Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

don’t say “gay.”

In Gay rights on Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 05:58

as a school employee who works with kids who, because they are not heterosexual, are kicked out of their houses, beaten, taken to “get the devil forced out of them,” etc., i find this shocking. when gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, questioning, etc. kids and adolescents have one of the highest suicide rates in the country, why would anyone out someone if they don’t want to be??? should these teachers also tell the parents if two heterosexual kids are having sex??? i guess it’s just “damaging” when it’s not heterosexual or as the bill puts it “any such classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited.”  

this is so wrong for so many reasons…

Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Is Back, Now Requires Teachers To Tell Parents If a Child Is Gay

By: Meredith Bennet-Smith

A controversial Tennessee bill that would stop teachers from discussing sexuality with their students has been resurrected in the state legislature, and the 2013 version includes a troubling new provision.

Nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s measure would “prohibit teachers from discussing of any sexuality except heterosexuality in grades K-8.”

An amendment to the re-filed bill reads, in part:

“At grade levels pre-K through eight (pre-K-8), any such classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited.”

The proposed legislation, officially titled the “Classroom Protection Act,” was not put to a final vote at the end of last year’s General Assembly, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel, but one of its sponsors warned it would be re-filed if “alternative lifestyles” were being promoted in the state school system.

The bill’s backers are apparently still dissatisfied with the curricula in some schools, and the measure is slated to be discussed in the Tennessee General Assembly’s Education Subcommittee on Wednesday, according to the Nashville Scene.

This new incarnation of the bill retains its proposed ban on LGBT discussions in the classroom and has also added a provision that could be interpreted as forcing school authorities to inform parents if their child is gay.

School counselors, nurses, principals and assistant principals can talk to students about human sexuality if a student is “engaging in, or may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well- being of the student or another person,” according to the bill. However, the measure provides that “Parents or legal guardians of such students shall be notified as soon as practicable of the circumstances requiring intervention.”

This wording leaves a lot of leeway for teachers and authorities to determine when and if a situation requires telling parents about their child’s sexuality, notes ThinkProgress. The site goes on to comment that being rejected by family members is a major cause of homelessness among LGBT youth. According to a study conducted in part by the Williams Institute, up to 40 percent of homeless teens identify as LGBT.

Meanwhile, a similar bill in Missouri was buried after causing a huge controversy last year. Steve Cookson, the Missouri legislator who sponsored the bill, is now chairman of the Missouri House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, according to the Kansas City Star.

Read the new amendment to the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” here.

Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/tennessee-dont-say-gay-bill_n_2582390.html?ir=gay-voices&utm_campaign=013013&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-gay-voices&utm_content=Photo


By Campfield
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49,
Chapter 6, Part 10, relative to the Classroom
Protection Act.
SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Classroom Protection
SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10, is amended by
adding the following as a new, appropriately designated section:
(a) The general assembly recognizes that certain subjects are
particularly sensitive and are, therefore, best explained and discussed within the
home. Because of its complex societal, scientific, psychological, and historical
implications, human sexuality is one such subject. Human sexuality is best
understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp its complexity and
(b) At grade levels pre-K through eight (pre-K-8), any such classroom
instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are
inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate
for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited.
(c) LEA policies and procedures adopted pursuant to this section shall
not prohibit:
(1) Any instructor from answering in good faith any question or
series of questions, germane and material to the course, asked of the
instructor and initiated by a student or students enrolled in the course; SB0234
(2) A school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal from
counseling a student who is engaging in, or who may be at risk of
engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and wellbeing of the student or another person; provided, that wherever possible
such counseling shall be done in consultation with the student’s parents
or legal guardians. Parents or legal guardians of students who receive
such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such
counseling has occurred; or
(3) Any school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal
from responding appropriately to a student whose circumstances present
immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality. Parents
or legal guardians of such students shall be notified as soon as
practicable of the circumstances requiring intervention; provided, notice
shall not be given to any parent or legal guardian if there is reasonable
cause to believe that the parent or legal guardian may be the perpetrator
or in any way responsible for sexual abuse of the student.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require instruction relative
to natural reproduction in grades pre-K though 8.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013, the public welfare requiring it.



By Davor Nicolas Babic

Your best friend told you he was gay
You’re narrow minded, said no way!
He’s still the same, but you turned the friendship into hate
You reject him, just because he’s not straight

Two girls together is alright
Two men in love means a fight
It is affection between two individuals
Stop the hate against homosexuals

What are you afraid of?


standardized tests…an illustration.

In Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School reform on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 08:59
what's wrong with this picture?

what’s wrong with this picture?

videos edited by jimmy burrito with a little help from his mom…

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare, Life with dogs, Pets on Monday, 28 January 2013 at 07:49

here are some wonderful videos of recent angels among us pet rescue animals.  the videos were made by a wonderful aau volunteer, janet, and recent foster failure, jimmy burrito.  when we say “foster failure” it is really the ultimate foster success as the foster parent ends up realizing that their foster animal is already right where they belong, with their foster parent!  foster becomes adopter and all us “failures” get the ultimate gift.  saving a life, then seeing that life lived out free from abuse, uncertain death, neglect.  so, in reality, everyone wins!!!

jimmy burrito, janet's recent foster failure and editing partner.

jimmy burrito, janet’s recent foster failure and editing partner.

i am proud to have my own foster failures, maddie and callie.  maddie was saved 30 minutes before she and her brother were going to be taken “back” to be killed.  they were shelter favorites, having stayed many months as part of a cruelty case. like so many black dogs (maddie has some white markings, her brother was all black), they are the first killed in shelters and the most overlooked.  they are killed more than many others because they are black.  maybe none of the interesting markings some people like?  i think black dogs are fabulous.  i have always had multiple black dogs and will continue.  

my other foster failure is callie.  callie was at the shelter with horrific acid burns down her back,  it has been reported that dog fighters do this to “bait” dogs.  at any rate, callie’s burns have healed and she has what looks like a white lightening streak where her hair is growing back.  despite whatever she has been through, she is one of the sweetest, most playful, loving dogs ever.

if you would like to help out by becoming a foster home, please look up your local rescue or, if you are in or around the atlanta area, please go to http://www.angelsrescue.org and, if you are looking to add a pet to your family, please adopt, don’t shop.

rescue ONE until there are NONE! 


maddie my foster failure...saved with her brother one hour before they were scheduled to be killed after being part of a cruelty case.  maddie has a condition called "cerebellar hypoplasty" similar to cerebral palsy.  i hope to one day take her to classes with children who have cp, so they can meet her.

maddie my foster failure…saved with her brother one hour before they were scheduled to be killed after being part of a cruelty case. maddie has a condition called “cerebellar hypoplasty” similar to cerebral palsy. i hope to one day take her to classes with children who have cp, so they can meet her.

callie in her pajamas.   all 16 pounds of her!!!

callie in her pajamas. all 16 pounds of her!!!

puppy cam…

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare, Life with dogs, Meditation, Mindfulness, Pets, Well-being on Sunday, 27 January 2013 at 09:13

colleges now have “puppy rooms” during final so that students (and staff) can go in and spend time with puppies during what is a stressful time with finals and late nights studying.





just spending time with animals has been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety, heighten feelings of well-being…the research consistently supports the use of “animal assisted therapy” time and time again.  i can also speak from my own experiences with my very own pet therapist, linus, who has been working in the schools with me since he was a baby (this is his 11th year!).

linus, my pet therapist...

linus, my pet therapist…

while it would be great if all places of business, schools, colleges, etc. could have a puppy room (or a pet therapist/professional pet cuddler), two of my wonderful rescue friends have created “puppy cam.”  so far, there was puppy cam I, featuring liza and her puppies who all got adopted…then puppy cam II, with the two feist puppies, and now, puppy cam III where mia has JUST HAD PUPPIES starting at about 0100 this morning!!!  so, now we have new puppies to watch!  

so, in the same vein, i am posting the link to the angels among us puppycam so that, hopefully, you can watch when you are feeling stressed or just in need of watching the unconditional and instinctual love of a mom for her pups and watch the pups as they grow and develop. 

PUPPY CAM LINK: http://www.badferret.net/puppycam/

i hope you enjoy watching mia and her babies as much as we all do!  for more information, please visit http://www.angelsrescue.org or like our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/angelsrescue?fref=ts

for information regarding some of the many benefits of pet ownership, please see : http://wp.me/p2IpfL-2q

Watch “Just One Chance: A Story of Angels” on YouTube

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare, Education, Humane Education, Life with dogs, Pets on Saturday, 26 January 2013 at 17:02

the future of neuropsychology…

In Neuropsychology, Neuroscience on Saturday, 26 January 2013 at 07:14

the multitude of factors affecting student achievement (hint, it’s not just teachers…)

In Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School reform on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 09:15

Are teachers the most important factor affecting student achievement?

By: Stephen Sawchuck

This has become the default first sentence of many speeches and reports on teacher quality. Recently, it’s become common to clarify that teachers are the most important “school-based” factor in learning—a critical qualification, given that factors external to schools exert more influence overall on student achievement than any factors inside the school.

A famous 1966 study by James Coleman found that background characteristics such as race, parental achievement levels, and family income swamped most other factors studied as determinants of student test scores. Decades of research have confirmed this study’s general findings, with a 1999 paper estimating that 60 percent of variation in student achievement was attributable to such background characteristics. [1]

Researchers have been unable to link a significant share of the variation in student achievement—as much as 25 percent—to any particular input. Of the remaining share, attributable to what happens within school, researchers have linked most of that variation to teachers.

It is difficult to cite an exact figure on what percent of the variation in achievement observed is attributable to differences in teacher effectiveness. Three economists in 1998 estimated that at least 7.5 percent of the variation in student achievement resulted directly from teacher quality and added that the actual number could be as high as 20 percent.[2]

Researchers have found that school-based factors, including teaching, are more influential in math than in reading. A 1999 paper puts all in-school factors, including school-, teacher-, and class-level factors, at approximately 21 percent of the variation in 10th grade mathematics achievement. It further estimated that 8.5 percent was directly due to teacher effectiveness.[3]

Some researchers warn that other important factors that potentially affect achievement— such as the effect of principals and other administrators, and the interaction of teachers with the curriculum—have not been as carefully studied as teacher quality.[4]

It can be said:

Research has shown that the variation in student achievement is predominantly a product of individual and family background characteristics. Of the school factors that have been isolated for study, teachers are probably the most important determinants of how students will perform on standardized tests.

Are value-added estimations reliable or stable?

Value-added modeling measures individual students’ performance on tests over time, using prior test scores to predict future outcomes. Statistical controls attempt to screen out factors such as race, family background, and the effect of peers, so as to attribute the remaining variation in student academic outcomes to schools and teachers.

At the level of individual teachers, such estimates vary considerably, pointing to differences in teachers’ levels of skill.

Some scholars say that of the measures of teacher effectiveness studied so far, value-added appears to be among the most promising. In one study, for instance, researchers used value-added estimates of teachers to predict the student-achievement patterns of some 3,000 students in 78 classrooms, and then randomly assigned teachers to these classrooms. The value-added models, while not perfect, were significant predictors of actual outcomes. [1]

At the same time, researchers have discovered that a host of factors contribute to measurement error in these estimates. These problems include the nonrandom assignment of students and teachers to schools and classrooms[2]; different effect sizes or results based on the statistical models used[3]; differences in the tests that supply the underlying data[4]; the seeming instability of estimates of particular teachers from year to year[5]; and the fade-out of teacher effects.[6]

In general, the variance in year-to-year estimates of individual teachers’ performance could indicate measurement error. Some of these problems, like the problem of tracking and instability in the estimates, seem to be ameliorated by using additional years of student data for each teacher, though researchers continue to debate this issue.[7]

The implications of these problems, both for policy and for research, are difficult to parse, and policy experts continue to debate the use of value-added as a component of teacher evaluations and for other purposes.

