26 June 2009

Inclusion Discussion

This was a discussion question for my current class I'm taking through the University of Phoenix, and my response:

What are the pro's and con's of inclusion?

From what I have seen over only a few years working in Special Education, the pros of inclusion have much do do with the social interactions and growth that are available to out exceptional students, and the cons tend to go along the lines of how our students presence or behaviors can become a distraction to the general populations learning environment. In other words, inclusion helps those we work with, and it hurts those we are trying to include our students with. I know this is a gross generalization, and you guys can argue instance after instance where the general ed. students were positively effected by an exceptional student. However, these moments come at the expense of the gen.ed. teacher being able to direct and drive a class in the way they normally do, and it comes at the expense of a structured teacher being able to exert such structure on classes that include exceptional students. By default, we are asking the general population to make exceptions and concessions for our exceptional students. And I will be the first to say that the positives that inclusion provides our students with is proceless, but how has it hindered the general population? Do we even care about the loss of focus, or the constant distractions, or the missing structure that happens in these classes? Do we even care as Special Educators? Are our students that mush more valuable than the general population? How can we help bring a happy medium into these inclusion instances where the student is a distraction, but they need the social interactions that the class offers? How can this be reconciled?

21 June 2009

Fall 2009 Student Teaching Assignment

I recently was contacted by the Tahoma School District in Maple Valley, Wa (where I am currently working) in regards to my student teaching assignment/placement for the Fall of 2009. I am ambivalent about this placement, but more on the excited side than not. Before this year, i was working for two years in the Lake Washington School District; specifically in Sammamish, Wa at Inglewood Jr. High. There I worked with the same group of kids and coached the the general population for two years. I was starting to feel some stability there, and build some connections with the young staff I worked with.

However, I was on the bottom of the seniority pole when last Summer rolled around, and was told that I did not have a position. I could have done like I did the year befre, and took an IA position in the building untill a para position opened up, but for one reason or another I resubmitted an application to Tahoma that night at about 1am just to see if there were any openings. I was called the next day on the position I have just finished with. I was as an IA for the Alternative Education program in the junior high school. It was the first year the program would be in the school. Even though they wanted someone who would be around for more than one year, they chose me because I have a calm demeanor with kids, and would be able to help them with whatever subject matter they brought to our classroom. I was also a lot like Kenn who was piloting the program. We got along better than a 28 year old Af-Am and a 60(I think) year old Caucasian should.

This was a great year, and I really enjoyed living only 15 minutes away. I did have the chance to be a chaperone for a Relay for Life event in Sammamish for many of the kids I taught and coached up there, and wanted the chance to return there. However, since my wife and I are expecting child number two in november, it makes more parental sense to remain close and take the Tahoma placement. So I am looking forward to this because I will be working with expelled special education kids, and 18-21 year old special education students who are transitioning out of a school environment into an independent setting. So, for me, this Summer could not end fast enough. I just want to start teaching.

Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check back when the school year gets going again.

01 June 2009

Special Thanks to the UoP Learning Team

I want to make sure that the Learning Team who put this together was recognized for their hard work on the information below on Traumatic Brain Injury and Visual Impairment resources. Below are the members of the University of Phoenix Online SPE 566 class, which was taught by Patricia Axtell.

Joe Brazier

Christina Swingle


Sylvia Durnan

Amanda Laughlin

Nichole Williams

Great Job everyone. All the valuable information below is now accessible to anyone and everyone thanks to your efforts.

Traumatic Brain Injury Introduction

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury usually results from a sudden or traumatic injury such as a car accident, sports accident, or severe fall. Families must cope with the injury while learning to navigate a maze of information to find services available to them and their child. Educators must understand the injury in order to understand how to provide instruction in a manner that meets the unique of the child.
A multitude of information can be located by accessing the internet. Family members can find information related to services and resources available such as in the following web site, The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center. Other web sites like TBI Home offer support groups for families of children with traumatic brain injury. Other web sites provide information about laws and regulations regarding special education. Parents can begin to understand learning what their rights are and what to expect in the educational setting for their child with web sites such as National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.
Other resources are available on line such as children's books and augmentative or assistive technology devices. Several children's books are listed although there are many other books available for educators and parents. Some of those listed relate dealing the with a traumatic brain injury such as “Elvin: The Elephant Who Forgets” while others help children who have parents with a traumatic brain injury cope with the injury. An example listed is “The Get Well Soon... Balloon! When a parent has a brain injury.” In addition to books that are available for children, family members, and educators, the assistive technology devices listed can be used in the home or classroom setting. These devices can aid persons with traumatic brain injury function by aiding with daily living skills such as eating or walking and can also assist with communication. Some of the popular types of devices are listed such as braille readers and embossers, computer related equipment and programs, and motorized wheelchairs.

