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  1. Support helps some children with autism sociali...

    November 2, 2016- "Support helps some children with autism socialize at school"- A study appearing in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology reveals that children with autism who are in a large class size and with opportunities to connect with classmates may help them increase social skills. The researchers noted that the children who were the most socially successful based on their criteria and showed the strongest communication skills came from the largest class sizes.

    • Nov 10 2016 11:02 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  2. Autism Not A Barrier for 16-Year-Old College Fr...

    September 13, 2016- "Autism Not A Barrier for 16-Year-Old College Freshman"- Ben Liske, a 16-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, received a $200,000 four-year Presidential Scholarship to attend Trinity College in Hartford. Angel Perez, Trinity College's vice president of enrollment, said of Ben-

    Quote

    "We were just really inspired by his story. And as we started talking about his personal character, we said not only do we think he's great and academically a rock star, we need to give him a scholarship. Our Presidential Scholarship is not just about being top in the class"

    • Sep 14 2016 08:29 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  3. UN Panel Call for Inclusive Education

    September 7, 2016- "UN Panel Call for Inclusive Education"- New set of guidelines from the UN states that being educated in an inclusive environment is a basic right for students with disabilities.  It calls for governments to work together with individuals with disabilities and their families to ensure schooling is inclusive and not just integrated.

    • Sep 08 2016 08:37 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  4. Feds Move to End Segregated Schools for Kids wi...

    August 22, 2016- "Feds Move to End Segregated Schools for Kids with Disabilities"- The U.S. Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit claiming Georgia has violated the civil rights of students assigned to the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) program, citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires students with disabilities to be educated as often as possible with children who are typically developing. The agency is seeking the closure of the 24 GNETS programs.  An investigation carried out by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia schools assigned a vastly disproportionate number of African-American Students to GNETs program. Additionally, restraints were used nearly 10,000 times, five times more than at the state’s other 2,300 public schools combined.

    • Aug 22 2016 09:48 AM
    • by brian
  5. Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama

    June 1, 2016- "Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama"- This extensive article focuses on how schools are turning to the arts to teach high-functioning students with autism social skills. New research from Vanderbilt suggests that drama classes are particularly useful for improving these skills. Other research has shown that drama programs can help improve children’s facial recognition ability, their ability to play cooperatively, share, speak with respect, regulate anxiety, and more. Researchers plan to extend the research to a larger sample of students and to compare the benefits of drama therapy supplemented with other forms of therapy.

    • Jun 01 2016 09:10 AM
    • by brian
  6. Senator Calls for Full Funding of IDEA

    May 23, 2016- "Senator Calls for Full Funding of IDEA"- U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the federal government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). When Congress originally passed IDEA in 1975 mandating special education services in the nation’s public schools, lawmakers committed to footing 40 percent of the bill, leaving states and local officials to pick up the rest. However, this never materialized. In the fiscal year 2016, the federal government plans to cover just 16 percent of the cost of special education for kids ages 3 to 21, a figured that’s $17.85 billion shy of the original commitment. This isn’t the first time that a lawmaker has called for the increased funding for IDEA. Multiple bills have been introduced in Congress over the years, but they’ve been unsuccessful in garnering much traction.

    • May 23 2016 10:15 AM
    • by brian
  7. Boy Gives Inspiring Speech to His Classmates ab...

    April 12, 2016- "Boy Gives Inspiring Speech to His Classmates about Living with Autism"- Jackson Kreifels was diagnosed with autism just after his 4th birthday. This past week, Jackson gave a speech about autism in front of his school’s 3rd class. When he was first approached  by his former 3rd grade teacher to give a speech in front of the current 3rd grade class he was nervous about the prospect of speaking, but after hours of practicing and reciting his speech he was no longer nervous and excited to share his story. You can watch Jackson’s full speech in a video clip within this article.

    • Apr 14 2016 10:11 AM
    • by brian
  8. Low Special Ed Graduation Rates Haunt Educators

    April 8, 2016- "Low Special Ed Graduation Rates Haunt Educators"- In 2014, the last year with available data, merely 63 percent of students with disabilities graduated high school. Mississippi high schools, which are the main focus of this article, demonstrated one of the worst graduation rates in the nation with only 28 percent of high school students with a disability earning their diploma. While this is an alarming trend for high schools, experts believe that students are not being granted appropriate instruction and services at the elementary and middle school levels, which leads to these students being underprepared for the high school curriculum.  

