Social-Emotional Learning and Personalization: An Interview with Anna-Lisa Mackie

By Jason Gross

When it comes to education, most people think that curriculum generally covers reading, writing, and arithmetic; they fail to recognize that it can cover more than just the fundamentals of academic learning. Consider the holistic program known as social and emotional learning (SEL), which teaches students valuable interpersonal skills and helps them to gain a better understanding of their feelings. (more…)

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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.

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, one who also happens to have a disability. (more…)

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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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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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Autism in Pop Culture

By Emma Eisenberg

When it comes to telling the stories of people on the autism spectrum, the portrayals in popular television shows and Hollywood films have long been downright bad. Often these characters show the most extreme symptoms or reinforce stereotypes of all neuro-atypical people as dysfunctional recluses or visionary savants, with rarely any possibilities in between. Or worse–characters on the spectrum are simply left out of mainstream media.

But these days, a sea change is underway. Three major television shows for children and teens–Sesame Street, the Power Rangers, and Thomas the Tank Engine–have all introduced characters with autism in 2017. And these characters are not your typical autism stereotype–the new characters are funny, interesting, and complex. In short, they show a broad range of realistic possibilities for people living with autism, and they do it with grace, humor, and powerful storytelling.

This past April, Julia, a four year-old girl with autism, joined Sesame Street as the newest muppet. She is shy and isn’t comfortable shaking hands, but instead of reacting to her as strange or defective, the show uses Julia’s behavior as a way to teach viewers about behavioral and neurological differences.

“Our goal was to try to help destigmatize autism and increase awareness, understanding and empathy,” Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop’s executive vice president of global social impact and philanthropy, told PBS.

Billy, the Blue Power Ranger, debuted in the newest Rangers movie this past April. Similar to Julia, he is a fully-realized character with his own story who also exhibits more moderate autism, by expressing anxiety and shouting instead of whispering.

Finally, this summer will bring us new blockbuster Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor, which features a new engine named Theo. He has an “unusual experimental drive system that doesn’t always run very smoothly and he makes sudden jolts forward or back when his rods or cogs jam,” but he is also “genuinely kind and caring” as well as smart and a deep thinker.

These characters represent a real effort on the part of children’s media creators to offer fully-realized portrayals of what it’s like to live as a person on the autism spectrum. But a new movie for adults is taking this idea one step farther: instead of featuring a spectrum character as part of an ensemble cast, a new romantic comedy called “Keep the Change” is putting two neuro-atypical characters, both also played by actors who are also neuro-atypical, at the center. The film follows David and Sarah through the small moments of life–from online dating to shopping to making friends in a support group–and exposes the real challenges and joys of their experience. This is a marked difference from other films like “Rain Man” which tell the stories of autism-spectrum characters from the outside, by making a typically functioning character the hero, and the atypically functioning character an ancillary figure or plot device.

Taken together, this is in an exciting change to watch–and an important one to be a part of, as consumers and educators. Only when diverse stories are told with nuance and from the inside are we doing justice to this complex experience.

In addition to her work for ONEder, Emma writes essays for a variety of publications, including VICE, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, and Slate.

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Student Homelessness and Special Education

How technology is closing the opportunity gap for homeless and high poverty special education students

Homelessness is a major problem, impacting the lives of children and young adults throughout the country. Some 1.4 million students – 2.7% of the nation’s total student population – are without stable homes. Of that population, many require special education support. A 2015 report prepared by the Child Trends Data Bank, found that “Children without homes are more than twice as likely… to repeat a school grade, be expelled… or drop out”.  According to the same report, 75% of homeless youths live with families other than their own; 6% percent are housed in temporary accommodation, and an astonishing 42,000 live on the streets, and other “Places not meant for human habitation”. These appalling figures can be attributed to a range of factors, including domestic violence, and a lack of affordable housing. For “unaccompanied” students living on the streets, mental illness, and substance abuse can also play significant roles. (more…)

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VIDEO: Promoting Leadership in Special Education

 

What you Need to Know


A Video Recap of ONEder’s Promoting Leadrship in Special Education Conference

On April 26th 2017 at the Robert Treat Hotel and Conference Center in Newark NJ, ONEder held it’s Inaugural Anuual Promoting Leadership in Special Education Conference featuring an interactive workshop exploring the standards and principals promoting principal leadership.
Where’s Dan Off to Next?
Our VP of Business Development is coming to a conference near you!

June 26-28
MELC (Midwest Educational Leadership Conference)
Brekenridge, Colorado

June 27-28

New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE 15th Annual Summer Inclusion Conference)
Montclair State University – Montclair, New Jersey

July 10-13

NYCASE (New York Council of Administrators of Special Education)
The Gideon Putnam – Saratoga Springs, New York

July 11-13

TCASE (Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education)
JW Marriot – Austin, Texas

July 24-28

The Project SEARCH 11th Annual conference
Kalahari Resorts and Conventions – Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania
To find out more, email dan@oneder.com

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