Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sensory Integration in NY Science Times

I was surprised to see an article in the NY Times (Science Times) on sensory integration on 6/5/2007. I grew up being addicted to the Science Times section of that paper so I have some long term positive bias for anything that appears in that section of the paper - even though I don't particularly like the NY Times in general any longer.

So I have some bias, because I am like Virginia O'Hanlon reading something that Frank Church wrote just for me... but the article on sensory integration was relatively even handed so I was pleased. I am a critic of the current state of research for sensory integration so I was happy to see the anecdotal reports of parents and the interesting research that people like Patti Davies are doing on neurophysiological underpinnings of sensory processing all in the same article.

The research funding problem is also described well. This is an article that will be good for the general public and for other researchers and professionals to read and consider.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Spring is supposed to be green, not blue...

My apologies for the prolonged absence - and thank you for all the emails wondering if I was still alive!

I began my private practice 7 years ago with the mission/intent to put myself out of business. At that time I was getting phone calls and requests from families to assist them with their IEP process. It seemed that a lot of the difficulties were in communication between educational teams and families - something that could be easily remedied. Since there is a prescribed 'rulebook' on how the process needs to be conducted I believed that helping families learn the rules would enable them to become better team players who could advocate for their children appropriately.

Fast forward 7 years and now I am helping both families and school districts with the rulebook - but the solutions remain elusive. More families who are dissatisfied with their IEP process find me each year. Sometimes the families need to adjust their approach. Sometimes the districts need to adjust their approach. My original intent/mission seems to be slipping farther and farther out of my grasp.

Many families are rightfully satisfied with their child's IEP. Still, schools struggle to really make the IEP 'individualized.' When they are faced with a child who has complex and seemingly intractable difficulties the school's solutions just don't always fit. Pragmatics come into play and it becomes very difficult for schools to adjust to the special case circumstances that are thrown at them on a daily basis. Parents are not interested in pragmatics - nor should they be.

How much accommodation is reasonable? The parents and the schools may never agree on this issue - and that is why I get busier each spring.

Here in the US the No Child Left Behind act places tremendous pressures on districts for accountability. This is not a bad concept but we are not yet sophisticated enough to solve the complex problems that cause poor academic performance. This is not a statement of surrender; it is simply a statement of fact. Our school systems need to continually improve.

Unfortunately the school systems will never change quickly enough, because Johnny is in 4th grade NOW, and he has to have an appropriate education NOW.

I am eyebrow-deep in meetings and will remain so for the next month. That's my excuse for not writing lately. But boy do I have some new stories to tell...