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617-658-9800

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603-818-8526

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Free Presentation Tomorrow at NESCA : "Let's Make Sense of the Neuropsychological Evaluation"

From NESCA
What will I learn about my child as a result of a neuropsychological evaluation?

 

Presentation will cover:

  • Why should my child get tested?
  • What kind of information will I get from a neuropsychological evaluation about my child’s cognitive functioning?
  • How neuropsychological evaluation results can be used to inform Special Education services?
  • How to understand and interpret the test results
  • How will this evaluation help determine if my child has made progress?

Free of Charge
Thursday, Sept 22, 2016
7:00-8:30 pm
Location: NESCA, 55 Chapel Street, 1st Floor; Newton, MA
RSVP to: info@nesca-newton.com



Presenter: Dr. Reva Tankle, Ph.D.
NESCA , Pediatric and Young Adult Neuropsychologist

Combining her experience and training in both pediatric neuropsychology and educational advocacy, Dr. Reva Tankle has particular expertise in working with families who are navigating the IEP process. Having participated in numerous team meetings over the years, Dr. Tankle is especially knowledgeable about the many ways that schools can support and accommodate students with special learning needs, information that she clearly communicates in her evaluation reports and in team meetings, if needed. She also has a great deal of experience in articulating the reasons that a student may need a program outside of the public school.

Dr. Tankle evaluates students with ADHD, learning disabilities, high functioning autism spectrum disorders, and neurological conditions, as well as children with complex profiles that are not easily captured by a single diagnostic category.

In 2004, Dr. Tankle trained at the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) as a Parent Consultant and Special Needs Advocate. She currently teaches at the FCSN Parent Consultant course on the use of neuropsychological evaluations in the IEP process.

Dr. Tankle joined the NESCA staff in 2013. NESCA staff and clients are tremendously fortunate to benefit from the unique combination of her skills in advocacy and neuropsychological evaluation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Complimentary Transition Training: Dual Enrollment



Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative                





Funded by the Commonwealth since 2007, the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative offers grants to college-school partnerships to support eligible public high school students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18-22, to increase their academic and career success by being included in a college or university community of learners. ("Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative", 2016)


Learn more about this initiative at this upcoming Complimentary Transition Training on Dual Enrollment!


Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICE) Presentation:

Glenn Gabbard, EdD. Coordinator, Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Program (ICE) will focus his presentation on the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative: how it works; who it is designed to serve; and how families can get more information about individual partnerships. 

We'll also discuss the difference between this program and the typical services and supports for students available at colleges and universities as well as the difference between MAICEI and dual enrollment programs within the Commonwealth.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHO: Glenn Gabbard, EdD. presenter
Parents of Transition Aged Teens/Young Adults, Educators, Transition Specialists, Special Education Directors, Consultants, and related industry professionals. 
WHAT: A hand out will be provided  
WHERE: 15 Main St. Ext. Unit 7, Plymouth, MA  02360
WHY: Learn what the MAICEI is all about and how you can assist the teens and young adults in your life!
  
Click here: 

Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative. (2016). Executive Office of Education. Retrieved 20 September 2016, from http://www.mass.gov/edu/birth-grade-12/higher-education/initiatives-and-special-programs/inclusive-concurrent-enrollment/

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What Is Non-Verbal Learning Disorder?

From Child Mind Institute
By Caroline Miller


Difficulty picking up concepts and patterns affects kids visually, socially, and academically

When we think of learning disorders, we tend to think of dyslexia and other disorders involving language—that is, kids who have trouble decoding language and learning to read.

But there is another, less well-known type of learning disorder that’s not about verbal communication—hence it’s called non-verbal learning disorder. You’ll see it referred to as NVLD or NLD. It isn’t an official diagnosis like ADHD and autism—in fact many kids who have non-verbal learning challenges have those diagnoses. But experts say focusing on NLD explains what’s happening with kids—and how to help them learn—better than those diagnoses.
Recognizing patterns

Kids who have NLD do not have trouble decoding language, reading, or learning information in a rote way. As Scott Bezsylko, executive director of Winston Preparatory School, puts it, “Think of it as the opposite of dyslexia.” The problems these kids have involve, he says, all the other kinds of learning. “All the stuff that involves understanding information—relationships, concepts, ideas, patterns.”

These deficits—all things related to the right hemisphere of the brain—can affect a child’s ability to do a surprising variety of things. Physical coordination, social interaction, problem solving, organizing thoughts, planning—all these things can be challenging. They seem very different, but the unifying theme is that each requires the ability to recognize patterns or concepts and then apply them to new situations.