This video shows how something like a TBI can alter a person and those close to them from the inside out.

Traumatic Brain Injury Resources

Community resources for teachers

Traumatic Brain Injuries: A Guidebook for Educators
This guidebook discusses the school's role as the student with TBI reenters school. It also gives strategies for school personnel to assist students with TBI in learning skills, managing behavior and dealing with social and emotional difficulties.
NYSED. (2002).Traumatic Brain injuries: A guidebook for educators. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.vesid.nysed.gov/specialed/tbi/guidebook.htm

National Association of Special Education Teachers
The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) is the only national membership organization dedicated solely to meeting the needs of special education teachers and those preparing for the field of special education teaching.
National Association of Special Education Teachers. (2006/2007). Traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.naset.org/traumaticbraininj2.0.html

Traumatic Brain Injury Books
This website has a list of books, articles and products that can be used by teachers to learn about traumatic brain injury and its effects on a student in the classroom.
Parent pals. (2006). Traumatic brain injury books. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.parentpals.com/gossamer/pages/Special_Education_Bookstore/Traumatic_Brain_Injury_Books/index.html

Center for Disease Control
This website gives teachers the definition, facts, and statistics of traumatic brain injury. It also gives educators signs and symptoms to look for in students who may have TBI.
Center for disease control. (2009). Traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/TBI.htm

Mild traumatic brain injuries: A guide for educators
This pamphlet is made specifically for teachers and is designed to help them know the causes, and symptoms of TBI so they can watch for it in their students. It also covers what to expect once a child has had a traumatic brain injury.
Cooperative Educational Service Agency #11. (n.d.). Traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://dpi.wi.gov/SPED/pdf/tbi-mildtchrbroc.pdf

Community resources for parents

TBI Community
The mission of TBI Community is that all those affected by Traumatic Brain Injury, including traditionally under-served populations, have access to information, resources, and services that maximize participation in their communities and that treating professionals have the necessary information to meet the needs of persons with TBI
The rehabilitation research and training center. (2008). TBI community. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.tbicommunity.org/

TBI Home
TBI Home is a peer support website for people living with brain injury, their families and friends to support each other by sharing their experiences.
TBI home. (n.d.). A place to share. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.tbihome.org/index.html

Children with traumatic brain injury: A parents' guide.
This is a comprehensive resource for families and professionals working with children and adolescents who have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Schoenbrodt, Lisa (2001). Children with traumatic brain injury: A parents' guide. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

Brain Injury Association of America
By acting as a clearinghouse of community service information and resources, participating in legislative advocacy, facilitating prevention awareness, hosting educational programs and encouraging research, the Brain Injury Association of America and its affiliates work to reach the millions of individuals living with the “silent epidemic” of brain injury.
Brain injury association of america. (n.d.). Who we are. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.biausa.org/Pages/who_are_we.html

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
The center that provides information to the nation on: disabilities in children and youth; programs and services for infants, children, and youth with disabilities; IDEA, the nation's special education law; No Child Left Behind, the nation's general education law; and research-based information on effective practices for children with disabilities
National dissemination center for children with disabilities. (n.d.). Traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.nichcy.org/Disabilities/Specific/Pages/TraumaticBrainInjury.aspx

Children’s books about disabilities

Elvin- The elephant who forgets
This children's book is about a little elephant named Elvin, who has a brain injury from a tree branch! This book helps children, friends and classmates understand what it is like to have a brain injury.
Snyder, Heather (2005). Elvin- The Elephant Who Forgets. Wake Forest, NC: L & A Publishing/Training Inc.

All About Me!
This booklet helps elementary school age children understand brain injury or any disability by using checklists and answering questions. Written in kid friendly language, sections covers how I got hurt, what helps me at school, how I learn best, things that make it hard for me to pay attention, and what I want to get better at.
DePompei, R (1998). All About Me!. Wake Forest, NC: L & A Publishing/Training Inc.

Head Injuries
Provides information about traumatic brain injuries including causes, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, how to decrease their risk, and how to help people affected.
Aaseng, Nathan., & Aaseng, Jay. (1996). Head injuries. New York: Scholastic Library Publishing.

