Tag Archive for 'Prevention'

Students with EBD Hit Hardest by Texas Cap in Special Ed Enrollment

According to reports Brian M. Rosenthal published in the Houston (TX, US) Chronicle, since the early 2000s when the Texas Education Agency (TEA) essentially limited enrollment in special education to 8.5% of the school population, the category of students with disabilities that saw the largest decline in enrollment was emotional disturbance.

Mr. Rosenthal published a series of articles reporting his investigation of systematic denial of services to students with disabilities in Texas beginning in September 2016. The TEA created a system for rating local education agencies’ special education programs that included a benchmark for how many students should be be enrolled. In an installment published 19 November 2016 and entitled “Mentally ill lose out as special ed declines,” he begins the report with the story of Alston Jeffus, an adolescent who is on his way home after spending months in a state hospital. Here are a few paragraphs from Mr. Rosenthal’s article:

The Texas Education Agency’s decision to set an 8.5 percent target for special education enrollment has led schools to cut services for children with all types of disabilities, but mentally ill students like Alston have been disproportionately affected, the Houston Chronicle has found.

Federal law requires schools to provide counseling, therapy, protection from discipline and other support to children with “emotional disturbances,” including severe anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, however, Texas schools serve 42 percent fewer of those students, relative to overall enrollment, than when the TEA set the benchmark in 2004.

It is a bigger drop than has occurred in almost any other disability category.

In all, an estimated 500,000 school-age children in Texas have a serious mental illness that interferes with their functioning in family, school or community activities, according to the state Health and Human Services Commission.

Only 30,034 receive special education services.

There is a lot more to this story (subscription may be required). I recommend it to readers. Also, I encourage readers haven’t been following Mr. Rosenthal’s excellent reporting on this matter to catch up; the Chronicle published a guide to the series.

Autism encounters with law enforcement

Have you ever fretted about what would happen if someone who has not learned to comply with commands encounters someone who expects immediate compliance? Suppose further that the person who relies on immediate compliance might escalate his or her demands for compliance when the other person, say a child who has behavior problems, does not immediately comply.

In a family or a classroom we might call this a “power struggle.” In the language of Patterson and his colleagues (Patterson, 1982; Patterson & Reid, 1970; Patterson, Reid, & Dishon, 1992), it’s the reciprocal escalation that forms the coercion cycle. When it occurs between an officer of the law and a child with Autism, I’d call it a recipe for disaster, even a nightmare scenario. It’s one about which I’ve written previously, more than once.

Here’s an example of that nightmare come true, as reported by Susan Ferriss of the Center for Public Integrity:

Diagnosed as autistic, the sixth-grader was being scolded for misbehavior one day and kicked a trash can at Linkhorne Middle School in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A police officer assigned to the school witnessed the tantrum, and filed a disorderly conduct charge against the sixth grader in juvenile court.

Just weeks later, in November, Kayleb, who is African-American, disobeyed a new rule — this one just for him — that he wait while other kids left class. The principal sent the same school officer to get him.

“He grabbed me and tried to take me to the office,” said Kayleb, a small, bespectacled boy who enjoys science. “I started pushing him away. He slammed me down, and then he handcuffed me.”

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VA ‘Making Kids Count’ award reception announced

Virginia’s Voices for Children announced an event 15 October 2013 to honor the recipients of its Carol S. Fox Making Kids Count awards. The event, which is to be held at the Jepson Alumni Center at the University of Richmond in Richmond (VA, US), begins at 6:00 PM with the program commencing at 6:30 PM. Bruce Lesley, a public policy expert with extensive experience related to improving services for children and families, is slated to make the featured speech. Learn more about the awards from the Voices for Virginia’s Children web site and register for the reception (or make a donation) on line; there’s a discount for early-bird—prior to 2 October—registration.

Nature: De novo mutations, autism, and schizophrenia, redux

In Nature a group of researchers from Denmark and Iceland report the results of their studies of mutation rates of Icelandic parent-child groups. They found that the level of new mutations, called a “de novo mutations,” in their samples when father’s average age was 29.7 was 1.20?X?10?8 per nucleotide per generation, but that number increases by two every year. In round numbers one might estimate that at about 20 years of age a father’s single sperm cell could carry 25 new spontaneous mutations, but at 40 years of age it might carry more than 65.
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First Step supported by WWC

The US What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviewed research about First Step to Success, an early intervention program for K-3 children who are at risk of developing antisocial behavior, and identified it as having positive effects on ratings of student behavior and potentially positive effects on ratings of emotions, social skills, and academic outcomes. The WWC based its review on two studies by the developers of First Step, Hill Walker and colleagues—alert readers of EBD Blog will recognize one of them (see “First Step Takes Off“).