    • Apr 11 2016 08:58 AM
    • by brian
  9. Federal Judge: Religious Schools Exempt from ADA

    April 5, 2016- "Federal Judge: Religious Schools Exempt from ADA"- A federal judge in New Jersey has ruled that Quaker schools are not required to provide services to students with learning disabilities. The judge said the school was exempt from federal and state disability laws because it was a religious institution, a decision that could have far-ranging implications for religious schools. The article goes into detail about the specifics of this particular ruling and discusses what some of those implications might be.

    • Apr 06 2016 03:07 PM
    • by brian
  10. Tech Tools Help Parents, Teachers Overcome Auti...

    March 29, 2016- "Tech Tools Help Parents, Teachers Overcome Autism's Hurdles"- This article discusses some of the technological advancements in recent years that have helped parents and teachers assisting individuals with autism. Among those discussed is an education service called Relias Learning, which offers web-based training in autism treatments for healthcare professionals and caregivers. Another teaching tool, known as Rethink, houses a library of more than 1,500 video-based exercises, lesson plans, and printable materials relevant to educating children on the spectrum and are designed for both parents and teachers. Other online teaching tools are also discussed within this rather informative article.

    • Mar 30 2016 12:17 PM
    • by brian
  11. Schools Warned on Shortened Schedule for Those...

    March 22, 2016- "Schools Warned on Shortened Schedule for Those with Disabilities"- State officials claim Oregon schools have occasionally, at time illegally, used disability-related misbehavior by students as a reason to send them home early from school.These actions not only violate federal education laws, but denying a student a full school day for a prolonged period of time can violate that student’s civil rights. A memo sent to all school districts at the beginning of this year made clear that a special education student’s day can only be shortened in “very limited circumstances.”  This article continues to go into detail about regulations for students with disabilities and cites some examples of students who were robbed of receiving a full education without proper justification.

    • Mar 24 2016 10:21 AM
    • by brian
  12. Teaching the Way my Students with Autism Learn

    March 23, 2016- "Teaching the Way my Students with Autism Learn"- This article is authored by Ann Kagarise, who is in an individual with autism who works as a teacher to students to with autism. As an individual on the spectrum, she has a unique perspective on how to work and connect with her students. She discusses how when her students tell her they are unable to complete a task due to their autism, she gives them the “I have autism too” speech, and reminds them that she never let her disorder hold her back.  

    • Mar 24 2016 09:03 AM
    • by brian
  13. Number of California Students Classified as Aut...

    January 21, 2016- "Number of California Students Classified as Autistic Jumps for 14th Consecutive Year"- More than 90,000 California public school students are on the autism spectrum, a number that has risen more than six-fold since 2001, according to the latest data from the California Department of Education. The figure represents a jump of about 6,000 students, or 7 percent, from 2013-14 to 2014-15. Since 2001, the number of students with autism has risen by 7 percent or more each year. The article concludes with a brief synopsis of proposed theories regarding the dramatic rise in autism diagnosis since the new millennium.

    • Jan 25 2016 10:43 AM
    • by brian
  14. 2015 Year in Review: Major Events in the Autism...

    December 30, 2015 - '2015 Year in Review: Major Events in the Autism Community'

    This past year was a significant one for the autism community. Between the announcements of a 1 in 45 autism prevalence rate Sesame Street’s announcement of a new character with autism, individuals in the autism community have had a lot to absorb and process. The National Autism Network has decided to highlight some of the major events in 2015 that we hope will have an impact on the autism community for years to come.

    1 in 45 Prevalence Rate: Earlier this year, the CDC released a new prevalence rate indicating that 1 in 45 children are on the autism spectrum in the U.S. based upon a parental survey. The data was collected through the 2014 National Health Interview Survey, in which one child is selected randomly from each family to be the subject of detailed questions on health conditions, functional limitations, and health care utilization. However, there was some controversy in how the data was collected this go around. Traditionally, parents are asked to answer a series of three questions for the NHIS survey. The first asks if their child had an intellectual disability. The second asks if their child had any developmental delay. And the third question listed several conditions from Down syndrome to sickle cell anemia to ASD, and asked parents if their child had been diagnosed with any of them. However, the 2014 version of the survey tweaked the ordering of the questions so that the second question directly asked if their child has an ASD diagnosis, while the third question asked about any other developmental delay. It seems this simple change in the arrangement of the questions resulted in the near doubling of the prevalence of autism from 2011-2013 to 2014. Notably, due to the differing methodology utilized in this parental survey compared with the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network the new prevalence rate of 1 in 45 does not officially supplant the current nationwide prevalence rate of 1 in 68. Click here for more on the specifics of this survey’s findings.