The five areas of NLD


There are five areas in which children with NLD show weakness. Not all children have weaknesses in all areas.


1. Visual and spatial awareness:


Many kids with NLD have trouble understanding visual imagery. For example when they are asked to copy a shape like a cube they produce “profound distortions,” says Bezsylko. “These kids can’t accurately perceive the cube, the forms that make up the cube, and the relationships between them. Hence they can’t copy it.”

They also have difficulty evaluating visual-spatial information. This means they have trouble grasping the relationships between things they see and having a clear sense of where they are. This can make them physically awkward.


2. Higher-Order Comprehension:


Higher-order comprehension is the ability to identify the main idea in something, the details that support the main idea, and the relationships among them. This affects kids’ ability to comprehend reading, and write or tell a story effectively.

It also affects taking notes. Bezsylko observed that some kids essentially take down everything the teacher says because they don’t know what’s important and what not to take down. Other kids don’t know what’s important so they take down nothing, and people think they aren’t paying attention. Or they take down all the wrong things.


3. Social Communication:



Most kids with NLD have trouble reading emotion in facial cues and body language, so they often don’t know what’s going on in social interactions. They miss the social patterns that other kids pick up automatically, so they don’t know what’s appropriate behavior in a given situation.

Difficulties with social communication is one reason why kids with NLD often focus—sometimes obsessively—on technology. “In chat rooms or in a video game they don’t have to deal with all the nonverbal stuff,” Bezsylko notes.


4. Math Concepts:


Many kids with NLD are very good at rote learning, and they are able to do well in math just by memorizing data. But as they get older they struggle to solve more advanced mathematical problems that are based on recognizing concepts and patterns. Even with a problem they’ve seen before, if it’s approached differently or modified slightly, they have trouble recognizing it.


5. Executive Functions:


Executive functions are a set of skills we use to organize our thinking, plan and carry out actions, and figure out how to solve problems. Most kids with NLD have weaknesses in these organizing and planning functions. For instance they struggle with breaking down a project into smaller pieces, or conceiving steps that need to be taken to get something done.

“These kids have trouble figuring things out—in fact they don’t really know what figuring something out means,” Bezsylko says. “We have to help them learn to do that—the step-by-step process you go through.”


How do these deficits manifest in kids with NLD?


In addition to the different combinations of symptoms, kids with NLD also vary along a spectrum of severity.

One the one hand there are kids who are extremely high-functioning but socially awkward, a little clumsy, disorganized—what Bezsylko calls “the absentminded professor type.” Other kids are more pervasively affected, and they function with more difficulty in many areas. “These kids often struggle to learn everything that isn’t rote or literal.”

At Winston Prep, a study of more than 100 students with NLD showed that there were 6 combinations of the 5 deficits. The largest group had all five of the deficits, but the second largest group had just two: social communication and executive functions.


When do these deficits become noticeable?


Many kids with NLD can do well enough in elementary school because they are very good at memorization and rote learning. It’s common for them to run into trouble around middle school, when their difficulty with the higher order reasoning—figuring out the main idea, the details, and the relationships—causes them to fall behind. “There’s a saying that in fifth grade you stop learning to read, and now you read to learn,” notes Bezsylko, “and that’s when these kids fall apart.” Historically, Winston Prep took kids in sixth through tenth grade; they’ve started to take some kids as young as fourth grade.

“Almost all of these kids look inattentive and disorganized,” Bezsylko adds, “especially as they get older. The more that schoolwork, math concepts, and socialization become complex rather than rote, the more those difficulties start to show up.”


A more comprehensive diagnosis


NLD is not one of the official diagnoses mental health professionals and schools use to categorize kids with psychiatric or learning probems. Kids who have it usually have other diagnoses—often autism or ADHD. But while those diagnoses list their symptoms or behaviors, they don’t fully explain them, argues Bezsylko.

For instance, if a child is disorganized and inattentive, he is likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. But he may well be disorganized and inattentive because he doesn’t understand what’s being discussed, what he reads, or the problem he’s been asked to solve. That’s where NLD comes in. “You can’t pay attention if you can’t understand,” notes Bezsylko.

Similarly, a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder will be described as having social and communication deficits. Those behaviors, too, can reflect NLD—not being able recognize patterns in facial expression, body language, and other forms of nonverbal communication can make kids unresponsive socially.

Take the kids in the Winston Prep study who had all five of the deficits. Most of them had a diagnosis of either ADHD or autism spectrum disorder. “But those diagnoses don’t identify three important areas where they are struggling,” notes Bezsylko: “higher-order comprehension, math concepts, and visual and spatial relations. Unless their NLD is recognized, they’re not likely to get help that strengthens or compensates for weaknesses in those core areas.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

Children Need Three Hours Exercise a Day

From  BBC
September 8th, 2016


Children should spend at least three hours a day performing physical activities, according to the Finnish government.


