MAC OAL Project Letter

MAC’s letter to Judge Robert Giordano and Laura Saunders concerning an OAL project.

OAL Project Letter

MAC Letter to American Psychiatric Association

MAC’s letter to the American Psychiatric Association regarding the request to differentiate autism from SPD, This letter actualizes one of the recommendations in our June case study.

MAC’s Letter to the APA

Supreme Court Special Education Watch

All involved with special education must know that two cases have been accepted by the Supreme Court to hear this term. This is particularly important since there are only 8 Justices, and because IDEA has not been reauthorized since 2004. The 2 cases are:

  1. Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The issue is how much special education is required in order to provide disabled students with a free appropriate public education. The standard of special education varies from state to state and circuit to circuit. The Third Circuit requires more than de minimus, or a little benefit, in order to meet the FAPE standard established in federal law. Other circuits require only “some” educational benefit. This case is about an autistic child who was placed unilaterally by his parents in a private school. They sought reimbursement and lost both the hearing decision and their appeal because it was held that the boy received “some” benefit from the school district. This issue was last examined in 1982 when the Rowley decision ruled that disabled students were not allowed the best education, but merely the “appropriate” education. The Colorado case will rule for the first time on the definition of appropriate, unless there is a 4-4 decision. In that case, the lower court decision will stand. This comes at a time that the federal government has refused to enforce the IDEA, and when it improperly issued a rule requiring the content of IEPs include the state content standards for mandated subjects. The Obama administration has urged the Court to address educational benefit in terms of the child’s potential and the purpose of IDEA.
  2. The second case involves whether or not a student with cerebral palsy can bring her service dog to school. A portion of this dispute is whether or not this case comes under the IDEA or the American’s With Disabilities Act.

NEW EDUCATION LAW

In 2015, a new federal law was passed, the Every Child Succeeds Act. This addresses all at risk populations, English language learners, homeless, drug addiction, etc. except special education. States’ special education advocates are forming groups to determine how to implement this K-12 law so as to be part of state determinations regarding implementation and the failure of the federal and state governments to enforce IDEA while considering how every other child is to succeed.

Preschool Scholarship Eligibility for 2016-2017 MAC Services

The Melody Arons Center is a not for profit organization serving preschool children with disabilities. For 2016-2017 it offers a scholarship through its fund raising efforts to a qualified child with disabilities whose family cannot afford the services needed. MAC’s program uses play-based interaction and instruction infused with sensory and musical experiences. The scholarship is for 1 hour, once per week for 10 months in a 1-1 teacher/student ratio, excluding school holidays. MAC does not fund transportation which is the responsibility of the caregiver. Families must commit to be trained so that carry-over from MAC into the home can occur. Prerequisites include:

  1. Comprehensive evaluations done by a child study team or other evaluators;
  2. Financial criteria confirming the parent’s inability to pay for services;
  3. MAC’s ability to meet the unique needs of the child and family;
  4. Parental agreement to bring the child to each session on time and for the complete hour, one caregiver required to remain throughout the session;
  5. Parental agreement to work with MAC to carry over its instruction into the home.
  6. Joint agreement between parent and MAC to keep the child healthy and not to attend sessions if the child is ill;
  7. Written recommendation from an outside professional who has worked with the family.

MAC Bee Theme for 2016-2017

The Melody Arons Center has chosen the topic of bees as the theme for 2016-2017. Two groups will be formed. Group 1 is for children ages 3-5 and will meet every other week each month beginning in November. Group size is limited to 5 children per group. Group 2 is for children ages 6-9 and will also meet every other week starting in November. Preregistration is required, to be received by October 15, 2016. Contact MAC through this website or call 201-692-7908. Cost per session for 90 minutes is $25 per child. One parent is required to stay with the younger group until they have fully transitioned into the group experience. The groups will be led by Dr. Ray Arons, MAC’s bee keeper, and Marilyn Arons, the keeper of the bee keeper. MAC reserves the right to review records and meet with the child before registration confirmation to the group is given.

The honey bee curriculum for the year will combine music, dance, group play, crafts, and story time and be adapted to meet individual needs. The culminating experience will take place in April. Group 2 will be given the opportunity to put on a bee suit and go in to an actual bee hive to look at the bees in their hives as they wake up to gather pollen from Spring dandelions. Written parent consent is required, as well as a doctor’s note that this is a safe activity in the unlikely event of a bee sting. Each holiday throughout the year will have a bee context and project:

Thanksgiving- Bee Thankful
Christmas/Hanukah- Bee Good
Valentine’s Day- Bee Sweet
Easter/Passover- Bee Happy
Mother’s Day/ Father’s Day- Bee Grateful
One of the songs includes (sing to tune of I’m a Little Teapot):
I’m a little honey bee
Yellow and black.
See me gather
Pollen on my back.
What the queen bee tells me
I must do
So I can make sweet honey for you.