The Get Well Soon... Balloon! When a parent has a brain injury
This book helps family members explain the effects of a brain injury to children. Most of all, it helps children understand their feelings as they try to make sense of their altered world. This storybook is a helpful tool for young children as they grieve and struggle over their parent's TBI and reform their relationship with that parent.
Parker, Vickie S., & Beebe, Susas. (2005). The Get Well Soon... Balloon! When a parent has a brain injury. Wake Forest, NC: L & A Publishing/Training Inc.

Understanding Your Brain
This children’s book teaches children all about the brain including how it works, how it can be injured (TBI), and what happens when the brain is injured.
Treays, Rebecca., & Fox, Christyan. (1996). Understanding your brain. Tulsa, OK: EDC Publishing.

TBI Assisstive Tech and First-Aid Procedures

Listing of assistive/augmentative communication devices
The term "assistive technology" refers to any piece of equipment that helps the disabled move, communicate or otherwise function in their daily lives. Because traumatic brain injury patients can be disabled in any number of ways, including physically, mentally and/or emotionally, assistive technology for TBI can aid patients in: eating, hearing , seeing, talking (or otherwise communicating), and walking (or otherwise moving around).Some of the most popular types of assistive technology for TBI include:

1. Braille readers and embossers
2. computer-related equipment and programs, including screen readers (that read aloud the words on a computer screen) and personalized keyboards
3. motorized wheelchairs
4. sip-and-puff systems, devices a TBI patient can control through inhalations and exhalations
5. vision aides, including glasses, contacts and special computer monitors

Brain and spinal cord. (n.d.). Assistive technology (AT) for TBI. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.brainandspinalcord.org/brain-injury/assistive-technology.html

First aid and emergency procedures
The following websites give information on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of traumatic brain injuries:

MedlinePlus. (2009). Traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/traumaticbraininjury.html#cat5

Healthline. (2009). Head injury information. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.healthline.com/adamcontent/head-injury

Mayo clinic. (2009). Traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/traumatic-brain-injury/ds00552

Behavioral medicine associates inc.. (n.d.). Mild traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.qeeg.com/mtbi.html

AZ health info. (2009). Traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.azhealthinfo.org/showPage.cfm?pageID=220&level=2

Visual Impairment Introduction

Visual impairments

Children with visual impairments have unique needs and issues that must be addressed in the educational setting and at home with family and friends. The internet is a valuable tool to access needed information and resources for children and adults with visual impairments. Several of those resources are listed as well as books and assistive technology devices designed to aid in communication and daily living skills.

Parents can find updated information, article, and technology available on sites such as the American Foundation for the Blind. Other sites like “Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths & Adults” provide information about intensive rehabilitation programs from children with visual impairments. While many web sites offer information, services, and up to date articles regarding visual impairments, many others also offer support groups for families of children with visual impairments. One of those listed is “National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments.” Educators can also access information in line to assist in educating children with visual impairments. Web sites such as the “Perkins School for the Blind” and “American Foundation for the Blind” provide information, resources, and tools when working with children in the classroom setting.

Information is not only provided for family members and educators, but also for books assistive technology, and first aid and emergency procedures for children with visual impairments. A list of books is provided that help children understand visual impairments and the issues they live with on a daily basis like Beth’s Fella and “A Lucky Pair.” Assistive technology devices listed include screen enlargers, screen readers, Speech recognition systems, Speech synthesizers, and Braille embossers. First aid resources are listed such as “Emergency Preparedness for Blind Children” which provides a two-day seminar for the general public educating them about CPR and other issues unique for children with a visual impairment. Another web site offers advice and suggestions for independent living skills and how to adjust to living on your own for the person with a visual impairment. Safety concerns are addressed as well as useful tips and strategies. The web sites provided are just a sample of what is available on the internet for anybody seeking information about visual impairments. 

This is a YouTube video that illustrates what life may be like for someone who has Visual Impairment. 

The next video shows a student who has been able to find personal and academic success by not being hindered by her disability. 

Enjoy the resources below to help those you may work with be able to overcome their disabilities. 

Visual Impairment Resources

Community resources for parents

American Foundation for the Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind, AFB, is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. This organization provides information about technology, resources, and promotes independent and healthy living for people with visual impairments. The organization also protects the rights of persons with visual impairments in our nation’s public policies.

(2009). American foundation for the blind. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from



National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth

The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths & Adults (HKNC) offers intensive and comprehensive rehabilitation training to individuals who are deaf-blind. The rehabilitation and personal adjustment training program at HKNC's headquarters in Sands Point provides evaluation and training in communication skills, adaptive technology, orientation and mobility, independent living, work experience, and other support services.

