WGBH announces a 10-part series on special education in Massachusetts

December 28, 2009 (updated 1/5/10)

Press Contact:
Karen Frascona

WGBH Radio announces 10-part series on special education in Massachusetts
Beginning Monday, January 11, reports air weekdays at 7:35am on 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s NPR Station for News and Culture and WCAI 90.1, 91.1 and 94.3 for the Cape and Islands

WGBH Radio announced today a 10-part special report Educating Everyone: The Struggles and Costs of Special Education in Massachusetts, airing weekdays beginning Monday, January 11 at 7:35am on 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s NPR Station for News and Culture, and WCAI 90.1, 91.1 and 94.3 for the Cape and Islands. A complete archive of each report will be available online at http://www.wgbh.org/897.
Educating Everyone examines the challenges presented in educating special-needs children, following 10 different families in 10 different communities in Massachusetts as they tell their unique stories. Produced by 89.7 interim news director Steve Young, the series is an in-depth examination of the myriad of struggles faced by towns, school districts, parents, and most of all, the disabled children at the center of the issue.
The series is rooted in the passage of a federal law 35 years ago, designed to “mainstream” children with disabilities and “educate everyone.” While the law pledged funding for 40 percent of special education costs, that share has never reached higher than 18 percent. Viewed as one of the largest unfunded mandates in United States history, the mandate has become a burden on every school district in the country. In Massachusetts, individual towns bear nearly the full expense of Special Education, with costs rising to over $100,000 per child in some cases.
Increased needs and shrinking budgets compound the issue across the state. Over the past 20 years, behavioral and developmental disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia have risen significantly. Autism, a rare disease in the 1970s, has seen a dramatic increase; cases of autism have surged from 1 in 10,000 20 years ago to 1 in 150 today. Coupled with a deepening recession that has deceased tax revenues, towns are unable to meet the needs of their communities.
Descriptions of each report follow:

“Starting Out”
Monday, January 11; Reporter: Sean Corcoran
The Johnsons of Marston Mills have a son with developmental disabilities. When he reached school age, they were unaware as to what to expect from the system. They soon got an education.

“Early Intervention”
Tuesday, January 12; Reporter: Cathy Corman
The Amarals of Dartmouth wondered why their infant son was slow to reach significant developmental milestones. Early intervention prior to attending school helped him to exceed expectations.

“New School”
Wednesday, January 13; Reporter: Sean Corcoran
Susan Danton couldn’t get the therapies and help she says her autistic son needed from the school system. So she started her own school, hiring staff and consultants and garnering the proper approvals. Now school is open, and her son is the first student.

“To Advocate or Not?”
Thursday, January 14; Reporter: Cathy Corman
Sometimes things can become heated when parents and school administrators sit down to formulate a plan for a special education student. Is requesting assistance from an educational advocate or a lawyer the right answer? What’s available for parents who need help advocating for their children?

“Endless Battle”
Friday, January 15; Reporter: Sean Corcoran
Jennifer is an assistant Special Education teacher in Harwich; however, despite being a part of the system, she can’t find help for her own child.

“Among the Elite”
Monday, January 18; Reporter: Cathy Corman
Public schools stretch to meet the needs of exceptionally bright students, while also going to great lengths to educate their most severely disabled students. What happens when a student is both exceptionally bright and severely disabled? One Roxbury family experienced this unique challenge.

“Appeals Court”
Tuesday, January 19: Reporter: Sean Corcoran
When parents and school districts find themselves in conflict over what services a child needs and deserves under the law, there is a process available to help reach agreement. The process can go all the way to a state hearing, though most often things are settled before then. In this report, a parent discusses the appeals process.

“Lost in Translation”
Wednesday, January 20: Reporter: Cathy Corman
Families seeking help for children with special educational needs often face significant obstacles. Those obstacles may become insurmountable when families don’t speak English and schools don’t have appropriate interpreting services. Parents originally from China and Puerto Rico describe their feelings of frustration and helplessness in this report.

Thursday, January 21: Reporter: Cathy Corman
The 3400 children born with Down Syndrome each year in the United States are different physically, socially, and intellectually. A generation ago, these children were routinely institutionalized. A family in Westford made sure their daughter was included in a mainstream school since kindergarten.

“Our Children, Our Challenge”
Friday, January 22: Reporter: Sean Corcoran
While parents face challenges compelling school districts to do what’s required of them under the law, districts struggle to fund special education. And that struggle has become more pronounced over the past two years as the state and local budget crises have deepened. School districts talk about the challenges they face as the try to do what’s right by children.


