National Center for Learning Disabilities

Website link: National Center for Learning Disabilities

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(n.d.). Retrieved July 04, 2017, from http://www.ncld.org/

The National Center for Learning Disabilities is an organization that aims to improve the lives of individuals with learning and attention difficulties by empowering those individuals, making positive changes to schools, and advocating for equal rights and opportunities. The organization’s website has an entire tab dedicated to advocacy which give information about key policy recommendations, laws that effect individuals with learning disabilities, and accomplishments of advocates so far. In addition to the advocacy tab, there are tabs providing information about different programs available to parents, young adults, professionals, and educators. There are also links to reports and studies and information on how to donate to the organization.

Although I feel as if I should have known this statistic prior to my research, I learned that 1 in 5 people in the United States have either learning and/or attention issues. This is quite an alarming statistic considering that many learning disabled students go unidentified, especially in certain areas. I also learned that a program called Friends of Quinn, mentioned in my earliest blog post, is also actually a place where young adults with learning disabilities can go to access resources. This resource has contributed to my collection of online resources that can help individuals with disabilities learn to advocate for themselves.

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Believe in Yourself

 

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P. (2014, September 07). BELIEVE IN YOURSELF – Motivational Video (ft. Jaret Grossman & Eric Thomas). Retrieved July 04, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjZ0KbJcav0

This resource is a video featuring motivational speeches by life coach, Jaret Grossman, and “hip hop preacher,” Eric Thomas. Both men are known for their high energy messages. In this video, Grossman explains that once you believe that you are something, you embody that feeling—and this can be a positive or negative thing. In order to be successful in life, you have to truly believe that you are unique. If you believe that, the results of your efforts will be greater. Everyone has mental doubts, but the most successful people overwhelm those doubts with positive actions. Eric Thomas talks about how people always ask him how he remains so driven and confident. He says that if your effort is low, that means you are seeing the task as an obligation—something you have to do. The key is to look at each task as an opportunity to improve yourself as a person. Never give up on any opportunity that allows you to improve.

Although the purpose of this video was to motivate people, I see it as an opportunity to enhance self-confidence in students with disabilities. I recognize that just showing somebody with low self-esteem a motivational video is not likely to help them right away. However, by watching this video, I was able to form a few new conclusions on what needs to happen in order to be self-confident. People must not only strive to believe in themselves, but also be surrounded by people who believe in them. Also, they must set goals for themselves that they are willing to work towards and see as “opportunities” rather than “obligations” in order to be successful. Although the purpose of this video was to motivate people, I can apply these things that I have learned to the context of students with disabilities.

Camp High Rocks

Take a look at this awesome Camp High Rocks video!

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A North Carolina Boys Summer Camp. (n.d.). Retrieved July 01, 2017, from http://www.highrocks.com/

Camp High Rocks is a camp for young boys located in the mountains of North Carolina. They pride themselves on providing opportunities for campers to create friendships and become independent in a supportive community setting. Campers allowed to choose which activities they participate in and are assisted with setting their own personal goals for the summer. There are endless opportunities for fun at Camp High Rocks including hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, tennis, and soccer. None of these activities emphasize competition, but rather the learning experience, skills development, and fun. Testimonials of campers show that they feel a sense of accomplishment that is fostered by being involved in fun activities and being away from home.

One thing I learned from this research experience is that by giving kids more choices, they are more likely to explore their options and embrace whatever decisions they make. Another piece of knowledge that was reinforced for me through my research of Camp High Rocks is that physical activity and independence can really enhance a child’s self-confidence. I am particularly interested in self-confidence and how it applies to students with special needs. As we know, males are largely overrepresented in special education. Therefore, I believe that having camps like this that specifically focus on males can be beneficial to those who struggle with disabilities.

Wheels of Justice campaign

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 9.42.20 PMOlin, T. (2015, July 23). ADAPT activists protesting for accessible transportation in Philadelphia in 1990. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.arts.gov/art-works/2015/ada25-disability-rights-through-tom-olins-lens (Originally photographed 1990)

 

This photo, taken by Tom Olin, caught my eye immediately as I was looking for artifacts related to self-advocacy. In black and white, the photo depicts a group of men and women of varying ages, most in wheelchairs. Many of them are holding signs and one of them reads “I CAN’T EVEN GET TO THE BACK OF THE BUS.” These protesters are gathered around in the street next to a bus. The caption reads “ADAPT activists protesting for accessible transportation in Philadelphia in 1990.”