The recommended amount of exercise for young children in Finland has increased from two to three hours a day

Parents have been advised to actively encourage their children to pursue hobbies and interests that require physical exertion.

Children aged eight and under have been targeted in the move.

Finland is known for producing some of the most physically fit children in Europe.

It also produces some of the highest academic results among schoolchildren in the developed world.

Finland's Minister for Education and Culture, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, believes this is no coincidence.

Ms Grahn-Laasonen said physical activity contributed to a child's happiness and promoted learning by developing a young person's ability to interact socially.

"When children exercise together they develop interaction skills and connect socially, and it's healthy, too," she told local media.


How will it affect the school curriculum?


The minister's recommendation has been embraced by those who set the educational agenda, with the move expected to have a positive impact on results.

Anneli Rautiainen, head of basic education with the Finnish National Board of Education, told the BBC that schools would now be experimenting with new ways of teaching.

"In our new curriculum, we are looking at two to three hours a week of physical education and more outdoor activities. But we are also looking at non-traditional ways of teaching," she said.


Finland is considering removing desks from classrooms to encourage children to exercise during lessons

These include removing desks and chairs from some classrooms, so that children are not sitting as much while learning regular subjects.

"Some children learn very well sitting at a desk and listening, others would benefit greatly from moving around the room talking with their classmates," said Ms Rautiainen.

"The child has an active role. We will emphasise personalised learning. The learning environment should be modern and support different learners."

Finland is one of the first countries to put forward these recommendations, which will use classrooms to connect physical exercise with traditional learning.


What do young people think?



A report published last month by the child and family services change programme revealed that young people in Finland were in favour of more physical activity in schools.

The idea was widely supported among those questioned, who suggested using the school gym during breaks and increasing out-of-hours school club activities.


What is the current recommendation?



Guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that children and young teenagers aged between 5 and 17 should perform at least an hour of moderate physical exercise a day.

But the public health body goes on to say that more than an hour will provide additional health benefits, including later in life.


Why are Finnish children so fit?



Finland's obsession with health dates back to the 1970s, when it had the highest rate of deaths from heart-related issues in the world.

This was largely due to a thriving dairy sector, which played a large part in the Finnish diet.

In an effort to tackle the issue from a young age, schoolchildren were weighed on an annual basis and the results were recorded in end-of-year reports.

If there was a problem, a doctor was called in.


Schools in Finland are required to provide nutritional meals for young children.

This led to the Finnish National Nutrition Council, a government body that issues dietary guidelines, eventually introducing a directive that schools should not only provide free lunches, but that the food should be nutritional.


Why is more exercise needed?



According to the WHO, Finland's population is still among the healthiest, but economic, social and cultural developments through globalisation are having a detrimental impact.

As in many countries, health inequalities are on the rise in Finland.


Is Finland ahead of the game?



Finland introduced child health clinics way back in the 1940s, a pioneering move that was later introduced in other nations.

The primary focus at the time was on physical development and nutrition, early identification of abnormal conditions or disease and immunisation.

With this latest focus on physical activity among schoolchildren, Finland remains a leading nation when it comes to the health of its young citizens.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Free Presentation at NESCA: "Let's Make Sense of the Neuropsychological Evaluation"


From NESCA
What will I learn about my child as a result of a neuropsychological evaluation?

 

Presentation will cover:

  • Why should my child get tested?
  • What kind of information will I get from a neuropsychological evaluation about my child’s cognitive functioning?
  • How neuropsychological evaluation results can be used to inform Special Education services?
  • How to understand and interpret the test results
  • How will this evaluation help determine if my child has made progress?

Free of Charge
Thursday, Sept 22, 2016
7:00-8:30 pm
Location: NESCA, 55 Chapel Street, 1st Floor; Newton, MA
RSVP to: info@nesca-newton.com



Presenter: Dr. Reva Tankle, Ph.D.
NESCA , Pediatric and Young Adult Neuropsychologist

Combining her experience and training in both pediatric neuropsychology and educational advocacy, Dr. Reva Tankle has particular expertise in working with families who are navigating the IEP process. Having participated in numerous team meetings over the years, Dr. Tankle is especially knowledgeable about the many ways that schools can support and accommodate students with special learning needs, information that she clearly communicates in her evaluation reports and in team meetings, if needed. She also has a great deal of experience in articulating the reasons that a student may need a program outside of the public school.