We hope that you are able to participate in this new MAC curriculum. We are happy that Dr. Ray is teaching these groups and know that all of you will enjoy the experience.

MAC Research 2016

This case study examined disabilities that are mistaken for autism or co-exist with autism.

Autism, Sensory Integration, Self-Regulation, Apraxia, and Hearing Loss: In and Out of the Spectrum

Marilyn Arons, M.S., and Raymond Arons, Dr. P.H.

ABSTRACT

This case study examined disabilities that are mistaken for autism or co-exist with autism. It presents a literature review, neuroscience principles, school evaluations, independent testing and 53 MAC lesson plans designed for this 5-6 year old boy. Data from his three year regression in his preschool program is provided, the child having neither a language system nor self-regulation by age 5. Upon entrance to MAC he received co-teaching from a sign language instructor and a special education teacher specializing in sensory integration techniques and play-based instruction. All sessions were videotaped for analysis. Formative and summative assessments were made at 5 months and 10 months into the program. Data demonstrated that the child developed sign language and oral language systems, as well as self-regulation by the 11th month. Discussion includes a current international debate regarding the inappropriate definition of autism by the American Psychiatric Association, and the inappropriate use of Applied Behavior Analysis for children with sensory processing disorders, either separately or with autism.

The case study can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Jack: A Case Study Autism Sensory Integration, Self Regulation, Apraxia and Hearing Loss: In and Out of The Spectrum

MAC September Meeting

A MAC meeting will be held in Fort Lee on 9/22/16 to present this research paper. All those involved with autism, both parents and professionals, are encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion. Parents of the child who is the focus of the paper will be available for questions and answers. Check the Events Calendar for details.

Autism & Genetics Updates 2015

Researchers in autism have long attempted to discover the genetic factors in children. Those early efforts were total failures, but during the past year headway has been made. Current technology can spot newly arising gene mutations in families with only one child having autism. It turns out that a new picture of the genetics of autism is appearing. New mutations of genes and their variations, unrelated to the parents, affect neurologic development in the earliest weeks of prenatal brain growth. Others kick into gear after birth. Certain regions of the human genome are particularly prone to disruptions, with “hot spots” linked to many forms of autism. Subtypes of autism are associated with these mutations and begin to explain the mysteries as to why some cases have severe symptoms while others are more modest. In addition, it is not only the unexpected mutations, but a copying problem. When the cells divide and multiply, certain gaps appear in the sequence that should not be there. When extra copies of a gene occur or there is a gap in the sequence, the variation can predispose people to autism. While the research is growing, treatment methods are not. It is hoped that with better understanding of the neurology of autism, more effective treatments can be created. (Solving the Autism Puzzle, Stephen S. Hall, MIT Technology Review, July/August 2014)

During 2015, search continued for identification of genetic signatures to aid in early identification of those with autism. In recent studies, only male children, ages 1-4, were used. Those with autism were compared to typically developing toddlers. The procedure used was able to predict those with autism 75% of the time. This demonstrated that there are biomarkers with very good sensitivity for boys in general pediatric settings. Blood-based clinical tests can be refined and routinely implemented by the pediatrician. No similar testing has been created for girls. (Prediction of Autism by Translation and Immune/Inflammation Coexpressed Genes in Toddlers from Pediatric Community Practices, Tiziano Pramparo et al, JAMA Psychiatry, 3/4/15).

Out and About Parent Visits

MAC Out and About Program

MAC’s Out and About parent networking meetings, 8-10 P.M., will be in Fort Lee on January 29, in Teaneck on February 23, and in Oradell on March 18. Remaining meeting dates and places will be posted soon. The purpose of these meetings is to develop local and county networks of special education parents in order to meet their needs, including socialization experiences for their children.

These visits are to invite other special needs parents to attend and encourage them to ask questions and seek information about any special ed topic they want. In that parents no longer seem to go out to public meetings for parent training, this is an effort to “seed” information groups locally, outside of the now traditional modes of misinformation by school PTAs and the State.

For more information or interest in hosting such a meeting in your area, please contact us through this website. We will then provide you with the address and contact information for the host family. Thank you and have a happy and healthy New Year.

