Our Anne Dachel is creating a compendium of the changes in schools around the world as children grow sicker and less able to learn in traditional settings. Special education is exploding, school budgets crumbling and teachers and students alike are suffering. How long can this go on before we see actual collapses in programs? Or before parents of typical kid (both of them, ha ha) tell the special education programs to stuff it? Below are 15 stories from just last week. I especially like that one with the headline that an Ohio Autism School CELEBRATES its 20th year. Yes! Celebrate!! You'll be here foreverrrrrrr!!!!!!! K
June 1, 2018, UK (N.I.) Derry Journal: Almost 600 waiting for Autism assessment
Almost 600 children and adults are waiting to be assessed for Autism locally, with health officials warning resources cannot meet the soaring demand. …
The Western Trust has confirmed that the numbers referred for assessment and intervention has risen dramatically. And this has now prompted Trust representatives to relay concerns to both the Health and Social Care Board and Department of Health.
At present there are 493 children and 81 adults across Derry, Limavady, Strabane and the wider western region, waiting to begin assessment to detect if they are on the Autism spectrum.
A further 394 children and 55 adults are currently undergoing the assessment process within the Trust.
The figures were obtained by the ‘Journal’ after a recent report revealed that the number of school age children - 993 - who have come through the assessment process and been diagnosed with Autism and Asperger Syndrome in the west, has increased by almost 50 per cent over the last five years, despite intake numbers remaining static.
Commenting on the waiting lists, a spokesperson for the Western Trust said: “The demand for Autism assessment and intervention for both children and adults within the Western Trust has increased significantly and this trend continues.
Current resource does not meet the level of demand within the Trust and this has been highlighted to the HSCB and DoH.”
The recent Department of Health report entitled, ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Asperger Syndrome) in School Age Children’ - found that the increase in children identified with Autism was 31 per cent higher in the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland - several of which are in Derry. …
***June 1, 2018, UK GetWestLondon: Parents endure up to five year wait for autism diagnosis nationwide according to Hillingdon Manor School founder
Parents are complaining of waiting as long as five years for an autism diagnosis for their child, and are grappling with a "postcode lottery", according to the advocate mum behind Hillingdon Manor School .
The concerns were revived after Westminster's local authorities published its waiting lists on May 24, finding families in the central London borough were waiting as long as a year for diagnosis, despite waiting time guidelines of three months.
A North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commission (NWLCCC) Groups spokeswoman said while the waiting times were "longer than we would like," it was lower than the average national waiting time average estimated by a parent-reported survey at 3.6 years. …
There were complex reasons for the delays, including increased demand for the assessment which had increased "significantly" in the last few years due to wider awareness about autism, the NWLCCC spokeswoman said.
More families may believe their children are on the spectrum.
Healthcare professionals were also more knowledgeable and better trained to detect the signs….
After Anna Kennedy's two sons were turned away from mainstream education, she and her husband re-mortgaged their house to open Hillingdon Manor, a specialist school for pupils living with autism spectrum disorders.
The school began with 19 pupils in 1999. Now her boys are adults it hosts about 190 students.
Hillingdon Manor provides education, specialist therapies and psychological treatment for young people aged 3 to 19, many of whom also have learning difficulties like dyslexia….
On Thursday (May 31) she asked her social media followers how long they had waited for their child to receive a diagnosis and was flooded with hundreds of messages from frustrated parents. They told of waiting times from anywhere between months to seven years. …
I have had 200 messages since 6pm yesterday across #socialmedia about waiting for #autism diagnosis Our #charity submitted results of survey 2000 replies submitted to #DeptofHealth in 2013 Feels like #groundhogday parents sharing same concerns and wait times poss slightly worse!...
Waiting a long time for a diagnosis meant a window for early intervention could be missed, Kennedy said.
"It has an impact on the child, it has an impact on the school, which doesn't know what they are dealing with. It has an impact on the siblings, and obviously the family."
While some parents she encountered over her years campaigned did avoid seeking a "label", others told her of being dismissed.
Some were told their children had behavioural issues or that their parenting was poor, but then a diagnosis came many years down the track, she said.
One of Kennedy's sons was diagnosed by health professionals at four, but the family was not informed and only learned about it by accident at school when he was seven.