Finally, the research on teacher quality suggests that other school factors may affect how effective teachers appear to be in these types of calculations. One study found that up to a quarter of the estimate of an individual teacher’s value-added score depended on whether teachers were a good “match” for a particular school. Its author postulated that such factors as whether the teacher’s teaching philosophy meshed with the school’s culture and the choice of curricula might contribute to this match effect.[8]

Many teacher groups argue that value-added measures fail to take into account the considerable role of school and district leadership. Researchers are still investigating the role of principals as distinct from teachers, but it is difficult to disentangle the two.

Teachers’ peers may also influence their effectiveness. At least one study has found that a teacher appears to improve when surrounded by more-effective colleagues. [9] But a second paper looking at this question found no consistent evidence that teachers who hold National Board Certification, an independent honor that teachers go through a rigorous process to obtain, have an impact on the effectiveness of their peers.[10]

For a longer discussion of the issue of value-added measurement and its place in policy, see Harris 2011.

It can be said:

Value-added models appear to pick up some differences in teacher quality, but they can be influenced by a number of factors, such as the statistical controls selected. They may also be affected by the characteristics of schools and peers. The impact of unmeasured factors in schools, such as principals and choice of curriculum, is less clear.

What are the differences in achievement between students who have effective or ineffective teachers for several years in a row?

Scholars have expressed the variation among teachers in many ways. An early paper on value-added dating from 1992, for instance, suggested that teachers near the top of the performance curve in a district could get an additional year’s worth of growth out of students compared with the poorest-performing teachers.[1] They have also found that the variation in teacher quality is primarily within schools rather than between them, meaning that almost all schools have both effective and ineffective teachers.

Despite much rhetoric from advocacy groups, the question of whether it’s possible to dramatically change outcomes for struggling students by assigning them to several effective teachers in a row remains an open one.

One of the most influential studies to assert this dates from 1996. Drawing from mathematics test data on Tennessee students linked to teachers over a four-year period, the study separated teachers by estimated effectiveness into quintiles. The researchers then tracked those students’ progression from 3rd through 5th grade.

They found that students assigned to three years of effective teachers outscored comparable students with three ineffective teachers by up to 50 percent points. The authors said that the effects of having several excellent teachers in a row accumulated over time.[2]

More recent findings, however, have called into question the assumption that teacher effects can simply be added together year after year.

A number of researchers have highlighted the “fade out” or depreciation of teacher effects over time,[3] a phenomenon that has appeared in a number of studies using value-added modeling. What this means is that impact of a teachers’ instruction on this year’s scores does not seem to persist when those same students move on to other grades. One 2008 study, for instance, found that teacher effects from one year had only half their impact in the next year.[4]

Second, as noted earlier, estimates of individual teachers’ effects vary from year to year, and are more volatile for smaller cohorts of students or when fewer years of data are incorporated into the estimates.

Therefore, policies that pair the best teachers with underserved students would need to identify teachers who consistently produce strong gains and ensure that such gains compound over time, if those initiatives are to have a lasting effect on student scores. Such policies have not been tested at scale.

It can be said:

Some teachers produce stronger achievement gains among their students than others do. However, estimates of an individual teacher’s effectiveness can vary from year to year, and the impact of an effective teacher seems to decrease with time.  The cumulative effect on students’ learning from having a succession of strong teachers is not clear.

Do teacher characteristics such as academic achievement, years of experience, and certification affect student test scores?

Most of these characteristics have been examined using large sets of data in which teachers are linked to student scores. Several of the characteristics do indeed bear a relationship to student achievement, but in general, scholars say their effects tend to be somewhat weak or inconsistent across studies.

Thus, on average, such characteristics matter. But there are plenty of cases in which teachers with advanced degrees, extensive experience, or specialized credentials are not noticeably more effective than their peers, and there are likewise many effective teachers without such credentials.

The basic problem can be summed up by the conclusion of a study dating from 2005. It found large differences among teachers in terms of their value-added impact on student achievement and went on to note that this variation was not readily explained by factors such as graduate degrees or experience after the first few years in the profession.[1] A 1999 paper, meanwhile, estimated that only 3 percent of the variation in student achievement could be traced back to measurable teacher characteristics, such as teachers’ academic profiles and degrees.[2]

Of these measures, there is good evidence that teachers gain in effectiveness with additional years on the job.[3] In general, value-added analyses show early career experience pays off in effectiveness steadily through at least the fifth year. This effect appears to be more consistent for elementary and middle schools than for high schools.[4] In addition, the impact of experience appears to be stronger than that of most other teacher characteristics.[5]

Reviews of the empirical research on credentials, in general, point to consensus that teachers’ math content knowledge seems to improve students’ test scores in that subject.

One study found this connection at the 1st and 3rd grade levels using a specially constructed measure of pedagogical content knowledge.[6] A second study looking at Florida test data found links between content-focused professional-development credits in math and secondary math achievement.[7] And one study found slight boosts in achievement for middle and high school students taught by teachers with an undergraduate or graduate degree in mathematics.[8]

Information on other content areas is sparse, but one study found a link between teachers’ holding a bachelor’s degree in science and student achievement in that subject. [9]

Studies are mixed on the attainment of advanced degrees and elementary-level student achievement; some studies show positive correlations, others negative ones. On balance the link to achievement is likely tenuous at best.[10] Several studies have found that entering teaching with a master’s degree of any kind does not boost achievement, relative to not holding such a degree, nor does earning such degrees seem to improve outcomes at the elementary level.[11]

Licensure test scores seem to matter more for math than for other subjects. They consistently appear linked to improved student achievement in that subject, at both the elementary level and at the high school level for algebra and geometry. Findings are mixed for other subjects.[12]

As for certification, one study found that students taught by teachers with any sort of certification outperformed those without certification or who were certified out of field.[13] Another found that those taught by teachers with standard certification outperformed uncertified teachers or those with nonstandard certifications.[14]

Much of the information on teacher certification also seems to find benefits primarily for math. At the high school level, teachers with subject-specific credentials in math tended to boost students’ scores more than those teachers who were not certified in that subject.[15]

Scholars have noted that teachers may affect learning more in mathematics, which tends to be taught exclusively in school, than in reading.[16]

Scholars have spent much time analyzing the effects of National Board Certification, but these numerous studies have mixed findings. In a review of the literature, a National Research Council panel concluded that evidence supports the notion that students taught by national-board-certified teachers on average have higher scores than those not taught by such teachers. But it said the evidence doesn’t support the idea that the process itself makes teachers better at their craft.[17]

Teachers who enter the profession with specific sets of cognitive and noncognitive skills also on average seem to be slightly more effective than those who do not.[18]

The policy implications of these findings are, again, hard to parse. Generally speaking, the policy question concerns whether investing in certain teacher characteristics, (by paying a premium for teachers who hold National Board Certification or a master’s degree, for instance), are cost effective relative to other possible investments.

For a longer summary of the research literature on credentials, see Goe 2007.

It can be said:

Teachers improve in effectiveness at least over their first few years on the job. Characteristics such as board certification, and content knowledge in math sometimes are linked with student achievement. Still, these factors don’t explain much of the differences in teacher effectiveness overall.

Does merit pay for teachers produce better student achievement or retain more-effective teachers?

Performance-pay policies have been tried at many different points in the last several decades. Most offer monetary bonuses to teachers who boost student scores, participate in professional development, or meet other criteria, but they do not change base pay.

The literature on performance pay is vast, and a full review lies outside the scope of this paper. Scholars say that the research questions around performance pay are hard to answer in just one study, especially since the questions vary. Do the programs encourage teachers to work harder and make them more effective at raising scores? Do they serve as a recruitment incentive, attracting high-quality teachers, over time changing the composition of the teacher workforce? Until recently, most of the research has focused on only the first question.

Conclusions culled from random-assignment experimental studies, the research “gold standard,” are limited. One review found just nine studies that used a random-assignment or quasi-experimental method to determine whether bonus programs raised scores; some of the studies looked at performance pay in countries outside of the United States. Those studies, in general, showed positive effects, but may not be applicable to the U.S. school system.[1]

In 2010, researchers at the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University released the results of a three-year experimental study on merit pay in Nashville middle schools. Under the experiment, math teachers who increased student scores received a significant bonus of up to $15,000. The study found no effects on achievement outside of 5th grade. Its authors concluded that the program had done little to change teacher practices.[2]

Also in 2010, preliminary results from a random-assignment experiment in Chicago on the Teacher Advancement Program, which includes merit pay as well as other features such as modified professional development, found no effects on achievement or teacher- retention rates. [3]

A handful of other quasi-experimental studies have been mounted to study school reform plans that contain a performance-pay element. Using a method to create “synthetic” comparison schools, one study found apparent benefits for students whose teachers participated in the Teacher Advancement Program, a finding that stands in contrast to the Chicago experiment.[4]

Teachers participating in the pay-for-performance component of Denver’s comprehensive ProComp teacher-compensation plan also appeared to boost achievement under certain conditions. The program requires teachers to set achievement goals with their principals. Those teachers who wrote the highest-quality objectives were associated with higher student achievement in elementary, middle, and high school than teachers who wrote lower-quality objectives.

However, a comparison of schools participating in the pilot program with those not participating found mixed effects from the program.[5]

Factors such as the size of the bonus, the number of teachers permitted to receive it, and the methodologies used to award the pay all seem likely to shape the effects of such programs.

It can be said:

In the United States, merit pay exclusively focused on rewarding teachers whose students produce gains has not been shown to improve student achievement, though some international studies show positive effects. Research has been mixed on comprehensive pay models that incorporate other elements, such as professional development. Scholars are still examining whether such programs might work over time by attracting more effective teachers.

Do students in unionized states do better than students in states without unions?

Many studies have attempted to address the impact of unionization or collective bargaining on student achievement. The question needs careful parsing.

It is true that students now tend to do better in heavily unionized states, like Massachusetts, rather than in those without required bargaining, like Alabama and Mississippi. But this simple correlation provides no information about whether unionization causes these achievement patterns. As the general public isn’t likely to be aware of the difference between correlation and causation, it behooves reporters to explain the difference when reporting on this topic.

Some research has been conducted on the causation question, and, as one 2008 paper summarizing the relevant literature found, results appear to be mixed. The studies tended to use different models and methodologies, choices that impacted their findings, the paper found. For instance, “point in time” studies tended to find positive impacts of unionization on academic achievement, while those looking at student growth over time tended to show negative impacts.[1] See Burroughs 2008 for a longer discussion and bibliography.

The most recent study purports to use a “natural experiment” to compare performance on SAT exams from the period between 1993 and 1999, during which New Mexico had mandatory bargaining, to the period between 1999 and 2003, when bargaining was permissible but no longer mandatory. It compared performance during those time periods to achievement patterns in other states, controlling for factors such as state racial composition, poverty rates, and crime rates.[2] In addition, the author attempted to account for the fact that the change in bargaining laws probably would not have had immediate effects.

The study found that mandatory collective bargaining was correlated with an increase in SAT scores, but a lowering of graduation rates.

Critics of the study noted that federal data show that before the shift in state law, not all local teachers had voted in favor of union representation, raising questions about what phenomena the results actually reflect.

It can be said:

Students tend to do well in some heavily unionized states, but it isn’t possible to conclude that it is the presence or absence of unions that cause that achievement.

About the Author: Stephen Sawchuk is an assistant editor at Education Week, an independent national news organization based in Bethesda, Md. He reports on teacher quality and the teaching profession.

