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A Special Program for Special Education

Sometimes it is hard to find a specific program that is right for your child. The good news is that if children are diagnosed as being a special needs student at an early age, there are plenty of opportunities to help them.

At Mercy Children’s Hospital in Ohio, an early intervention program provides specialized learning specifically for autistic children. Their intensive preschool provides early intervention for children diagnosed with autism at such an early age.

The program serves a dozen autistic children for 24 hours a week. With 1,500 hours of total therapy, children are heavily prepared for school and other social situations they may come across at an early age. Because autistic children require individualized instruction and research shows the autistic children have better outcomes if they receive early intervention, the hospital program mainly focuses on individualized instruction.

Because each child has different needs and ways of learning, they all receive instruction in speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavioral consulting. Some students have proved so successful with this program that they quickly transferred to regular preschools.

ProMedica Health System is considering offering an early intervention program for autistic children. With the help of other local community groups, they hope to open an autism center at Toledo’s Children’s Hospital for families to utilize related services.

Parents have praised the program for how much it has helped their children not only communicate but be less frustrated and do more for themselves. With the program proving successful, hopefully others will follow in their footsteps and open more opportunities for our children.

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All Together Now – Special Education Classrooms

Kyrene de las Manitas Elementary School’s preschool class gives a new meaning to the phrase working together.

Just like in any other preschool classroom, children are taught color and shape identification, math skills, how to hold a pencil and use scissors and basic reasoning skills. What makes this class different than most is that the preschool program includes both typically-developing and special needs students playing and working together. The typical children, who are screened to evaluate their language and social skills, serve as role models for their special-needs peers.

The district is already screening for next year’s students and has the program set up in many elementary schools around the area. This early interaction and exposure to curriculum only benefits the special needs children. There have even been reports of some former students being no longer diagnosed as special needs after graduating from the preschool.

The typical students also benefit from the program as they become more aware and accepting of diversity. They can also give students peer positive reinforcement as they make achievements. Parents have noted positive changes in their special needs children after only a few weeks in the program. Special needs students started to gain communication skills they were lacking before. Typical students developed confidence and social skills that help them in group situations, like speaking in front of a group or talking to new students.

With the fun presentation of educational material and individualized attention that the students get, parents also noted how their children have developed a love for going to school. It is also great for the typical children to interact with the special needs children so they can share adult experiences and learn from them.

By working together with students of all abilities, children can see the various types of people in the world and learn and grow from their experiences.

Photo by: WellspringC

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You Are What You Eat – Food Education

If there is one thing that Americans do greatly, it is that they eat.

America is one of the unhealthiest countries in the world. Children in today’s society will live lives shorter than their own parents because of the food they are eating. Diet-related diseases are increasing and are currently the biggest cause of death in the United States today.

Famous chef and food advocate Jamie Oliver came to the United States to start a “food revolution”. He spends much of his time campaigning against the use of processed foods in national schools and poor cooking habits. Starting in West Virginia, the unhealthiest state, he talked to real people about their real habits. He shows a young girl who has only a few years to live because of the food choices she has made. He shows another woman and her children who just like other Americans, were never taught to cook at home and eat highly processed foods. He shows more young people that have experienced deaths of close family members all due to obesity. These deaths don’t just affect that person; it affects their children, friends, peers and everyone else around them.

Jamie sees the problem of obesity as a triangle between the home, school and the main street, or modern day life. The main street is where fast food has taken over the country. As the supermarkets and big companies take power, most foods that Americans eat are those that are largely processed and full of extra additives and ingredients. Portion size and labeling are also huge problems that we have in our country.

As life changes, we have to step back and readjust the balance. School food is something most children have twice a day and for that reason is very important and he stresses this through the video. School cafeterias are run by people who don’t have enough food knowledge. We are not teaching kids enough about the food. There is a clip where Jamie goes to an elementary school and asks the kids what certain vegetables are. They can’t seem to name any of the ones he shows them. If they do not know what they are, they either have not eaten them or will not eat them. It is this alarming fact that helps us realize that we have to start teaching our kids about food in school.

The good news about all of this bad news is that it is preventable. To make real change, big brands need to put food education at the heart of their business. Work places need to offer fresh food. Schools need to cook proper and fresh food for the children. Life skills like recipes that children can make, need to be learned.

If change can be made in this country, starting with properly educating our children about food, beautiful things will happen in this world.

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Working for the Future- Special Education Students

Real world experience is necessary for students to learn what this so-called real world is like.

When Deborah Hartman was promoted special education director at the downtown Central Administration Building of the Allentown School District, she wanted to bring back the daily interaction that she and her special education students had when she was a teacher.

Hartman got help from federal stimulus money as she and her staff founded DelectABLE Deli, a food and coffee cart staffed by special education students from Allen and Dieruff high schools. The “ABLE” is an acronym for Allentown Building Life Experiences.

The district works hard to prepare special education students for life after school and the working world.

The program is great for a variety of reasons. Students get to work on their verbal skills by greeting customers and taking their food or drink orders. They also work on their basic math skills by adding prices for multiple items in orders. In addition, they get real life experience, interacting and doing business with customers.

Special education students have a great need to prepare for the future. When these students turn 14 years old, they begin to learn in work-based areas that introduce possible career choices or paths they may want to pursue after they graduate.

Allentown received about $10 million in stimulus money, including $3.6 million for special education. They spent $5,000 in special education money to start the DelectABLE Deli. There are 27 students who work at the deli and share shifts three days a week.

Hartman hopes to use the next round of stimulus money to rent a handicapped accessible apartment near Allen High School. She would use the apartment to teach students how to live independently because an apartment, like working at the food cart, is more realistic than just learning in a classroom.

Photo by Nutmeg

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New Drivers, New Learners – Alternative for Special Education

Preparing for a driver’s test can be somewhat nerve wrecking. For students with special needs, who have different ways of learning, sometimes a different approach to preparing for the test is needed.

Flashcards and graphics of road signs and symbols can greatly help prepare students for the test. Since a lot of students are visual learners, instructional videos with real life situations can aide them in preparing for the test.

The California DMV has released a YouTube Channel with a series of 54 short clips helping students prepare for their driving test and being on the road for the first time. For students who learn visually, these videos are a great alternative to texts or long documents on computer screens.

The video clips offer real life examples and situations that can happen when taking a driver’s test or preparing for one. They present the top ten common mistakes that a lot of first time drivers do when they are starting out, including unsafe lane changes, failure to yield, and failure to stop.

The videos include interviews with real driving examiners about their experiences with taking out first time drivers. They give examples of these mistakes that so many students make and then details on what you should do to correct that mistake.

These short videos are a great refresher for students who want to see real people in real situations. The comments from other YouTube members can also offer advice or personal experiences in addition to the videos.

Since YouTube is watched by millions of people a day, the California DMV realized a great way to get this safety information out there would be to post it on YouTube. For those students who need visual aides to help them retain information, this is a great resource.

Photo by redja

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