Special Kids or Kids on the Fringe

Our students at risk? Fast Facts

  • In 2005 13.8% of the students received special education services as part of IDEA, Part B. Of this group 5% were classified as Learning Disabled and 3% as Speech and Language Impaired (Source: Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2005)

  • 20 percent of all seniors graduating from high school can be classified as being functionally illiterate. Source: National Right to Read Foundation

  • In 2005, 20 percent of school-age children spoke a language other than English at home and 5 percent of school-age children had difficulty speaking English. (Source: Childstats.gov)

  • The prevalence of autism is one child in every 150. (Source: Center for Disease Control) (Approximately .6%)

  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders include FAS and FASD. They are 0% curable and 100% preventable. FAS rates ranging from 0.2 to 1.5 per 1,000 live births in different areas of the United States. Other FASDs are believed to occur approximately three times as often as FAS. (Source: Center for Disease Control) Approximately .6%

  • Of the 100,000 teenagers in juvenile detention, estimates indicate that 60 percent have behavioral, mental or emotional problems. (Department of Justice)

  • ScienceDaily (Oct. 16, 2008) — Ten years after graduation, high-school students who had been rated as conscientious and cooperative by their teachers were earning more than classmates who had similar test scores but fewer social skills, said a new University of Illinois study. "It's important to note that good schools do more than teach reading, writing, and math. They socialize students and provide the kinds of learning opportunities that help them to become good citizens and to be successful in the labor market," said Christy Lleras, a University of Illinois assistant professor of human and community development.




We can't cure disabilities:

‘Ableism’ is basically prejudice against people with disabilities, both in how we view and how we educate the children we as special educators serve,” Hehir explained. Ableism manifests itself in the school environment when teachers are expected to “fix” students’ disabilities, when children with disabilities are overly sheltered or their disabilities minimized or denied, and when the unique expertise of special educators is disregarded and they are used more as aides than as specialists.
“One thing that’s always struck me is that people expected me to fix the kids,” he said. “I had a superintendent who said to me, ‘If special education was working, we wouldn’t have these kids in the program.’ But disabilities don’t go away, and that’s a dysfunctional expectation.”
"We as special educators should say, ‘No, that’s not what we do. We haven’t figured out how to fix a disability.
Our job is to make sure to minimize the impact of the disability,” Hehir emphasized. From CEC Today, 2008.



More information for later reading:


Mental Illness from science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih5/mental/guide/info-mental-a.htm

Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents

Mental illness is not uncommon among children and adolescents. Approximately 12 million children under the age of 18 have mental disorders. The National Mental Health Association33 has compiled some statistics about mental illness in children and adolescents:
  • Mental health problems affect one in every five young people at any given time.
  • An estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not receiving the help they need.
  • Less than one-third of the children under age 18 who have a serious mental health problem receive any mental health services.
  • As many as 1 in every 33 children may be depressed. Depression in adolescents may be as high as 1 in 8.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-years-olds and the sixth leading cause of death for 5- to 15-year-olds.
  • Schizophrenia is rare in children under age 12, but it occurs in about 3 of every 1,000 adolescents.
  • Between 118,700 and 186,600 youths in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental illness.
  • Of the 100,000 teenagers in juvenile detention, an estimated 60 percent have behavioral, cognitive, or emotional problems.

Warning Signs for Mental Illness

Each mental illness has its own characteristic symptoms. However, there are some general warning signs that might alert you that someone needs professional help. Some of these signs include
  • marked personality change,
  • inability to cope with problems and daily activities,
  • strange or grandiose ideas,
  • excessive anxieties,
  • prolonged depression and apathy,
  • marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns,
  • thinking or talking about suicide or harming oneself,
  • extreme mood swings—high or low,
  • abuse of alcohol or drugs, and
  • excessive anger, hostility, or violent behavior.
A person who shows any of these signs should seek help from a qualified health professional.


ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children.

(from www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml)
  • Impulsiveness: a child who acts quickly without thinking first.
  • Hyperactivity: a child who can't sit still, walks, runs, or climbs around when others are seated, talks when others are talking.
  • Inattention: a child who daydreams or seems to be in another world, is sidetracked by what is going on around him or her.


Emotional Behavior Disorders

from childstats.gov/americaschildren/health3.asp
  • More males than females were reported by a parent to have difficulties. Children ages 15–17 generally had the highest rates of serious emotional or behavioral difficulties.
  • In 2005, 7 percent of children living below the poverty level had serious emotional or behavioral difficulties, compared with 5 percent of children in near-poor families (those with family incomes of 100–199 percent of the poverty level) and 4 percent of children in non-poor families (those with family incomes of 200 percent or more of the poverty level).
  • Among the parents of children with serious (definite or severe) difficulties, 81 percent reported contacting a health care provider or school staff about their child's difficulties, 40 percent reported their child was prescribed medication for their difficulties, and 47 percent reported their child had received treatment or help other than medication.


Language Difficulties

from childstats.gov/americaschildren/famsoc5.asp
  • About 6 percent of school-age children spoke a language other than English at home and lived in linguistically isolated households in 2005. A linguistically isolated household is one in which no person age 14 or over either speaks only English at home or speaks another language at home and speaks English "Very well."


Autism & autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)

from www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/autism/symptoms.shtml

ASDs or pervasive developmental disorders range in severity, with autism being the most debilitating form while other disorders, such as Asperger syndrome, produce milder symptoms.
  • Estimating the prevalence of autism is difficult and controversial due to differences in the ways that cases are identified and defined, differences in study methods, and changes in diagnostic criteria. A recent study reported
  • Autism and other ASDs develop in childhood and generally are diagnosed by age three.
  • Autism is about four times more common in boys than girls. Girls with the disorder, however, tend to have more severe symptoms and greater cognitive impairment.