Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Special Education Law

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend a Related-Services Academy offered by my employer (Shelby County Schools) that was led by Dr. Wendy Ashcroft, at Christian Brothers University here in Memphis. Our group of therapists was given a thorough review of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, as well as some great information on Applied Behavior Analysis and evidence-based practice for serving children with Autism. It was such a great experience, I've decided to share some of the information with you!

Review of Sped Law:
-In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act 
-In 1990, this act was amended to become the Individuals with Disabilities Act (I.D.E.A.)
-The most recent amendments to I.D.E.A. were signed into law by President Clinton in 1997 and President Bush in 2004. 
-Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvements Act provisions took effect on July 1, 2005.

There are Six Major Principles to the Special Education Law in the United States:
1) Zero Reject - the right of every child to be included in a free appropriate publicly-supported education system.
2) Non-Discriminatory Evaluation- the child's right to be fairly evaluated so correct educational programs and placement can be achieved.
3) Individualized Educational Program- the child's right to have a meaningful education
4) Least Restrictive Environment- the child's right to associate with nondisabled students to the maximum extent appropriate to his or her needs.
5) Due Process- the child's right to challenge any aspect of the educational program.
6) Parent Participation- the child's right to have the family involved in decisions about his or her educational program.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Notes from Related Service Academy, Christian Brothers University, Facilitator: Dr. Wendy Ashcroft, June 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Great Resource on Visual Deficits

Dr. Mitchell Sheiman has written a wonderful book titled Understanding and Managing Vision Deficits: A Guide for Occupational Therapists. In this book, he explains how problems with vision play a role in the practice of occupational therapy and how OT’s and optometrists can collaborate to understand and manage visual disorders. This is a wonderful resource for occupational therapists that includes intervention recommendations for specific vision problems such as visual field deficits and visual neglect. There is also a section that explains vision therapy, which Sheiman defines as “an organized therapeutic regimen utilized to treat a number of neuromuscular, neurophysiological, and neurosensory conditions that interfere with visual function.” (p. 171). For more information on vision therapy, contact the American Optometric Association @ http://www.aoa.org/x5411.xml.
 Scheiman, M. (2011). Understanding and Managing Vision Deficits: A Guide for Occupational Therapists. Slack, NJ.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Practical Suggestions to Address Visual Challenges

   Use a colored highlighter to highlight writing lines, or every other line to be read.
   Use commercially available raised-lined paper that bumps when the pencil crosses over it. 
    Teach letters by having the child write in sand, shaving cream, or on paper laid over sand paper or other bumpy surfaces.
    Use graph paper for spacing issues. Instruct the child to place letters or numbers in each box and the child can leave empty boxes for spaces.
    Use a ruler or folded piece of paper as a guide to expose the line being read or written on to help focus on one line at a time.
    Place work on a slanted surface such as a 3-inch binder turned sideways, or purchase a slant board. These can be visually helpful.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Visual Closure

Visual Closure is the ability to visually complete a picture or form that is not in full view. This skill is important for reading and recognizing words, forms, etc. in a speedy manner.
Visual-Closure Activities
-Complete pictures in which only parts of objects/shapes are revealed.
-“What is missing” worksheets
-Dot-to-dot activities
-Jigsaw puzzles
-Building three-dimensional models from cubes, cylinders, and blocks
-Connect broken lines to complete a shape or form.
-Partially cover an object or shapes and have the child identify it.
-Figure-ground activities also help with visual closure.

Reference: Test of Visual Perceptual Skills