By Anne Dachel
Recent news stories here are ones that we should all be concerned about. They’re part of the 3,900+ reports I’ve posted on Loss of Brain Trust.
Most of the articles are from other countries, especially Britain, so it’s clear that the decline of childhood is happening simultaneously around the world. Disabled and dysfunctional children are overwhelming school budgets and classroom teachers, yet there is no real alarm, no demand for answers.
The reader is left with one thought: How long can this go on?
Mar 4, 2019, (Canada) Toronto Star: Schools unprepared for influx of kids with autism, principals say
Most school staff aren’t trained to “treat, teach or manage” children with autism — and boards aren’t ready for an influx of students in a few weeks’ time when changes to the autism program come into effect, warn Ontario principals. …
As of April 1, families will be eligible for up to $20,000 a year for each child under 6, to a lifetime maximum of $140,000, to be used for the services of their choice. Children older than that can access up to $5,000 a year up to age 18, to a lifetime maximum of $55,000. …
Mar 4, 2019, (UK) Kent Online: Children waiting up to two years for ADHD, autism and dyslexia diagnosis
Children in Kent showing signs of ADHD, autism, dyslexia or learning and communication disorders are spending two years without a formal diagnosis.
Mar 4, 2019, (UK) Gloucestershire Live: These are the number of kids kicked out of school and here’s why
Half of the 139 permanent exclusions were pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The findings, released by Gloucestershire County Council in a report, also reveal the state of an increasing number of kids being home-schooled in the county. …
According to the report, the most common reason for permanent exclusions in primary school is persistent disruptive behaviour.
There has also been a rise in the number of pupils permanently excluded for physical assault against an adult or pupil, from five to seven…..
Mar 4, 2019, (UK) North Somerset Times: Improvements to special education needs funding approved
The amount spent on children with SEND is increasing and the funds available do not match demand….
However, an increasing number of pupils with complex needs are managed in mainstream schools. …
Mar 4, 2019, (UK) Stowmarket Mercury: Scathing report says special educational needs is not improving quickly enough
18% Projected rise in percentage of children with SEN in Suffolk between 2018 and 2020
300-400 Number of specialist education places needed in Suffolk in short term
3-4 Number of new special schools needed in Suffolk in next two years
600 Increase in number of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans from April '17-August '18
£1.5m-£2m Projected overspend this year on SEN provision
Mar 3, 2019, Albany (OR) Democrat-Herald: Focusing on the good: Disruptive behaviors on the rise, but schools work on rewarding the positive
On Feb. 5, the Oregon Education Association, the labor union representing educators, released a report that summarized the result of 14 community forums, including one held in Albany, detailing what it described as a “crisis of disruptive learning.” The report follows about three years of an increases in stories from OEA members about troubling behavior in Oregon classrooms, ranging from talking out of turn to throwing chairs.
“It’s clear that Oregon students and classrooms are in crisis,” the report reads. “Students are coming to school with complex needs, students and educators don’t feel safe and schools and districts don’t have the resources to address the root causes of these incidents.”…
Memorial Middle School Principal Ken Gilbert, who has been an educator for more than 20 years, said in his experience, disruptive behavior is on the rise.
“It’s more than it was 20 years ago when I started, even more than it was 10 years ago, five years ago,” he said. …
Mar 2, 2019, KGW8-TV, Portland, OR: Straight Talk: Classrooms in Crisis
“We’re talking about our classrooms in crisis. Thousands of teachers marched in Salem [OR] earlier this month demanding smaller class sizes, help from trained aides, and more counselors. They say it’s the only way to combat disruptive behavior—sometime violent outbursts by students affecting classrooms, students and teachers, in all grade levels in all parts of the state.”…
An estimated 4,500 teachers attended the rally.
“…I’ve had about 4 students this year make suicide comments. So 10 year olds are coming to school with a whole different suitcase filled with stuff than they used to.”
“…Kids that do experience these traumatic events like homelessness are becoming disruptive, but it’s not just those students.
“It’s students in kindergarten with parents that are married, with involved parents, that are just having a hard time, and they’re acting out or they’re mimicking what these other students are doing in their classroom. …”
Mar 2, 2019, (UK) Reading Chronicle: Addington School hopes to take on more pupils to prevent children with additional needs travelling outside the borough
Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) is proposing to extend Addington School in order to provide space for up to 50 children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The £4.4m [$5.8M US dollars] plans were discussed with parents and guests at a drop-in session at the school on Woodlands Avenue at the end of February. …
Currently, there are 133 Wokingham Borough children with SEND who are educated outside of the borough. …
“An expansion would allow us to educate more of the borough’s children locally.
Mar 2, 2019, (UK) Ipswich Star: How do I stop my child from self-harming?
