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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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next year Wisconsin students with disabilities could attend a public school outside their home district or a private school with a taxpayer subsidy, under a bill coming before the state Assembly on Tuesday. The proposal is just one of a series of education bills on a daunting legislative calendar as the Legislature wraps up its session this week.
Education Week (Blog)
New federal data about how often public school students are restrained or secluded at school show that, in the majority of cases, these approaches are used to contain kids with disabilities, who make up just a sixth of all students.
The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee approved legislation that would establish a 12-member House-Senate commission to develop a distribution formula for new state special education funding. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County, would direct the commission to establish a formula that separates special education students into three cost categories based on their need for services. More funds would be allocated for students requiring higher levels of service.
New York Times
I am a special education teacher. My students have learning disabilities ranging from autism and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy and emotional disturbances. I love these kids, but they can be a handful. Almost without exception, they struggle on standardized tests, frustrate their teachers and find it hard to connect with their peers. As you might imagine, my job can be extremely difficult.
Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Citing phone calls from frustrated parents, a Kansas Senate committee discussed a bill to help identify and effectively teach dyslexic students last week.
Meet voucher supporters' new fellow strategists: students with disabilities. Creating private school vouchers for special education studentsprograms that are largely unchallenged in court, unlike other publicly financed tuition voucherscan be the perfect way to clear a path for other students to get school options, according to school choice proponents.
Scientific American (blog)
The idea that ADHD drugs might be killing us represents just one of several ominous storylines associated with the disorder. In recent years, we've also heard speculation about whether ADHD is real, and if it is real, whether it's being grossly overdiagnosed. And then there are the drugs. These backlashes against childhood developmental diagnoses seems to rise and fall every few years, but lately it's burgeoning.
The Times of Trenton (NJ)
The group of parents sitting in a board room here were part of a hard-luck fraternity even before they decided to start their new statewide advocacy group, Decoding Dyslexia. They had been meeting for years in local coffee shops to discuss how their children weren't reading anything by first grade, couldn't spell their names, couldn't remember sounds, couldn't match rhyming words, couldn't distinguish left from right, didn't have a dominant left or right hand, couldn't get their shoes on the correct feet let alone tie the laces and they weren't getting support in their classrooms. And all along they were being told, there is no such thing as dyslexia.
If you can read this sentence with ease, consider yourself fortunate: Millions of Americans with dyslexia cannot. In the hope of improving the lives of those struggling readers, a team of experts at Florida State University is working to better understand and diagnose dyslexia and other learning disabilities with a new, $8.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
U.S. News & World Report
President Obama's budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 may signal a murky future for a fledgling program that helps students with intellectual disabilities go to college and succeed while enrolled.
A new study reveals a troubling fact: Parents aren't involved as they should be in planning classroom accommodations. Do schools do enough to loop families in when it's time for special-ed services?
Kalamazoo Gazette (MI)
In the small upper-floor room of Kalamazoo author Alice Beard's Northside neighborhood house, copies of her poems, manuscript drafts and other creative works sit stacked on shelves. Beard, who goes by the pen name Alice Renee, has been collecting these works for decades, but despite appearances, the writing didn't come easily to her at first. While growing up, Beard struggled with her schoolwork because of a learning disability and dyslexia, she said.
National Public Radio
Like a lot of smartphone users, Rolando Terrazas, 19, uses his iPhone for email, text messages and finding a decent coffee shop. But Terrazas' phone also sometimes serves as his eyes: When he waves a bill under its camera, for instance, the phone tells him how much it's worth. Terrazas is blind, and having an app to tell bills apart can be a big help. Terrazas' daily life is full of useful technology like this, but it also has a downside: The more he uses technology, the less he uses Braille, the alphabet of raised dots that the blind read with their fingers.
For kids with dyslexia, learning to read can be tough going. The disorder afflicts an estimated 15% of Americans. Dyslexics typically have trouble associating letters with sounds and words. Many learn to work around the challenge, but there's an intriguing new twist: some who work with dyslexics believe that the disability may also confer certain advantages. Specifically, anecdotal evidence suggests that dyslexics have sharper peripheral and three dimensional vision. Join the Diane Rehm show for a talk about the special challenges and possible advantages for people with dyslexia.
Pioneer Press (MN)
Nancy Cooley has spent 20 years helping struggling young readers build a foundation for academic success. Each day, Cooley works individually with students like Gavin Bass, a Rosemount first-grader, who need extra help mastering specific literacy skills using a program called "Reading Recovery." Interventions like these can help get a student back on course, possibly avoiding a learning-disability classification. Such one-on-one interventions are time-consuming and can be costly, but a growing number of school leaders across the Twin Cities are betting they will pay off academically and financially.
The Distracted Princess Blog, ADDitudeMag.com
My daughter's sticker chart was designed to motivate and reward good behavior throughout the school day. Instead, it's become a complicated, inconsistent lesson for teachers and parents alike.
New York Times
The word "dyslexia" evokes painful struggles with reading, and indeed this learning disability causes much difficulty for the estimated 15 percent of Americans affected by it. In recent years, dyslexia research has taken a surprising turn: identifying the ways in which people with dyslexia have skills that are superior to those of typical readers. The latest findings on dyslexia are leading to a new way of looking at the condition: not just as an impediment, but as an advantage, especially in certain artistic and scientific fields.
Most days, from the wee hours of the morning until late into the evening, you can find Lynika Strozier in a molecular genetics and cell biology lab at the University of Chicago, poring over a microscope, conducting experiments with cells. To look at Strozier now, you'd never know what she's been through. She will tell you that although the trial-and-error process is the cornerstone of science, it has also been the story of her life.
Voice of America
Brain scientists are studying whether they can predict which young children may struggle with reading, in order to provide early help. John Gabrieli at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is leading a study of five-year-olds in about twenty schools in the Boston area.
On Special Education Blog, Education Week
Parents and students with disabilities aren't as involved in the process of mapping out their goals with schools as much as they should be, although federal law intends for parents and school staff to work together on these plans, a new study finds.