"That was obviously very stressful."
A National Autism Society (NAS) survey found one in 10 parents said they ended up paying for a private diagnosis. …
June 1, 2018, IN Public Media: Dyslexia: Finally Finding Time In The Spotlight
A law that takes effect in July requires schools to screen students for dyslexia.
The hope is if students are identified early, schools will be able to intervene and better accommodate them. …
Dyslexia was first defined in Indiana law in 2015 – just three years ago. The numbers vary, but anywhere between 10 and 20 percent of kids live with the learning disability.
Binnion says the passage of a dyslexia bill this year is a huge step forward. It requires all schools to screen kids in kindergarten, first, or second grade for key traits associated with dyslexia, and, every school corporation will have a reading specialist trained in dyslexia by 2019.
“It’s far better, the earlier ID’d and the earlier remediated, the better they’re going to be,” Binnion says. “You probably are not going to see their dyslexia rear its ugly head unless it’s some other like, right and left or something like that.
June 1, 2018, U.K. Guardian: Our schools are broke – so why aren’t we talking about it?
Michelle Gay is the headteacher of Osborne primary, a 270-pupil local authority school in Erdington, on the north-eastern edge of Birmingham. In total, 25% of her pupils are categorised as having special educational needs, 39% have a first language other than English, and 43% are eligible for free school meals.
Osborne primary has an urgent issue: a lack of money. Ofsted rates it as “a good school with outstanding leadership”, and since 2016 its numbers have been expanding: in September 2019 it will take on another new class, but Gay won’t have enough money to pay for a new teacher, so the teaching will be done by existing staff. She says she needs at least 13 classroom assistants to help children who need extra support – not least those who need help with English – but only has 11. The school used to get about £100,000 a year from Birmingham city council and other agencies to pay three staff who work on child protection and supporting parents, as well as counselling children with mental health issues. …
Children with special needs are being pushed out of state schools. The curriculum is being stripped back to its basics. And the stuff that desiccated minds would have you believe is unnecessary guff – art, music, drama – is the first to go. Yet grammar schools will reportedly benefit from a new £50m “expansion fund”.
May 31, 2018, Dallas Morning News: We can improve school safety by identifying kids with severe antisocial behavior and offering help
Gov. Greg Abbott was at Dallas ISD headquarters this week to deliver 40 recommendations to improve school safety in the wake of the recent Santa Fe shooting. …
Although several recommendations focused on making schools safer by strengthening security and increasing law enforcement presence, what is critical is that the proposal included a resounding call for improving mental health assessments and services.
Steps in this direction would include providing mental health evaluations that identify students at risk of harming others or themselves, increasing mental health training, improving mental health crisis response, and most notably the expansion of Texas Tech University's Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage and Referral Project, which seeks to identify junior and high school students who show a risk of committing violence. …
Efforts aimed at identifying individuals who exhibit severe antisocial tendencies and providing them the services they need should be a high priority, and this should not be limited solely to teenagers. In fact, it goes much further back. As my own research in the Journal of Criminal Justice has shown, conduct disorder, mental illness and antisocial behavior in early childhood left unaddressed can have long-term adverse impacts on children, their families and society at large. …
May 31, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: Discipline and special ed: Schools work to reduce suspensions
Educators are being asked to pay more attention to equity in their discipline policies. While the focus remains on reducing suspensions for students of color, the number of special education students being suspended is also of concern to advocates.
Last month, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights published a report showing that students with disabilities made up 12 percent of enrollment in 2015-16, but accounted for 26 percent of students who received an out-of-school suspension and 28 percent of students who were referred to law enforcement or arrested.
Troubling statistics are among the reasons more states are taking action. Tennessee lawmakers just passed a bill banning the spanking or hitting of special education students; Washington State, which is facing a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, is promising changes to its policies by the fall.
Lindsay E. Jones of the National Center for Learning Disabilities says it’s time to address the issue. “There’s no evidence to suggest [students with disabilities] should have more behavior issues,” she says.
May 31, 2018, ABC13 Toledo, OH: Autism Model School Celebrates 20 Years
It was originally started by parents of children with autism who didn't have any other place to turn to educate their kids. Autism Model School is celebrating 20 years of working with children within the autism spectrum.