EWA Research Brief: What Studies Say About Teacher Effectiveness


Burroughs, Nathan. 2008. “Arguments and Evidence: Collective Bargaining’s Role in Public Education.” Center for Evaluation & Education Policy, Vol. 6(8)

Clotfelter, Charles T. Helen F. Ladd, and Jacob L. Vigdor. 2007a. “Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement: Longitudinal Analysis with Student Fixed Effects.” Economics of Education Review (December)

—. 2007b. “How and Why Do Teacher Credentials Matter for Student Achievement?” CALDER Working Paper 2. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute

—.  2007c. “Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement in High Schools: A Cross-Subject Analysis with Student Fixed Effects.” CALDER Working Paper 11. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute

—, and Justin Wheeler. 2007. “High Poverty Schools and the Distribution of Teachers and Principals.’ CALDER Working Paper 1. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute

Darling Hammond, Linda, Deborah J. Holtzman, Su Jin Gatlin, and Julian Vasquez Heilig. 2005. “Does Teacher Preparation Matter?” Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13(42)

Glazerman, Steven, and Allison Seifullah. 2010. “An Evaluation of the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) in Chicago: Year Two Impact Report.” Mathematica Policy Research, 6319-520

Goe, Laura. 2007. “The Link Between Teacher Quality and Student Outcomes: A Research Synthesis.” Washington, D.C.: National Comprehensive Center on Teacher Quality

Goldhaber, Daniel, Dominic J. Brewer, and Deborah J. Anderson. 1997. “A Three-Way Error Component Analysis of Educational Productivity.” Education Economics, Abingdon

Goldhaber, Daniel, and Dominic Brewer. 1999. “Teacher Licensing and Student Achievement.” In C. Finn and M. Kanstoroom, eds.:Better Teachers, Better Schools. Washington, D.C. Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Goldhaber, Daniel, and Dominic Brewer. 1997. “Evaluating the Effect of Teacher Degree Level on Educational Performance.” In W. Fowler, ed., Developments in School Finance, 1996NCES 97–535. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics

Hakel, Milton, Judith Anderson Koenig, and Stuart W. Elliot, eds. 2008. Assessing Accomplished Teaching: Advanced Level Certification Programs. Committee on Evaluation of Teacher Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Washington, D.C.: National Research Council

Hanushek, Eric A. 1992. “The Trade-off Between Child Quantity and Quality.” Journal of Political Economics, 100(1), 84-117

Hanushek, Eric A., and Steven G. Rivkin. 2010. “Generalizations About Using Value-Added Measures of Teacher Quality.” American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings Vol. 100

Hanushek, Eric A., John F. Kain, and Steven G. Rivkin. 1998. “Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement.” New York: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 6691

Harris, Douglas N. 2011. Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know. Harvard Education Press: Cambridge, Mass.

Harris, Douglas N., and Tim R. Sass. 2007. “Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement.” CALDER Working Paper 3. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute

Harris, Douglas N., and Tim R. Sass. 2009. “The Effects of NBPTS-Certified Teachers on Student Achievement.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 28 (1), 55-80

Harris, Douglas N., and Tim R. Sass. 2011. “Teacher Training, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement.” Journal of Public Economics 95 (2011) 798-812

Hill, Heather, Brian Rowan, and Deborah Loewenberg Ball. 2005. “Effects of Teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching on Student Achievement.” American Educational Research Journal 42(2), 371-406

Hudson, Sally. 2010. “The Effect of Performance-Based Teacher Pay on Student Achievement.” Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Discussion Paper 09-023

Jackson, C. Kirabo, and Elias Bruegmann. 2009. “Teaching Students and Teaching Each Other: The Importance of Peer Learning for Teachers.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 1(4): 85-108

Jackson, C. Kirabo. 2010. “Match Quality, Worker Productivity, and Worker Mobility: Direct Evidence From Teachers.” New York: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 15990

Kane, Thomas, Jonah Rockoff, and Douglas O. Staiger. 2006. “What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence From New York City.” New York: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 12155

Kane, Thomas J., and Douglas O. Staiger. 2008. “Estimating Teacher Impacts on Student Achievement: An Experimental Evaluation.” New York: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 14607

Koedel, Cory, and Julian R. Betts. 2007. “Re-Examining the Role of Teacher Quality in the Educational Production Function.” Unpublished working paper, University of Missouri

Koedel, Cory, and Julian R. Betts. 2009. “Does Student Sorting Invalidate Value-Added Models of Teacher Effectiveness? An Extended Analysis of the Rothstein Critique.” Unpublished working paper, University of Missouri

Hill, H.C., B. Rowan, and D. Ball. 2005. “Effects of Teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching on Student Achievement.”American Educational Research Journal 42(2)

Lindy, Benjamin. 2011. “The Impact of Teacher Collective Bargaining Laws on Student Achievement: Evidence from a New Mexico Natural Experiment.” 120 Yale Law Journal 1130

Nye, Barbara, Spyros Konstantopoulos, and Larry Hedges 2004. “How Large Are Teacher Effects?” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26(3)

Paypay, John P. 2011. “Different Tests, Different Answers: The Stability of Teacher Value-Added Estimates Across Outcome Measures.” American Educational Research Journal 48(1), 163-193

Podgursky, Michael J., and Matthew G. Springer. Teacher Performance Pay: A Review. 2006. National Center on Performance Incentives, Working Paper 2006-01

Rice, Jennifer King. 2010. “The Impact of Teacher Experience: Examining the Evidence and Policy Implications.”  CALDER. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute

Rivkin, Steven G., Eric A. Hanushek, and John F. Kain. 2005. “Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement.” Econometrica 73(2), 417-458

Rockoff, Jonah. 2004. “The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data.” American Economic Review 94(2), 247-252.

Rockoff, Jonah E., Brian A. Jacob, Thomas J. Kane, and Douglas O. Staiger. 2008. “Can You Recognize an Effective Teacher When You Recruit One?” New York: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 14485

Rothstein, Jesse. 2009. “Student Sorting and Bias in Value-Added Estimation: Selection on Observables and Unobservables.”Education Finance and Policy 4(4), 537-571

Rothstein, Jesse. 2010. “Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(1): 175–214

Rothstein, Richard. 2010. “How to Fix Our Schools.” Washington D.C.: Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief No. 286.

Sanders, William L. and June C. Rivers. 1996. “Cumulative and Residual Effects of Teachers on Future Academic Achievement.” Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Value-Added Research and Assessment Center

Slotnik, William, and Maribeth Smith. 2004. Catalyst for Change: Pay for Performance in Denver. Community Training and Assistance Center

Retrieved from: http://www.ewa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=research_teacher_effectiveness2

Did Obama Just Perform A “Progressive Pivot-Point” On Education Policy?

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics, School reform on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 07:48

Did Obama Just Perform A “Progressive Pivot-Point” On Education Policy?.

2012 in review

In Uncategorized on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 07:06

thank you to those who read my blog.  i do not consider myself a writer nor a blogger, really, i just like to share things that i fond interesting or sound off on things, at times.  i am humbled and grateful that there are people who are interested in my posts and what i have to say.  thank you for reading.  i hope to keep you interested…


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

adhd, 504, private schools, and provision of services…

In ADHD, ADHD child/adolescent, Education, Education Law, School Psychology on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 07:00

District Not Required to Serve ADHD Student Attending Private School

(January 16, 2013) A school district does not have an obligation to provide services to an ADHD child enrolled in a private religious school under current federal disability-rights law.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that Baltimore City Public Schools had no obligation to provided special education services under Section 504 to an 8th grade ADHD student who attended a private Jewish school in Maryland.

D.L., the student around whom the law suit swirled, was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety as a fifth grade student in 2007. Two years later, Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners (BCBSC) determined that while D.L. did not qualify for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA), he was eligible under Section 504. Upon making this determination though, BCBSC notified D.L.’s parents that it could not provide the student services unless D.L. was enrolled in one of its schools. Since Maryland is a state that does not allow dual enrollment in a private and public school, D.L. would have to withdraw from his Yeshiva and enroll at the local public school.

D.L.’s parents challenged this decision, arguing that Section 504 creates an affirmative duty for school districts to provide services to eligible students enrolled in private schools. The parents’ arguments failed before a hearing officer so they filed suit in the United States District Court of Maryland. BCBSC filed a motion for summary judgment (a motion which basically says that even if D.L.’s parents were to prove all the facts they assert, they would still lose the case as a matter of law) and the parents filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The lower court granted BCBSC’s summary judgment motion and denied the parent’s partial summary judgment motion. The parents filed an appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

In the case, D.L. v. Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, the parents argued two main points: 1) that Section 504 regulation mandate that BCBSC provide D.L. with afree and appropriate education (FAPE), and 2) that BCBSC’s requirement that the family enroll D.L. in a public school violates their constitutional rights under the First Amendment’s Freedom of Religion clause.

With regard to the first contention, the court recognized that the plain language of Section 504 leaves unclear whether public schools are required to provide services to students enrolled in private schools. 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(a) states in relevant part that districts must “provide each Section 504 eligible student within its jurisdiction with a [FAPE].” The parents contend this language means that public schools have a greater obligation that simply making such education available.

The court reasoned that while the plain language is ambiguous, that further clarification in Appendix A of the regulations where it states in relevant part, “[i]f . . . a recipient offers adequate services and if alternate placement is chosen by a student’s parent or guardian, the recipient need not assume the cost of the outside services.” In looking at this, the court noted that while this shows that a district need not pay for services obtained outside the public school, it leaves open the question of whether such services can be obtained from the school.

Here, the court relied upon a clarification letter by the Department of Education entitled OCR Response to Veir Inquire Re: Various Matters which offers a direct clarification of the disputed regulation. The court noted that where a regulation is ambiguous, courts must grant deference to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation. In the Vier letter, the DOE stated that “[w]here a district has offered an appropriate education, a district is not responsible under Section 504, for the provision of educational services to students not enrolled in the public education program based on the personal choice of the parent or guardian.” The court applied this language to hold that BCBSC had no responsibility to provide services to D.L. in his private school placement.

In reaching its holding, the court also rejected the parents’ arguments that Section 504′s language should be interpreted broadly since it is a remedial statute. While noting that turth of the parent’s contention that remedial statutes should be broadly construed, the court noted,

“The purpose of Section 504 does not, however, extend as far as Appellants [parents] assert that it should. Section 504 and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, not on the basis of school choice.”

The court next tackled the First Amendment issues raised by the suit. The parents’ suit tried to persuade the court that the Supreme Court’s rulings in Pierce, 268 U.S. 510, andYoder, 406 U.S. 205, show that requiring D.L. to attend Baltimore public schools was a violation of his First Amendment rights.

The court easily distinguished these cases in that both involved parents being charged under criminal statutes for failure to educate their children in public schools. Here, the parents face no such sanctions and retain free choice as to where their child go to school. The issue was one of payment of services. While it is true that the parents would need to pay additional services that would be free were they to attend public schools, such increased economic burden does not meet the standard of a First Amendment violation. The court noted, “The Supreme Court has explained that a statute does not violate the Free Exercise Clause [First Amendment] merely because it causes economic disadvantage on individuals who choose to practice their religion in a specific manner.

Retrieved from: http://www.ocspecialedattorney.com/district-not-required-to-serve-adhd-student-attending-private-school/

adhd outcome data. a look at adhd 33 years later. two interesting pieces of research!

In ADHD, ADHD Adult, ADHD child/adolescent, ADHD stimulant treatment on Thursday, 24 January 2013 at 10:25

ADHD Outcome Data in Adults Shows Value of Early Treatment

By: Joan Arehart-Treichel

When men diagnosed with ADHD in childhood were followed up several decades later, some were found to have very poor outcomes. Most, however, were leading productive lives. 

Having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood portends a number of negative outcomes later in life, a 33-year follow-up of childhood ADHD subjects has found.

The study, which was headed by Rachel Klein, Ph.D., a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York University Child Study Center, was reported online October 15 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study included 271 white men who were 41 years old. Out of the subjects, 135 had had childhood ADHD without conduct disorder. The remaining 136 had not had childhood ADHD, but had parents whose occupations matched those of the ADHD subjects. They served as control subjects.

The researchers compared the two groups on several outcomes and found that the former were generally doing more poorly than the controls were. They had significantly worse educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes, as well as more divorces and higher rates of antisocial personality disorder, substance use disorder, and nicotine dependence.

For example, 31 percent of the ADHD subjects did not complete high school, compared with 5 percent of control subjects. The ADHD subjects were earning, on average, $40,000 a year less than the control subjects. Although most individuals in both groups were living with a spouse (70 percent and 79 percent), significantly more ADHD subjects were currently divorced (10 percent versus 3 percent) or had ever been divorced (31 percent versus 12 percent). The ADHD subjects were about three times more likely to have a substance use disorder and nicotine dependence than controls.

Moreover, 16 percent of ADHD subjects had antisocial personality disorder, while no controls did.

