A school district that takes the isolation out of autism

The family of the autistic teen in this New York Times story moved from Tennessee  to Madison, Wis., because Madison is known for including children with autism in mainstream classrooms.

Madison, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., and Clark County, Nev, are the three districts nationally recognized for including children with disabilities in regular classes, the head of the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative told the newspaper.

MADISON, Wis. — Garner Moss has autism and when he was finishing fifth grade, his classmates made a video about him, so the new students he would meet in the bigger middle school would know what to expect. His friend Sef Vankan summed up Garner this way: “He puts a little twist in our lives we don’t usually have without him.”

People with autism are often socially isolated, but the Madison public schools are nationally known for including children with disabilities in regular classes. Now, as a high school junior, Garner, 17, has added his little twist to many lives.

via On Education – A School District That Takes the Isolation Out of Autism – NYTimes.com.

Speech-language teacher co-treats with occupational therapist in Pennsylvania school

Valerie Lill is a speech-language pathologist in a school-setting who works with children with autism and other disabilities. She became frustrated with all the therapy scheduling conflicts involving the students, who at times were missing out on valuable treatments required by their IEPs. She decided to co-treat with one of the occupational therapists at the school.

She explains, “That’s the great thing about communication — no matter what she [OT] was working on with the students, it was easy for me to embed the students’ speech-language targets within the sessions.”

Lill says that it doesn’t work for every child, but she found success in involving the OT because it allowed the children to generalize skills into different environments.

Lill’s post on the Speech in the Schools blog.

via  Healing Thresholds.

College students with Asperger’s; Teach independence in high school

Education of autistic students and preparing them for life after school were the big topics at the National Autism Conference at Penn State last week. More than 2,000 teachers, people with autism, parents of autistic children and others attended the five-day Pennsylvania conference. One researcher told attendees that high school is the time to start teaching the independence needed for college and beyond.

Dr. Janet Graetz, assistant professor of human development and child studies at Oakland University in Michigan, presented a session on her study that followed 19 college students with Asperger’s syndrome.

Graetz found that students living with Asperger’s exercised less, had high anxiety levels and failed to take advantage of campus disability resources as the school year went on.

She stressed the importance of teaching independence in high school to students with disorders like Asperger’s syndrome.

“Students in high school must be taught self-advocacy,” Graetz said. “The best thing you can do for your student who is younger is to teach them about self-advocacy.”

via Autism Conference Held at Penn Stater

Miami-Dade to open two autism schools

The Miami-Dade school district in Florida has announced plans to open two schools for students on the autism spectrum. District officials told the Miami Herald that the schools for autistic students will likely be in the northern and central parts of the county. The autism schools are part of a plan to convert existing space into new classrooms.

Don’t expect to see many new schoolhouses built from brick and mortar this year.

Instead, when it comes to new schools, the Miami-Dade district is transforming existing spaces into technology-rich, innovative classrooms.

The new offerings launching this month include:

• A state-of-the-art magnet school for biomedical sciences in the old Homestead Hospital building.

• A technology-driven high school for advanced and virtual studies housed in the School Board administration complex in downtown Miami.

• A new school for overage middle school students.

• Two new schools-within-schools specifically for children with autism spectrum disorders.

• A new high school for international studies housed in a Coral Gables office building.

The district is also opening a biotechnology and forensics magnet program at Miami Norland Senior High.

via New Miami-Dade schools rely on innovation, not buildings – Education – MiamiHerald.com.

Autism Back-to-School: Autism at college

Some colleges have set up programs to assist autistic students.

Here are three universities that have set up three campus programs to assist students with autism:

At the University of Arizona, students with autism can register with The SALT Center, or The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center. There, they receive monitoring and help with everything from planning and assistive technology to coursework.

Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey has a support program for students with Asperger’s syndrome.

The University of Alabama also offers a college transition program for autistic students.

via SALT Center.

Philadelphia dad has spent 6 years pushing for after-school programs for autistic children

It  all started to make sense after the diagnosis. Elijah’s inability to talk and his fascination with light switches and ceiling fans were signs of autism.But the clarity was a long time coming. In almost every way a father could detect, Eric Williams’ youngest son seemed normal.”When I first heard it, I was stunned,” Williams said. “I knew very little about autism. I was in denial.”He seemed normal. He ran and jumped and played like other kids. He smiled all the time.”But he didn’t talk. He understood everything we said to him. But he didn’t say anything to us.”

via Elmer Smith: Dad has spent 6 years pushing for after-school programs for autistic children | Philadelphia Daily News | 08/06/2010.

