The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
July 28, 1999

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Issue - 36

ISSN: 1538-3202

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1. Sneak Preview of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law

Beginning Tuesday, July 28, subscribers to The Special Ed Advocate newsletter can preview WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW.

The first four chapters of WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW, the Table of Contents, and the 14 page index are now up on the Wrightslaw website.

Please send us your feedback. What are your impressions? Thoughts? Suggestions? We wrote WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW to meet the needs of people who visit our site. Your feedback is invaluable to us and vital to the success of this book.

To preview WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW, click here and the link will take you to the Announcement page. As you scroll down the Announcement page, you will see the links to the first four chapters, the Table of Contents, and the Index.

To view the chapters as they actually appear in the book, you need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. Adobe Acrobat Reader is FREE. For those folks who need to install Adobe Acrobat Reader, we included a link to the Adobe site.

To send us feedback about the book, send an email to lawbook@wrightslaw.com

SPECIAL OFFER: Our publishers, Harbor House Law Press, are making special a pre-publication offer between now and July 31, 1999. For more information about this offer, click here.

2. New Links to Articles

We are continuing to revise and redesign the web site. The last newsletter contained updated links to several popular articles. Here are some additional links -

Tactics and Strategy Session With Pete Wright: IEP Goals and Objectives

Section 504 and IDEA

Seven Steps to Effective Mediation by Diana Santa Maria and Marc A. Gregg (originally published in TRIAL magazine)

Three Generations of Orton at the Supreme Court

The Attorney Manual

Minnesota attorney Sonja Kerr has written a great advice letter to the attorney who is taking his or her first special education case. We call this article " Letter to Damon" because Sonja first wrote the letter to Pete's son Damon who is a Washington D.C. trial attorney.

You can read Sonja's advice at the Wrightslaw Site.

3. News Break! New York State Recommends ABA Therapy For Young Autistic Children

The FEAT newsletter carried the following report:

"Treating the Untreatable/Autism & ABA Report Stirs Criticism"

By Jamie Talan. Newsday.

New York State health officials have released a controversial report on the diagnosis and treatment of autism that recommends a program of rigorous behavioral intervention and finds little value in other currently popular approaches.

State officials have spent the last two weeks educating health care providers and parents of autistic children about the recommendations, the first of their kind in the state for autism, in hopes that the behavioral program will be used early in the assessment of this puzzling neurological condition.

The state panel that developed the guidelines says studies support the effectiveness of the strategy, called Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA, and that there is no scientific evidence that other approaches, such as sensory or auditory integration, music therapy and facilitated communication, work.

The state-endorsed approach involves intensive, one-on-one instruction, rewards for desired behavior and systematic use of behavioral techniques to teach communication and language skills.

On Long Island, an estimated 300 therapists, health care providers and parents gathered yesterday in Melville to hear the findings, and many were openly angry and frustrated that the state report recommended only Applied Behavioral Analysis.

"This is a biased report," said Tali Dinewitz, a speech therapist at the Island Child Development Center in West Hempstead. "As this report states, two-thirds of children in treatment have a poor outcome. If prognosis is so poor, shouldn't we try to see whether other programs work?"

She spoke, in particular, about a popular technique developed by child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan. His "floor-time approach" focuses on the child's social problems. Dinewitz and others at the meeting said they feared that parents will not opt for this method because of the new guidelines.

Some health care providers voiced concerns that the guidelines would prevent insurance coverage for some therapies, but state officials denied that.

No one knows how many people have autism, a neurological condition with a range of troubling behavioral, cognitive, and language-based symptoms. The most pervasive problems include difficulty with language and human interaction.

Many experts agree that there has been a puzzling increase in autism cases, and no one has any hard evidence about the cause.

The state report focused on children under 3.

State officials say that the report should make assessment and diagnosis easier. Studies show that the earlier a child receives help, the better the outcome. The guidelines panel included doctors, psychologists, speech and language therapists, and parents. The panel spent two years analyzing the merits of dozens of studies to figure out what works best.

The panel said that more than one assessment tool was needed for diagnosis, and that the assessment should involve several meetings with the child. Ultimately, diagnosis is based on the child's behavior. The panel did not recommend brain scans or an assessment of immune status, food allergies or diet.