    Economic Cost of Autism: A new study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders this past year forecasted that autism-related expenses will cost the U.S. economy an estimated $265 billion dollars in 2015. The study also concluded that if the autism prevalence rate were to remain stagnant at 1 in 68, the total economic costs related to autism would rise to $461 billion in 2025. Alarmingly, if the autism prevalence rate continues to rise at its current pace, the projected costs will top $1 trillion by 2025. If the prevalence rate of autism continues to grow on par with recent years, ASD costs will likely far exceed those of diabetes and ADHD by 2025. In reaction to this study’s findings, co-author Dr. Paul Leigh stated “Public, research, and government policy attention to autism ought to be at least as great as it is for other major health conditions such as diabetes.” However, this chart from the National Institutes of Health, detailing the projected number of research dollars the government intends to allocate per condition, demonstrates that autism research is not a major priority compared to other diseases and disorders that are less prevalent in today’s society.

    Landmark Legislation Anniversaries: In 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) was signed into law, guaranteeing access to free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to each child with a disability in public schools across the nation. Before IDEA was enacted, only one in five children with disabilities received a public education. In 2013, IDEA helped 6.4 million children to receive special education services, about 13 percent of all public school students that year. While the pioneering IDEA legislation turned 40 this year, another landmark piece of legislation aimed at assisting individuals with disabilities, known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), turned 25 in 2015. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the legislation, which prohibits discrimination based on disability, former President George H.W. Bush, the man who originally signed the legislation into law, sat down with the National Organization on Disability (NOD) chairman Tom Ridge to discuss the legislation. President Obama also gave a speech this past July discussing the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act has had over the years.

    Every Student Succeeds Act: We now turn from the anniversaries of landmark legislation to the recent enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act by President Obama in December. The bill aims to improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which was last reauthorized under the No Child Left Behind Act. The new legislation holds schools accountable for the performance of students with disabilities to ensure their access to the general education curriculum. The new language also requires school districts to identify and provide evidence-based improvement plans in any schools in which students are not learning. The legislation received bipartisan support with a vote of 359-64 in the U.S. House with the U.S. Senate also quickly approving the measure by a vote of 85-12 in early December. For more on this legislation, check out this Fact Sheet released by the White House.

    ABLE Act Accounts: Last year, we discussed the passage of the ABLE Act legislation, which allows individuals with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts that can accrue up to $100,000 for disability-related expenses. However, each state was required to create their own set of regulations before ABLE accounts are available to the individuals who need them. Fortunately, this year Virginia became the first state to enact an ABLE program with 30 more states and the District of Columbia following suit by enacting legislation authorizing ABLE programs. This legislation exemplifies bipartisanship as both blue and red states alike passed ABLE-related legislation in 2015. Visit here to see how far your state has come towards enacting ABLE legislation.

    Autism Insurance Reform: With several states passing autism insurance reform this year, our nation became one step closer to providing blanket coverage for autism-related services nationwide. In October, North Carolina became the 43rd and most recent state to pass autism insurance reform. Other states to pass autism insurance reform in 2015 included Hawaii, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Dakota. Moreover, states like Virginia and Colorado expanded their coverage for autism, eliminating or increasing certain age caps and dollar restrictions. Let us hope by the conclusion of 2016 the United States will see complete coverage for autism-related services.

    Sesame Street: This past year, the autism community and the internet were abuzz with news that the beloved children’s program Sesame Street would be introducing a new character, named Julia, with autism. The news of Julia’s introduction went viral and appeared in over 400 print/online outlets within days of the announcement. Interestingly, Sesame Street decided to make their first character with autism a girl because as Sesame Workshop executive Sherrie Westin explains, “We made sure she was a girl namely because autism is seen so much more often in boys. We want to make it clear that girls can be on the spectrum, too. We’re trying to eliminate misconceptions, and a lot of people only think boys have autism.” Sesame Workshop also launched the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” in October. The site includes videos about children with autism, “routine cards” that use Sesame characters to aid in teaching basic skills to children with autism, and summaries on a number autism-related topics.

