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Each week, LD OnLine gathers interesting news headlines about learning disabilities and ADHD issues. Please note that LD OnLine does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.

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Teen Determined to Finish High School

Associated Press

Floyd Allen's story speaks to the entangling forces that can keep scores of New Orleans students, often left to fend for themselves through turbulent lives, from graduating on time - or at all. Diagnosed with a learning disability in middle school, Allen, 19, did not always receive the extra attention he needed, both Allen and his father said. Yet, as a special education student, Allen could have walked away from high school with a "certificate of achievement" rather than a diploma.

Teen Drivers with ADD a Problem on the Road

CNN

Getting a driver's license is a rite of passage for many teenagers, but the process was a bit more challenging for 19-year-old Mulligan of Acworth, Georgia. She has attention deficit disorder. Experts recommended that teenagers with ADD or ADHD stay in a learner's permit program longer, at least a year, and put off getting their license until they have more experience behind the wheel.

Teen Face: Ryan Neitzel

Press Democrat (CA)

To understand Ryan Neitzel's high school journey, the first thing you need to know is that he has a severe form of dyslexia. It wasn't until Neitzel met with an educational psychologist that a world of possibilities opened up to him. "This guy told my mother, 'Ryan is very intelligent.' He drew up an education plan for me. I learned that my learning comes in waves, as epiphanies sometimes, but it does come," Neitzel said.

Teen Graduates from San Diego State

North County Times (CA)

An Eagle Scout at 14. A top-ranking Sea Cadet at 16. And now a college graduate at 19 headed into a doctoral program in England. Yet in the third grade, O'Callaghan was diagnosed with auditory process disorder, a learning disability.

Teen Headed to Chicago Pageant

Daily Republic (SD)

Alaina Bertsch would probably classify herself as a "glass is half-full" kind of person. Recently named Miss Teen South Dakota, the high school sophomore is headed to Chicago this July, where she will compete as South Dakota's representative in the Miss Teen International pageant. The pageant also gives her a broader platform as a spokeswoman for those who struggle with dyslexia, a learning disability she overcomes on a daily basis.

Teen Impulsiveness Has Different Sources in ADHD, Substance Use

U.S. News & World Report

Teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and teens who start using cigarettes, drugs or alcohol tend to share at least one personality trait: impulsiveness, experts say. But a new brain-imaging study of nearly 1,900 14-year-olds finds that the brain networks associated with impulsivity in teens with ADHD are different compared to those who use drugs or alcohol.

Teen with ADHD Finds Music is Great Medicine

Massillon Independent (OH)

Nick Bentley's world is constantly spinning. It's alive, buzzing, fluttering, vibrating, moving and spinning every second of the day. His thoughts rush through his mind like a river rolling downhill, sweeping over stones, constantly moving from one bend to the next and never, ever stopping for a rest. But something amazing happens when he sits down in front of a piano and puts his fingertips to the ivory keys. Everything stops.

Teen with Dyslexia Doesn't Let Disability Hold Her Back

Roseville Press Tribune (CA)

A few years ago, Jordan Heald marched into the office of A Touch of Understanding and said she wanted to be a speaker for the organization. The Granite Bay nonprofit's Executive Director Leslie DeDora asked what she would speak about. "I'll never forget what she said," DeDora said. "She said she has dyslexia and her younger sister does too, and she doesn't want her to be teased the way she was. Who can say no to that?" Jordan joined the group's Youth FORCE, which stands for Friends Offering Respect Creating Empowerment, and visits schools to spread awareness about disabilities.

Tennessee Program Standardizes Alternative Education

The Tennessean

Tennessee education officials have created the first national blueprint for alternative education programs to help at-risk students succeed in school. The program sets quality standards for educating students who have been suspended, expelled or have dropped out. "We are talking about the most challenged of challenging youths," Tennessee Alternative Education Coordinator James Vince Witty said. "A lot of these students are underperforming academically, have learning disabilities and behavioral issues."