What Works—which some folks have taken to calling “what doesn’t work,” because they say it rarely identifies practices that are effective—gave the research undergirding First Step a strong review:

The WWC review of interventions for Children Classified as Having an Emotional Disturbance addresses student outcomes in seven domains: external behavior, emotional/internal behavior, social outcomes, reading achievement/ literacy, math achievement, school attendance, and other academic performance. The two studies that contribute to the effectiveness rating in this report cover five domains: external behavior, emotional/internal behavior, social outcomes, reading achievement/literacy, and other academic performance. The findings below present the authors’ estimates and WWC-calculated estimates of the size and statistical significance of the effects of First Step to Success on children classified as having an emotional disturbance….

Two studies reported findings in the external behavior domain.

Walker et al. (1998) found, and the WWC confirmed, four positive and statistically significant differences between treatment and comparison groups on academic engaged time, the Child Behavior Checklist–Teacher Report Forms (CBCL-TRF) Aggression Subscale, the Early Screening Project (ESP) Adaptive Behavior Subscale, and the ESP Maladaptive Behavior Subscale.

Walker et al. (2009) found, and the WWC confirmed, four positive and statistically significant differences between treatment and comparison groups on academic engaged time, the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) Problem Behavior Subscale for Parents, the SSRS Problem Behavior Subscale for Teachers, and the SSBD Maladaptive Behavior Index. Although the overall design of the Walker et al. (2009) study meets evidence standards, there was high attrition on one outcome: the SSRS Problem Behavior Subscale for Parents outcome. The authors established equivalence for the analytic sample for this outcome; thus, this finding meets evidence standards with reservations.

The mean effect size from the four outcomes in Walker et al. (1998) and the mean effect size from the four out- comes in Walker et al. (2009) were both statistically significant. Thus, for the external behavior domain, two studies with strong designs showed statistically significant positive effects. This results in an intervention rating of positive effects for the domain, with a small extent of evidence.

Walker, H. M., Kavanagh, K., Stiller, B., Golly, A., Severson, H., & Feil, E. (1998). First Step to Success. An early intervention approach for preventing school antisocial behavior. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 6, 66–80.

Walker, H. M., Seeley, J. R., Small, J., Severson, H. H, Graham, B. A., Feil, E. G., . . . Forness, S. R. (2009). A randomized controlled trial of the First Step to Success early intervention: Demonstration of program efficacy outcomes in a diverse, urban school district. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17, 197–212.

Follow up of Fast Track

These are the lead researchers in the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group with their current universities (over the years, some have changed affiliations):

The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, a team of composed of seven of the most eminent US scholars studying the development of childhood behavior disorders, published another in its series of papers tracking the outcomes of the children it has been following in a long-term study about preventing acting out disorders. In this longer-term follow-up analysis, the team found that the effects were still present for the children who showed the most risk of having behavior disorders in the first place.

This project and these folks are the big time. The work has been conducted very carefully and cannot be represented as an example of over-hyped findings.
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The Congressional Mental Health Caucus

Sadly, mental health has been in the US news of late. I’m reminded that in the US legislature there is the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, which takes as its goals reducing negativism and stigma, aiding efforts to access mental health services, improving work-related productivity, and protecting veterans who have mental health problems. Although the caucus does not explicitly state child mental health as a focus of concern, it has supported awareness efforts such as National Children’s Mental Health Day.
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More props for Mr. Artest

Professional basketball player Ron Artest, who admits that he experienced difficulties as a youth and an adult, has been promoting mental health awareness over the past few years. Recently I posted a note acknowledging some of his efforts, and today I call attention to another of them. At the release of the accompanying public service announcement 21 December 2010 in support of mental health awareness, Mr. Artest not only spoke in support of those efforts, but he also donated $50,000 to local clinics in the Los Angeles (CA, US) area.

In a blog post for the Los Angeles Times entitled “Ron Artest debuts his PSA on mental health awareness,” Mark Medina reported about the press conference and the production of the PSA. If you’re a Lakers fan, as am I, you’ll find a couple of tidbits of interest there. But, there are also noteworthy nuggets about mental health advocacy and even about the entertainment industry in Mr Medina’s report, too. He has an audio interview with Gary Foster, who produced the video (as well as the noted movie “The Soloist,” also about mental health), and additional notes about Mr. Artest’s efforts.

According to Mr. Medina, on Christmas Day, another of Mr. Artest’s fund- and awareness-raising efforts on behalf of mental health will be in the spotlight. The ring that Mr. Artest received as a member of the world championship Los Angeles Lakers team of 2010 will be awarded to the winner of a raffle. That raffle has reportedly raised over $500,000 US. (I bought my raffle tickets, of course.)

As a fan of the Lakers for 50 years, I’m glad Mr. Artest is playing for my team, but I’m especially happy to have him on the mental-health advocacy team. My hat’s off to you, Mr. Artest.

Read all of Mr. Medina’s entry, Ron Artest debuts his PSA on mental health awareness. Check my earlier post from 11 November 2010.