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March 17, 2020

February 2020: Injured Kids, Society Costs

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By Anne Dachel, CHD Contributing Writer, Age of Autism Editor, LossofBrainTrust.com

 

As schools everywhere are spending exponentially more on special education services than in past generations, the physical and mental health of children continue to suffer. Here are the latest news articles chronicling the epidemics that currently claim the health of so many children in the U.S. and around the globe.

CHRONIC HEALTH PROBLEMS

9News, Sydney, Australia: Rise in childhood cancer baffles experts, prompts calls for urgent investigation 

“The cancer rate in children is steadily rising, triggering calls for further investigation into the causes of the disease in the young.”

Chicago, IL, Center Square: Illinois bill would mandate allergic reaction training in schools, daycares  

“A new proposal in Springfield would create a uniform standard to prepare schools and daycare facilities for handling severe allergic reactions.”

“House Bill 3983, sponsored by Northbrook Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, would require state officials to establish anaphylactic policies for school districts and daycare centers. They would include procedure and treatment plans, a training course on how to respond to a severe allergic reaction, strategies for reducing exposure to specific foods or other allergens known to cause anaphylactic reactions, and other measures.”

RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION

NBC5 Chicago: Illinois Restricts How Students Are Secluded and Restrained

“The Illinois State Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt permanent rules that ban the use of locked seclusion rooms and prohibit schools from using prone restraint, a move that restricts the state’s rules more than ever.”

“Schools can place students alone in seclusion rooms when they’re “engaging in extreme physical aggression” and it would be unsafe for an adult to be present in the room with them, The Chicago Tribune reported.”

SPECIAL EDUCATION INCREASES

FeNews, Ireland: Special Educational Needs Do Not End at 16

“The reforms to the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) system contained in the 2014 Children and Families Act were a once in a generation systemic change for young people and their families.”

“For the first time, rights and duties were extended from the earliest years to young adulthood, in a new 0-25 system, giving Further Education colleges and providers new statutory obligations.”

 “The SEND reforms, combined with the raising of the participation age to the 18th birthday, mean that SEND provision does not end at 16. There are increasingly ‘heavy demands on FE – the number of young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) aged 16 to 25 increased from 84,000 to 96,000 between 2018 and 2019.’”

Straits Times, Singapore. Parliament: More school staff hired over last 5 years to help students with socio-emotional and behavioural needs

SINGAPORE – “More support staff will be recruited to help students deal with their socio-emotional needs and behavioural issues.

“The number of such staff has already grown by more than 30 per cent over the past five years,” Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling said in Parliament on Friday.”

“She added that to continue to meet student needs, the Ministry of Education (MOE) intends to recruit more school counsellors, student welfare officers and allied educators (learning and behavioural support) in the coming years…”

“Allied educators (learning and behavioural support) work with students in mainstream schools who have special needs such as dyslexia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder….”

ED100: Special Education Costs Flood School Budgets

 “The rising costs of special education services are overwhelming your school district budget. And we are talking big bucks. Nearly 800,000 students in California receive special education services — about one in every eight students.”

“Autism rates are rising.”

“The cost of providing special education services in California has grown significantly over time. In 2017-18 the total cost was about $13 billion. According to the state Legislative Analyst Office this represented an increase of about 28 percent over a decade earlier, adjusted for inflation. The percentage of students receiving special education services jumped from 11 percent to 13 percent.”

“What happened? About two-thirds of the cost increases reflect the growing number of students with severe disabilities, especially autism. According to the Legislative Analyst Report LAO School District Funding 2020, “The share of students identified with autism has increased from 1 in 600 students in 1997-98 to about 1 in 50 students in 2018-19. Many medical experts expect autism rates to continue increasing, thereby placing continued cost pressure on schools.”

Brainerd (MN) Dispatch: Number of special ed students in Brainerd outpace state average  

“Brainerd Public Schools continues to be above the state average in terms of students receiving special education services.”

“In Brainerd, 1,598 students — or 22% — received some sort of special education services in 2019. That includes students who are enrolled solely in special education classes and those who may take only one or two a day. This rate continues to be higher than the state of Minnesota, which reported 16% of students receive services.”

“Brainerd stayed consistent with 22% of students reported to receive special education services in 2018 as well. The district percentage has increased over the last five years, though, from 18.6% in 2015. The state average increased from 14.4% in 2015.”