(2009). national center for deaf-blind youth and adults. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from



Future Reflections

Future Reflections is a magazine for parents and teachers of blind children. This magazine is published quarterly by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a Division of the National Federation of the Blind. Future Reflections is available free of charge in regular print, cassette tape, four-track cassette, by e-mail subscription, and on the NFB Web site.

National federation of the Blind.(2009).National organization of parents of blind

children. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Future_Reflections.asp?SnID=272709044 


National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) is a non-profit organization of, by and for parents committed to providing support to the parents of children who have visual impairments. NAPVI is a core partner for the Families and Advocates Partnership for Education, FAPE, project spearheaded by the parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights, PACER.

(1999). National association for parents of children with visual impairments. Retrieved

May 30, 2009, from http://www.spedex.com/napvi/index.html#Who 


Blind Children's Fund

The Blind Children's Fund collects, develops and disseminates information, materials and services for parents of infants and preschool blind children and the professionals who serve them. They foster, encourage, and develop activities and programs pertaining to any and all areas of growth, development, education and welfare of these children. They have a resource and equipment demonstration center.

(2009). Blind children's fund. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from



Children’s books about disabilities

Beth's Fella

This is an autobiographical story of the author and the horse she raised from a foal. She kept the horse for 33 years as her visual impairment gradually changed from an inconvenience to a handicap. She was a child when she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and when the foal was born. The reader can develop an understanding of her visual impairment while enjoying many adventures on a farm in the 1950's through 1980's. Students gain insights about how life was different then. The horse (Lucky) from Frances' first book (A Lucky Pair) makes a visit to her farm in Beth's Fella.

Build A Solid Foundation. Visual impairment and blindness book reviews. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.learningbooks.net/VI.html 


A Lucky Pair

In this heartwarming story, the author tells of the close friendship between a visually impaired girl and a Tennessee walking horse, which she rescues. It is based on the author's experiences after her retinitis pigmentosa caused her to retire from school teaching. Shortly after that, her father died and her horse, which she had owned for 33 years also died and she became depressed. Then Lucky, her horse, came into her life.

Build A Solid Foundation. Visual impairment and blindness book reviews. Retrieved

May 30, 2009, from http://www.learningbooks.net/VI.html 


Through Grandpa's Eyes

On John's visits to Grandpa's house, his blind grandfather shares with him the special way he sees and moves in the world. ‘In addition to showing readers how the blind develop alternatives to sight, the story also stands as a warm picture of old and young bonding and simple family sharing.

Build A Solid Foundation. Visual impairment and blindness book reviews. Retrieved

May 30, 2009, from http://www.learningbooks.net/VI.html 


Follow My Leader

This powerful story of blindness, coping, and forgiveness was published decades ago and is still a favorite. Jimmy re-learns many things after being blinded by a firecracker. He also learns to read Braille, to work with his guide dog, and to forgive the boy who accidentally caused his blindness. Click on the title to read what others have said about the impact this book has had.

Build A Solid Foundation. Visual impairment and blindness book reviews. Retrieved

May 30, 2009, from http://www.learningbooks.net/VI.html 


All Children Have Different Eyes: Learn How to Play and Make Friends

This is a very encouraging and informative book. Examples of thoughtful behavior and explanations of differences can help change childish curiosity and unkindness. This book focuses on what can be accomplished by children who have visual difficulties. First, the authors have us meet Tommy who has nystagmus. A sound spelling is given along with a little story of how Tommy encourages positive reactions and how he handles negative reactions of children. After Tommy's story, we read stories of other children with other low visual difficulties such as cataracts, myopia, and strabismus. There is a glossary. Resources include books and websites. Activities in the back of the book, give reference to pages in the story with examples of improving social competency skills. The scenes in the stories and the skills include making friends, coping with mean people, and coping with other people's lack of knowledge.

Build A Solid Foundation. Visual impairment and blindness book reviews. Retrieved

May 30, 2009, from http://www.learningbooks.net/VI.html 


First Aid and Emergency Procedures

Blind Children's Resource Center

This web site provides information for parents and teachers on how to safeguard the physical environment for a child with visual impairments. Useful suggestions are provided for both settings as well as adapted activities. Some of the suggestions include; using the student in a physically active way, carefully experiment to see what works best, and limit playing space.