That none of the controls had antisocial personality disorder a third-of-a-century later needs clarification, Klein said in an interview. Some of the controls did have conduct disorder during adolescence, and about 8 percent developed antisocial personality disorder, but the prevalence at the average age of 25 was low, around 3 percent, and of these none retained the diagnosis at the average age of 41. “I was surprised that none of the controls continued on the path of antisocial personality, especially since, in contrast, the ADHD children fared much worse in this regard. The finding points to the possibility that among boys without ADHD, the extended prognosis for conduct disorder is good.”

Also, since the 12-month prevalence rate for antisocial personality disorder in American adults is 1 percent according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, “it is not surprising that the disorder is not found in a single sample,” Klein said.

But what is striking in any case, she concluded, is that “antisocial personality disorder disappeared completely among the men who did not have a childhood history of ADHD.”

Finally, the worst outcome for those in the ADHD sample was for those who developed both antisocial personality disorder and a substance use disorder. Also, the 22 percent of ADHD subjects whose illness had persisted into adolescence or early adulthood were especially at risk of developing an antisocial personality disorder and a substance use disorder.

Yet some good news also emerged from the study. While 84 of the 135 ADHD subjects developed a conduct disorder during adolescence, only 22 went on to develop antisocial personality disorder.

An unexpected finding, Klein added, was “that the men who had ADHD in childhood did not have relatively more new psychopathology during adulthood.” For instance, they had no more mood or anxiety disorders at age 41 than controls did. Indeed, “ADHD was not a lifelong disorder in the majority of cases,” Klein emphasized. “Most children went on to live fruitful lives, most were employed, most were in rewarding relationships, and most were happy with their situation.”

“This is a long-term follow-up study of 6- to 12-year-old boys who were diagnosed with ADHD,” child psychiatrist David Fassler, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and APA treasurer, told Psychiatric News. “Of significant concern, they noted an increased incidence of incarceration and death compared to a matched control group. The results remind us that ADHD in childhood is often associated with persistent adverse consequences later in life. The findings also underscore the importance of early recognition and ongoing access to appropriate and effective treatment for children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. ■

An abstract of “Clinical and Functional Outcome of Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder 33 Years later” is posted athttp://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1378851.

Psychiatric News   |   December 07, 2012

Volume 47 Number 23 page 26-26


American Psychiatric Association

Retrieved from: http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsArticle.aspx?articleid=1484670

Clinical and Functional Outcome of Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder 33 Years Later

Rachel G. Klein, PhD; Salvatore Mannuzza, PhD; María A. Ramos Olazagasti, PhD; Erica Roizen, MS; Jesse A. Hutchison, BA; Erin C. Lashua, MA; F. Xavier Castellanos, MD

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;69(12):1295-1303. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.271.

Context  Prospective studies of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have not extended beyond early adulthood.

Objective  To examine whether children diagnosed as having ADHD at a mean age of 8 years (probands) have worse educational, occupational, economic, social, and marital outcomes and higher rates of ongoing ADHD, antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), substance use disorders (SUDs), adult-onset psychiatric disorders, psychiatric hospitalizations, and incarcerations than non-ADHD comparison participants at a mean age of 41 years.

Design  Prospective, 33-year follow-up study, with masked clinical assessments.

Setting  Research clinic.

Participants  A total of 135 white men with ADHD in childhood, free of conduct disorder, and 136 men without childhood ADHD (65.2% and 76.4% of original cohort, respectively).

Main Outcome Measures  Occupational, economic, and educational attainment; marital history; occupational and social functioning; ongoing and lifetime psychiatric disorders; psychiatric hospitalizations; and incarcerations.

Results  Probands had significantly worse educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes; more divorces; and higher rates of ongoing ADHD (22.2% vs 5.1%,P < .001), ASPD (16.3% vs 0%, P < .001), and SUDs (14.1% vs 5.1%, P = .01) but not more mood or anxiety disorders (P = .36 and .33) than did comparison participants. Ongoing ADHD was weakly related to ongoing SUDs (ϕ = 0.19, P = .04), as well as ASPD with SUDs (ϕ = 0.20, P = .04). During their lifetime, probands had significantly more ASPD and SUDs but not mood or anxiety disorders and more psychiatric hospitalizations and incarcerations than comparison participants. Relative to comparisons, psychiatric disorders with onsets at 21 years or older were not significantly elevated in probands. Probands without ongoing psychiatric disorders had worse social, but not occupational, functioning.

Conclusions  The multiple disadvantages predicted by childhood ADHD well into adulthood began in adolescence, without increased onsets of new disorders after 20 years of age. Findings highlight the importance of extended monitoring and treatment of children with ADHD.

Retrieved from: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1378851#qundefined

four questions to ask…

In Fitness/Health, Mindfulness, Well-being on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 07:56


#trending now…adhd.

In ADHD, ADHD Adult, ADHD child/adolescent on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 17:33

Recent Trends In Childhood ADHD

Darios Getahun, MD, PhD; Steven J. Jacobsen, MD, PhD; Michael J. Fassett, MD; Wansu Chen, MS; Kitaw Demissie, MD, PhD; George G. Rhoads, MD, MPH

JAMA Pediatr. 2013;():1-7. doi:10.1001/2013.jamapediatrics.401.


Objective  To examine trends in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by race/ethnicity, age, sex, and median household income.

Design  An ecologic study of trends in the diagnosis of ADHD using the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) health plan medical records. Rates of ADHD diagnosis were derived using Poisson regression analyses after adjustments for potential confounders.

Setting  Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena.

Participants  All children who received care at the KPSC from January 1, 2001, through December 31, 2010 (n = 842 830).

Main Exposure  Period of ADHD diagnosis (in years).

Main Outcome Measures  Incidence of physician-diagnosed ADHD in children aged 5 to 11 years.

Results  Rates of ADHD diagnosis were 2.5% in 2001 and 3.1% in 2010, a relative increase of 24%. From 2001 to 2010, the rate increased among whites (4.7%-5.6%; relative risk [RR] = 1.3; 95% CI, 1.2-1.4), blacks (2.6%- 4.1%; RR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.5-1.9), and Hispanics (1.7%-2.5%; RR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.5-1.7). Rates for Asian/Pacific Islander and other racial groups remained unchanged over time. The increase in ADHD diagnosis among blacks was largely driven by an increase in females (RR = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5-2.3). Although boys were more likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD than girls, results suggest the sex gap for blacks may be closing over time. Children living in high-income households were at increased risk of diagnosis.

Conclusions  The findings suggest that the rate of ADHD diagnosis among children in the health plan notably has increased over time. We observed disproportionately high ADHD diagnosis rates among white children and notable increases among black girls.

Retrieved from: http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1558056#qundefined

Top 10 Parenting Books on Autism

In Autism Spectrum Disorders on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 10:42

Top 10 Parenting Books on Autism

by Lee Wilkinson, Ph.D.

Many authors of parenting books on autism often comment that they wrote their book because of difficulty in finding a practical, informative book on the topic of raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, over the past few years many autism parenting books have been published and parents of a newly diagnosed child with autism can find some very good offerings. TheSpecial Needs Book Review has listed theirTOP TEN Books for parents raising a child with autism. Please note that Special Needs Book Review is not paid for reviewing books. The reviews and TOP TEN Books on autism are entirely their opinions. The ten books are in random order. Readers can follow the link in each paragraph to the complete review of each book. Many of the authors have participated in the Special Needs Book Review Author Interview Series and you will find a link to the interviews with the review of their book.

TOP TEN Parenting Books on Autism

1. Different . . . Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger’s, and ADHD -by Temple Grandin, PhD. ~ Dr Temple Grandin found the perfect words, Different…Not Less, to describe herself and the fourteen contributors of her new book who all have autism or Asperger’s. In the foreword, Dr Tony Attwood writes, “This is an inspiring book.” Each contributor has a chapter and their story is told in their own words. Dr. Grandin chose individuals from a wide variety of skill sets, from different countries, ranging in age from their 30’s to 60’s but the topics addressed are similar: early years, school years, parental support, bullying, college, family relationships, employment, diagnosis, mentors, etc. Review

2. 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching & Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s: Expanded 2nd Edition -by Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk ~ Looking for advice, support and encouragement in your overwhelming journey raising a child with autism or Asperger’s? This is the book you need. Teachers, friends, and family of autistic children read this empowering book crammed with information, solutions, and explanations to make the lives of these children better.Review

3. What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism: A Mom and a Psychologist Offer Heartfelt Guidance for the First Five Years ~ Bravo to authors Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D. in achieving what they set out to do. Write a book to assure those who love and care for an individual on the autism spectrum that life goes on; it doesn’t have to be all depressing, hard work. If you are an educator, or know a family with an autistic child, this book is also for you because you will understand the challenges these families face. Reading their book will bring understanding and compassion to others… hopefully those standing in line with you at the checkout counters. Review

4. Look at my Eyes: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Autism and PDD-NOS -by Melanie and Seth Fowler~ I love this gem of a book from cover to cover! I recommend it to the general public so they can know what it is like to raise a child with autism, in this case a boy diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified). I recommend this book to new parents who are questioning if their toddler is on track with his developmental milestones. Most of all Look at my Eyes in a must-read if you have a child newly diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.Review

5. Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: What you really need to know about autism from autistics, parents, and professionals ~ Edited by Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham and Carol Greenburg. This awesome book has fifty-five essays written by contributors from the autism community in all walks of life. The autism spectrum disorder community, especially parents of newly diagnosed children, needs this book. It is filled with positive, evidence-based autism information and advice. There are nine broad themes/chapters and the essays are grouped together accordingly. To quickly retrieve an essay on a particular topic, Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism has a comprehensive index… something so many books lack. Review

6. Crazy Love: A Traumedy about Life with Autism -by Sharie Walter ~ This book tickles your funny bone from cover to cover. In her memoir, Sharie keeps you entertained with her amusing stories of life with autism raising her 5 year old daughter. Ms. Walter is surely a talented wordsmith that keeps you chuckling with her brilliantly written snippets of life with autism. Laugh a lot and learn a lot from Sharie Walter’s beautifully written book. Review

7. The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s -by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. ~What an amazing accomplishment on the part of her parents, the professionals, caregivers and friends who helped her and on Temple herself to have overcome or learned to cope with many of her challenges caused by autism. Readers will rejoice and be filled with hope for their own loved ones with autism or Asperger’s as they read Temple’s story on how she was motivated to forge ahead and adapt. Review

8. The Child with Autism at Home & in the Community: Over 600 Must-Have Tips -by Kathy Labosh and LaNita Miller ~ 600 bullet points providing practical tips and tried-out strategies for families and educators to use to meet the needs of autistic children. You will find TIPS to make your home life happier and easier on picky eating, shampoos, and locking doors to prevent elopements, etc. Then you find the hundreds of suggestions on how to go out and enjoy your community. Learn what to do to enjoy the community playground, restaurant, mall, grocery store, movie theater, church, library, and sporting events, etc. Review

9. Challenging the Myths of Autism: Unlock New Possibilities and Hope -by Jonathan Alderson, Ed.M ~ In this book, Jonathan examines seven stereotypical characterizations or “myths of autism”. He has a chapter on each of these perennially inaccurate descriptions. Each chapter explains the origins of the seven myths and discusses the evidence refuting them. The author invites the reader to put aside their preconceived notions of autism which can mislead parents, therapists, and the general public to underestimate the potential of children with autism. Alderson’s book is crammed with heartwarming stories and useful information. Review

10. Developing Leisure Time Skills for Persons with Autism: Structured Playtime Activities with Valuable Support Strategies for Adults -by Phyllis Coyne, Colleen Nyberg, and Mary Lou Vandenburg ~ This book is a detailed guide with comprehensive, structured strategies to help adults introduce meaningful, leisure activities to children with ASD. The method used is to narrow down the personal preferences and strengths of these individuals and use this knowledge to assist them to be more independent and self-directing in participating in more enjoyable and meaningful leisure activities. Review

Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, CCBT, NCSP is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published byJessica Kingsley Publishers.