New book, ‘Autism Tomorrow,’ helps parents guide autistic children into adulthood

Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Tony Attwood and 14 other autism experts contributed advice in a new book on facing adulthood with autism. The book, “Autism Tomorrow: The Complete Guide to Help Your Child Thrive in the Real World,” addresses independent living, employment, puberty, sexuality, bullying, social skills, communication, financial planning and more.

Autism Today, a leading autism spectrum disorder education and awareness organization, announced that the unique comprehensive book, “Autism Tomorrow, The Complete Guide to Help Your Child Thrive in the Real World,” is now available. The book is a compilation of advice from leading experts in autism spectrum disorders with each author adding valuable insight to help parents, care providers and educators guide children into adulthood.

via Essential New Book, ‘Autism Tomorrow’, Helps Children Transition into Adulthood.

Autistic adults, advocates, visit Washington

The  Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism recent Congressional briefing brought together policymakers and advocates, including this young man with autism who described his goals and college dream.

Joey Rosenbloom, 22, uses a “life writer” to communicate. Sharen Rosenbloom assists her son in every task, from tying his shoes to combing his hair. But the reality Joey faces is what will happen when his mother is gone – an issue that 500,000 autistic children growing into adulthood must figure out. Autism spectrum disorder ranges from mild to severe developmental disabilities. ASD affects people in social and behavioral ways. Some are unable to develop life skills because they cannot speak and are unable to interact with people, while others cannot control their actions. Autism is not just a childhood disease – it never goes away. The Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism consortium met in Washington on Thursday to urge policymakers, advocates and others to make numerous changes. Those include training service providers how to interact with autistic people, new funding to meet individual needs and expanding incentives for housing. Joey and five other autistic people, ages 22 to 54, told the audience of 250 people what they face now and what’s ahead.”My goal is to find a university longing to house and educate individuals living with autism,” Joey said, using his device. “I dream of living on a campus and learning from professors and not just special educators.” via Autistic adults face insecure future.

Mom, school never gave up on student diagnosed with autism

Here’s a great story about an autistic student in New York state whose mother and teachers looked beyond his non-verbal autism and used his abilities to help him get an education. Congratulations, Kevin, on your graduation from high school!

BATAVIA — Kevin Larson’s future was pretty shaky when he entered the city school district eight years ago.Diagnosed with autism, his prior school district had questioned his ability to thrive in a regular school setting.

When he arrived in Batavia, Kevin was “marginally verbal” and could not read. Previous school faculty had underestimated his intelligence and did not believe that he could succeed, autism consultant Maryruth Morris said.

So it is with special pride that his mom Debbie will watch the 19-year-old accept his Regents diploma this weekend along with fellow BHS graduates. Larson credits Morris, the city school district, special education teacher Charlene Mierzwa and Trisha Finnigan, director of special and alternative education.

via The Daily News Online – Batavia, NY > News > Mom, city schools never gave up on student diagnosed with autism.

Program could smooth a hard road to college for student with Down syndrome

A new program in Missouri is aimed at helping students with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities experience college and build skills that will take them from home to independence and employment.  It’s called THRIVE – for Transportation, Health, Responsibility, Independence, Vocation, Education. Read this Kansas City Star story about a possible participant in the THRIVE program.

Ask Mary Warm about her hope for her future, and she cocks her head. The bushy ponytail swings, the smile spreads across her face.

“I love kids, being around kids and hanging out with them, so I want to be a teacher,” said Warm, 18, a junior at Archbishop O’Hara High School in Kansas City.

For most teens Warm’s age, her goal is fairly easily reached with good grades in high school and four years of hard work in college. But for Warm, who has Down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder resulting in cognitive disabilities, it’s not as easy.

But the University of Central Missouri’s THRIVE program, which starts this fall, could well be a big step toward making it easier after she graduates from O’Hara.

via Program could smooth a hard road to college for student with Down syndrome – KansasCity.com.