Tag Archives: Asperger’s

Medway SEPAC to Host “What the Dracut Decision Taught Us About the Importance of Social Skills and Language Pragmatics in an IEP”

The Medway SEPAC will be hosting what should be a very interesting and informative presentation entitled “What the Dracut decision taught us about the Importance of Social Skills and Language Pragmatics in an IEP.”  It will take place on January 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM at Medway High School, 88 Summer Street Medway, Ma 02053.  The presentation will be free and open to the public.  If you plan to attend, you should RSVP to medwayspedpac@gmail.com.  Discussions will be led by Elsa Abele MS CCC/SLP & clinical Assistant Professor at Boston University & Professor at the Center For Autism Disorders at Antioch University.  The presentation will also feature two lawyers from the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts who worked on this case, Janine A. Solomon and Pamela J. Coveney.  The Dracut case is a very important BSEA decision in Massachusetts, particularly for those students on the Autism Spectrum.  If you would like to read a good summary of this case, you can access it here.  The complete BSEA decision can be found here.

The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

Advertisements

AANE Support Group Regarding Connecticut Tragedy

The Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE) has announced the formation of support groups for those with Asperger’s and/or their families who would like support regarding the tragedy in Connecticut.  AANE, in conjunction with Aspire (formerly YouthCare) will facilitate six groups run by staff from Aspire, AANE, as well as with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) expert clinicians. These groups will provide a private setting to discuss the tragedy, the link the media has made between the shooter and AS, and the impact on those with AS and their families. One of the support groups will be for parents of children with Asperger’s, and will discuss how and whether to talk to children with Asperger’s about this event. You are invited to attend the appropriate group.Here is a listing of the Groups and when they will meet

Wednesday 10:30 – 12:00, at AANE, 51 Water Street, Watertown, MA
1. Parents of children and young teens (under 16)
2. Parents, adult sibling, grandparents and other family members of older teens (16+) and adults
3. Adults with AS. Spouses and partners welcome.

Thursday night 7:30 – 9:00 at AANE, 51 Water Street, Watertown, MA
1. Parents of children and young teens (under 16)
2. Parents, adult sibling, grandparents and other family members of older teens (16+) and adults
3. Adults with AS. Spouses and partners welcome.

Please RSVP to AANE by email. (info@aane.org). Let them know which day and which group you will be attending.

The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

Attended Presentation at Harvard on Understanding and Teaching Behaviorally Challenging Students

I attended a very interesting presentation this evening at Harvard University by Jessica Minahan, M.Ed., BCBA and Nancy Rappaport, M.D. They recently co-authored a book entitled, “The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students.”

The authors started out with some very interesting statistics.  For example, according to the authors, only 20% of children with emotional and behavioral disorders ages 14 – 21 receive high school diplomas; 48% dropout of grades 9 – 12.  They then stated that there are six essential concepts for understanding behavior:

  1. Misbehavior is a symptom of an underlying cause…
  2. Behavior is communication
  3. Behavior has a function
  4. Behavior occurs in patterns
  5. The only behavior teachers can control is their own
  6. Behavior can be changed.

I was particularly interested in their discussion about Anxiety and Asperger’s Syndrome.  Not surprisingly, anxiety interferes with verbal working memory and impedes academic performance.  Minahan and Rappaport stated that children who were the most anxious at the start of the first grade were almost 8 times more likely to be in the lowest quarter of reading achievement, and almost 2 1/2 times more likely to be in the lowest quarter of math achievement by the spring of the first grade. Regarding Asperger’s Syndrome, the authors estimate that 80% of children with Asperger’s syndrome also experienced intense anxiety.

The authors believe that traditional behavior intervention plans do not adequately deal with anxiety management or teach the skills that are needed to behave properly.  Unstructured times and transitions are just a couple of difficult areas that can be decedents for problem behaviors. This is something that I have seen among my own clients, as well – unstructured times and transition periods are when children with Aspergers Syndrome seem to be the most susceptible to having behavioral challenges.  Minahan and Rappaport presented a few suggestions for teachers to use to assist students with self-regulation and self-monitoring.  For example, they talked about using a regulation scale such as an emotional thermometer, performing self calming practice in a relevant place, and developing and using a calming box.

The authors described transition periods in terms of 4 components: stopping the activity, making the cognitive shift to next activity, starting the next activity, and the inherent lack of structure during transitions.  Regarding stopping an activity, they talked about the importance of finding an appropriate stopping point so that students are not caught off guard and surprised by a transition.  They also suggested using visual schedules and photographs to help students make the cognitive shift to the next activity, and also to use countdowns (e.g. “5 more minutes…”).  The pair also discussed the importance of structuring downtime.

There was far more that was discussed this evening that I expect to find useful as I work with parents on IEP’s.  For more information about the authors, you can visit their websites at www.JessicaMinahan.com and www.NancyRappaport.com.  The book is available for purchase on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Behanvior-Code-Practical-Understanding-Challenging/dp/1612501362, or at the Harvard Education Press: http://www.hepg.org/hep/book/161/TheBehaviorCode

The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

Free Guide for Parents of Children with Autism

The National Autism Center has made a guide on autism available for free.  It is intended to assist parents of children with autism.  It is available for download here: A Parent’s Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism.
The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

Worries About Bullying Insufficient to Prove Lack of FAPE

An interesting case in Pennsylvania, which made it all the way up to the US District Court there, stands for the proposition that fears about bullying are insufficient to prove that there was a lack of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education).  The plaintiffs in this case (J.  E. et al. v. Boyertown Area School District, 10 – 2958 (E.D. Pa., 2011)), made a unilateral placement of the student at a private school that they believed would provide the child with a FAPE.  The student had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  They claimed that the placement proposed by the school district would subject their child to bullying.  The student had previously been subjected to bullying at a previous school district placement, but not at the placement that was then being proposed by the school district.  The parents were simply fearful of potential bullying at the school district’s proposed placement.  The court determined that a fear of bullying is not sufficient to prove a lack of FAPE.  “The Hearing Officer concluded that the AS program could appropriately deal with any bullying that occurred and that this concern was only prospective. There is no reason for the Court to find otherwise. J.E. may face bullying, but a fair appropriate public education does not require that the District be able to prove that a student will not face future bullying at a placement, as this is impossible.”

For more information about the Law Office of James M. Baron, visit http://www.lawbaron.com.