Retrieved from: http://www.examiner.com/article/top-10-parenting-books-on-autism

Human Needs, Buddhist Psychology and Mindfulness

In Buddhist Thoughts, General Psychology, Happiness, Mindfulness on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 11:09

Human Needs, Buddhist Psychology and Mindfulness

Targeting mindfulness

Published on January 17, 2013 by Michael J. Formica, MS, MA, EdM in Enlightened Living

Buddhist psychology—and the Shankya yoga science from which it issues – describes seven psychological characteristics that inform our four life meta-categories (work, relationship, self and spirit) and also map directly to the various needs spectrums found in Western motivational psychology.

We can think of the life meta-categories of work, relationship, self and spirit as occurring in four quadrants. Within these quadrants are smaller categories, like job, love, sex, health, religion, etc., respectively. The way that each of us balances the four quadrants and their sub-categories creates a framework for our lives. To understand how and why we create that balance, we need to consider our underlying motivation.

Theories of human motivation abound. Most of us are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as well as Freud’s less rigidly presented spectrum of human needs. William McDougall, William James and Henry Murray have all contributed to this conversation, as has, more recently, Steven Reiss. In addition, Martin Seligman’s positive psychology would appear to be informed by Jung’s focus onspiritual fulfillment and Frankl’s will to meaning.

Whichever school of thought we subscribe to—whether the implied collection of needs suggested by Freud, the rigorous research of Reiss or the historically derived and empirically demonstrated strengths and virtues cited by Seligman—it is clear that human needs can be identified and that identification, allowing for some difference in perspective and labeling, is fairly consistent over time.

Buddhist psychology identifies seven psychological characteristics: life, order, wisdom, love, power, imagination, understanding and will. These were initially described in the Abhidharma, as well as the Rig Veda, and are remarkably similar to those found in the Western narrative compiled centuries later. Some map directly to the various Western systems and some more indirectly, but the relationship is consistently clear and reasonable.

If one were intent on drawing a direct line between the human needs spectrum described by Buddhist psychology and a Western counterpart, Seligman’s positive psychology would likely be the best choice. This is not so much because of any coincidence in the labeling scheme, but more because of the coincident perspective. Western psychology tends to issue from a place of damage and illness. Seligman’s work in positive psychology has been a relatively antithetical response to that position. Buddhist psychology would similarly have us start from a place of wholeness and perfection.

So, now we get to the question of mindfulness. What makes mindfulness a challenge is that there is no real starting point for witness consciousness, or the objective observation of the ‘Self’ by the ‘self’. That’s mainly because the self, or ego, interferes with that process by way of our assumptions, expectations and ideas about the way the world works. Applied mindfulness can be even more of a challenge because, once we get the meta-awareness of witness consciousness going, we need somewhere to point it and very often we don’t know where that is, exactly. So, we may be all “aware” and stuff, but often nothing really changes.

Now, getting back to needs, if we can gain an understanding of our needs and then unravel the dissonance around those needs we then have somewhere to point our mindfulness. The Reiss Motivational Profile, the Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram are examples of tools that can help us to do this because they force us into a state of pseudo-witness consciousness by asking us to be objective observers of ourselves without (too much) interference from the ego.

For example—and we’ll use the Reiss Profile here because it is fairly clear and easy to follow—let’s say you’re experiencing feelings of an ongoing, non-clinical, free-floating, generalized anxiety. In layman’s terms, you’re freaking out a bit for no discernible reason.

You take the Reiss profile and discover (these are simplistic interpretations) you are Low Order (not much for structure), High Tranquility (don’t like chaos) and Low Vengeance (non-confrontational). You’re anxiety may well be, in part, derived from the fact that people who operate with little structure—don’t pick up after themselves, don’t pay bills on time, are tardy for work or social events–naturally invite both chaos and confrontation—messy house, late fees, irate bosses, coworkers, clients and friends.

An unaddressed dissonance around disparate needs creates psychic tension, which here we have labeled anxiety. If we want to backtrack into the Buddhist perspective, we could also say this dissonance is creating a disturbance in the muladhara and atala chakras and the manamaya kosha. This works because Western needs spectrums map quite easily to both the chakra and kosha systems found in the yoga Vedanta. But, I digress…

Without a direct perspective on your needs bias, you would likely point your mindfulness at the symptom (the anxiety)—and that can get a bit murky on both sides of the equation. With a more concrete notion of the source of the symptom, mindfulness techniques can be targeted. And that’s how we can loop back to witness consciousness.

Witness consciousness examines the state of the ‘self’ from the perspective of the ‘Self’. If we consider an understanding of our basic needs as a snapshot of the state of the ‘self’, then we have in hand the objective distance we need to effectively apply mindfulness where it is needed, rather than simply being generally—and likely less effectively—mindful.

© 2013 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

Retrieved from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/enlightened-living/201301/human-needs-buddhist-psychology-and-mindfulness


to read or not to read…

In Education, Neuropsychology, Neuroscience, School Psychology on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 09:25

reading is fundamental!


meet my foster babies!

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 07:52

these sweet babies were rescued by angels among us pet rescue in alpharetta, ga.  they are some sort of “low rider” mix.  maybe doxie or bassett.  they are about 8 weeks old.  please share if you know anyone looking to adopt.  sharing and networking makes such a difference in getting animals adopted!  and please…if you are looking for a pet, adopt, don’t shop.  


for information on these, or any of our highly adoptable cats and dogs, please visit http://www.angelsrescue.org and like our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/angelsrescue?fref=ts

kurt, the only boy in the bunch!




The Year of the Suicide

In General Psychology on Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 06:19

The Year of the Suicide

Suicide rates among Americans are steadily rising and have been for years. Why are we killing ourselves?


Let’s call 2012 the year of the suicide: On Friday, the Department of the Army released a report revealing that suicides continue to outnumber combat-related deaths among American soldiers —an average of one suicide a day— a number that’s increasing despite the fact that the armed forces have installed new training and awareness programs over the past few years. Stateside, suicide has become theleading cause of death by injury, and is the 10th leading cause of death overall.According to a CDC report released over the summer, suicide attempts by high-school students has risen to from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 7.8 percent in 2011, and accounts for 13 percent of all deaths among people between the ages of 10 and 24 — the third leading cause of death in that age group.

These are sobering statistics. And with the statistics comes more data to explain them: The Washington Post reported that “the stress on the force after more than a decade of lengthy and multiple deployments for many troops in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” while Defense Secretary Leon Panetta attributed the high rate to “substance abuse, financial distress and relationship problems … that will endure beyond war.” Among civilians, the number of suicides have been attributed to the recession — historically, there is a spike with every economic downturnAnd 20 percent of high-school teenagers say they are being bullied — 16 percent say they’ve been cyber-bullied through texting, IM-ing, email, and Facebook or other social media.

Though these stats may elicit sighs, we develop a kind of immunity to reading them because they’re so abstract — names are what humanize the story. And there were plenty in the headlines the past year, people we’ve admired from afar, or people we encountered because their suicides were so lurid. There were those who were said to have killed themselves to be released from physical agony, like “Soul Train’s” Don Cornelius, who battled unrelenting seizures from an aneurysm he’d had 15 years earlier, and Fleetwood Mac’s Bob Welch, who learned he’d suffer lifelong excruciating pain from the spinal surgery he’d had three months earlier. Director Tony Scott jumped off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in L.A., and was initially reported to have had inoperable brain cancer — though an autopsy would disprove that report (there was no sign of cancer). There were those who decided to end their lives because they were overcome with psychic pain, like “Three Cups of Tea” co-author David Oliver Relin, 49, and 57-year-old visual artist Mike Kelley, who had been suffering a depression following a breakup. It’s hard to know what motivated the most violent suicides, those paired with murder: Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who shot himself, after having murdered his girlfriend, and Adam Lanza, who killed himself after committing one of the most heinous mass shootings in history.

There are so many angles, so many ways to explore this subject (and the news, I’m afraid, will provide us with plenty of opportunities): Has suicidal depression become an epidemic? Is suicide ever okay? Is this the fault of our health-care system? Would gun laws prevent suicide? Why are more and more suicides paired with homicides — and massacres? Each of these demands a dissertation. I’m not a psychiatrist or a policy wonk or a statistician, so I can’t even begin to answer these questions.

So I won’t. Instead, I come to this subject with a question driven by something very personal, a question that is at once the simplest and most complicated one to pose: Why do some of us choose to die, and some of us, even the depressed among us, have the will to live? There was a time when I believed I understood why people committed suicide. Yes, I’ve laid out some reasons above, about people I don’t know. But those responses are soundbites, given to the press by family members and friends of the deceased, or shrinks called on by the reporter, spokespeople for the organization that reps the deceased, etcetera. And while there is some truth to what they say, the fact is, probably none of us knows what finally pushed them over the edge. That is the legacy of suicide, the worst possible thing about it — that all of the surviving friends and family are sentenced to a life of torturous wonder.

I think about the grieving parents of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who killed himself in 2010. They were granted a sense of closure earlier this year, when the state of New Jersey’s Superior Court convicted Clementi’s roommate Dharun Ravi with 15 counts of crimes involving invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. The court’s ruling essentially gave the Clementis permission to believe that Ravi drove their son to kill himself. And indeed, Ravi was guilty of committing those crimes against Tyler Clementi, of creating a menacing environment. But was bullying what led Tyler to jump? It sounded plausible to me when the story broke. But then I read Ian Parker’s piece in The New Yorker last February, and I started to think otherwise.

Like Clementi, I went to Rutgers — I began my freshman year there 22 years before he did. I have no connection to New Jersey, though: I’d moved from Chicago, with the express purpose of coming out, in private, away from everyone I knew, after learning that they had one of the first gay and lesbian organizations on campus. Our situations were very different: I was outgoing and lived in the cultural epicenter of campus — a hotbed of activism, of activity, of everything. Clementi was a shy kid, bunking in a tiny room on an annex campus, Busch, living in exile as a lone gay among the engineering and math and pharmacy students who were not known, as a whole, for being socially progressive.

But he and I shared one thing: We pursued same-sex romantic partners who were deeply closeted. And few things can make you feel lonelier than not being able to enjoy and share love; what’s worse, contending with the mercurial temperament of a person terrified of exposure. It can match, if not exceed, the terror of being bullied: The threat of being dumped, of having to go through a breakup alone, can be more than enough to exacerbate any depressive’s sense of despair. I remember it well, because in those moments when my relationships threatened to come undone, my brain would feel like it was spinning off its axis, and my mind would switch into suicidal ideation mode, like a default, and my mood would plummet from elated to absolutely wanting to die.

But, something, I don’t know what, kept me from acting on my impulses: Instead, I’d call Lisa, my first friend at Rutgers, the one person I trusted to keep a secret, who happened to be the same person who could talk me out of it. According to Ian Parker’s New Yorker feature, Clementi, sadly, reached out only to people he’d met on a gay porn site, friends he’d never met in person. Which led me to imagine his thought process, based on my own: Following an argument with the lover, he’d become wholly absorbed in his toxic thoughts, fully rapt, even if momentarily, by his excruciating pain. But here’s where he and I would diverge: He’d snap and lapse into a fatal insanity that ultimately would propel toward the George Washington Bridge. And then …

Though it doesn’t matter what I imagine happened to Clementi. Because now I’m as guilty as any survivor of the dead, yearning for that closure, trying to create a linear narrative to make sense of the illogical — it’s what distinguishes the insane, murderous moment from the rational. But I do recognize those flashes of intense self-hatred that devolve into despondency. Fortunately, I never broke — in part, I like to think, because I was lucky enough to have a friend like Lisa. If only Lisa could have instilled in herself the same life-affirming message she instilled in her friends.

Three years after college graduation, I was in the grips of one of my most acute depressions. Unbeknownst to me at the time, so was Lisa. I’d returned home from an evening out with a friend, after having spent much of the week in bed, when I’d gotten a message that Lisa had hung herself. She was the last person I’d ever have expected to die by her own hand. In school, she was vibrant and brilliant, the friend from whom everyone sought advice (not just me) the friend who threw the most amazing dance parties — the friend who was, well, everybody’s best friend. But soon after we graduated, she developed an ailment I could only describe as a psychic cancer. I realize now, in retrospect, she was likely in the early stages of battling bipolar disorder, and after her second bout of a very intense, nearly catatonic depression, she killed herself, leaving behind people who would have done anything to save her: her fiancé, her parents, her older sister, and so many friends.

