandra felt lost and alone, and she spent most of the time crying in the restroom. Because teachers did not understand her disorder, they began to treat her differently and ignore her. Chandra spent a month and a half out of school, which means she was behind her peers. Chandra’s inability to thrive in the public school setting led to placement in a special school for students with mood disorders. Chandra states that her grades are much better and she is the president of the student council for the second year. Coping skills have been placed directly in Chandra’s individual education program, which gives her the opportunity to learn how to deal with stressful situations.

Social Implications. Chandra social life was affected by her depressive/anxiety disorder. When she first began to show signs of the disorder, Chandra’s friends stopped talking with her. She states that she knew the reason is that her cutting scared them. Other students it the school began to treat Chandra as if she were a freak. Chandra began to become isolated in her school, even the teachers failed to be socially active with her. Chandra felt tremendous amount of guilt for the affects her behavior had on her family members. She states that her brother was confused and scared for her. However, he first felt that Chandra was faking. Now that he understands the disorder, her brother is a source of support, and he is nicer and speaks with her more. When Chandra is down, her brother helps her and makes things for her. Chandra’s parents both have mental illness. Due to the stress of having to deal with their own illness, Chandra felt her problems overwhelmed them. She does state, though, her understanding of her own illness helped Chandra to begin to understand her parents’ mental illnesses. Chandra states that she now has a lot of friends who are supportive and understanding of her difficulties, because they too have mood disorders.

Application of the Essential Points

I feel this video will help me to understand that some children in my classroom may not be able to control depressive moods or behaviors. I have learned that I need to not isolate these students from the classroom. Instead, I should let them know that I am there for them, and they are not alone. Hopefully, treating students in a manner that I would wish to be treated would help them keep from feeling a sense of abandonment and isolation. I will be sure to watch for signs of depression and anxiety in my students so that I may be able to be a source of support for the student.
“God created autism to help offset the excessive number of boring people on Earth.”
~ Anonymous

Monday, April 1, 2013

Face of Autism

Face of Autism
Original Photography by ©Pamela N. Brown

Curriculum Based Assessment / Measurement

Campbell, Heather; Espine, Christine; Lembke, Erica; Long, Jeffrey D.; Ticha, Renata, and Wallace, Teri. (2008). Curriculum-Based Measurement in Writing: Predicting the Success of High-School Students on State Standards Tests. Exceptional Children, 74.2, 174-193.

The authors state the purpose of their study as to “examine the validity and reliability of curriculum-based measures as indicators of performance on state standard tests in writing” (174). The authors note that students with disabilities often struggle with writing, and 70% of all high school students are at levels below proficiency. Therefore, the authors suggest secondary teachers must have appropriate intervention strategies available. However, the authors also note that many of the studies done on curriculum-based measurement are done at the elementary level, few are done at the middle school level, and very little are done at the high school level. Because of this, it is difficult to address writing issues facing secondary students with learning disabilities, such as writing deficiency. The authors further assert that very little research is to be found on the effects of curriculum-based measurement on English Language Learners. This study consisted of 183 high school students from two large urban high schools. The results of the study reveal that writing samples that are 5 to 7 minutes in length that use the correct minus incorrect word sequence scoring procedure would be effective in determining student performance on state standard tests in writing.

Christ, Theodore J. (2006). Short-Term Estimates of Growth Using Curriculum-Based Measurement of Oral Reading Fluency: Estimating Standard Error of the Slope to Construct Confidence Intervals. School Psychology Review, 35.1, 128-133.

Christ asserts that curriculum-based measurement of oral reading fluency is used to show student growth and student level. Christ states the purpose of his study is to incorporate research-based estimates of the standard error of the estimate in order to produce “magnitudes for the standard error of the slope across a variety of progress monitoring durations and measurement conditions” (129). Christ gathered research to find relevant material on curriculum-based measurement and curriculum-based measurement of oral reading fluency. Of the two hundred thirty four studies, only three reported standard error of the estimate involving oral reading fluency. Christ’s findings show that the standard error of the slope is reduced when progress monitoring durations are lengthened, and the “standard error of estimate was used to estimate the likely influence of CBM-R measurement conditions” (130). Christ argues that four times more error is resulted from poorly controlled measurement conditions. The limitations to Christ’s study are the small sample size, none of the studies reported “the standard error of the estimate at the optimal levels,” and “some assumptions of ordinary least squares are violated when time-series data for individual students are evaluated” (131-132).

Cusumano, Dale L. (2007). Is It Working?: An Overview of Curriculum Based Measurement and Its Uses for Assessing Instructional, Intervention, or Program Effectiveness. Behavior Analyst Today, 8.1, 24-34.

Cusumano begins his article by giving an overview of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act of 2004. Cusumano states they have “further shaped educational goals with requirements that students’ academic experiences be enriched with high quality and research-based instructional strategies” (24). Therefore, Cusumano asserts Curriculum-Based Measurement is an effective method in addressing the needs of all students as set up in NCLB and IDEIA. Cusumano gives an overview of CBM and states that CBM is effective in monitoring student progress and highlighting students who are high-risk. Cusumano shows that CBM can be sued in assessing students reading, mathematics, spelling, and written expression skills. Cusumano outlines benefits of CBM to educators as setting up realistic goals, modifying curriculum, modifying instructional approach, and monitoring student performance. Cusumano’s study reveals that the students of educators who have been instructed on the use of CBM showed considerable gains in academic achievement.

McLane, Kathleen. (2008). Fact Sheet: Benefits of Curriculum Based Measurement. National Center on Student Progress.

McLane designed this fact sheet in order to explain curriculum-based measurement to parents. McLane asserts that curriculum-based measurement is the most effective way to measure student progress and allows teachers to develop methods to teach each student. McLane claims the benefits of CBM are as follows: they effectively measure the student’s true performance, the graphs are clear and easy to understand, the graphs can benefit parent/faculty communication as well as faculty/professional communication, the graphs can benefit Individual Education Program development as well as measuring the progress toward goals and objectives set-up in the IEP, the graphs can be important when addressing educational issues of each student as they are introduced to new faculty, the scores of CBM are easier to understand than traditional standardized assessments, the graphs can be used by students to allow them to self-monitor their progress and motivates students to reach their academic goals, CBM allows stakeholders to see if the instruction the student is receiving is effective, and CBM can be used to screen students in order to intervene if students are at risk.

Stecker, Pamela M. (2006). Using Curriculum-Based Measurement to Monitor Reading Progress in Inclusive Elementary Settings. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 22.1, 91-97.

Stecker introduces the reader to a fourth grade student, Max, who is falling behind his peers in reading development. Stecker provides an overview of curriculum-based measurement and states that oral reading fluency may not provide educators with skill deficiencies of individual students, but they can be used to gauge the student’s progress. Stecker asserts that oral reading fluency and reading comprehension are correlated with one another. Stecker states the use of CBM is more effective than other data-collection methods because of the reliability and validity of the CBM, and CBM is effective in showing progress toward long-term goals rather than short-term goals. Stecker use Max’s situation to show how CBM may be implemented in order to needs of at-risk students. In Stecker’s article, she demonstrates collaboration between the general education and special education teachers of Max. Stecker the training of the general education teacher on how to administer oral reading probes. Once the teacher has become comfortable using the method to chart Max’s progress, the special education teacher suggests she administer the assessment to all of her students. In doing so, two more at-risk students were identified.
“Doctors look at me and say I’m autistic, but my mummy holds me and says I’m perfect.”
~ Anonymous