Plan To Relax Special Education Standards Worries Advocates

Disability advocates are chastising a group of Republican senators for proposing changes to federal law that they say would lower expectations for students with learning disabilities. The senators introduced a bill in September that would allow students with “the most significant cognitive disabilities” to be held to different academic standards and take alternate achievement tests. The bill does not specify any limit on the number of students who could take the modified exams.  The full article can be read here.

Brooklyn Public Library – a Model of Community Inclusion for Children on the Autism Spectrum

“On any given day, Brooklyn (on its own, apart from New York City) is the fifth largest city in the US” notes an article published on the NYACTS website. “It stands to reason that its public library would be a sizable establishment with extensive programming; and it is. In fact, within its many programs, Brooklyn’s is a public library that serves as a model of best practice for welcoming people with developmental disabilities, including autism. During Autism Awareness month, a glimpse at how Brooklyn Public Library serves people on the autism spectrum reminds us of what’s right and what’s possible – even for libraries a fraction of its size.”  The full article can be read here.

Autism Workshop on Social Thinking

Organization: YAI Network

Website: http://yai.org/resources/conferences/autismconference/

Contact: Abbe Wittenberg – 212-273-6472 – abbe.wittenberg@yai.org

Address: McGraw Hill Auditorium, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York City

Date & Time: Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 8:15 A.M – 4:30 P.M.

Cost: $195.00

Full-Day Autism Workshop on Social Thinking

Featuring: Michelle Garcia Winner

“Social Thinking Across The Home and School Day: The ILAUGH Model of Social Cognition”


Workshop Description

This workshop is designed for parents and professionals to understand the inner mind of persons high on the autism spectrum (Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS or high-functioning autism), with ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disability or who have no working diagnosis but they fit the clinical picture! Participants will learn not only functional treatment strategies they can use both at school and at home, but they will also better understand why these students react and respond the way they do. The presenter will introduce the I LAUGH model of Social Cognition which helps to demonstrate how social processing difficulties impact not only social skills but also the ability to work as part of a group and focus on specific academic tasks such as written expression, reading comprehension and organizational skills for many of our students. The presenter will also address how best to approach writing IEP goals that impact real, albeit, slow change in how students understand the world around them. This workshop is noted for its depth in explaining WHY students with social skills difficulties have related academic challenges, which impact them across their school and home day.


Workshop Objectives

1. Workshop participants will be able to explain how teaching “think with your eyes” is different from simply teaching good eye contact; 2. explain why a person with social skill deficits may have reading comprehension problems in the classroom; 3. distinguish and describe the difference between a useful IEP goal and one that is of little benefit towards developing their program; 4. describe how use of strategy cards can facilitate teaching of initiation of communication; 5. explain how “thinking with your eyes” relates to auditory processing; 6. explain how gestalt processing relates to written expression and organizational skills.


About Michelle Garcia Winner

Michelle Garcia Winner, M.A., CCC-SLP, developed social thinking for the treatment of individuals with social-cognitive deficits: those with diagnoses such as autism, Asperger syndrome, ADHD and nonverbal learning disorder (NLD). She first began teaching social thinking in 1995 to brighter students when she worked as a speech-language pathologist for a high school district. Twelve years later, she received an Award of Special Congressional Recognition for her development and ongoing innovation of this treatment approach. At the about the same time, the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published research supporting her methods for the treatment of students with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism.

Michelle travels around the world speaking on topics relating to social thinking, and receives accolades for her educational and energetic workshop presentations. She has been invited to train psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, parents, educators and government policy makers on the importance of social thinking.



Registration & Continental Breakfast 8:15 A.M. – 9:00 A.M.

Morning Session 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Lunch (on your own) 12:00 P.M.- 1:30 P.M.

Afternoon Session 1:30 P.M. – 4:30 P.M.

Speed Bumps on the Way to an A.D.H.D. Diagnosis

The NY Times had a really interesting article on adult ADHD and how getting diagnosed can be complicated and doesn’t entail a simple test.  It notes that more than 5 percent of adults have A.D.H.D., but just 10 percent of those adults have a formal diagnosis.  Also it features an interview with a woman who got a good education, did well in life, but always struggled and wasn’t disagnsed until her late fourties.  It also offers some interesting tips on getting a diagnosis.  Read more here.

Message From a Charter School: Thrive or Transfer

The New York Times recently published an article about the Harlem Success Academy 3 charter school in Harlem, a kid with special needs and the school’s seemingly unwillingness to deal with this child.  The article included a response from the school and it insistance that they do have other kids with special needs thriving in their program.  It also details the kid in question transferring and doing great in another program.  It’s an interesting and balanced read.  Read more here.

City looking to reimburse parents for taking their children to school

SI Live published an article about a proposal to eliminate some Special Education busing and instead reimburse parents for taking kids directly to school and picking them up.  The city is exploring the idea of reimbursing parents who take their Special Ed children to school as a way to save some of the $800 million it spends on busing kids to school.  “They could come on public transportation, they might use their own vehicle, and they would be compensated for that,” Schools Chancellor Cathie Black said.  Read more here.

Analysis: Parents, kids find budget pain in NY

The Wall Street Journal published an article about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal that would eliminate $98 million in direct state funding to help pay tuition at Special Education schools, which can range from $40,000 a year to more than $100,000.  Cuomo would transfer most of that cost to local school districts, the way other special education programs are funded through a complex school aid formula that takes into account district taxpayers’ relative wealth.  Read more here.

Special Needs Babysitting Article

The New York Times published a great article last fall about our friend Jennifer Choi and her babysitter who was trained at the JCC Manhattan’s special needs babysitting class.  The babysitter, Catalina Lopez, was working with the family before she became “certified” to babysit special needs kids, but she said that the program helped her gain more knowledge and insight in handling special needs children.  And, Jen gave her a raise.

Open House at Reece School

For those interested in the Reece School for your kids this fall, they will be holding an open house this Thursday, January 27th at the school on their West 104th St. school building.  More info about the school here.

Retracted autism study an ‘elaborate fraud,’ journal finds

It’s been in the news for years. Many years. Vaccines cause Autism. The MMR vaccines causes Autism. It doesn’t cause Autism.  People have argued about this for over a decade.  And it’s in the news again.  The journal that published the original article scientifically linking vaccines to Autism retracted their article last year, and now say that is was an elaborate fraud.  Here are articles from the NY Times and CNN that have some unbelievable details about Autism, vaccines, lies, money and greed.

Special Needs Mass

The NY Daily News recently published an article about a Queens church that holds a monthly Roman Catholic Mass for families with in which special needs. The kids are welcome, even if they have trouble sitting quietly for the length of a mass.