    Autism Research Partnership: Earlier this year Autism BrainNet, a partnership between Autism Speaks and Simons Foundation, and the NIH NeuroBioBank entered into a partnership to produce a unified resource for neurological research by aligning the procedures that the two repositories use to collect, prepare, and preserve brain tissues for autism research. The brain is such an important aspect of autism research, but a lack of access to human brain tissue has hampered research in this area. The agreement will also establish shared standards and strict criteria that researchers must meet to obtain tissue from the two brain banks. Visit It Takes Brains to learn more about how brains influence autism research and information for how to become a post-mortem donor regardless of whether or not you’re on the spectrum.  

    • Dec 30 2015 11:04 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  15. President Obama has Signed ESSA Education Refor...

    December 9, 2015- "President Obama has Signed ESSA Education Reform Bill"- Recently, President Obama signed S.1777, or the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bill that aims to improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which was last reauthorized under the No Child Left Behind Act. The new bill accommodates state and local school district flexibility while maintaining accountability requirements for improvements of “subgroups” of students, such as those in special education. The language further requires school districts to identify and provide evidence-based improvement plans in any schools in which students are not learning. The bill also includes provisions that would expand access to early education.

    • Dec 11 2015 10:48 AM
    • by brian
  16. Does Our Private Eval Have to be "Comparabl...

    December 10, 2015- "Does Our Private Eval Have to be "Comparable" to the School's Eval?"- This inquiry comes from a parent who was told by the school that their private evaluation must be comparable to the school’s evaluation. When school’s fail to provide an adequate evaluation or you disagree with the evaluation your child’s school provides, then you are rightfully able to obtain a private evaluation from an independent physician. The law does not require that these evaluations be comparable, test the same skills, or use the same tests. This article also includes tips for parents who want to measure the same skills tested by the school, but through an independent evaluator.

    • Dec 10 2015 11:31 AM
    • by brian
  17. Autism Speaks Applauds Education Bill Passage

    December 3, 2015- "Autism Speaks Applauds Education Bill Passage"- Recently, Congress passed a bill known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, an elementary and secondary education bill that improves the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which was last reauthorized under the No Child Left Behind Act. One of the features of the bill is that it holds schools accountable for the performance of students with disabilities to ensure their access to the general education curriculum. Until the most recent reauthorization of ESEA in 2001, students with disabilities were excluded from state accountability systems, inhibiting access and exposure to the general curriculum. The bill further requires school districts to identify and provide evidence-based improvements plans in any schools in which students are not learning. The bill also includes provisions that would expand access to early education. The bill still requires Senate approval, but the House vote was seen as the higher hurdle because of resistance from some conservative republicans, who believed the bill did not reduce the federal role enough. The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week, and President Obama has indicated that he will sign it into law.  

    • Dec 03 2015 03:33 PM
    • by brian
  18. Simulated Town Offers Life Skills Training

    November 18, 2015- "Simulated Town Offers Life Skills Training"- LifeTown, located in the Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center, is a simulated streetscape intended to make every life less intimidating for young people with disabilities. Recently, the town was in full effect, with 56 students, their teachers and aides, and 20 volunteers running the storefronts. The town operates every weekday morning when school is in, with 2,500 students per year from thirteen Columbus-area school districts participating in the activities. When kids arrive, they receive wallets, $12, and a worksheet of errands to run. Each worksheet is customized to the student’s skill level and the lesson plan that the teachers and LifeTown worked out in advance.

    • Nov 18 2015 04:36 PM
    • by brian
  19. Feds: IEPs Should Align with Grade-Level Standards

    November 17, 2015- "Feds: IEPs Should Align with Grade-Level Standards"- Beyond offering a free appropriate public education, federal education officials stated that individualized education programs for students with disabilities should also meet grade-level requirements. In guidance released Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education said that all IEPs should conform to “the state’s academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled.” This means that IEP teams must ensure that programs feature grade-level academics, but that instruction and support services are tailored so children can learn the material and progress toward achieving their individual goals.

    • Nov 18 2015 04:03 PM
    • by brian
  20. President's Committee Look at Technology in...