The Model school was part of the Ohio's Community School's Pilot Program and is now one of the longest running Charter Schools in Northwest Ohio. The school uses evidence based programming that specifically treats the educational challenges of children and teens living with autism.
Model started with just under 30 students and now it has 110 with a waiting list of 60.
May 31, 2018, (UK) Nottinghamshire Post: Worry over increasing number of home school educated children in Nottinghamshire
The number of home school educated children in Nottinghamshire has doubled in the last four years.
The figures have alarmed the council’s chairman for children and young people’s services, who has written to the Secretary of State for Education outlining the serious concerns over the increasing numbers of children and young people being withdrawn from mainstream education to be home educated.
In his letter to Damian Hinds MP sent this week, Councillor Philip Owen has also pressed the minister for the urgent mandatory registration of all home educated pupils.
Councillor Owen said: “There has been an alarming rise in the numbers - in September 2017, 523 children in the county were registered as home educated, but as Year 11 students get set to leave school, this figure has risen to 714, with total numbers more than doubling in under four years. …
“In the majority of cases, where parents and carers choose to school their child at home, known as elective home education – the education is suitable and the children and young people are safe.
“There are, however, a small, but growing number of cases where we consider this not to be the case and/or there is a potential safeguarding risk.”
In terms of safeguarding, the council has identified a significant number of pupils over the last two years who have been withdrawn from school for a range of inappropriate reasons which include persistent low attendance, unresolved bullying, and social, emotional, mental health or special educational needs which are not met….
Councillor Owen added: “If the numbers of home educated children and young people continue to grow exponentially, we will need additional resources to monitor the suitability of education and to fulfil our statutory duty.”
May 31, 2018, (UK) Sutherland Echo: Plans to transform former Sunderland school into support base for children with special needs
A former city school site could become a support base for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) under new council plans. …
A PRU cares for pupils who are unable to attend a mainstream school or access special schools in the area.
A £500k Government grant will be provided to the council following a consultation with parent groups, schools forums and relevant bodies. …
May 31, 2018, Falmouth (ME) Forecaster: Scarborough, South Portland face school budget challenges
With difficulty passing budgets in the past several years, recent turmoil over the recall of three School Board members and the resignation of a popular principal, Scarborough residents are probably wary of another budget fight stretching through the summer.
Although less dramatic, South Portland residents are considering a school budget that proposes an increase of 4 percent that was described as “challenging” by the superintendent.
Both South Portland and Scarborough face rising costs and higher taxes as residents prepare to vote June 12 on fiscal year 2019 school budgets that would take effect July 1….
The net budget proposal of $44.9 million seeks an additional $2.5 million in taxes next year, a nearly 6 percent increase, although the increase in expenditures is only 2.9 percent. Superintendent Julie Kukenberger in April said it covers only essential services.
The budget is driven by the increasing needs of students who require individualized programming and services – an increase of $375,000 – as well as an additional kindergarten teacher at Pleasant Hill School due to an enrollment increase – a cost of $75,000 – and an increase in salaries and benefits for staff.
May 30, 2018, Danbury (CT) News Times: Brookfield finance board tackles third budget proposal
…Under the second version of the budget, town spending would have increased 0.75 percent, while school spending would have increased 4.7 percent. Overall spending would have risen 3.5 percent and the property tax rate would have increased 4.7 percent.
Most of the hike in the school budget has been attributed to a rise in special education costs, cuts to state aid and contractual salary increases.
May 30, 2018, Cadillac (MI) News: Ribbon cutting for Autism Center of Michigan
Parents of children with autism will have access to more services provided by Autism Centers of Michigan at their new location at 932. N. Mitchell St. The provider of Applied Behavior Analysis services has provided in-home services locally for two years. An increase in demand prompted the new location in Cadillac, now one of five locations statewide.
"We are treatment providers," said Jon Timm, clinical director of Northern Michigan. "We are not diagnostics. We develop treatment plans to help children learn appropriate behavior and develop skills to reduce their problem behavior. If we can reduce one problem behavior, we've created an impact ... Even having a child that yells all the time, if we can adjust that, we can change entire lives."
May 30, 2018, GetWestLondon: Children are waiting over a year for an autism diagnosis in Westminster
Children are waiting over a year for an autism diagnosis in the London borough of Westminster .