“In Brainerd, students primarily fall into one of the following disability categories: speech/language, learning disability, emotional/behavioral, other health disabled, autism spectrum disorder and developmental delay. The highest number of students — 360 — are considered to have learning disabilities, with the next highest category being developmental delay at 318, followed by autism spectrum disorder at 237. The developmental delay category had the highest increase from 2015 at 43%.”

“Anderson said that jump is due to a couple factors, including earlier detections of the disability and more referrals from doctors. Superintendent Laine Larson said she expects to see more increases in that category in the coming years as well, so the district will keep that in mind moving forward.”

CalMatters: California must face reality: Autism cases are increasing

 “In 1999, the state of California was in shock: baffling even the most seasoned of authorities, autism cases in the developmental services system had spiked from about 4,000 in 1987 to about 13,000 cases in 1998.”

“As it turns out, that was just a hint of what lay ahead: today, the Department of Developmental Services counts nearly 10 times that, more than 122,000 autism cases.”

“Though we hear little about autism data from our public health leaders or media, California’s autism rates continue to surge, with no plateau in sight.”

“Schools can’t keep up with ever-growing demand. Emergency rooms and police departments are reeling from increasingly frequent crisis cases. Families are desperate for support and solutions.”

“While nobody fully understands what is behind the dramatic increase in autism, two things are clear: it’s not vaccines, and it’s not a change in criteria.” 

NBC10, Providence, RI. RI families still struggling with special education crisis

“Rhode Island families say their special education students are being left behind by local schools and worry their children are stuck in a broken system…”

“The I-Team took what we found to Susanna Loeb, director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and professor of education at Brown University.”

“‘I do think this is a national problem,’ Loeb said. ‘It’s hard for the school, but then it’s very hard for the parents and the kids to get what they really deserve from the education system, and I think this is an issue particularly for small districts, where a few high-cost kids really impact their budget.’”

Isle of Wight County Press (UK): Biggest increase in Isle of Wight children with special needs care plans than anywhere else in the country — but services are improving

“…children with special educational needs (SEND) have previously faced difficulties accessing specialist support on the Island, but improvements have now been made.”

“Peter Shreeve, assistant district secretary at the Isle of Wight branch of the National Education Union, said the number of SEND children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans had increased by 65 per cent between 2015 and 2019 — the biggest increase in the country.”

“He said the Island had significantly more high-needs students but substantially less funding, and schools were forced to ‘do more with less.’” 

Mount Desert Islander, Trenton, ME: Trenton school budget continues upward trend

“School officials have whittled downs next year’s proposed budget for Trenton Elementary School to $3.35 million, which is about 8 percent higher than the budget for the current year.”

“Because of several factors, including a projected 34 percent reduction in carryover funds from this year to next, the budget would boost the local tax assessment by 12.3 percent. That would increase the tax bill on each $100,000 of property valuation by about $130.”

“The proposed budget includes $1.27 million for regular instruction and $906,296 for special education. That is an increase of $167,815, or 22.2 percent, over the special education budget for the current year.”

“The school expects to have at least two new special needs students next year, which also would require increasing the number of educational technician, or ed tech, positions in special education to seven and a half at a cost of about $48,000…”

North Yorkshire County Council (UK): North Yorkshire strides ahead with SEND changes

“In carrying out its ambition to create more and better local provision and a more inclusive culture for children and young people with SEND, the County Council has created capacity for nearly 100 additional special school places this year alone and in the coming year will provide 72 targeted permanent full time places for children with SEND within mainstream schools.”

“North Yorkshire is facing unprecedented and increasing demand on its special educational needs and disability budget.”

“There are almost 163,000 children and young people aged 0-25 in North Yorkshire and the numbers with Education and Health Care Plans are rising.  There are currently more than 3,200 with plans but this is predicted to rise by nearly another 1,000 by 2022, in line with national trends.”

“The figure for those with Social, Emotional and Health needs has increased by almost 38 per cent in the last two years and growing numbers of those with communication and interaction needs (particularly autism) is also contributing to the overall rise.” 

YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH/BEHAVIOR

Waterloo (IA) Courier: Iowa lawmakers seek ways to address violence in schools  

“Educators welcome changes to deal with violence in K-12 schools, but many speakers at a public meeting Wednesday evening said what is most needed is more funding to bolster staff and lower class sizes.

“Along with offering specialized spaces in schools with smaller class sizes and more individualized attention, the legislation provides guidelines for actions school employees can take to address violent behavior and funding for training and employee protections from disciplinary action by a school.”

“Also, more than 65% of the association’s members ‘have had room clears in their schools,’” Felderman said. ‘We feel like that is unacceptable.’”