In the weeks after her suicide, I’d learned that she’d been very forthcoming about her suicidal ideations. In a way, it was hard not to see her incapacitating depression as a terminal illness, I rationalized, so why not forgive her for it the way we forgive stage-4 cancer patients for assisted suicides? I remember getting into it with my mother, who said suicide was the ultimate fuck you. “Well, that doesn’t apply to Lisa,” I barked. “She’s not an aggressive person, and she’s not a vindictive person!” And she wasn’t, not in the least. It wasn’t about hurting other people. It was just about hurting. I would say repeatedly, “I totally get this, I get why she did this.”

But in the years that followed, I saw how much it had hurt other people, especially her family: Her mother never recovered, and followed in her daughter’s footsteps eight years later. Which makes me think about the surviving families and friends of the soldiers and the football players, the teenagers and the luminaries: Maybe they have found a satisfactory answer, or maybe they saw it coming. But are those answers enough to stanch the grief? Or quiet the taunting, repeat-play interior monologue that asks whether something could have been done to stop it?

Now that I’m a 42-year-old mother, nearly 20 years after Lisa’s death, I admit: I no longer “get this” — and it terrifies me more than ever, as I cuddle with my toddler, who is walking and starting to talk and doing all the things 15-month-olds do. Because I think about the joy her parents must have felt in having two healthy, beautiful daughters, who thrived at school and in life, and I wonder, how does this tragic story fit in? It doesn’t. But it is their story now, and it tore apart a wonderful, loving family.

I can think of reasons — good reasons — why Tyler Clementi may have committed suicide. And Don Cornelius. And Tony Scott, and Jovan Belcher. But are those reasons the reason? Why wasn’t someone like Lisa able to carry on, and why is someone like me, who had been so outspokenly depressed, alive? I honestly have no idea. I can only say I’m grateful to Lisa for helping me stay here, even as I grieve for her, and for every single person who can’t bear to live another day.

Kera Bolonik is the arts editor of Salon. Follow her on Twitter @KeraBolonikMORE KERA BOLONIK.

Retrieved from: http://www.salon.com/2012/12/31/the_year_of_the_suicide/

what role does a school psychologist play regarding children’s mental health?

In Education, School Psychology on Monday, 14 January 2013 at 08:46

The Role of School Psychologists in Children’s Mental Health

By: Lee Wilkinson, Ph.D.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, over the course of a year, approximately 20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. experience signs and symptoms of a mental health problem and 5% experience “extreme functional impairment.” Although more than 2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 suffered a major depressive episode in the past year, nearly 60% of them did not receive treatment. Statistics also suggest that the dropout rate for students with severe emotional and behavioral needs is approximately twice that of other students. Most children with mental health problems receive no services and of those who do, 70 to 80% receive them from school-based providers. School psychologists are among the school-based personnel (e.g., guidance counselors, school social workers) who are typically called upon to provide mental health services. In order for school psychologists to be effective mental health service providers, they must be competent to fulfill that role and function. This article discusses education and training issues, and related ethical and professional practice issues associated with school psychologists’ role in providing mental health services in the schools.

Role and Function of School Psychologists

Surveys consistently indicate that school psychologists spend a majority of their time in assessment activities rather than delivering direct mental health services (e.g., counseling) to students. This includes determining special education eligibility and working with youth within the context of special education. Indeed, the majority of school psychologists report spending less than 10% of their time per week providing evidence-based mental health services to children and adolescents. Despite the limited amount of time devoted to mental health service delivery, school psychologists are increasingly being called on to serve in this role. Moreover, school psychologists themselves report wanting to spend more time doing activities such as counseling and direct intervention, further supporting the profession’s desire to serve in the mental health service provider role. However, role expansion may prove to be problematic due to training issues and lack of administrative support.

Training and Preparation

Research suggests that training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and counseling are determinates of the provision of mental health services by school psychologists. According to National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the term “child psychologist” refers to doctoral-level clinical psychologists who specialize in children. “School psychologist” specifically refers to professionals who bridge psychology and education to address school related issues, including those that concern children, teachers, parents and families, as well as school organizations. School psychologists’ training includes study in education and special education, but compared to clinical psychology, there is less emphasis on psychopathology and counseling. The majority of states require the completion of a 60 graduate semester master’s or specialist-level program in school psychology, including a 1200-hour internship, along with passing a Teacher Certification Test, which has a specialty component for school psychology. In contrast, a doctoral degree (e.g., PhD) generally requires about 5 years of full-time graduate study, culminating in a dissertation based on original research. Doctoral programs in child clinical-school psychology usually include further training and coursework and preparation in child and adolescent psychopathology, behavioral and child therapy, pediatric pharmacology, neuropsychology, advanced research, and a clinical practicum.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical issues are especially important in this discussion. School psychologists must be familiar with the ethical codes that apply to their specialization, as well as to psychology in general. For example, school psychologists must practice within the boundaries of their experience and training. Professional competency standards require school psychologists to recognize the strengths and limitations of their training and experience, and only practice in areas for which they are “qualified.” In fact, the issue of practitioner competence is paramount in the ethics codes of the American Psychological Association (APA), American Counseling Association (ACA), and National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The parameters of competence involve (a) recognizing one’s professional limitations and needs, (b) understanding one’s professional strengths, (c) confining consultation practice to one’s competence, (d) knowing when to decline work and when to refer to other professionals, (e) ensuring that recommended interventions have an empirical basis, and (f) maintaining a high level of professionalism. Practitioners should seek continuing education and training in areas in which they lack competence and experience and refer to colleagues with the requisite experience and/or community resources.


While the domains of professional school psychology practice include competencies in “prevention, wellness promotion, and crisis intervention,” most school-based practitioners have not received intensive training in child and adolescent psychopathology, counseling and therapeutic intervention. Nor are most school psychologists licensed in another mental health specialty. Consequently, it is especially important for administrators, teachers, and parents to understand the limitations and parameters of school psychology practice and not assume that the school psychologists possesses the clinical training to assess and intervene with complex childhood disorders. Schools often do not draw a distinction made between the specialist and the doctoral level school psychologist. Distinctions may not be critical when school psychologists are performing psychoeducational assessment services, as both sub-doctoral and doctoral level school psychologists receive comparable preparation for these important services. However, the academic and professional preparation of doctoral level school psychologists typically emphasizes clinical issues important to children’s mental health, including methods for working with children and youth, their parents and teachers. In fact, research suggests that school psychologists with a specialist degree provide fewer mental health services than individuals with doctorates.


The educational setting is the most likely setting for students to receive mental health services. Unfortunately, a majority of children and youth who are in need of mental health services do not actually receive them. If psychological services are to be expanded in schools to include a major focus on mental health services, school psychologists must be trained as broadly as possible, so that they are capable of working in different settings and prepared to address a range of issues. In this regard, changes must be made in the graduate-level curriculum of school psychology programs. For example, graduate training programs should provide additional preparation in evidence based mental health services, including individual and group counseling, to ensure school psychologists have the tools they need to help students be successful. Training programs also need to provide practice experiences in the application of evidence-based therapeutic interventions, with a practicum supervised by school psychologists who are competent in the application of these services. A viable service model may call for subdoctoral school psychologists to assume leadership for continuing to provide psychoeducational assessment services for special education and for doctoral level school psychologists to assume leadership for initiatives aimed at promoting children’s mental health. While students in nondoctoral programs may receive a basic introduction to mental health services, they will likely need to pursue further postgraduate training and continuing education/professional development in mental health services. Simply stated, school psychologists cannot be expected to provide mental health services without adequate, appropriate training.

Perfect, M. M., & Morris, R. J. (2011). Delivering school-based mental health services by school psychologists: Education, training, and ethical issues. Psychology in the Schools, 48, 1049–1063. doi: 10.1002/pits.20612


Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, NCSP, CCBT is a nationally certified school psychologist, licensed school psychologist and certified cognitive-behavioral therapist. He is also a university educator and serves on the school psychology faculty at Nova Southeastern University and Capella University where he teaches courses in assessment, consultation, child and adolescent psychopathology, and clinical intervention. His research and professional writing has focused primarily on behavioral consultation and therapy, and children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. He has published widely on these topics, both in the US and internationally. Dr. Wilkinson is the author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. He is editor of the soon to be published text, Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools, from APA Books.

If you enjoy reading my articles, you can click on “subscribe” at the top of the page to receive notice when new ones are published. You can also follow me athttp://bestpracticeautism.com.

Retrieved from: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-role-of-school-psychologists-children-s-mental-health

adopt, don’t shop.

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare on Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 15:09


THIS will make you smile…

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare, Life with dogs on Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 04:57

i wish most people were this kind and patient.  animals are so unconditional!


2013…a healthy pup and a healthy you!

In Animal Rescue, Animal Welfare, Fitness/Health on Friday, 11 January 2013 at 07:30

Exercising With Your Dog in 2013

Is exercise on your list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2013? Man’s best friend can be your best exercise partner.


With your dog as your workout companion, you’ll get a loyal and eager exercise partner in return. Research has shown that you’re more likely to stick to your fitness program if you exercise with your furry friend.

Here are a few tips for exercising with your dog:

Walk or jog your way to fitness 
Ready to turn your dog walks into short exercise routines? It’s the easiest way to start and a brisk walk can be great exercise for both you and your doggie. Start slowly (10 to 15 minutes) and work your way up to longer walks or jogs. Up to 20 or 30 minutes should be OK for most dogs, depending on their breed and health.

Beyond the walk

While walking and jogging can be great activities, why stop there? Add more variety with dog-friendly activities like…

Swimming – Water dogs like Labradors, Retrievers and Poodles enjoy swimming, especially during hot weather. Keep it short, fun and safe.
Obstacle course – Set up a homemade obstacle course in your backyard or visit a dog park with a course. While your dog runs the course, sprint with him to get your own exercise.
Fetch or tag – Take the average game of fetch or tag even further. Throw a ball or toy and race him to it or play tag where you’re “it.”
Canine dancing – Choreographed dancing with your dog is a sport called musical freestyle. Create a dance routine to upbeat music and burn some calories! Here’s an example on video.
Dog frisbee – This fun outdoor game can turn into a competitive sport for you and your pet. Keep it casual or join a“Disc Dog” club for more motivation.
Doggie soccer – Can your pooch kick it like a canine Beckham? Find out if he can push a large dog ball with his nose or paws for a game of soccer. It’s OK to use a soccer ball too, just avoid kicking it at his nose or body.

Check with the vet (and your doctor) first 
Make a vet visit your first priority. During the vet check, learn of any breed-specific limitations that could affect Fido’s workout. You should get checked by your own doctor as well, before any new exercise routine is started.

Make the workout work for your dog
You may push your own limits in a workout, but don’t do the same with your dog. A Chihuahua, for example, can’t do a mile-long run, but he may be up for a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk. Be careful with smaller breeds in general and be extra careful with short-nosed breeds (pugs, boxers, chow chows, mastiffs, etc.). They can have problems breathing and cooling down effectively.

Mind the signs of health and safety
In his eagerness to keep up, your dog may overdo it, so it’s up to you to watch for signs of exhaustion or overheating. Heavy panting, pale gums, walking unevenly or lagging behind you are all signs that it’s time to stop. To stay safe, exercise in the mornings or evenings when there’s less heat and take a water bottle for you and him on long sessions.

Retrieved from: http://blog.petsupermarket.com/


In School violence on Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 16:43

i don’t even have anything to say at this point.  this is unbelievable.  we need to do something.


a statement from florida’s teachers about their extravagant salaries…

In Education, Education advocacy, School reform on Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 04:58

i saw this on facebook.  the link to the group is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Florida-Teachers-Against-Pay-For-Performance-Salary-Pay-Scales/10150134353705537  

my sister-in-law is a teacher in florida and i have heard first-hand from her how they are determining their pay now (and it’s not pretty, especially when the kids you teach are more concerned with how they are going to get a meal for the night and find a place for them and their families to stay…kinda makes them a bit less focused on school, huh?).  pay-for-performance, value-added, education “reform”…why is the blame put on the teachers???  if any major corporation, say coca cola (i live in atlanta, it comes to mind first) saw a severe loss in profits and poor performance, would everyone be screaming to fire the plant workers, delivery people, distributors, etc?  of course, not.  because any corporation is only as good as its leadership.  so, i would think the executives would have to answer to their higher-ups about the poor performance, not blame the “workers.”  so, with that example, how is it that the teachers are the ones under fire???  doesn’t it start at the top???

here’s the florida teacher post:

Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put thing in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit! We can get that for minimum wage. That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That …would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours). Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations. LET’S SEE…. That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year. Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!