The figures are set against a backdrop of what are thought to be even longer waiting times around the United Kingdom, while advocacy groups wait for the Government to fulfil its pledge to start publishing the figures….
A report to its health and wellbeing board tabled on Thursday (May 24) warned there will be a growth of demand for autism support services.
The board heard that more support needed to be offered to families to help them find services to help them while they waited.
In 2015, the National Autistic Society (NAS) launched its Autism Diagnosis Crisis campaign, calling for the Government to reduce waiting times….
A study of just over 1,000 parents nationwide in 2012 found they reported waiting 3.6 years, on average, for an autism diagnosis from the first time they approached health professionals with worries. The waiting time parents reported waiting four years for an Asperger's diagnosis.
Half of all respondents to a NAS survey said getting a diagnosis took a long time and was stressful. One in 10 said they ended up paying for a private diagnosis. …
It highlighted waiting times for referral to autism diagnosis of over a year in 2017/18 in south Westminster for children aged over 4.5 years, and 41 weeks for those referred in central and north Westminster.
The waiting lists included referrals from parts of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham too. Hammersmith and Fulham has now exited the triborough shared social services arrangement.
The report said referrals to the Child Development service's Autism pathway increased by 80% since 2012/13.
However there had been little increase in service capacity in the last ten years to keep pace with demand, it added.
Nearly a fifth of Westminster school pupils are recorded as having special educational needs, amounting to 3,641 pupils.
There tended to be significantly more boys than girls in Westminster affected by autism spectrum disorders, in line with London and the UK.
The report noted diagnosis delays could cause stress to families. While they were able to obtain services while they waited, it suggested more support could be offered to them during that time.
There are 559 children and young people aged 0-25 registered with their GP with autism in the borough, but the report noted this was said to be an undercount.
It warned if pace continued in line with population growth, the rates of autism would generate "a larger absolute burden on the national and local health economy."
May 30, 2018, (UK) Yorkshire Post: School funding boost announced by minister
Hundreds of millions of pounds in funding has been announced to help improve provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
The Government has provided £680m to create 40,000 more good school places in primary and secondary schools, building on the 825,000 new school places created since 2010.
The Department for Education said the new allocation also included a £50m funding boost for councils to create additional school places and top-end facilities to cope with growing demand for services.
The boost could help create around 740 more special school places and provide new specialist facilities to support children with complex needs, such as sensory rooms and playgrounds with specialist equipment, a Government spokesman said.
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Promoted by Best Western Hotels & Resorts Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “This funding will help to create thousands more school places across the country, with a clear focus on transforming the experience of education for children with special educational needs or disabilities.” …
Schools in Yorkshire and Humber will also benefit from an extra £3m to improve facilities and build more school places for children with special educational needs. But Labour was critical of the announcement.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “Our schools finances are approaching breaking point, yet the Government can only re-announce old policies and old funding.”
May 30, 2018, New York City 1 TV: Charter school network accuses city of unfairly denying special ed to students
At the Success Academy Bronx 2 Middle School, teachers identified 13 students who needed special education this school year. But the city's Education Department only approved help for one of them.
Success Academy, the city's largest charter school network, is now alleging discrimination by the Education Department.
"This year it's felt almost like a foregone conclusion that despite all of the compelling evidence, what the evaluation says, what the outside providers have to say that it's unlikely that our kids are going to get the support that they deserve and are entitled too," said Danielle Hauser, Success Academy Bronx 2 Middle School's principal.
Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run. They must apply just like public schools to get students approved for special education services and the extra funding that comes with it.
Success Academy says the city's special education office in the South Bronx is not treating all students equally.
According to city figures, that office approves special education for 80 percent of the public school students referred for the instruction but for only 42 percent of Success Academy students referred.
And Success says its applications for the help often languish.
In the South Bronx, 66 percent of public school students are granted hearings within 60 days as required by federal law.
But just two percent of Success Academy cases are heard on time.
In fact, Success Academy students wait an average of 170 days for a hearing.
One student waited a year. …
"We try our best to accommodate and our teachers are flexible with their time, their free time to go above and beyond but we cannot meet the full mandate of services to contract with a speech provider, etcetera," Hauser said. …
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.