Dr. Tankle evaluates students with ADHD, learning disabilities, high functioning autism spectrum disorders, and neurological conditions, as well as children with complex profiles that are not easily captured by a single diagnostic category.

In 2004, Dr. Tankle trained at the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) as a Parent Consultant and Special Needs Advocate. She currently teaches at the FCSN Parent Consultant course on the use of neuropsychological evaluations in the IEP process.

Dr. Tankle joined the NESCA staff in 2013. NESCA staff and clients are tremendously fortunate to benefit from the unique combination of her skills in advocacy and neuropsychological evaluation.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why High School Students Need More Than College Prep

From  nprED
July 10, 2016


The importance of preparing for college AND employment cannot be understated.

I step up to the counter at Willy's Cafe at Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore., and order a latte.

There's a powerful scent of fresh coffee in the air, and a group of juniors and seniors hover over a large espresso machine.

Carrie Gilbert, 17, shows how it's done: "You're going to want to steam the milk first," she explains. "Then once you have the coffee, dump it in and use the rest of the milk to fill the cup."


Young barista in business

She hands over my order. Not bad.

Yes, this is a class, and these students are earning credit. But I can almost hear parents and students, for whom college is the only option, saying: Credit towards what? Isn't this just training for the dead-end, low-wage jobs of the future?'

Gilbert, who helps manage the cafe and train other students, doesn't think so. "Just the overall experience with the cash register and all the different kinds of food preparation and working with money and all that stuff, it prepares you for all kinds of things."

Training as a barista may not seem like a big deal, but Gilbert — and educators here and around the country — say she's learning those all-important "soft skills" that employers expect.

Roughly seven out of 10 high school grads are headed to college every year — but that leaves hundreds of thousands who aren't. And survey after survey shows that employers are demanding — even of college-bound students — some level of job skills and professionalism: punctuality, customer service, managing people and teamwork.

That's the message students at Willamette High hear just about every day over the PA system: You need job skills with real market value. The school's career and technical education program offers courses and training in all kinds of fields; culinary arts, health careers, robotics and welding. Students train as bank tellers with a local credit union, or learn food service and restaurants at Willy's Cafe.

The school is affiliated with DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) program, which focuses on merchandizing, retail sales, marketing and entrepeneurship.

The nearly 70-year-old program once seemed a relic of the "vocational education" era — a time when a much larger percentage of high school graduates went right into the workforce. But today, DECA is all about giving kids a taste of the real world and getting your foot in the door, says Dawn Delorfis, an assistant principal at Willamette High.

DECA teachers and administrators don't discourage students from going to college, she says, but they do try to let every student know that, with the right skills and training, there are good entry-level jobs for them out there.

Many of those jobs, "provide a good living for someone coming out of high school," Delorfis adds. "But the thing I think does still exist is the stigma attached: 'Oh, you're not going to college?' "

Luis Sanchez, 18, says college and Starbucks are definitely not for him. But he likes the training at Willy's because it's like running a small business: "My parents own a restaurant, and I want to help run it."

Which brings me back to parents, and that pressure of college as the only option. What happens when your kid comes home from school one day and says she's training as a barista?

"If it were my kid, I wouldn't let it happen," says Anthony Carnevale. He's the head of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. "You don't tell middle-class Americans, 'I'm going to send your kid to trade school.' "

Carnevale and others acknowledge that even good programs like DECA, and career and technical education programs in general, are often viewed as second-rate — a pipeline to low-wage, dead-end jobs.

"These are not dead-end jobs," says John Fistolera, with DECA's corporate office. Fistolera says DECA teaches specific skills that business and industry require for employees to be successful. That's been DECA's mission since the mid-1940s, thanks to its partnerships with local employers and some of the nation's biggest businesses.

It's a message that has broad and growing support, even from the White House. "You can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four year college education as long as you get the skills and the training that you need," President Obama said in 2014.

But what high school students usually hear is another message the president touts just as often: "College for all."

Carnevale says that's a message that kids and parents need to take with a grain of salt.

"Every year more than 400,000 young people in the top half of their high school class go to college, and at least eight years later, they have not gained either a two- or four-year degree or a certificate," he notes. So, he adds, at some point those people need job skills and a path into the workforce.

Carnevale warns that the high school curriculum has moved to higher and higher levels of abstraction, away from practical and applied learning.

At Willamette High, though, the message to students is simple: Prepare for both work and college. It kind of makes sense, says 18-year-old Kareena Montalvo. The DECA course she fell in love with is graphic design.

"I can't tell you how many posters we've done for upcoming plays, musicals," she says. "It lets me understand how artists need to meet clients' needs."

Montalvo says she's already getting paid for several projects in the community. She sees herself as an entrepeneur and, down the road, a college student.

