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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San Jose Mercury News (CA)
As a clinical psychologist, I prefer not to label learning challenges "a disability," but rather term it "a learning variance." Some parents attribute their child's variance to immaturity, minimize it, or hope that the child will outgrow it. It does, however, serve your child best, to have his/her learning style be identified early, so he/she could begin to receive help early enough to maximize benefits.
The Arizona Republic (AZ)
A $5 million voucher program for disabled and foster children that was cut from the state budget has been reinstated, tapping unused dollars in the state's public-education fund. It means that the estimated 400 children who benefited from the program last year will be able to continue in private schools, and ends ongoing dispute over the program.
Los Angeles Times (CA)
Maria Shriver writes: As a journalist, I respect the right to freedom of speech, and my kids will tell you I laugh the loudest when we see a comedy. But as the niece of someone who had a developmental disability, and as a member of the board of directors of Special Olympics International, I know how hurtful the "R-word" is to someone with a disability. I know why "Tropic Thunder's" opening was met by protests on behalf of the intellectually disabled.
The Daily Times (NM)
A pair of retired Park Avenue Elementary School teachers are working with San Juan Masonic Lodge No. 25 and the Aztec Municipal School District to open a clinic for children with dyslexia and other reading disorders.
Times Leader (PA)
Florence Palermo's 36-year career in special education tightly traces the sweeping changes the field has undergone — and the adaptations teachers have needed to make. The trick, she believes, is to get solid training and to keep up-to-date with the law, then implement the training with patience and respect.
The News Press (FL)
Karen Nathan of Fort Myers — wife of Lee Memorial President Jim Nathan and mother of a son with dyslexia — is writing a book about people like her son who are gifted but also have the reading disorder. Based on her research and own experiences, Nathan offers some suggestions for parents.
The Providence Journal (RI)
A locked isolation room set up in the basement of the Block Island School for students who needed to "chill out" violated state education regulations and the state fire code, according to a report by independent consultants. The School Committee called for the review in June after the existence of the room — referred to by some students as the "freak-out room" — became public in the newspaper.
Knowing the words for numbers is not necessary to be able to count, according to a new study of aboriginal children by University College London and the University of Melbourne. The study of the aboriginal children from two communities which do not have words or gestures for numbers found that they were able to copy and perform number-related tasks. The findings, published in the journal PNAS, suggest that humans possess an innate mechanism for counting, which may develop differently in children with dyscalculia.
Bellingham Herald (WA)
Marlene Easley uses the three-dimensional nature of clay to help break through the barriers to learning that are created by dyslexia. The 58-year-old Bellingham, WA teacher can list hundreds of students, age 6 to 62, whom she has helped overcome both reading and math dyslexia during intense one-week programs through her business, Dyslexia Unlearned.
Nashville City Paper
With a new face leading special education and a growing level of public attention, the ground is ripe for big changes to take place in the education of children with disabilities at Metro Nashville Public Schools. Linda DePriest, new executive director of special education for MNPS, has publicly stated her willingness to make changes. DePriest said she is a strong proponent of inclusive practices but believes that full inclusion does not meet the needs of all students.
When Michael Phelps was a kid, his primary school teacher told his mother he would never amount to anything because he was unable to focus. When Phelps won the first of his 14 Olympic gold medals, in Athens in 2004, he remembered those words as he stood on the podium and listened to the "Stars and Stripes". Despite being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at the age of nine, Phelps went to prove that teacher spectacularly wrong.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Public Schools must pay just more than $450,000 to the legal staff representing plaintiffs in a class-action suit over how the district serves students with special needs, a federal judge has ordered. The order Friday followed a ruling in June that MPS must do more for special-needs students, including assessments for children who might need services and interventions for students who have a high number of suspensions and for those who have failed a grade.
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.
All of society would benefit if schools paid closer attention to students' mental health, a vital component for academic and intellectual development. Is this even possible, when 240 psychologists have to meet the needs of 340,000 students, as is the case in the Miami-Dade School District? Of course not. That's why so many go through the system with undiagnosed learning disabilities, attention deficit, depression or behavior problems.
Southeast Missourian (MO)
Michael Phelps might be a gold-medalist Olympian, but one out of every 30 children in a U.S. classroom has something in common with him: They have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. In order to keep students with ADHD focused and in the classroom, teachers at Cape Girardeau public schools can use techniques that focus on reminding the student of what is expected of them to succeed.
The News Press (FL)
The old way of dealing with academically challenged students: Wait until failure is obvious and then offer an evaluation for special education services. The new way: Start remediation at the first hint of trouble. The Lee County School District this year is shifting its philosophy on special education — known in Florida as exceptional student education — and working to pinpoint reading difficulties before a student's progress lapses. Students will get the special education referral only if a three-tiered RTI remediation strategy fails.
Hattiesburg American (MS)
Dynamic Dyslexia Design, a specialized two-year school to help children in first and second grade to learn techniques to overcome dyslexia, couldn't open because of construction delays involving fireproof doors. But the Petal-Harvey Baptist Church has stepped in and offered facilities until the doors can be installed.
Too often accessibility standards are overlooked online, and the digital equivalents to curb-cuts and other physical accommodations have only rarely been implemented to serve those with print disabilities. This article looks at how libraries are doing in this regard, and highlights some tools that can help make websites accessible to all.
The Charleston Gazette (WV)
With 20 children on waiting list, the nonprofit Childhood Language Center hopes to add fourth therapist. The center was created in 1992 by members of the Scottish Rite, and offers children with speech problems, hearing problems, even eating disorders help for free. Therapists also train parents so they can continue the lessons at home.
New York Daily News (NY)
The actor, 19, has revealed he has dyspraxia, a condition that can cause problems with coordination. Radcliffe also said that he decided to become an actor partly because he had trouble in school due to dyspraxia.