Test Kids with Epilepsy Early to Spot Learning Disabilities

USA Today

Children newly diagnosed with epilepsy may not show signs of academic problems early on, but a new study suggests they could benefit from early cognitive testing to spot potential learning disabilities before they surface in school.

Test Scores Sink as New York Adopts Tougher Benchmarks

The New York Times

The number of New York students passing state reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported, unsettling parents, principals and teachers and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.

Test Shortage Has Ohio Special Education Teachers Scrambling

The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

As the Ohio state-mandated school testing season kicks into high gear, some testing coordinators and special-education teachers are scrambling because of a shortage of a an adapted test form required for special needs kids. A number of districts did not receive any or all of the booklets required for students who must have the Ohio Achievement Test read aloud to them by an aide or for those who listen to it on a CD, creating a chaotic situation for special education teachers as they prepare for testing.

Testing 1, 2, 3 — Educational Assessment: Portrait of a Learner

The Star (Canada)

The Toronto Star's three-part article paints a portrait of a child moving from grade to grade without learning. Yesterday's article showed how a psycho-educational assessment of a student is done. It was an extraordinary look at a process usually cloaked in mystery. Today, 13-year-old Josh and his mother Linda (whose names we have changed to protect their privacy) get the test results — and, perhaps, a lifeline.

Testing for special education: When, Why, and How?

Kalamazoo Gazette's Family Talk Magazine (MI)

Parents may wonder when to ask teachers whether their children qualify for special education services. Experts say the sooner the better. When the school follows through with an assessment, several different processes begin.

Testing Officials Again Tackle Accommodations And Exclusions for Special Student Populations

Education Week

Perhaps no topic has as thoroughly vexed officials who oversee the nation's leading test of academic progress as the wide variation among states and cities in the proportion of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency whom they exclude from taking the exam or provide with special accommodations for it.

Texan Speedskater's Olympic Dream Lives On

Dallas Morning Star

The moment Jordan Malone's dreams of the 2006 Turin Games died, after he'd skated at the U.S. Olympic short-track speedskating trials on a broken right ankle, he headed straight for his No. 1 teammate in the stands: his mom. Almost four years later, Malone's improbable story has continued. In September, Malone will try again, this time for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Malone has battled more than injuries to stay on the ice. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. Because of banned substance regulations, he takes only an herb to try to control his ADHD, and skating has always helped.

Texas Student Wins National Honor for Essay on Living with Dyslexia

Fort Worth Star Telegram (TX)

When McKenzie Hightower learned that her essay had won a national writing award, she wrote a jubilant note to her teacher that wrapped up her thoughts succinctly. "Omg." Hightower's e-mail read, short for "oh my gosh." But don't mistake the informality for a stunted vocabulary. Hightower's ability for expressive composition is earning her accolades. Her evocative account of growing up with dyslexia won a gold medal in the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition.

Texas Voucher Bill would Provide Options for Students with Disabilities

Beaumont Express (TX)

A bill in the Texas Legislature proposes education options for families of children with disabilities. Authored by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, it would provide scholarships to parents of children with disabilities. Those could be used in special education programs in either a public school in another district or a private school.

Texas Youth Spreading Holiday Cheer to Nation's VA Hospitals through Christmas Cards

Waco Herald-Tribune (TX)

Lindsay Gray, 8, is mailing 170 Christmas cards to veterans and service members to send them a bit of holiday cheer. She's sending one card to each of the 168 veterans' hospitals across the country, as well as to the military hospitals at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss. "She has dyslexia, so this has helped with her concentration more," said Lindsay's mother, Kara Lowe. "Even though she memorized what she wrote in the cards, she's still writing and not getting her letters mixed up."

Texas’ Bid to Ease Mandatory Exams for Public School Students

The New York Times

Despite sharply reducing state testing requirements for Texas high school students, the 83rd Legislature brought only conditional relief from high-stakes exams for students in lower grades, who take a total of 17 state tests before going to high school. For parents and educators who want less time spent on state exams in elementary and middle school, hopes are pinned on the new legislation, but with a big caveat: it is likely that Texas must first obtain a No Child Left Behind Act waiver from the federal Department of Education.

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