October 10, 2008

Bless me bloggers...It has been one year, several months and a few days since my last entry

boticelli_venus.jpg

My office.
My office I enjoined with haste;
Not realizing that human waste
Was daily flushed at rabid pace
Above my head in the place
that I call
My office.

Although I cannot hear the door
And therefore do not the length endure
I only know from one
When the evil deed is done
Far above my head the space
In that lonley place
That bespeaks the grace
that I call
my office.

If a motive ever were
to finish my dissertation soon
I would ascribe it to the sound
That daily above me does abound
To note that amid the hush
of studious research and quiet rush
I have to listen to everyone flush,
Here above
my office.


October 31, 2007

It's in your brain, silly!

For those of you using ABLLS, you might be interested in knowing that the processing for enviornmental noises is a separate cortical system from processing language. As an interesting test, try doing the enviornmental sound receptive language objective and see if the rate of learning is different. In any case, just know that the brain systems that you are tapping into are different and there is evidence of a disassociation (one working while the other is impaired) between processing language (receptive) and processing enviornmental sounds!

Stimuli really is important!

One of the biggest challenges to home programming in behavior therapy is that often cash constrained parents are responsible for coming up with the new toys to teach new skills. This is actually a huge problem. According to L.J. Kamin, if you use a stimulus to teach a response and then try to teach a new response with the same stimulus, you have actually blocked the new learning by using the old stimuli. In young children where teaching new concepts is the objectives, each objective should have very different stimuli associated with it. The blocking effect is well documented. So agencies which supply behavior therapists should also apply stimulus materials which support their curriculum, otherwise they could actually be retarding the learning of the very students they aim to help!

October 29, 2007

When is your district's special education program "good."

I have a friend who works as a school nurse in an unnamed district here in Minnesota. After an early morning soccer game, the team parents went out for breakfast which included a bloody Mary and that midwestern "bump" tradition (which in and of itself is another blog). Anyway, this friend was very impressed with her school's special education program largely due to the monumental efforts of this particular teacher. I have met this teacher and she is fairly spectacular and extremely dedicated. But it would have taken more Bloody Mary's than I could drink to explain my problem here.

The amount of labor that a teacher employs with her students doesn't really make for a great program. Especially when one labors so hard that the mainstream can rest assured that "those" students are getting what "they" need with the added bonus that no one without a disability has to be inconvenienced by their presence. It is especially easy to lay that blanket on those who have trouble communicating, like barely verbal kids with autism. How about one poor deaf kid who has been mislabeled as autistic, when what he really is, is deaf.

These teachers like to sit in their room, have lunch and chat. These poor students are safer with their teachers, aren't they? Show me one middle school boy who would rather have lunch with a middle aged woman than his peers and I'll show you the progeny of the Stepford Wives. When the teachers are working really hard, and the credit for the program goes to that dedicated teacher, there's something missing...that kid with a disability and his right to be included in the mainstream.

When other students do well, we are likely to give at least some credit to the students. But when kids with special needs do well, we tend to hand that kudo to the teacher.

Yes, I would rather have a hard working teacher than a lazy teacher, but as in all things there needs to be a balance. The tipping of the scale either way indicates that there is something amiss in the balance. The balance between ensuring a free and appropriate education and to getting that education in the least restrictive environment is an ever moving target in a fluid and dynamic sea. If we never let em into the ocean, they will surely be safe and never drown, but they'll never learn to swim either.

September 21, 2007

It's not paranoia, they really are out to get you!

Holy cow! There have been moments in my life previously where my confidence in my fellow humans has been shaken and tonight is no doubt one. The title: Special Education Law. The subtitle: how to cover your ass and get around that parent. The teacher is very good. He is a high school principal with a law degree. But the entire tone of the class is those darn parents! One woman swore that she had three families in her district who had a lot of money and enjoyed suing the school. While I for one could possibly derive pleasure from seeing this school district hung...I couldn't justify it more than a cabin up north, a boat, a trip to europe, extra help for my kid, a new car, someone to clean my house, mow the lawn, a condo in Hawaii, a condo anywhere and a chance to get a massage. And if I had all that, I'd look for a good charitable cause to give it to before I'd sue my school for the "fun" of it. I really never thought that teachers and administrators laid in wait for parents and the iep meeting...but was I ever wrong. The attitude of let's see what this child needs is NEVER the first attitude expressed by these teachers. In addition, they act like we're robbing their school! When special education starts to come out of a teacher's salary, then maybe I'd have some sympathy. But it's not. The superintendent must tell the building principals to fight all sped costs because they act like it's theirs! Special education funding is a district problem and it needs to be solved at that level. If they can build stadiums at high schools to rival Fenway Park and put up domes,then they can meet some kids' educational needs. So, if you're thinking that they don't like you and your kid, you're probably right!

August 24, 2006

The threshold of mortality - Happy 50th

Turning 50 is like stepping across a threshold. And there at the other end is a casket...or an urn...with your own sorry butt somewhere inside. I understand mid-life crisis. It's trying desperately to not cross over. You can cling to the door frame, but you are inevitably sucked inside. While graduate school seemed like a good way to stave off the crossing over, you get pushed over the edge anyway and the normal humiliations of being a graduate student seem amplified in that the life lessons that you will learn will only last so long. And some of the better ones will never be applied to a large group, like how to deal with homework and hotflashes...both your own.

August 4, 2006

What was I thinking?

Is 50 midlife? Only if you plan to live to 100...It's more like the threshold of old age. Why then, am I back in school? Because after a youthful hiatus in the other places of the world, there's nothing like school. My favorite part is that while I've been developing a life-philosophy of life, there hasn't been one person that I know who would care to read or even ask about that philosophy. It's good to have a lot to write about, but even better that tuition covers the cost of someone to read it and make comments which at least start with something positive. And a blog? Dear God, heaven is truly on this earth.