Friday, March 29, 2024

Community Spotlight: Abby's Barkery

 Hello and welcome to Abby's Barkery!



I'm Abby and the sous-chef in our barkery. The executive chef is my mom! My mom adopted me when I was a baby and we have been pretty much inseparable since. When we first met, we learned a lot of scary information about me all at once. The doctors at Riley believed I would never talk, walk, see, or hear. My mom never gave up on me, and I have done all of these things in my own time with a lot of therapy and prayer. We also learned that I have autism spectrum disorder which makes my brain special. I interact with the world and others in a unique way! Somewhere along the way I became very sick, and we learned that I need a special, gluten-free diet to feel better. Did you know dogs need a special diet too?! I have spent a lot of time making gluten-free mug cakes and other creative recipes so that I can stay healthy. 

Now that I am 16,  my mom and I would really like to prepare for my life after high school. We plan to take my love for baking special treats and caring for animals (stuffed or real) to create something sustainable and engaging! This bakery will help me continue to work on skills I need such as communication, interaction, organization, and developing relationships. 
I am so excited about this journey and cannot wait to make yummy treats for your furry friends!

To learn more about Abby's Barkery visit there Facebook page: 

Monday, March 25, 2024

Assistive Technology: Leveling the Playing Field for Students with Disabilities

For students with disabilities, education can present unique challenges. Assistive technology (AT) bridges the gap, empowering students to learn and participate alongside their peers. AT encompasses a wide range of tools and devices, from low-tech pencil grips to high-tech speech-to-text software. 


Benefits of Assistive Technology


Increased Independence: AT allows students to complete tasks without relying on constant assistance, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-confidence. Imagine a student with dysgraphia using voice-recognition software to complete assignments. This frees them from the frustration of handwriting struggles and allows them to focus on expressing their ideas.

Improved Learning: By removing barriers to learning, AT unlocks a student's full potential. Text-to-speech software can help students with dyslexia grasp written material, while graphic organizers can aid those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in processing information. A student with visual impairments can leverage a screen reader to access textbooks and other educational materials, putting them on equal footing with their sighted classmates.

Greater Participation: AT empowers students to actively engage in classroom activities and discussions, promoting a more inclusive learning environment. A student with mobility limitations can use a joystick to navigate an interactive whiteboard, allowing them to participate in classroom exercises alongside their peers. 


Examples of Assistive Technology

The AT landscape is vast and constantly evolving. Here's a glimpse into the different categories of AT:


Low-Tech: These simple tools can make a significant impact. Pencil grips can improve handwriting comfort and legibility for students with fine motor challenges. Ergonomic keyboards can reduce strain for students with physical limitations. Audiobooks can provide access to literature for students with visual impairments or reading difficulties. Talking calculators can enhance math learning for students with visual impairments or those struggling with computational tasks. Timers can help students with ADHD stay on track and manage their time effectively.


Mid-Tech: These more sophisticated tools offer increased functionality. Screen readers convert digital text into speech, allowing students with visual impairments to access electronic documents and websites. Speech recognition software allows users to dictate text by voice, a boon for students with dysgraphia or physical limitations that make typing difficult. Graphic organizers, concept maps, and mind mapping software help students organize information visually, aiding those with learning disabilities or those who benefit from visual cues.


High-Tech: Cutting-edge technology offers even more possibilities. Alternative keyboards can be customized for specific needs, such as those with limited hand mobility. Joysticks and touch screens provide alternative input methods for students who cannot use a traditional mouse or keyboard. Eye gaze technology allows users to control a computer cursor using their eyes, offering a powerful tool for students with severe physical limitations. Specialized educational software can cater to a variety of needs, such as providing gamified learning experiences for students with ADHD or offering programs that break down complex concepts into manageable steps for students with learning disabilities.


Finding the Right AT

The ideal AT solution is unique to each student's needs.  A collaborative effort between parents, teachers, therapists, and the student themselves is essential to identify and implement appropriate AT.  Consider a student with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who may benefit from noise-canceling headphones to reduce auditory distractions, visual timers to promote time management, and social skills software programs to support social interaction. 


Assistive Technology and IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that guarantees a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students with disabilities.  IDEA includes important provisions regarding assistive technology:


Evaluation and Consideration: IDEA mandates that the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, which includes parents and teachers, must consider the needs of each student with a disability for assistive technology devices and services. This evaluation should occur at least annually.

Providing AT: If the IEP team determines that a student needs AT to access education, the school district is responsible for providing the device or service.  This can include low-tech, mid-tech, or high-tech assistive technology, depending on the student's specific needs. 

Training and Support:  IDEA goes beyond just providing the device. The school district is also responsible for ensuring that the student receives proper training on how to use the assistive technology effectively.  In some cases, this may also involve providing ongoing support to the student and their teachers.


The Future of Assistive Technology

Advancements in technology offer promising developments in AT. Artificial intelligence-powered tools can provide personalized learning experiences that cater to individual student needs and learning styles. Imagine a reading program that adjusts its difficulty level based on a student's reading comprehension, or a math tutor that provides targeted instruction based on the student's specific areas of weakness.