“Melissa Peterson of the Iowa State Education Association, said her members report similar experiences and ‘behavioral issues in the classroom are something that we are dealing with more and more frequently.’”

NBC13, Des Moines, IA: Iowa Senator Introduces Bill to Take on Violent Behavior in Classrooms

 “Iowa lawmakers took a big step Monday toward addressing a nationwide problem.”

“For months, Channel 13 has reported on violent, destructive behavior in America’s classrooms and the controversial practice known as the ‘room clear.’ That is when well-behaved students are evacuated while a child is allowed to destroy the classroom. State Senator Amy Sinclair filed a bill in the Iowa Senate to address this problem. It contains five areas that she thinks can improve bad behavior in classrooms.”

“The bill would implement training for teachers on violent student behaviors and how to spot the warning signs before it gets out of control. Sinclair wants to establish guidelines and expectations for appropriate responses to behavior in the classroom that presents an imminent threat of bodily injury to another person. The bill would create protections for teachers who have to deal with violent behavior and establish an easier, more accurate way to report that behavior.”

New York Newsday: Long Island school superintendents seek ways to pay for mental health programs; School superintendents from across Long Island are looking for ways to pay for mental health services for students.

“‘Ten years ago, [mental health] wasn’t even a blip on the radar,’ said Charles Dedrick, executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. ‘One of the messages that we’re carrying around the state is that it’s important to keep in mind that this is not just a school issue — this is a community issue, this is a family issue.’”

“A Journal of the American Medical Association report released last year said there were 47% more suicides among teens ages 15 to 19 in 2017 than there were in 2000, and there were more cases of anxiety, depression, social media use and self-inflicted injuries among adolescents.”

“The main concern for superintendents like Kevin Coster, superintendent for the William Floyd school district, is how to increase the number of school psychologists, social workers and counselors at the district’s 10 schools in the Town of Brookhaven….”

St. Joseph (MO) News-Press: SJSD looking to add behavior, curriculum specialists  

“The planned hiring of behavioral interventionists, curriculum advisers and campus supervisors for the St. Joseph School District is receiving enthusiastic response from board members.”

“‘Some of our students struggle with behaviors and emotional needs,’ Van Zyl said. ‘So to bring the opportunity for three additional behavioral interventionists will help support families, students and staff, because not everybody knows how to deal with a child that may have behavioral challenges or doesn’t like to be told, no.’”

“[W]e also have students that it doesn’t matter what you teach, they have something that is creating that issue for them behaviorally, so we have to be able to help teach them skills, work with the staff members,’ Van Zyl said. ‘Society has changed how students and adults interact, how social media plays into it. … But we’ve heard from our staff that they would like some more help and support, so that’s what we’re trying to do is to bring some more help and support to them and to our students.”

Washington Post: Room with an ‘ahh’: Colleges are giving students their own space to decompress

“…Tracy Colena, a first-year student majoring in chemical engineering, comes to the same sensory room when he’s feeling stressed and overwhelmed by university life. The fidget toys are a good distraction and help him return to his day feeling calmer and more in control.”

“For Elyse Samojedny, a senior majoring in psychology, the room’s ‘bubble wall’ remains its main attraction. Her attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder makes it hard for her to focus. But sitting up close to the white noise and constant stream of video bubbles ‘blocks everything out, so I can focus on my breath,’ she said….

“But for some students, normal days are a challenge — let alone high-stress exam periods and the beginning of a new term. That’s why a small but growing number of schools offer special rooms where students with anxiety, autism, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder or sensory challenges can go to decompress.”

“There is a clear need for rooms like this for students who are neurodiverse, said Mitchell Nagler, director of the Bridges to Adelphi Program, which includes the nearly two-year-old sensory room.”

Guardian (UK): English schools buying in mental health support has ‘almost doubled’ in three years  

“The number of schools in England buying in professional mental health support for pupils has nearly doubled in three years, as prompt access to NHS services for those children most in need continues to be a problem, a new survey has found.”

“In 2016 more than a third (36%) of schools surveyed provided school-based support for students’ emotional and mental wellbeing. By 2019 66% of school leaders said they were commissioning their own professional support for pupils, including school-based counsellors.”

“‘We can see that schools are responding to an increasing need and a lack of capacity in specialist services by commissioning their own support such as counsellors. Although to be applauded, this is another area where schools are being forced to use scant resources for urgent provision that is not provided for in their budgets.’”

“Place2Be’s chief executive, Catherine Roche, said: ‘Three children in every classroom now has a mental health issue…’”

 

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