The “HuddlUps” session - designed to give parents support on mental health issues affecting young people today - was held just a couple of days after a Healthwatch Suffolk report revealed the extent to which young people in the county are regrettably resorting to self-harm.
In the research, 14% of the 14,000 secondary school respondents said they had self-harmed or are currently self-harming.
The shocking findings led to calls for mental health to be given a greater priority at schools….
Mar 2, 2019, (UK) Independent: Disabled children ‘constantly’ physically restrained and left with bruises and trauma, parents say
…“Schools are using restraint too often. These children are not naughty children. They are children with disabilities. It just seems to be a way of working with children that is just so wrong,” she added.
And funding pressures could be leading to a rise in the number of special schools opting for restraint amid larger class sizes and reduced one-to-one support, the National Education Union (NEU) says. …
The government consulted last year on draft guidelines on reducing the need for restraint for young people with SEND in health and social care services, as well as special schools.
A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said they are currently considering responses. But they added: “Schools need to be safe and calm environments, with effective behaviour management policies and approaches that meet the needs of pupils.
“At times, it may be necessary to use reasonable force to restrain a pupil, for example to break up a fight in order to protect teachers and other pupils.”
Mar 1, 2019, (UK) Kent Online: Council takes control of £25 million special school from Medway Commercial Group
Medway Council is taking on a £25 million [$33M US dollars] school project for more than 200 special needs children.…
The school, which will increase capacity for special educational needs (SEN), including pupils who suffer from autism-related conditions, was previously under the stewardship of MCG.
Mar 1, 2019, (UK) Somerset Mercury: Improvements to special educational needs funding approved
The amount schools spend on children with SEND is increasing and the funds available do not match demand….
However, an increasing number of pupils with complex needs are managed in mainstream schools.
Mar 1, 2019, (Canada) Edmonton Journal: Alberta school seclusion-room ban to take effect in fall, education minister—All school boards across the province must submit a list of schools with a seclusion room and ensure they are decommissioned by August 30.
Seclusion rooms will be banned in schools across the province before the start of the next school year.
Education Minister David Eggen signed a ministerial order Friday morning forbidding schools from using isolation rooms, but providing the However, an increasing number of pupils with complex needs are managed in mainstream schools.opportunity for school districts to apply for an exemption. …
A 2018 Inclusion Alberta survey with more than 400 responses from families whose children were secluded or restrained in schools found 80 per cent of the children were between the ages of five and 10 and more than half were on the autism spectrum. …
Feb 28, 2019, Utah, Deseret News: Utah House committee endorses bill to target $32.1M for school mental health, support services
SALT LAKE CITY — There is an acute need for more mental health providers and other support personnel in schools, educators and community members told the House Education Committee on Thursday. …
Two years ago, the school district "scraped together" funding for a licensed social worker to serve five elementary schools.
"We're having tremendous success, but he's spread so thin," Douglas said.
The district needs another licensed clinical social worker and three therapists for its secondary students, he said.
Douglas urged committee members to support HB373, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, which would appropriate to the Utah State Board of Education more than $32.1 million ongoing for school support personnel or permit schools to contract with local mental health authorities for students who need clinical services.
Feb 28, 2019, (UK) Essex Daily Gazette: Schools gets thumbs up for new £8million [$11M US dollars] campus
A NEW £8million school building has been given the green light.
Langham Oaks special educational needs school in Langham revealed plans last year to build an entirely new campus in the existing grounds. ….
The school has 69 pupils who have special educational needs, of which around 28 would board on the first floor of the new school. …
Some pupils have autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or mental health conditions.
Feb 28, 2019, ABC33, Birmingham, AL: New sensory room at Jemison Elementary provides "a calm place" for students
… Chilton County School added a sensory room at Jemison Elementary. It was finished earlier this semester.
Every detail of the room, from the ball pit, to the fish tank, to the swing, even the lighting, is a designed as a room where over-stimulated students can find some peace and calm.
" They (students) can self-stimulate themselves for them to be able to calm down from all the hectic going on in their mind at the time," Porter said. "We looked at how they become overstimulated, and then found things that would help them."
Nearly 30 special education students use it everyday to meet their sensory needs. Porter said her students use it first thing in the morning, "to get our mind and body ready to learn."
Feb 28, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin Gazette: Students on Autistic spectrum in 'inappropriate' setting, principals say
More than two-thirds of school principals surveyed in Dublin 15 believe they have students who are struggling to cope because they are in an “inappropriate educational setting”.
The system fails to cater for an increasing number of children with complex needs who are either on reduced hours or excluded from school altogether, according to data compiled by a group campaigning for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Specific School….
Feb 27, 2019, WFYI—TV, Indianapolis, IN: School Mental Health Bill Clears
A bill to provide mental health care for Indiana students narrowly passed the Senate this week. The legislation was written in response to school safety.
Bill author, Sen. Michael Crider (R-Greenfield), says the creation of an integrated mental health system is a key step in preventing school violence.
