Information for parents of disabled children

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parents of autistic students suffer anxiety disorder and depression at higher rates.

Dont PanicImage via Wikipedia A study indicates in black and white what parents raising autistic kids have known all along. It's really hard. After my own diagnosis with panic disorder, it became obvious to me that we couldn't be the only ones, so I asked around. Many of the parents we know are taking medications for anxiety or depression.

The root of the problem lies in the constant alertness a family dealing with autism has to maintain when on the severe end of the spectrum or going through a difficult "phase" of a child's development. In our case, sleep deprivation has played a significant role. Having a child who doesn't sleep means parents can't sleep.

These are actually good things to know for educators dealing with parents of students who have autism. Their problems aren't like your problems. You worry about picking up your dry cleaning. They have to restrain kids from jumping in around every puddle or lake or fountain.  In our case, once I fell asleep after 72 hours straight of no sleep or interrupted sleep. I dozed off sitting up on the couch, and when I woke up my toaster was on fire. I didn't fall asleep easily for a month. Prolonged lack of sleep affects behavior and thought in parents, as it will in anyone.

Studies have demonstrated that a lack of sleep impairs one's ability to simultaneously focus on several different related tasks, reducing the speed as well as the efficiency of one's actions.
People suffering anxiety and depression have different responses to all situations. A person with panic disorder can be triggered by a simple conversation or phone call from school. They become short tempered and can't communicate meaning effectively. Teachers dealing with parents suffering these conditions won't know the reasons for a behavior, but they could anticipate the possibility, learning to take nothing personally and slow the pace of a conversation to help a parent stay focused.

Educators have no choice but to deal with negatives in a child's behavior, but they can help by going to parents with positive suggestions fully developed and ready to implement, not just calling to report that little Johnny is biting again. Most of the time, and I speak from experience, parents have no idea what to do. Let them know you have an idea you want to try, explain it and get their approval. Problem addressed, and the teacher has given an incredible gift to a parent; the gift of solutions.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

T-shirts for education: the RISE Learning Center trade-off

What do we know?

At the beginning of the school year, RISE Learning Center in South Indy sent home free shirts to the student body. While that may sound like an awesome deal, parents didn't react well.

The 175 student school routinely has problems with service delivery, say the parents of the students there. Given the $10 million shortfall in the Perry Township school district, parents were astounded at such largess from a flailing school.  A few parents looked into the purchase made by principal, Dr. Tim Smith.

What they found was astounding; Dr. Smith had ordered the shirts from his own t-shirt company, Quality Ts. The T shirt company operates under TWS Enterprises in the Carmel area and allegedly employs a teacher and job coach from the school in their spare time. The sale generated complaints to RISE and was reported to authorities. There has been no word on a resolution of the allegations.

Parents fear this is the signal of a giant ethics problem at the school. For most of the school year, they've struggled, they say, with case conferences and obtaining services for students on the mild to severe end of the disability spectrum.
AASA's Statement of Ethics for Educational Leaders
An educational leader’s professional conduct must conform to an ethical code of behavior, and the code must set high standards for all educational leaders. The educational leader provides professional leadership across the district and also across the community. This responsibility requires the leader to maintain standards of exemplary professional conduct while recognizing that his or her actions will be viewed and appraised by the community, professional associates and students.
The educational leader acknowledges that he or she serves the schools and community by providing equal educational opportunities to each and every child. The work of the leader must emphasize accountability and results, increased student achievement, and high expectations for each and every student.
To these ends, the educational leader subscribes to the following statements of standards.
The educational leader:
  1. Makes the education and well-being of students the fundamental value of all decision making.
  2. Fulfills all professional duties with honesty and integrity and always acts in a trustworthy and responsible manner.
  3. Supports the principle of due process and protects the civil and human rights of all individuals.
  4. Implements local, state and national laws.
  5. Advises the school board and implements the board's policies and administrative rules and regulations.
  6. Pursues appropriate measures to correct those laws, policies, and regulations that are not consistent with sound educational goals or that are not in the best interest of children.
  7. Avoids using his/her position for personal gain through political, social, religious, economic or other influences.
  8. Accepts academic degrees or professional certification only from accredited institutions.
  9. Maintains the standards and seeks to improve the effectiveness of the profession through research and continuing professional development.
  10. Honors all contracts until fulfillment, release or dissolution mutually agreed upon by all parties.
  11. Accepts responsibility and accountability for one’s own actions and behaviors.
  12. Commits to serving others above self.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sped news

Inclusion 'can be abuse'
Report by BBC discusses downside to full inclusion without proper accommodation.

Parents struggle with budget cuts and Article 7

soldiers and sailors monument in downtown indyImage by chris.corwin via FlickrIndianapolis' South side schools are all reporting huge shortfalls this year, thanks in part to state cuts, and parents are already experiencing cuts. In one case, the case conference committee was not reconvened to take away aids in RISE Special Services coverage area. One on one aids seem to be disappearing across the board in RISE Learning Center on Shelby Avenue.

It's important to be wary of sweeping changes to a child's program without warning. First, it's not legal to do it without convening the CCC, and second, changes require proof of some kind that they are warranted.

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