Friday, March 22, 2024

The "Parent Project": A Cause for Concern in Lawrence County Indiana

Lawrance County Indiana  3/22/2024

The Lawrence County Probation Department's new program, "The Parent Project," raises serious concerns. While it's framed as a solution for parents of "strong-willed" children (ages 11-17), it unfairly targets families who may be dealing with a much more complex situation.

Criminalizing Disabilities:
The program's presence within the Probation Department suggests a troubling approach. It implies that a child's challenging behavior, which could stem from a disability, is a criminal justice issue. This can lead to further stigmatization and a lack of access to proper support for these families.

Focusing on Labels, Not Needs:
The program uses a vague term, "strong-willed," which can mask underlying issues. Children with undiagnosed ADHD, anxiety, or learning disabilities might exhibit behaviors misinterpreted as defiance.  This program doesn't address these potential root causes.

Limited Solutions:
Promising to "never argue" or solve complex issues like phone addiction with a one-size-fits-all program sets unrealistic expectations. Parents of children with disabilities often need a wider range of resources and specialized guidance.

What We Need Instead:
Support, Not Stigma: Focus on providing resources and support to families navigating challenging child behavior, not criminalizing it.

Early Intervention: Promote early diagnosis and access to mental health professionals and educational specialists.

Positive Strategies: Equip parents with positive reinforcement techniques and communication skills to build strong parent-child relationships.

Let's Not Criminalize Differences:
Children with disabilities are not problem children. Their behaviors may be a symptom of a deeper issue that requires understanding and support. We urge the Lawrence County Probation Department to reconsider the program's approach and work with local organizations to offer more comprehensive resources for families facing these challenges.

Remember:
There are many reasons a child might exhibit difficult behaviors. "The Parent Project" offers a limited solution that could exacerbate existing problems. Let's work towards creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for all children.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Examining Education: A Medora Community School Video Raises Concerns About Student Behavior, Potential Legal Ramifications

Medora, Indiana 3/20/2024

A video posted by Medora Community Schools on their social media pages has sparked concern and debate within the community. The video appears to show a student walking through the school parking lot, attempting to open car doors.


This incident raises questions about potential legal ramifications for the student's actions and the school's role in the situation.


Indiana Code 35-43-4-2.7 defines Unlawful Entry of a Motor Vehicle as entering a vehicle without permission to do so. If the student was attempting to enter these vehicles without the owner's consent, they could be charged with a crime.


Indiana Code 35-46-1-8  addresses Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. This statute prohibits adults from knowingly encouraging or participating in acts that would be considered delinquent if committed by a minor. While the school's intent behind the video is unclear, it's important to consider whether posting the video on social media could be seen as contributing to the delinquency of the student involved.



Disclaimer: Examining Education by Community Inclusion Ambassadors Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice.


The information presented in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal guidance. The legal codes referenced (Indiana Code 35-43-4-2.7 and 35-46-1-8) provide a general framework, but the specific application of these laws can vary depending on the circumstances of the situation.


If you have concerns about a potential legal issue related to the Medora Community School video or a similar situation, we strongly recommend consulting with a licensed attorney in your area. An attorney can provide specific legal advice tailored to the facts of your case and applicable laws in your jurisdiction. They can also advise on potential courses of action and the legal implications involved.



Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Unethical Practice of Parent Signatures Affecting Student Grades


This report examines the unethical practice of using parent signatures on assignments or homework as a factor in determining a student's grade. This approach undermines the purpose of grading and creates unnecessary pressure on both students and parents.

Why Parent Signatures Shouldn't Affect Grades

Focus on Student Learning:  The primary objective of grades is to assess a student's grasp of the material.  A parent's signature doesn't guarantee the student understood the concepts, completed the work themselves, or even reviewed the assignment.

Unequal Advantage:   Not all families have the same level of parental involvement.  Busy parents or those unfamiliar with the subject may not be able to effectively review their child's work. This disadvantages students from those households.

Shifted Responsibility:  Students are responsible for their learning.  Tying a grade to a signature can create a false sense of completion, where the focus is on getting a signature rather than truly understanding the material.

Unnecessary Pressure:  Both students and parents may feel undue pressure to get assignments signed, even if the student didn't complete them properly. This can create anxiety and strain communication between parents and children.

Alternatives to Parent Signatures

There are more effective ways to ensure parents are aware of their child's academic progress:

Online Grade Portals:  Many schools offer online platforms where parents can access their child's grades and assignments in real-time.

Progress Reports:  Regular updates from teachers can highlight areas where students need help and open communication channels with parents.

Parent-Teacher Conferences:  Scheduled meetings provide opportunities to discuss student progress, learning styles, and strategies for improvement.

Conclusion

Using parent signatures as a factor in student grades is an unethical practice. It undermines the true purpose of grading, creates unequal advantages, and shifts responsibility from students. Schools should prioritize alternative methods of communication and focus on fostering a genuine understanding of the material by students themselves.

Community Spotlight: Abby's Barkery

 Hello and welcome to Abby's Barkery! I'm Abby and the sous-chef in our barkery. The executive chef is my mom! My mom adopted me whe...