Superb: Transforming Disabilities into Special Abilities

Dr. Sheena Howard of Rider University talks about her comic book creation, Superb: the world’s first Down syndrome superhero.

By Emma Eisenberg

Dr. Sheena Howard is one of the writers behind Superb, a new comic book series that launched this summer as part of Catalyst Prime, the line of superhero comics published by Lion Forge. Superb follows two nontraditional protagonists who become superheroes—a teenage boy who has Down syndrome and a black teenage girl. (more…)

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View Jon Izak’s complete seminar at Teachers College, Columbia University!

ONEder’s CODiE award nominated platform empowers educators with the tools they need to support students with Individualized Education Plans.  In the session, Jon focuses on the challenges faced by districts in supporting students with IEPs, and closing the opportunity gap. He then discusses how ONEder is helping districts meet those challenges. To view the complete seminar, click here.

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ONEder’s Jonathan Izak to Present at Teachers College, Columbia University

ONEder’s CODiE award nominated platform empowers educators with the tools they need to support students withIndividualized Education Plans.  In the session, Jon will focus on the challenges faced by districts in supporting students with IEPs, and closing the opportunity gap. He will then discuss how ONEder is helping districts meet those challenges.

Join Jon at Columbia’s EdLab seminar space on August 2, 2017.  RSVP Today:

https://edlab.tc.columbia.edu/events/EdLab-Seminar-ONEders-Platform-Approach-to-Special-Education–ryh@mO6B@

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A Teacher’s Perspective on Personalization

By Sarah Caroline Bell

When I accepted a part-time position teaching students English as a foreign language, I was thrust into the world of education, and all that comes with it. However, it wasn’t until relocating to Incheon, South Korea in 2011, that I encountered learners with disabilities.  Unlike my earlier teaching experiences, where learners were allocated to level-based classes after taking a standardized test, all learners were lumped into one class with a single, fixed curriculum based solely on their age.

I immediately noticed that children whose pace didn’t match the standard were, essentially, left to flounder. To counteract this trend, I dedicated countless hours and my own resources to planning additional learning opportunities for struggling students to complete alongside their peers (while they worked on a higher-level task); as 1:1 lessons in my own time, or as additional homework tasks set at the learners’ true level.

The problem is not just about learners with special needs “lagging behind their peers”. Oftentimes, these students possess abilities that exceed other children their own age, with some able to learn content years ahead. Their difficulties manifest themselves in the classroom as disruption. Every class has a few learners like this, requiring extra preparation at the learners’ advanced level, in order to prevent exceptionally fast students from finishing work early and disrupting other students.

Needless to say, teaching was exhausting. In 2015, I considered giving up teaching children and young adults, and instead focusing on adult education and professional coaching in a 1:1 environment. I considered this because it felt more effective to tailor plans for individuals, then juggle multiple needs in a group setting. The problem with teaching is the sheer amount of time educators spend planning lessons, when that time and energy could be better expended on meaningful educational engagement; this is an experience many current and former teachers identify with.

Upon discovering ONEder, I was filled with renewed positivity, even considering specializing as an educator to children with special learning needs. I am sure many passionate educators, exhausted from the struggle of managing learners, would indeed benefit from a learned-centered, monitorable, technology-based program. Providing an outstanding opportunity for all learners to reach their full potential, regardless of the “classification of their needs”, ONEder is paving the way in modern educational design, and I applaud it for taking the initiative.

Sarah Caroline Bell is a writer and teacher based in Seoul. Sarah is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, amongst other publications.

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Important Contributions to Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

By Jason Gross

Even for the most supportive parents, a child with autism presents a distinct challenge.  Though various special education and training programs have been developed over the past several decades to aide children with autism, one of the most well-known programs remains the A.B.A (Applied Behavioral Analysis) method developed by O. Ivar Lovaas. One way to think of ABA is as an individualized behavioral modification program, guided by positive reinforcements.

Development of ABA

Lovaas was born in Norway in 1927 and moved to the States to earn his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Iowa’s Luther College (1951) and his doctorate in psychology at the University of Washington (1958). Lovaas began developing the ABA method through psychology studies in the late 1950’s which relied on behavioral modification and one-on-one treatment for patients.  Though this included controversial methods like shock treatment to discourage adverse behavior and starting and stopping the treatment at intervals, Lovaas also developed his method to include positive reinforcement for desired behavior, rewarding subjects with a snack, a toy or book and tasks were broken down into a series of steps so that the patient would learn a desired skill through a regimented process.  As part of the program, socialization with other autistic children and a generalized school population is also gradually integrated as part of the program to help the child progress and mature.

Impact on Special Education

Through decades of research and studies, the ABA method has become one of the premier methods used to work with autistic children, with the emphasis on beginning the program at an early (pre-school) age. While some studies have shown remarkable results with using the ABA method, there have been lingering questions about the conclusiveness of some of the studies that tout the method, insisting that a wider range of subjects is needed.

Personalization

One of the most important part of the ABA method is that it is personalized for each individual students based on their needs and abilities.  ABA is specifically tailored to each client, so it  can cover any activity, skill, or behavior that exists. The goals change and evolve as the skills are mastered.

ONEder advisory board member Melanie Johnston, M.A was a student of Dr. Lovaas in the 1980s, providing ABA Therapy.  In addition to being an IBCCES Certified Autism Specialist, she has spent the past three decades working as an Autism/Behavior Specialists in public and private school settings.  Currently, she serves as Executive Director of BRITE Success, which supplies specialized training services and programs for teachers and families to help children with disabilities.

Jason writes for the Village Voice and Time Out, among other publications.

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The Transition Process for Students with Autism in Career and Technical Education: Does It Happen?

By Penn State College of Education’s Jennifer Nicholas, Debra Herman,  and Marybeth Morrison.

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have significant difficulties transitioning from secondary education to postsecondary training or suitable employment. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that prevalence rates continue to rise. Currently, 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 has an ASD (Blumberg et al., 2013).  The authors found limited literature on employment and postsecondary attainment for this population. They also surveyed career and technical directors in a 30-county area within their state concerning individuals they served with an ASD in the past five years. Addressing the issues related to transition to employment and postsecondary training for this population is crucial for students, families, educators, service providers, and policy makers.

(more…)

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