(2003). Blind chidlren's resource center. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.blindchildren.org/sports_games/5_1_3.html 



This web site provides information from a variety of resources for parents and educators. Information can be found regarding medical information, first aid and safety procedures when working with a child with visual impairment.

WEB MD. (2005). Eye health center. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from


Independent Living Skills

This web site offers links and resources for information, materials, and products for children with visual impairments. Braille resources are available and a list of organizations and support services are provided. Items can be purchased on this web site related to emergency procedures and safety to ensure a safe environment for a child with visual impairments.

(2009). Independent Living Aids, LLC. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.independentliving.com/links 


Effective Classroom Adaptations for Children With Visual Impairments

This text provides information for the classroom teacher on how to prepare the classroom and ensure safety and proper emergency procedures are in place for a child with visual impairments. A detailed checklist is provided for teachers for indoor and outdoor orientation and mobility adaptations to create a safe environment for a child with visual impairments.

Cox, P., & Dykes, M. (2001). Effective classroom adaptations for students with visual

impairments. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(6), 68-70.


Emergency Preparedness for Blind Children

This website provides information about a two day seminar preparing parents, educators, and community members about emergency preparedness for children with visual impairments. The two day seminar discusses any emergency plans that are in place and gives an overview of basic Cardio- Pulmonary Resuscitation, CPR.

Future Reflections. (2005). Emergency preparedness for blind children. Retrieved

May 30, 2009, from


Extra Visual Impairment Resources

Resource Guide for Teachers

Vision and Visual Impairments

This serves as a guide for teachers dealing with various programs and services for the visually impaired. In this guide contains information about employment, school, course information and much more.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.(2009). A Center for Educational Services for All Blind and Visually Impaired Students in Texas. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.tsbvi.edu/index.htm


Perkins School for the Blind

This is a resource book that is used for professional for dealing with children with visual impairment. The professionals that use this guide are teachers, caregiver, parents etc. This guide is intended to help those who do not have experience in the field to assist in the area of these multiple disabilities.

Perkins School of the Blind.(2009). A handbook for parents and teachers. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://clas.uiuc.edu/fulltext/cl02071/cl02071.html


V. I. Guide

This is site that is dedicated to help parents and teachers better understand providing topics about children with visual impairments. This guide helps that collaboration between parents and staff containing the many questions and concerns that come up dealing with student with disabilities.

V.I.guide a guide to internet resources for parents and teachers.). V.I. Guide. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.viguide.com/


American Foundation for the Blind

This guide is directed for an itinerant teacher in the field working with multiple disabilities specializing in visual impairments. The role of the itinerant teacher is to travel from school to school providing material and resources for the schools.

American Foundation for the Blind. (2009). Itinerant Teachers. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=44&TopicID=256


Wisconsin center for the blind and visually impaired

This serves as a resource guide for caregivers, teachers, parents, working with student with visual impairments. Assistance for student to learn through activities or new creative measures is available. Also safety information is available as well.

Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. (2009) Assistive Technology. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.wcbvi.k12.wi.us/assets/documents/2008/Outreach/OutreachResource%20forParents20070823.pdf


Listing of assistive/augmentative communication devices


Vision impairment can include vision difficulties that include color blindness, low vision, and other difficulties. Difficulties and impairments include low vision, color blindness, and blindness. This guide serves as a way to help individual with modification for their vision impairment. Many of these products are offered through Microsoft to include. Screen enlargers, screen readers, Speech recognition systems, Speech synthesizers, Braille embossers, and many more products.

Microsoft. (2009) Technology for Visual Impaired Retrieved on May 30, 2009 from



Literacy for independent Living

In the assistive technology section of the LIL resource guide helps one to explore the online resources that are useful to people with disabilies. These tools can be used to increase one’s capacities.

(2009). Independent Living Aids, LLC. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from



Freedom Scientific

This company provides a website that is based on providing the best guides and technology for those with visual impairments as well as other disabilities. They provide support, training, and other products.

(2009). Freedom Scientific. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from http://www.freedomscientific.com/

Assitech Special needs

This is a website entirely designed to be one-stop shop in providing the mobility and products for visual impairments. The company is a part of the National Association for the Deaf, so their mission is to provide professional products for schools etc.

Assitech Special Needs (2008). Retrieved on May 30, 2009, from




This is a guide to materials for visual impairments. Technology is provided as well as other guide to teachers, parents, and others finding information for people with disabilities.

Demos (2008) Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness Retrieved on May 30, 2009, from http://jarmin.com/demos/resource/rncb/index.html