ABCs and ADHD…

In ADHD, ADHD Adult, ADHD child/adolescent, ADHD stimulant treatment, Psychiatry, School Psychology on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 07:04

The ABCs of ADHD

Learn about the specific characteristics of a child with ADHD and how it impacts their lives.

By Melvyn Hyman

Who today has not heard the term “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” or ADHD? No other term in the diagnostic lexicon has more information and misinformation attached to it than ADHD. Everyone you ask — parents, doctors, teachers, psychologists, nurses, neighbors or relatives — will have an opinion on this disorder, and likely their opinions will all differ. Some will toss it off and say, “Boys will be boys.” Some will insist that a child be medicated right away. Others will be adamant that children should never be medicated. Others will claim that eliminating sugar from the diet will eliminate the problem. Still others will question whether there is anything to the diagnosis at all.

Since first identified as a diagnosis, ADHD has been given a great deal of attention by neurologists and psychologists. ADHD is now widely recognized as a legitimate mental health problem. Although its exact definition continues to be debated, ADHD is thought to be a neurological impairment, probably originating in the frontal lobes of the brain, affecting a child’s ability to control his or her impulses. Lacking the ability to control their impulses, these children do and say whatever occurs to them from minute to minute. They are quite literally out of control.

There has been a great deal of research to understand just what causes children have ADHD. Among the identified causes are: heredity (a parent or other close relative with ADHD, although it may have gone unrecognized); problems at birth; and possibly some kind of early emotional trauma that had an effect on the processing mechanisms of the brain.

In some ways, children with ADHD are no different from their peers. One key diagnostic feature noted in children with ADHD is the intense, often frantic quality of their activity. These children are on the move most of the time: climbing the cupboards, tearing about the room, turning over every object that isn’t nailed down — an unending streak of activity and mischief. They quickly wear out their clothes and toys, and usually have more than their share of accidents.

Short Attention Spans
Children with ADHD also have extremely short attention spans. They seem to have difficulty sitting still or waiting their turn. This may be because they are so easily distracted. It often seems that they fail to remember instructions given by a parent or teacher in the time it takes to get from one end of the room to the other. They appear to live only in the present. They don’t seem to think about future consequences. They sometimes can’t remember what they did only moments earlier.

The behavior of a child with ADHD is qualitatively different from the occasional episodes of increased activity in children who do not have ADHD. Every child fidgets or misbehaves from time to time. Children with ADHD, however, are a constant challenge. Their behaviors cause frustration and anger for those around them. Without proper help, these children can become sad or even depressed due to their very accurate perception that the people around them disapprove of everything they do.

Ironically, these very same overactive children can become completely absorbed in a specific activity or task. They sometimes become so over-focused that being asked to shift their attention causes great upset and anger. It is as if the mechanism in the brain that controls their impulsiveness has now gone into overdrive. Once engaged, they can’t let go. Another theory is that these children have learned to compensate for their distractibility by focusing so completely on an activity that they cannot easily alter the track of their attention. They find change initiated by others to be threatening and difficult. This is very confusing for adults because it seems inconsistent with the general stereotypes about ADHD. Puzzled parents often ask things like: “How is it he can remember every arcane move in a video game but can’t remember to take out the garbage?” or “Why can she sit still to watch MTV for hours but can’t sit still through one classroom lesson?”

Friendships and ADHD
Children with ADHD also wear out friendships. Their behavior can be so thoughtless and aggravating, even exhausting, that other children start to avoid them. They miss usual social cues and often blurt out what they are thinking whether or not it is at all appropriate or tactful. Usually good-hearted and wanting friends, they are often mystified by others’ negative reactions to them. It is important to understand that children with ADHD are not trying to be annoying or malicious. In fact, they often seem surprised and embarrassed when their behavior results in rejection by others.

Evaluation for ADHD includes a family history, a medical exam, psychological testing, and, very importantly, a compilation of ratings on paper and pencil behavioral scales completed by parents and teachers who know the child well. A skilled neuropsychologist will recognize patterns in all of these data that generally point to a diagnosis of ADHD.

Treatment of ADHD
It is generally believed that children with ADHD benefit most from a multidisciplinary approach that comes at the problem in many ways simultaneously. On the medical front, stimulants such as Cylert (premoline), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), and Ritalin (methylphenidate) are the medications most often used to treat ADHD in the United States; antidepressants are sometimes prescribed as well. These medications increase activity in the frontal lobes of the brain where impulsivity is managed.

Parents and teachers of children with ADHD must be educated about how to best manage their particular child. Many adults make the mistake of getting into power struggles with these children, trying to control them with harsh disciplinary methods. Children with ADHD really can’t help being the way they are. Yelling, scolding, nagging, and punishing will only make them feel and behave worse. Even more than most children, these children need clear and kind guidance, with an emphasis on what they are doing right.

Early identification of special services in the schools can be very helpful. These children do better is a less stimulating, more orderly environment. They benefit from small classes that are fairly quiet. Activities need to be short and focused, with many opportunities for small successes. Parents and teachers should ideally keep in close contact with each other, sharing what they find to be effective for the child in question.

Finally, physical activity can sometimes help children with ADHD channel some of their excessive energy. They tend to do better at individual sports like swim team, rock climbing, weight lifting, or figure skating. Team sports (where a great deal is going on at once) can sometimes be overstimulating and frustrating for these children.

The goal, of course, is for children with ADHD to get the most enjoyment, learning and growth from each day of their lives. With teaching, encouragement, and support, these children can learn to monitor and manage their symptoms and move on with life.

Retrieved from: http://www.everydayhealth.com/adhd/add-adhd-facts.aspx?xid=tw_adhdfacts_20120217_ABCs

is in utero oxygen deprivation a risk factor for adhd?

In ADHD, ADHD Adult, ADHD child/adolescent on Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 06:49

In Utero Exposure to Ischemic-Hypotoxic Conditions and Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

 Darios Getahun, MD, PhD, George G. Rhoads, MD, MPH, Kitaw Demissie, MD, PhD, Shou-En Lu, PhD, Virginia P. Quinn, PhD, Michael J. Fassett, MD, Deborah A. Wing, MD, and Steven J. Jacobsen, MD, PhD.


OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between ischemic-hypoxic conditions (IHCs) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by gestational age and race/ethnicity.

METHODS: Nested case-control study using the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) medical records. The study cohort included children aged 5 to 11 years who were delivered and cared for in the KPSC between 1995 and 2010 (N = 308 634). Case children had a diagnosis of ADHD and received ≥2 prescriptions specific to ADHD during the follow-up period. For each case, 5 control children were matched by age at diagnosis. Exposures were defined by using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes. A conditional regression model was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (ORs).

RESULTS: Among eligible children, 13 613 (4.3%) had a diagnosis of ADHD. Compared with control children, case children were more likely to be male and of white or African American race/ethnicity. Case children were more likely to be exposed to IHCs (OR = 1.16, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.11–1.21). When stratified by gestational age, cases born at 28 to 33, 34 to 36, and 37 to 42 weeks of gestation, were more likely to be exposed to IHCs (ORs, 1.6 [95% CI 1.2–2.1], 1.2 [95% CI 1.1–1.3], and 1.1 [95% CI 1.0–1.2], respectively) compared with controls. IHC was associated with increased odds of ADHD across all race/ethnicity groups.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that IHCs, especially birth asphyxia, respiratory distress syndrome, and preeclampsia, are independently associated with ADHD. This association was strongest in preterm births.

Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/05/peds.2012-1298

WHAT is wrong with this picture???

In Education, Grammar snob, Humor on Tuesday, 8 January 2013 at 07:20
do you see it?

do you see it?

charter schools…public or private?

In Education, Education advocacy, School reform on Tuesday, 8 January 2013 at 07:16

Judges look at whether charter schools are public

By Valerie Strauss , Updated: January 2, 2013


Charter schools are publicly funded but increasingly people are asking whether many of them more resemble private schools. Here’s a different look at this notion from Julian Vasquez Heilig, an award-winning researcher and Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin. A version of this appeared on his Education and Public Policy blog.

By Julian Vasquez Heilig

The common refrain is that charter schools are public schools. Critics, such as Diane Ravitch, have said that charter schools accept public money but act private. I have levied a variety of critiques at charters despite the fact that I was an instructor at an Aspire charter school in California and that I currently sit on UT-Austin’s charter school board. See CI’s full thread on charter schools here.

At the recent UCEA convention in Denver, I had the pleasure of presenting in a conference session about charters schools and equity. At the conference I was blown away how judges are treating charters schools as private schools and the implication that these choices have for student who attend those schools. I have excerpted below from a law journal article authored by Preston C. Green III, Erica Frankenberg, Steven L. Nelson, and Julie Rowland.

Citation: Green, P., Frankenberg, E., Nelson, S., & Rowland, J. (2012). Charter schools, students of color and the state action doctrine: Are the rights of students of color sufficiently protected? Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, 18(2), 254-275.

A recent federal appellate court decision suggests that students of color should also be concerned about the legal protections that charter schools might provide to students.18 Because state authorizing statutes consistently define charter schools as “public schools,”19 it would appear that charter school students are entitled to constitutional protections.20 Students attending public schools have challenged deprivations of federal constitutional and statutory rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which establishes a cause of action for deprivations of federal constitutional and statutory rights “under the color of state law.”21 Students have sought damage awards pursuant to § 1983; “actions for injunctive or declaratory relief are [also] a major portion of the case law.”22 However, in 2010, the Ninth Circuit concluded in Caviness v. Horizon Learning Center23 that a private, nonprofit corporation running an Arizona charter school was not a state actor under § 1983.24 The Ninth Circuit specifically rejected the assertion that charter schools were state actors because they were defined as “public schools” under the state statute.25

Although the Caviness case was an employment case, it is important to recognize that a similar analysis could lead to the conclusion that charter schools are not state actors with respect to student constitutional issues. Students attending public schools are guaranteed constitutional protections.156 There are constitutional safeguards for student expression.157 Public school students are protected from unreasonable search and seizure.158 The Constitution also requires public schools to provide procedural due process safeguards when suspending or expelling students.159 Of the seven states in the Ninth Circuit with legislation authorizing charter schools,160 only Oregon guarantees that all federal rights apply to charter schools.161 With the exception of Oregon, state legislatures do not compel charter schools to follow constitutional guidelines with respect to due process. California and Idaho merely require potential charter school operators to disclose their disciplinary policies in their initial charter application.162 Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, and Nevada do not even demand that charter schools disclose their disciplinary policies at the time of application.163

Students of color attending charter schools should be concerned about the potential lack of constitutional due process protection. Studies of data at the national, state, district, and building levels have consistently found that students of color are suspended at two to three times the rate of other students.180 African-American students should be especially concerned about the possible lack of due process protection.181 According to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, in the 1970s African-Americans were two times more likely than white students to be suspended from school.182 By 2002, the risk of suspension for African-Americans increased to nearly three times that of white students.183 Further, a study of office discipline referrals in 364 elementary and middle schools during the 2005-06 school year found that African-American students were more than two times as likely to be referred to the office for disciplinary issues as white students.184 The same study found that African-American students were also four times more likely to be sent to the principal’s office than white students.185

Because of their foci on autonomy and accountability, supporters of charter schools have argued that they are the perfect vehicle for addressing the educational needs of students of color. This article points out, however, that charter schools may not be state actors under federal law with respect to student rights. Consequently, students of color may be unwittingly surrendering protections guaranteed under the Constitution in order to enroll in charter schools.