The best way to help autistic children, the panel members said, is to target the child's abilities; make life predictable and routine; have a long-term strategy for transitions as the child improves; and provide support and education for the family.

"Kids do seem to get better," said Donna Noyes, director of the state's early intervention program. Included in the state report were statistics showing that one-third of autistic children show marked improvement with treatment.

Physical punishment and restraining are not recommended, said panel member Christine Radziewicz, assistant director of the School for Language and Communication Development in North Bellmore.

Ellen Woodward, director of the Developmental Disabilities Institute in Smithtown, said that the panel members also evaluated other popular techniques, including Greenspan's technique, and could not recommend them.

The panel found no research to support sensory integration, touch therapy, music therapy, auditory integration training involving stimulation with tones, or facilitated communication, involving computers or alphabet boards to correct language impairment. Medications to quell aggressive behavior should be used only after behavioral interventions have been tried, the panel advised. The panel found no evidence that any of the hormonal therapies - such as secretin and ACTH - improve symptoms of autism. Nor are immune globulin infusions, anti-yeast therapies, high dose vitamins or diets recommended.

The recommendations will be evaluated periodically, panel members said.

"We are just reporting the evidence for effectiveness," for each of the methods, Woodward said. "We identified what we know now. How people use this information will be as individual as the children themselves."

Copyright 1999, Newsday Inc.

For more information about FEAT, follow these links:


Families for Early Autism Treatment- http://www.feat.org

M.I.N.D.: http://mindinstitute.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/

"Healing Autism: No Finer a Cause on the Planet"

Letter to Editor: FEAT@feat.org

Archive: http://www.feat.org/listarchive

NOTE: After reading this article, we conducted an Internet search and located the Developmental Disabilities Institute of New York website. Based on information from the Institute, we were able to order the books from the state of New York which describe their research and recommendations.

Parents of very young autistic children who need to make decisions about their child's special education needs should secure this information.

4. Editor's Choice From The Bookstore

This month, our editor focuses on books for parents and kids.

Survival Strategies for Parenting Your ADD Child: Dealing with Obsessions, Compulsions, Depression, Exposure Behavior, and Rage by George T. Lynn

Focuses on stress management skills for families with ADD children - techniques for parents and children to help manage the most problematic behaviors of ADD children, including rage, oppositional behavior, self-righteousness, obsessions, and depression.

One Ohio reviewer says:

The most sensible book on RAGE that I've read.

My son, who is 13, was diagnosed with ADD, ODD, OCD, and depression about 4 years ago.

I've collected a library of books on each subject. This is the first book that not only mentions all of the above, but actually shows how they are related and how to effectively deal with the everyday problems of these disorders.

This is the first book I've read that deals with the grief that parents feel. Books like this one will make it easier for the next parent who finds himself at a loss to explain his child's behavior.

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Lids will Talk by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish, Kimberly Ann Coe (Illustrator)

Not Just Kids! How to talk to Anybody!

"A therapist recommended this book to me when my son was 4 years old and I was going though a difficult divorce. I read the book and actually photocopied the ideas of each chapter and taped them to the refrigerator for easy reference."

"The ideas are simple and effective. They build self-esteem and keep communication open between parent and child. My son is now almost 18, and we still have a terrific relationship."

"How to Talk so Kids Will Listen should be in the Business/ Management section. It says the same things high-priced consultants say -- treat people with respect, do not deny their emotions, state the facts (only) and shut up and listen. The book talks about giving praise and recognition - another reason to use it in real life, inside the family AND outside in the "real" world."

The Pretenders: Gifted People Who Have Difficulty Learning by Barbara P. Guyer and Sally E. Shaywitz

"With insight, sensitivity, and the wisdom gathered through unusually thorough training and years of classroom experience, Dr. Guyer explains why some educational practices perpetuate the very problems they are intended to solve."

Look for these and other good books in the "Parents" section of our bookstore


New Addition to Children's Corner - How Dyslexic Benny Became A Star by Joe Griffith, Jenny Schulz (Illustrator), G. Reid Lyon.

One Texas reviewer says:

One of the BEST stories of hope for children with dyslexia! This story should be shared with parents, teachers and specially children who have dyslexia. I have read this story to my Language Training students who have been inspired by this book." (Reading level: ages 9-up)



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