About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster, producing such award-winning PBS series as Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2/HD and 44, and digital channels World and Create. Local TV productions that focus on the region’s diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black, and María Hinojosa: One-on-One. WGBH Radio serves listeners from Cape Cod to New Hampshire with WGBH 89.7, Boston’s NPR Station for News and Culture; 99.5 All Classical; WCAI for the Cape and Islands; WNCK on Nantucket; and the All-Classical WGBH HD channel. WGBH also produces the national radio news program The World. WGBH is a leading producer of online content and a pioneer in developing educational multimedia and new technologies that make media accessible for people with disabilities. Find more information at http://www.wgbh.org.


Parent Survey = A $20 gift card = Helping others = Priceless


We need your feedback on.

A New Survey of Children’s Participation in Everyday Life

As a parent, you are the expert on your child’s health and development.
This is why we need your feedback about a new parent survey we have

For the past two years, we have been talking to parents and their children
with and without disabilities to understand the types of challenges and
supports they experience while supporting their child’s participation in the
home, school and community. We have used this information to design a short
survey to help researchers understand a child’s participation in everyday
life from the parent’s perspective.

We need your feedback about this survey to know if we are on the right

If I join this project, what will I do?
. Fill out a 15-20 minute survey that will be mailed to you.
. Complete a 60-minute interview (by phone or in-person) and give us your
feedback about the survey.

Do I qualify for this study?
. Yes, if you have a child/ children between 6 and 12 years old.
. We are looking for parents who have a child/ children with or without

What will I get if I join this study?
. A 20.00 Visa Gift Card will be mailed to you.

For more information, please contact:
Mary Khetani, MA, OTR/L & Ellen Kao, MA, OTR
Boston University, Participation & Environment Project (PEP)
Telephone: (617) 353-7492 / E-mail: pepteam@bu.edu

New Emotions DVD for Kids with Autism & Asperger’s

Model Me Faces & Emotions?
New Release! Model Me Faces & Emotions™
Music Therapy Meets Video Modeling

The Model Me Faces & Emotions™ DVD demonstrates a variety of emotions and facial expressions through peer modeling. Geared toward children with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, NLD, and developmental delays, the video is narrated with songs by music therapist Rachel Rambach.
A visual teaching tool for parents, teachers, and therapists.
Run Time: Approx. 27 min.
Includes DVD plus free photo CD and lyrics.
Watch video samples

Topics Include:
– Happy
– Sad
– Afraid
– Tired
– Angry
– Excited
– Surprised
– Bored
– Calm
– Proud
– Love
– Shy


Model Me KidsAlso recently released:
Model Me Confidence ™
Models skills for building self-esteem including self-advocacy, choosing friends, positive self-talk, and more. Bonus DVD on bullying geared toward parents, schools, and therapists, featuring Asperger’s guru Nick Dubin.
*Featured in the Examiner
Watch video samples

Learn more about studies on the effectiveness of video modeling in teaching social skills to children with autism spectrum disorders.

Visit Model Me Kids®

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Parent Tip:Change ADHD Traits into “Positives”

The Learning Breakthrough Bulletin November 4, 2009

Parent Tip:

Take the negative stereotypes of ADHD on the list below and turn them into
positive, actionable ideas instead.
Negative traits on left are converted to POSITIVES on right…
Instead of ADHD being thought of as XConsider them to be Y

Hyperactive or restless…..Energetic

Unable to stay on point….Sees connections others don’t

Forgetful…..Gets lost in what he is doing

Inconsistent…..Shows flashes of brilliance
Stubborn…..Persistent, won’t give up




*Adapted with permission of Edward M. Hallowell, M.D

More about a “Strength Based” Approach…
The parent tip above recommends taking old negative attitudes about ADD/ADHD and turning them around so that a fresh attitudes can take root. As parents, facilitators or even ADHD sufferers ourselves, we must see the glass of traits as “half full” and work toward nurturing positive activities for the future…using positive strategies. People working to overcome ADHD challenges must give themselves a positive action to reach for, whether its Learning Breakthrough Program, running, art classes, sports, music or another drug-free therapy.

Such activities are the essence of a “strength-based” approach for learning challenges. They turn negatives into a positives. People with ADHD need support and hopeful, forward movement in their lives and people who look at them through a positive light and who do not inflict feelings of guilt and shame that are often connected with ADHD. Turn negative associations into positive and move to work on the strengths we seek, not the weaknesses we fear.

NEW Learning Breakthrough Parent Testimonial

“I can’t tell you how much the Learning Breakthrough helped our son!  I had him perform it daily for a year when he was 9.  Now he’s 13, LOVES to read, and reads above his grade level.  So not only does it work, but it STICKS.  I KNOW that this program is beneficial, legitimate, and worth every penny it cost us.”

Karen J

We hope this tip will help inspire you to see the positives in ADHD. Thanks for NOT keeping Learning Breakthrough a secret.

Take care,

The Learning Breakthrough Team

P.S. – Please contact rebecca@learningbreakthrough.com to be added to our new email Yahoo Support Group.  For more information on Learning Breakthrough visit us on the web at www.learningbreakthrough.com