Of Interest to Spanish Speaking Parents

New Jersey has a new website in Spanish with information about English as a Second Language (ESL), standardized tests, special education, and families’ education rights at http://www.state.nj.us/education/bilingual/parents/spanish/

A Parent’s Dictionary: Early Intervention ABC’s

Adapted from Michigan Early Intervention System, A Parent’s Dictionary: Early Intervention A-Z

A

Adaptive – Self-help skills used in daily life, such as feeding, toileting, dressing

Advocacy – Supporting/defending a child’s interests and rights

Assessment – Procedures to evaluate and identify the child’s unique needs and strengths, family resources and concerns, connection between evaluation procedures and the services needed to address those needs

Assistive Technology – Equipment to improve/maintain the abilities of the child

At Risk – Children who may, in the future, have problems in learning or development

Audiology – Finding/preventing hearing loss

B

Baseline – The first measurement of a function that is later compared to one in the future

C

Cognitive – The process of remembering, reasoning, understanding, and making decisions

Confidentiality – The right to privacy of information about the child and family; not released without parent consent

Consent – Parent approval in writing which is always voluntary and may be revoked at any time.

Counseling – Advice given by someone qualified to give it

D

Developmental – Referring to one of the four stages of child development

Developmental delay – When a child does not attain the expected level of development based on age

Disability – A delay or condition likely to result in a developmental delay

Due Process – Procedures to protect a person’s rights, including confidentiality and consent

Dominant language – The first language the family normally uses

E

Early Intervention Services – Services described in the IFSP, provided by qualified personnel, provided with parent consent and in the natural environment to the maximum extent.

Eligibility Requirements – Legal requirements a child meets to receive early intervention services, including whether they have a disability or developmental delay

Evaluation – Testing to determine if the child meets eligibility requirements

F

Family concerns – Parent input about needs and issues to be addressed in the IFSP

Family Resources – Strengths, abilities and supports used to address the desired outcome for the child

Family training – Services to assist the family in understanding and addressing their child’s special needs

H

Health Services – Health related services to help a child benefit from early Intervention

Home visits – When a professional visits the home to plan and provide early intervention services

I

IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan, services written and developed by family and professionals to meet the child’s special needs

Impartial hearing – A formal process, similar to a lawsuit, to resolve a dispute between the parent and the agency paying for the services.

L

Lead agency – The state agency with the legal power and responsibility to implement a statewide early intervention system.

M

Mediation – A way to resolve a dispute without litigation

Multidisciplinary – When two or more professionals with different areas of training evaluate the child and develop the IFSP

N

Natural environment – Normal settings for young children without disabilities,including the home, child care setting, or other community settings

Nursing services – Evaluation of the health status of the child and providing nursing care to prevent health problems and restore and improve functioning through a licensed physician’s prescription.

Nutritional services – Identifying feeding skills, problems, food habits and food preferences

O

Occupational therapy – Services relating to self-help skills, adaptive behavior and play, and sensory, motor and postural development

Outcomes – The section of the IFSP that states the changes expected to be seen as the result of the child getting services

P

Parent – A parent/person in a parental relationship to a child

Personally identifiable information – Family names, social security numbers, addresses and other information that are private and not to be released without parent consent

Physical Therapy – Services to prevent/lessen movement difficulties and related functional problems

Placement – The place where the services are delivered, preferably in a natural setting

Psychological Services – Giving and interpreting psychological tests, planning services including counseling, consultation, parent training and education programs

Q

Qualified personnel – Personnel who provide services within the limits of their licensure, certification or registration.

R

Respite – Temporary child care made available to families of children with disabilities

S

Screening- – A brief process to assess the child’s status to see if further testing is warranted

Service Coordinator – A representative of the agency providing services who works in partnership with the family to coordinate services and obtain services in the IFSP Social work services- An assessment of the child’s and family’s social and emotional Needs, and providing services to meet those needs

Special instruction – Includes designing learning environments and activities to promote the child’s development

Special Needs – Term used to describe a child with a disability

Speech-Language Pathology – Services in communication skills or with motor skills as weakness of muscles around the mouth or swallowing

Surrogate parent – A person appointed to act in place of the parent when the parent is not available

T

Transition – The process beginning at age 2 ½ where children at age 3 move from Early Intervention to the Preschool Special Education Program in the local school district

Transportation – The agency providing services pays for the cost of travel to enable a child to receive early intervention services

V

Vision services – Identification and provision of services to children with visual Disorders

(NOTE: The Michigan version of this dictionary is found at http://earlychildhoodmichigan.org/Dictionary.htm, which was adapted from the State of New York’s Parent Dictionary).