A Profound Enigma – Teaching Sign Language to Hearing Children and Speech to Deaf Children

BY J. FREEMAN KING, ED.D. Is it not logical and linguistically savvy to play to the child’s strength and not his/her weakness? Throughout the years, many different language learning theories have emerged. The latest phenomena in the United States is the teaching of sign language to hearing toddlers and preschoolers. Conversely, there is a push to to teach speech to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are deaf. Herein lies the enigma: eliciting the use of […]


Creative Housing Options For Independent Living

BY LAUREN AGORATUS, M.A. Families often wonder if and where their children with special needs will live on their own. Often the focus is on universal design to make housing physically accessible. But housing with supports will maximize independence for individuals with all kinds of disabilities. PHYSICAL ACCESS Universal design is a concept used to ensure that the home environment is accessible to all. In addition to people with disabilities, it is also helpful to […]


EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR It’s More Than Just “Summer School”

BY DIANE WISCARSON, ATTORNEY AT LAW “My child is behind, and could really benefit from summer school!” This is a common sentiment of parents of children with IEPs, and certainly true in many cases. Being behind can indicate that a student should indeed attend summer school or engage in other learning activities during break times from school. What many parents may not realize, though, is that there are certain circumstances under which a school district […]


Charter Schools and Special Education

BY DR. MICHAEL BERG Charter schools are viable options for students with disabilities, just do your homework first and make sure it’s a good choice for your student! According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, over three million students receive their education in approximately 6,900 charter schools across the United States. Roughly eight percent or 240,000 students in public charter schools have disabilities according to a United States Government Accountability Report published in […]


Anyone Can Sleep in the Top Bunk!

BY LAURA WHITAKER In 2014, Extra Special People (ESP) officially became the proud owner of 70 acres of beautiful, empty land in northeast Georgia – and Camp Hooray, a place where accessibility will be a foundational feature rather than a rushed afterthought, was one step closer to becoming a reality. Worried? Anxious? Not even close. If Toni Boyd could have described her emotions on the day she dropped off her daughter Samantha at summer camp […]


Speaking Out In Support Of Sheltered WorkShops

SUBMITTED BY VOR Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have found the services and supports they rely upon increasingly undermined by advocacy efforts meant to provide more community care options. The question arises, however, why does providing more community options come at the expense of closing equally important facility-based options that provide vital care to individuals with severe and profound disabilities? Sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs are coming under increasing pressure by recent […]


Breaking Barriers

BY GRACE NAH AND BRITTNEY NORRIS Recently Tobii Dynavox, a leader in assistive technology for communication, expanded their mission for improving the quality of life for even more people through a new device called Indi™. This first-ever direct-to-consumer speech tablet provides a communication solution for individuals of all ages with speech and language disabilities, including those with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Rett syndrome and Intellectual disabilities. “We truly believe that everyone deserves and should […]


Change In Mission Allows School To Put Social Needs First

BY RACHEL EZEKIEL-FISHBEIN Children with co-morbid disabilities present challenges most schools today are unable to address, which leads to the same pattern Rowe identified in children with language-based disabilities in 1982 –bright kids who are painfully lonely, feel worthless and ultimately, become disengaged. The student was clearly gifted. Yet George Rowe’s team at Buckingham Friends School could not teach him to read. As head of school, Rowe had seen this before: brilliant students with language-based […]


Exceptional Parent Magazine Honors Special Education Teachers

EXCEPTIONAL PARENT (EP) MAGAZINE HONORS SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS “AN ABILITY TO CONNECT ” Laura Wisinski LAURA WISINSKI is one of the most adaptable, fun-loving, hard-working teachers around. She teaches a Life Skills Support room for high school students at Elizabeth Lee Black School in Erie, PA. She is wonderful, kind and supportive, and makes the lessons exciting, accessible and engaging. Laura uses total technology like touch screen computers, iPads and the TAPit as tools for […]


The Power of Camp

Nathan sits mostly. He has a history of epilepsy, “un-testable intelligence” and no movement from the waist down. He doesn’t lift his head to give eye contact or move unless commanded to do so. His vision is limited. He is incapable of speaking and is totally deaf. The world inside Nathan is a mystery. That is until camp happened. Nathan was twelve the first year he came to camp. We had no idea where to […]