"Every recent incident in Indiana that I’m aware of has not been a total surprise," says Crider. "Someone knew that student was having issues."
Feb 27, 2019, Lewiston (ME) Sun Journal: School principals present budget requests to RSU 56 board
DIXFIELD — School principals pitched their budget requests to Regional School Unit 56 directors Tuesday night, including a junior varsity sports program, a part-time athletic director/assistant principal and more special education staff.
Jason Long advocated for funding junior varsity sports at T W Kelly Dirigo Middle School, where he is principal, and Dirigo High School. The programs were cut from this year’s budget.
“I feel very, very strongly that the middle school must fund J.V. sports,” Long said. “It is something the community has been very clear about wanting and it creates a fundraising cycle that is frankly untenable….
“As much as I’m seeing behavioral issues, emotional needs of our students are not getting the full attention that they deserve,” she said. The assistant principal would be able to help meet those needs, she said.t
Feb 27, 2019, WTVM-TV, Columbus, GA: Muscogee County School District proposes behavior support program for special needs students
A public forum Wednesday at the Public Education Center allowed attendees to hear from Muscogee County School District officials on their plan to improve their behavior support program.
Audience members were able to listen to the presentation and ask questions. A speaker said many students in Muscogee County show signs of mental health disorders.
“We don’t know what these children are coming in with,” said Lisa Jenkins, a member of the stakeholder committee. “They could be having emotional behavior, they could be having social emotional, they could be having mental health issues. As we said, 80 percent of them have mental health issues.”
With this fact in mind, district officials are researching ways to improve their special education services. …
However, the community did have some concerns about the $4 million budget increase….
Feb 27, 2019, (UK) Scotsman: More must be done to guarantee a proper education for autistic youngsters – Nick Ward
Right across Scotland, children are being unlawfully excluded from school and denied their right to an education because they are autistic.
These children are being sent home and the formal exclusion process, which ensures that pupils receive support, an education and a smooth return to the classroom, is being ignored. Scottish Government guidance is clear that this shouldn’t happen. But it is happening, in every local authority area in Scotland. And the Scottish Government isn’t taking action to stop it. …
This scandal was exposed in “Not Included, Not Engaged, Not Involved”, the report the National Autistic Society Scotland launched in September in partnership with Children in Scotland and Scottish Autism. We surveyed over 1,400 parents whose autistic children had missed school in the last two years, and found that more than a third had been unlawfully excluded – with almost a quarter saying this happened multiple times a week. …
In my opinion, the most important recommendation made in our report is for high-quality training in autism to be mandatory for all teachers….
We know that all teachers will have autistic pupils in their classrooms throughout their careers and, to be blunt, I simply don’t understand how they can be expected to do their job without the right tools and training. It isn’t fair on teachers or pupils. …
Feb 27, 2019, (Ireland) Dublin People: Parents demand autism school
A GROUP of parents with autistic children who are campaigning for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Specific school in Dublin 15 say the results of a recent survey backs their cause.
The group conducted the survey of primary and secondary school principals in the area and found 68 percent of them believed they had students who would be better placed in an ASD school…;
They point out that school staff are generally not rained to cope with behavioural issues such as flight risks, self harm, sensory overload and violent outbursts that sometimes happen when autistic children cannot express themselves effectively.
Feb 26, 2019, (UK) East Anglian Daily Times: Essex to build three new schools for children with special education needs
The council’s cabinet agreed on Tuesday to progress with three projects which will provide much-needed school places for children and young people with autism and social and emotional health needs in Essex – at no extra burden to county taxpayers. …
This project will provide 209 new places in the county for children with autism and social and emotional mental health needs, 30 of which will be residential. …
These projects all reuse existing education land. No land has had to be purchased for this project and the schools will all be centrally funded by £23m [$31M US dollars] in grants from the DfE….
Ray Gooding, council cabinet member for education, said: “The need for school places for children and young adults with autism and social and emotional mental health needs has been rising. We are determined to meet that need even though these are financially straitened times…
Feb 25, 2019, (UK) Braintree & Witham Times: New £8million [$11M US dollars] school scheduled to open in September next year
A NEW multi-million pound school which will cater for pupils with severe autism is scheduled to open in September next year.
The Chatten Free School is to be built on land next to the New Rickstones Academy, in Witham, and is expected to cost almost £8million. ….
The new school will have 75 pupil places and will be linked with the Market Field Learning Community in Elmstead Market, which is for children aged between five and 16 who have learning difficulties. …
Feb 25, 2019, (UK) Aberdeen (Scotland) Press and Journal: Parents furious at ‘horrifying’ Highland classroom cuts
Highland Council’s decision to target children with Additional Support Needs (ASN) as part of budget savings has been met with fresh fury after it emerged the north has a massively above-average rate of diagnosed pupils.