    November 5, 2015- "President's Committee Look at Technology in Improving Quality of Life"- Recently, the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) published their annual report to the President titled “Leveling the Playing Field: Improving Technology Access and Design for People with Intellectual Disabilities.” It highlights the important role technology has in providing people with disabilities greater accessibility and control over their lives. New research indicates students with disabilities who are included in general education settings have better success academically and in postsecondary education, but students with autism face significant barriers to full inclusion in general education settings. Access to assistive technology can serve as a pathway to general education classrooms. However, a major barrier to acquiring assistive technology for a student with autism is a lack of awareness about available accommodations to improve the accessibility of educational materials. This is why it is imperative that parents and advocates understand students' rights under IDEA in order to secure the appropriate assistive technology for students with autism.

    • Nov 09 2015 11:01 AM
    • by brian
  21. Rutgers University Debuts First-of-its-Kind Pro...

    November 4, 2015- "Rutgers University Debuts First-of-its-Kind Program for Adults with Autism"- Rutgers University recently announced plans to open the Rutgers Center for Adults Autism Services (RCAAS). Located in two buildings on campus, the center will offer university jobs to 60 adults with autism who are living off campus. Phase two of the project will offer a pilot residential program for 20 adults with autism who will work on campus and live with Rutgers graduate students in an integrated residence. Plans to open the first phase of the center are set for fall 2018, after a few years of fundraising. The project will be completely privately funded and coast a total of $35 million.  

    • Nov 06 2015 04:34 PM
    • by brian
  22. Do I Have to Tell If I Tape-Record the IEP Meet...

    October 29, 2015- "Do I Have to Tell If I Tape-Record the IEP Meeting?"- In general, if you record a meeting or telephone call without the person’s knowledge is it inadmissible in court and may be unlawful. It is recommended that individuals never record someone without their knowledge regardless of the medium. If people come to find out you are taping someone without their knowledge, they will begin to manifest feelings of distrust and wonder if you had done the same to them in the past. For IEP meetings it is suggested that you take detailed notes, ask questions to clarify confusing concepts, and after the meeting, write a nice thank you letter. Address the letter to the meeting chair and repeat your understanding, agreements reached, things you disagree with, etc. in the letter. Further recommendations are included for phone conversations within this article.  

    • Oct 30 2015 10:31 AM
    • by brian
  23. Student with Autism Climbs to Help Others

    October 23, 2015- "Student with Autism Climbs to Help Others"- Troy Shumway, a 20-year-old with autism was able to attend college through Aggies Elevated, a two-year certificate from Utah State University designed for students with autism, Down syndrome, and other intellectual and physical disabilities. Troy credits the program with helping him to learn and grow from his “comfort zone” and he wants another individual to have the same learning experience. To that end, Troy participated in a fundraising campaign for a future student’s tuition by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Troy’s father, Robert, an avid climber and triathlete, came up with the campaign based upon the Aggies Elevated motto “climb higher.” With two guides, his father and his mother, Kathy, Troy climbed Africa’s tallest peak accompanied by a documentarian who captured the difficult endeavor as a means of inspiring others. Troy recently spoke about his experience during a fundraising event as he continues to work towards his selfless goal of granting one individual the same higher level education he was able to receive.

    • Oct 26 2015 12:41 PM
    • by brian
  24. Increased Flexibility Urged for Special Ed Funding

    October 23, 2015- "Increased Flexibility Urged for Special Ed Funding"- Under IDEA, states and schools in most cases must maintain or increase their funding for special education services each year. Those that do not meet the spending requirement known as maintenance of effort without obtaining an exemption from the U.S. Department of Education can lose out on federal dollars. In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office said that nearly all school districts complied with the mandate as of the 2012-2013 school year, the most recent years for which data is available, though many reported that they had difficulty doing so. The GAO also warned that the rigid spending requirement could be stifling innovation in special education.  

    • Oct 26 2015 10:15 AM
    • by brian
  25. Yes or No? IEP Meetings can only be 1 Hour Long

    October 22, 2015- "Yes or No? IEP Meetings can only be 1 Hour Long"- This question comes from a special ed teacher who was told by their supervisor that IEP meetings cannot last more than 1 hour. If they were incomplete after a hour they would have to reschedule the meeting and complete it at a later date. Also, they were told to sign an IEP without a set duration of services. Duration of services is the amount of service time a child receives for special education, related services, and supplementary aids. A model IEP should include information detailing the beginning, frequency, location, and duration for each service. Additionally, there is nothing in the law about a team needing to end an IEP meeting after a specific time. Generally, if progress is being made on the IEP, then the team should continue if possible.

    • Oct 22 2015 10:22 AM
    • by brian