I learned a lot more from this resource than I initially thought I could from a photograph. I first realized that I did not know what “ADAPT” was and decided to look it up. I discovered that it stood for “Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit” and was later changed to “Americans Disabled for Attendant Programs Today.” I learned that ADAPT organized the Wheels of Justice campaign in Washington, D.C., in order to ensure the follow-through of transportation provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act. On July 26, 1990, the ADA was passed by Congress and signed by the President. It ordered all public buses to be wheelchair accessible. This resource is relevant to my research because it provided me with a visual of what self-advocacy can potentially look like. I recognize that it does not always come in the form of protest, but it is not unrealistic.

 

Stop Trying to Be Normal Already

black_venetian_style_masquerade_party_mask_W-2802B__03987.1466125598.500.750Roggli, L. (2016). Stop Trying to Be Normal Already. ADDitude, 17(1), 30.

This short article comes from a magazine that is produced and distributed with the purpose of empowering individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder and their families. This particular article talks about how many times individuals with ADHD put on “masks” in order to appear more “normal.” The writer discusses the seven most popular masks and goes on to say that when an individual has been “wearing” one of them for a long time, it can be difficult to release it. It is important to let your “Authentic Self” shine, surround yourself with people who love you, and give yourself time to adjust.

One thing I learned from this article was that some people with ADD put on “The Perfectionist” mask and work hard to overcompensate for ADHD by displaying control issues. Another mask I was not aware of was “The Superhero,” and the wearer is constantly trying to win people over by doing favors for people and never asking for any help for himself/ herself. I recognize that not everybody with ADHD will fall under one of the categories listed, and may not even be wearing a “mask” at all. However, this resource helps me to understand some of the possibilities I may be facing as a teacher. It has shed light on some of the perspectives that I need to understand in order to embed confidence building in my teaching.

The IEP Process Explained

Article link: The IEP Process Explained

IEP-SHirtThe Individualized Education Program Process in Special Education. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.specialeducationguide.com/pre-k-12/individualized-education-programs-iep/the-iep-process-explained

 

This article summarizes and explains the IEP process. It starts by giving a brief account of how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) came to be and how the purpose of the IEP process is to focus on helping the student reach his or her full potential. The article covers how to determine eligibility for services by listing the 13 categories under which a child can receive services and by explaining how children can be evaluated for eligibility. The second part of the article explains the components of the IEP, such as who attends the meeting and what goes into the document. Explanations of present levels of performance, offer of FAPE, academic and/or behavioral goals, accommodations and modifications, transition plans, signature pages and meeting notes are all provided in this section along with a brief description of what happens at the meeting. Finally, it is stressed that lines of communication between IEP team members should remain open throughout the school year, not exclusively during the IEP meeting.

I am familiar with almost all of the information in this article as I have been learning about IEPs extensively for the past year. However, I was able to refresh my memory about timelines for actions that must be taken in the IEP process, such as “An initial IEP (the first one) must be in place within 30 days of the evaluation meeting determining eligibility.” Through this article, I was also connected with several other resources that can help me advance my knowledge of the IEP process. It is important for me as a Resource Specialist to understand this process, not only because it is my job, but in order to educate my students about IEPs and how they can contribute to their own.

DREDF: The Blog

DREDF: The Blog

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 9.59.33 PMTischer, I., Wong, A., Stein, K., Nold, D., & Mayerson, A. B. (n.d.). DREDF: The Blog. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://dredf.org/web-log/

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) is an organization that was founded in 1979 and serves as a civil rights law and policy center. The organization is run by individuals with disabilities and guardians. DREDF: The Blog contains posts from various individuals about a wide variety of topics within the realm of disability advocacy. Some of the most recent blog post titles include: “My Medicaid, My Life” and “Universal Design, Accessibility, and the Streets of Lima, Peru.” There was one blog post with a title and snippet that caught my eye and caused me to read it in it’s entirety. The post was called “No Roll-Backs On My Civil Rights: A Past Plaintiff on Opposing H.R. 620, the ADA Notification Act” and was written by Ingrid Tischer, a woman with muscular dystrophy which requires her to take advantage of sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act that require accommodations in public facilities. She recounts an experience that occurred in 2013 when she and her husband stayed in an “ADA-accessible” hotel room that did not actually meet regulations.

One thing I learned from Tischer was how much intimidation and humiliation contributes to the process of filing a lawsuit for these types of experiences. Tischer talks about having to share very personal information, such as the manner in which she urinates in order for investigations to take place. This resource also inspired me to look further into H.R. 620 and see how it applies to this story. I can sympathize with the author who feels that the language of the law is contradictory. On the one hand, it holds adults living with disabilities responsible for educating business owners about ADA access violations, but on the other hand it implies that the ADA is too complex for business owners to always be in compliance. This resource helped me to realize that as important as it is to be educated on methods of self-advocacy, we cannot always hold people with disabilities and their guardians responsible for upholding the law. There must be a better way.