The council has to find ways to plug a £27.9 million [$S37M US dollars] funding gap next financial year and £32.4 million [$43M US] over the following two years. …
But officials have now confirmed the percentage of the region’s primary pupils identified as ASN is 37.2% – compared with a national average of 23.5%.
In secondary, the percentage of pupils with ASN is even higher, at 40.6%, compared with the national average of 29.9%. …
Feb 25, 2019, Newburyport (MA) Daily News: Port schools could see 3.5 percent increase in 2019-20 budget
The School Committee will review the budget for the 2019-20 academic year at Tuesday's meeting, said Superintendent Sean Gallagher, who noted the district is expected to see a 3.5 percent increase from last year, equaling about $1 million. …
"Through this budget piece we have three contracts that we're negotiating right now, so there will be a certain percentage increase for teachers and the instructional assistants," Gallagher said.
Gallagher will review trends in the district, including school choice, school appropriation, special education costs, enrollment and salaries. There will be increases in funding for special education, sick-leave buyback and a new grounds and field maintenance program, he said.
"When we go through all the different pieces, you can see that special education costs have gone up," Gallagher noted. "It's over $9 million reaching $10 million going into next year."
Feb 24, 2019, (Finland) YLE News: Savings behind decline in special needs classes, says teachers’ union
Spending cuts rather than inclusion and equality are behind the move to place special needs learners in regular classrooms, the OAJ charged.
Increasing numbers of children in need of special teaching support are being taught in large mainstream classes, says the teachers’ union OAJ.
In 2017 just under one-fifth of all primary school students received varying levels of special support in school. The numbers reflect a doubling in the number of children who receive special support in school over the past two decades.
Researchers have attributed the phenomenon to different reasons. On the one hand growing inequality and a plethora of distractions in society have resulting in children having difficulty concentrating. At the same time learning difficulties are being detected, diagnosed and documented more readily than before.
Whatever the reason, a growing number of primary school students are being placed in regular large classrooms instead of smaller groups intended for children who need special support.
Feb 21, 2019, (UK) Belfast Telegraph: Spike in Northern Ireland children diagnosed with autism
The number of children diagnosed with autism in Northern Ireland has more than doubled in the last five years, figures show.
In some cases health trusts have seen a three-fold increase in incidents, with charities saying they are “inundated” with requests for help.
More than 2,000 children are still waiting for a diagnosis.
Autism charities said the rise could be due to an increased awareness of the condition.
Last year 2,345 under-18s in Northern Ireland were diagnosed with autism compared to 1,047 in 2013….
“As a result of this exponential increase, many families are not receiving an adequate level of support particularly in relation to early intervention.” …
Feb 24, 2019, BBC: Autism diagnoses in NI children up by more than 100%
The number of children being diagnosed with autism in Northern Ireland has more than doubled in five years.
Some health trusts have seen a three-fold increase and there are also 2,500 under-18s still waiting to be assessed.
Healthcare professionals and autism charities have pointed to increased awareness as a reason for the jump. …
More than 1,000 children in the Northern Trust are awaiting a diagnosis, while the Belfast and Western Trusts have 600 or more children waiting for an assessment. …
Dr Alan Stout, the chair of the Northern Ireland GP Committee of the British Medical Association, said figures have "skyrocketed" due to "increased awareness" and changes to the criteria under the 2011 legislation.says she faced a long wait to get her two children diagnosed. …
"We do tend to notice that the diagnoses are getting younger and younger - it has big, big implications if the diagnosis can be confirmed….
Feb 20, 2019, (Australia) Sydney Morning News: NSW schools face 'unprecedented' levels of disability
Schools in NSW are facing "unprecedented pressure" due to soaring disability rates, with the number of students with autism increasing by almost 15 per cent per year and those with mental health needs growing by more than five per cent.
Feb 18, 2019, (UK) Gloucestershire Live: Requests for health and care plans for children with special educational needs doubles in three years
The number of requests for education, health and care plans (EHC) for children with special educational needs has more than doubled in the last three years, according to official county council data. …
Gloucestershire County Council received 297 requests for a needs assessments in 2014/15, but 650 in 2017/18 - a 118 per cent increase, according to a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The FOI also found the total numbers of children on EHC plans has soared by more than 30 per cent over the last four years, up from 2,496 in 2014 to 3,290 in 2018.
The county council said there is no clear reason why requests for EHC plans are rising…
Mr Day said: “Gloucestershire special school headteachers are aware of the rising number of EHC plans. …
In Gloucestershire, the money used to support children with special educational needs is overspent by £4.7million [$6.2M US dollars]….
“The rise in the number of children with special educational needs requiring EHC plans is a national issue.
"There is no clear reason for this but the general population increase and a greater understanding of medical conditions and adverse childhood experiences will be having an impact.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.