I have already discussed how charters can wield contracts to exclude students from school here. In conclusion, Professor Green commented via email:

The key takeaway about Caviness is that it’s unclear whether the constitutional rights of kids are protected in charter schools. In a NEPC brief, Julie Mead and I point out that charter school statutes can address this confusion by clearly stipulating that children are guaranteed the same rights in charter schools as they would receive in traditional public schools… there are important implications for African-American males with respect to Due Process, suspensions, and expulsions.

© The Washington Post Company

Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/02/judges-look-at-whether-charter-schools-are-public/

adult truths

In Humor on Monday, 7 January 2013 at 07:27

a chuckle for a monday morning…this was sent to me in an email so i don’t have any citations or references, but had to share.  how many do you identify with?  😉

Adult Truths

1. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5.  Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

6. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

7. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind-of tired.

8.  I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front.

9. Bad decisions make good stories.

10. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

11. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.

12. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

13. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

14. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

15. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.

16. I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Dangerous Neighborhoods” routing option.

17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

18. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?

19.  Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

20.  How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

21. Was learning cursive really necessary?

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23. The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

13 parenting resolutions for 2013…

In Inspiration, Mindfulness, Parenting on Sunday, 6 January 2013 at 12:10

13 Parenting Resolutions for 2013

By Claire Marketos


As the New Year begins we naturally look forward to better times with our family, pledging to make changes to improve our life in some way. Our hopes and dreams for a better future motivates us to optimistically move forward, yet we soon find ourselves succumbing to old unwanted behaviours wondering why it is so difficult to make the changes we desire.

Determination alone doesn’t seem to help when it comes to parenting, and despite our best efforts, we find ourselves at odds with our children. How then do we have the happy successful family we  dreamt of? The secret lies in how well we are able to meet the needs of our children. Here are 13 steps to start the connection.

  1. Wake up every day and decide on a small thing you can do to show your children that they are your top priority. You may want to tell them, send them an SMS, phone them during the day, or help them with something that is important to them.
  2. Set aside at least 10 minutes of one on one time with each of your children, where you make eye contact, and give them your undivided attention. Even with four children, this is less than an hour of your time each day.  Take their lead and engage in something fun they enjoy doing.
  3. Have at least one meal a day with your children where you all sit down together and chat. Share your day with your children, focusing on positive experiences, and how you overcame negativity during the day.
  4. Consciously listen to what your children are telling you, reflecting back what is important to them without criticising them. Know the names of their friends, teachers, favourite band, book, food and so on. Be excited about their dreams and hopes for the future, even if they are not the dreams you have for them.
  5. Notice what you do and say in front of your youngsters. It may be necessary to change the way you deal with anger for your children to behave differently.
  6.  Exchange Discipline for Discussion. When you are tempted to punish, find ways of discussing what happened and how changes can be made. Avoid taking sides, but rather mediate, encouraging your children to express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings of others.
  7.  Choose to be a “yes” rather than “no” parent. When you are tempted to say no, find a way to say yes.” Yes, I will take you to the movies this weekend but I can’t take you right now. Yes you may have that toy/ gadget. Place it on your Christmas/ birthday list. Help me work out a plan to save the money to buy you what you want. Yes, I will make a plan to watch one of your sport’s matches/ballet performance this week.”
  8. Decide to no longer act impulsively by smacking your children when you are angry, placing them in timeout or shouting at them. Remove yourself from the situation and calm down before discussing your feelings with your children. Every time you smack your children you change the connections in their brain, and consequently the potential of who they could be.
  9.  Play with your children every day. Laugh, make jokes, teach them a new board game. Let them see the fun, childish side of you.
  10. Teach them about life. Chat when driving in the car about morals and values. Show them how to problem solve, think creatively, and how perseverance in the face of failure leads to success.
  11. Help your child know who he is by defining the qualities that are his essence. Kind, caring, a good friend, helpful, diligent and so on. Knowing who he is protects him from bullies.
  12. Find ways to calm your home by rushing less, speaking quietly, and making time for relaxation, so your children know home is a safe place they can relax and destress.
  13. Hugging your children daily not only shows them that you love them but releases feel good hormones protecting them against illness, reducing stress and making them feel secure.

The greatest gift you have are your children. The greatest challenge you have in life is maintaining a positive connection with them. The greatest rewards you will experience in life is fulfilling relationships with wonderful adults whom you nurtured and who reflect your love.

Retrieved from: http://www.inspiredparenting.co.za/NewsCast.aspx?NID=102

early intervention and autism

In Autism Spectrum Disorders, Intervention, School Psychology, Special Education on Friday, 4 January 2013 at 11:21

Early Intervention Program Alters Brain Activity in Children with Autism

Clinical study of Early Start Denver Model intervention shows that it improves not only social skills, but also brain responses to social cues

Decades of research have shown that behavioral therapies for autism can improve cognitive and language skills. Still, it remained unclear whether behavioral interventions simply reduced autism’s symptoms or actually “treated” the developmental disorder. In other words, could an effective behavioral intervention change the brain biology that underlies autism spectrum disorder?

This year, researchers delivered compelling evidence that the Early Start Denver Model(ESDM), an intensive early intervention program for toddlers with autism, improves brain activity related to social responsiveness. The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry published the findings in its November issue.

“This may be the first demonstration that a behavioral intervention for autism is associated with changes in brain function as well as positive changes in behavior,” commented Tom Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Psychologists Sally Rogers, Ph.D., and Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., developed the ESDM therapy program in the 1990s. It adapts key techniques from Applied Behavioral Analysis(ABA) for toddlers, with an emphasis on interactive play between children and their therapists and parents. Dr. Rogers is a professor and researcher at the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute. Dr. Dawson was a professor and researcher at the University of Washington, Seattle, when she and Dr. Rogers developed the program. She is now the chief science officer of Autism Speaks and a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Three years ago, Drs. Dawson and Rogers published the first results of a clinical trial comparing ESDM with conventional autism therapy services. They randomly  48 toddlers (ages 18 to 30 months) to receive either ESDM therapy or the early intervention services routinely available in their communities (Seattle). Both groups received roughly 20 hours of weekly therapy for two years. Overall, those in the ESDM group showed greater increases in IQ, language and adaptive behavior than children in the community-intervention group.

In this year’s report, the research team published their analysis of brain activity monitoring performed on both groups of children at the end of their two years of therapy. For comparison, they also performed the brain activity tests on a group of age-matched children without autism.

Noninvasive electroencephalography (EEG) showed that the children in the ESDM group showed greater brain responses to social information compared to children in the community group. When they viewed women’s faces, their brain activity patterns were virtually identical to those of the children without autism. This more-typical pattern of brain activity was associated with improved social behavior including improved eye contact and social communication.

By contrast, children in the community intervention group showed greater brain activity when viewing objects than faces. Previous research has shown that many children with autism have this unusual pattern of brain activity.

“By studying changes in the neural response to faces, Dr. Dawson and her colleagues have identified a new target and a potential biomarker that can guide treatment development,” Dr. Insel said.

“So much of a toddler’s learning involves social interaction,” Dr. Dawson added. “As a result, an early intervention program that promotes attention to people and social cues may pay dividends in promoting the normal development of brain and behavior.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends autism screening for all children twice before 24 months. “When families receive a diagnosis, it’s vitally important that we have effective therapies available for their young children,” Dr. Dawson urged. Currently ESDM is the only early intervention evaluated in clinical trials.

As methods for earlier detection become available, infants flagged at risk for ASD may likewise benefit from early intervention, many experts agree. Research suggests that adults with autism can benefit from interventions that promote social engagement as well.

Dawson G, Jones EJ, Merkle K, et al. Early behavioral intervention is associated with normalized brain activity in young children with autism. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012; 51(11):1150-9.

Retrieved from: http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/top-ten-lists/2012/early-intervention-program-brain-activity-children-autism

education and the fiscal cliff

In Education, Education advocacy, Politics, School reform on Wednesday, 2 January 2013 at 13:43

K-12 Aid Faces Uncertain Future, Despite ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal

By Alyson Klein

Education programs will be spared the prospect of the largest across-the-board cuts in history, but only temporarily, under a bill to avert much of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” overwhelmingly approved by Congress on Tuesday.

The measure, which passed the U.S. Senate 89-8 early Tuesday morning and the U.S. House 257-167 Tuesday night, will delay the trigger cuts known as “sequestration,” which have been set to hit just about every government agency—including the U.S. Department of Education—on Jan. 2. Under the deal, the cuts will be postponed until March, giving federal lawmakers time to craft a broader budget agreement. The deal was worked out at the 11th hour by Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader.

In the House, where approval seemed touch-and-go most of Tuesday, nearly every Democrat voted for the bill, while 85 Republicans supported it. Sixteen Democrats, and 151 Republicans voted against the measure.

To help pay for the postponement of the trigger cuts—which would slice 8.2 percent from a wide range of programs, including K-12 education—lawmakers have agreed to $12 billion in revenue increases, plus $12 billion in spending cuts, including $6 billion from domestic programs, according to published reports. It’s unclear how, and whether, those cuts would affect education spending.

The deal essentially sets up yet another major fiscal fight later on this year. Congress will need to come up with new legislation to cope with sequestration by March. That could involve a fresh round of domestic-spending cuts, which, in turn, could put education programs on the chopping block.

Plus, the federal government is operating on a temporary budget, called a continuing resolution, which expires at the end of March. Lawmakers will have to figure out a final budget for fiscal year 2013, which began back on Oct. 1, or face the prospect of a government shutdown.

To top it all off, the nation has hit the federal debt ceiling yet again, meaning that the government will need new legislation to be allowed to borrow more money—and keep agencies and programs in business. A measure to deal with that issue will also need to be approved in the next couple of months.

Education advocates fear the result may well be more chaos, since it was the last deal to raise the debt ceiling, back in August of 2011, that put sequestration in place to begin with. Republicans have said they do not want to raise the debt ceiling without reducing spending.

All this adds up to a lot of continued uncertainty for school districts and their advocates.

The fiscal-cliff deal is “sort of like a temporary stay of execution,” said Joel Packer, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition. “We’re hoping we get pardoned. …. It just creates sort of another cliff two months from now.”

And the next fiscal year, 2014, could prove to be even more difficult, Packer said, in part because of the reduced domestic spending in the budget agreement, and in part because the Pell Grant program, which helps low-income students cover the cost of college, continues to eat up a bigger share of education funding. The program, which is exempt from sequestration, faces a structural deficit, in part because of higher demand for the grants as more students enroll in postsecondary education.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, a 1.5 million member union, urged House lawmakers to vote in favor of the fiscal cliff package, while acknowledging that it is “imperfect,” in part because schools will continue to face budget uncertainty.

“As important as this relief is right now to the majority of Americans, this is a temporary, Band-Aid solution,” said Weingarten in a statement. “Kicking the can down the road for two months means that we still face the possibility of staggering and debilitating cuts to public schools, health care and services that our kids and families count on.”

If the sequestration cuts do end up going through in March, most school districts wouldn’t feel the pinch until the start of the 2013-14 school year, because of the way that key programs, such as Title I grants for districts and special education aid, are funded. That gives districts a planning window to figure out how to implement the cuts without hurting student achievement—and it gives Congress and the Obama administration more time to work out a deal.

But other programs, such as the Head Start preschool program for low-income children, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would be cut right away. And the impact-aid program would feel the sequestration sting in April, when districts receive their next payments. That program helps districts with a large federal presence, such as a military base. More on the cuts here.

One thing is almost certain: Congress will be very busy over the next several months trying to figure out solutions to these various fiscal puzzles. That leaves less time for education legislation—meaning that pending renewals of programs governing special education, community and development grants, higher education, career and technical education, and workforce development—not to mention the long-stalled reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind)—could continue to sit for a while.

Still, there’s some good news for education programs in the deal. Key tax provisions, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps families afford college, were extended. And the deal includes an extension of the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program, as well as a tax credit that helps teachers purchase supplies for their classrooms.

Retrieved from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/01/school_districts_continue_to_f.html

equality for all in 2013…

In Gay rights on Wednesday, 2 January 2013 at 12:10

homosexuality is sinful

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