"I want to get my major in graphic design and a minor in marketing."

But right now, says Kareena, the idea of going into debt at such a young age to pay for college is crazy. So, she says, it's great having marketable skills and pretty good job prospects right out of high school.

NESCA Transition Services

Transition is the process, ideally beginning at age 14 if not sooner and extending through high school graduation and beyond, by which an adolescent or young adult masters the life skills necessary to function independently in post-secondary school or the workplace. NESCA offers complete transition assessment (including testing and community-based observation), planning and consultation services, coordinated by Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tips for Communicating With Your Teen

From Child Mind Institute
By
Rachel Ehmke

Keeping the parent-child relationship strong during a tricky age


The teenage years have a lot in common with the terrible twos. During both stages our kids are doing exciting new things, but they’re also pushing boundaries (and buttons) and throwing tantrums. The major developmental task facing both age groups is also the same: kids must pull away from parents and begin to assert their own independence. No wonder they sometimes act as if they think they’re the center of the universe.

This makes for complicated parenting, especially because teens are beginning to make decisions about things that that have real consequence, like school and friends and driving, not to speak of substance use and sex. But they aren’t good at regulating their emotions yet, so teens are prone to taking risks and making impulsive decisions.

This means that having a healthy and trusting parent-child relationship during the teenage years is more important than ever. Staying close isn’t easy, though. Teens often aren’t very gracious when they are rejecting what they perceive to be parental interference. While they’re an open book to their friends, who they talk to constantly via text messages and social media, they might become mute when asked by mom how their day went. A request that seemed reasonable to dad may be received as a grievous outrage.

If this sounds familiar, take a deep breath and remind yourself that your child is going through his terrible teens. It is a phase that will pass, and your job as parent is still vitally important, only the role may have changed slightly. Here are some tips for navigating the new terrain:


1. Listen.

  • If you are curious about what’s going on in your teen’s life, asking direct questions might not be as effective as simply sitting back and listening. Kids are more likely to be open with their parents if they don’t feel pressured to share information. Remember even an offhand comment about something that happened during the day is her way of reaching out, and you’re likely to hear more if you stay open and interested — but not prying.

2. Validate their feelings.

  • It is often our tendency to try to solve problems for our kids, or downplay their disappointments. But saying something like “She wasn’t right for you anyway” after a romantic disappointment can feel dismissive. Instead, show kids that you understand and empathize by reflecting the comment back: “Wow, that does sound difficult.”

3. Show trust.

  • Teens want to be taken seriously, especially by their parents. Look for ways to show that you trust your teen. Asking him for a favor shows that you rely on him. Volunteering a privilege shows that you think he can handle it. Letting your kid know you have faith in him will boost his confidence and make him more likely to rise to the occasion.

4. Don’t be a dictator.

  • You still get to set the rules, but be ready to explain them. While pushing the boundaries is natural for teenagers, hearing your thoughtful explanation about why parties on school nights aren’t allowed will make the rule seem more reasonable.

5. Give praise.

  • Parents tend to praise children more when they are younger, but adolescents need the self-esteem boost just as much. Teenagers might act like they’re too cool to care about what their parents think, but the truth is they still want your approval. Also looking for opportunities to be positive and encouraging is good for the relationship, especially when it is feeling strained.

6. Control your emotions.

  • It’s easy for your temper to flare when your teen is being rude, but don’t respond in kind. Remember that you’re the adult and he is less able to control his emotions or think logically when he’s upset. Count to ten or take some deep breaths before responding. If you’re both too upset to talk, hit pause until you’ve had a chance to calm down.

7. Do things together.

  • Talking isn’t the only way to communicate, and during these years it’s great if you can spend time doing things you both enjoy, whether it’s cooking or hiking or going to the movies, without talking about anything personal. It’s important for kids to know that they can be in proximity to you, and share positive experiences, without having to worry that you will pop intrusive questions or call them on the carpet for something.

8. Share regular meals.

  • Sitting down to eat a meal together as a family is another great way to stay close. Dinner conversations give every member of the family a chance to check in and talk casually about sports or television or politics. Kids who feel comfortable talking to parents about everyday things are likely to be more open when harder things come up, too. One rule: no phones allowed.

9. Be observant.

  • It’s normal for kids to go through some changes as they mature, but pay attention if you notice changes to her mood, behavior, energy level, or appetite. Likewise, take note if he stops wanting to do things that used to make him happy, or if you notice him isolating himself. If you see a change in your teen’s daily ability to function, ask her about it and be supportive (without being judgmental). She may need your help and it could be a sign she needs to talk to a mental health professional.