Tag Archives: learning

Create Your Own Tactile Schedule

Anne M. Zachry, M.A.

I have the opportunity to work directly with an adult special education student as part of his compensatory education program, which I am designing, implementing, and supervising. It’s an opportunity to try my own ideas based on the available assessment data and see how they work. This student has autism and vision impairment, so the tools that typically would be used to teach in light of his autism do not always work in light of his vision loss.

One of the most common teaching tools used with students who experience any number of developmental disorders is the visual schedule.  Visual schedules are used to take individual students or groups of students through a routine that is expected to play out over time in a specific order of events.  It can be a daily schedule, a weekly schedule, or an activity-specific schedule.

Tactile schedule for throwing a dinner party.

Visual schedules are also good for illustrating the steps in a task analysis. A task analysis is a process in which the individual steps of a task are broken down and taught in sequence. It is a method developed by and frequently used in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

A task analysis really has to be tailored to the ability of the individual who needs to understand it. I was creating a task analysis of the steps to throwing a dinner party. Throwing a dinner party was the best way for me to tie all of my student’s functional academic goals into a single activity. That way, I could concurrently instruct towards his goal throughout a given session.

I couldn’t put too many steps in the tactile schedule or it would be too much for my student to process at once and would incline him to develop more rigid rules about the activity than appropriate, but I could order the general tasks that had to be performed in sequence. Due to his autism, my student has a tendency to become ritualized to activities that are done the exact same way every time.

So, for example, we couldn’t cook spaghetti every time we met or he’d never generalize the cooking concepts to other foods. Therefore, the schedule, which is pictured here, simply says, “Cook food,” rather than specify which foods are to be cooked.

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The Approaching End of a Heartbreaking Era

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this blog post.


When the Education of All Handicapped Children’s Act (EAHCA) was enacted as PL94-142 in 1975, it was in the face of enormous opposition from school district administrators and their attorneys who were actively refusing to enroll children with disabilities in our nation’s public schools. Many have remained employed in public education, stewing in their own bile over their legal “loss” while begrudgingly enrolling students with special needs.

The EAHCA was reauthorized as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990, which has, itself, been reauthorized twice since then, the last reauthorization being in 2004. Clearly, Congress has no intention of returning to a time when discriminating against those with disabilities was perfectly acceptable.

I don’t know how many of you have experienced an employment situation in which people have been required to do something that they opposed, but it’s been my experience that some people in this position are more likely to sabotage any attempts to do things differently to “prove” it was a bad idea than to willingly go with the program. Some people are just sore losers.

In short, you’re not likely to get buy-in from people who had to be Court-ordered or required by regulation to do the ethical and responsible thing. It says something, anyway, about a person’s character when he/she forgoes ethical solutions for whatever reasons and, therefore, requires enforceable regulations that dictate what his/her behavior should be. Some peoples’ characters create a situation in which the behaviors normally associated with common sense and ethics become subject to regulation.

This is not specific to special education or the legal practices that surround it. This is human nature. Somewhere out there in the world is the person who justified warning labels on suppositories that advise they are not meant for oral consumption. Some people’s functional skills in various aspects of life, for whatever reasons, are seriously limited.

People tend not to make improvements when forced to, particularly when they perceive the improvements as a threat to their familiar, comfortable, self-serving routines. This, too, is human nature.

The problem in special education is that, following the passage of the EAHCA, too many people with chips on their shoulders were left over the decades in positions of authority in public education, passing their “insight” onto the people they were responsible for training and stacking the deck against the success of special education. In other words, ever since the passage of the EAHCA in 1975, there have been career public education administrators undermining the effectiveness of special education in order to win an argument rather than educate children, the latter of which being what we actually pay them six-figure salaries at public expense to do.

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Brilliant Parody of What Really Goes On!

Wrightslaw posted this video on their Facebook page and my nervous system went haywire when I saw it. I didn’t know whether to laugh or retch, so I was wracked with spasms as I watched it.

Created by the special ed law firm Frankel & Kershenbaum (http://davefrankel.com), this video is “A satirical and slightly sarcastic look at a typical conversation between the parent of a child with special needs and an official from the school district who isn’t quite getting it.”

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La Administracion de Una Evaluacion no Discriminatoria por Estudiante de Segunda Lengua

Blogger invitado: Jorge Alvarez, LEP, MFT

En ambientes educativos, el tema de la inmigracion se ha convertido en un asunto del discusion importante con amplias perspectivas relacionadas a como los distritos escolares deben de tratar las necesidades de la poblacion inmigrante. Sin embargo, un tema donde no hay desacuerdo es que el la palabra inmigracion esta directamente relacionada con la palabra lenguaje.

Como educador, mi enfoque no esta en la politica emocionalmente relacionada con la inmigracion, sino en como podemos mejorar las situaciones de todos los niños, sin importar las diferencias etnicas, linguisticas, y culturales. Además, es un requisito de procedimiento del proceso de educación especial que la evaluación no se racial o culturalmente sesgada y que los niños se evaluará en su lengua materna, que presenta una serie de desafíos a los distritos escolares que tratan de servir a los niños un segundo idioma que puede haber discapacidades que califican. [Sec de 34 CFR 300.304 (c)]

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Nondiscriminatory Assessment of Second Language Students

Guest Blogger: Jorge Alvarez, LEP, MFT

In educational settings, the issue of immigration has become a topic of important discussion with a wide range of perspectives related to how school districts should address the needs of the immigrant population. However, one thing that is not up for debate is that the term immigration goes hand-in-hand with the word language.

As an educator, my focus is not on the often emotionally charged politics related to immigration but instead on how we can best support the educational needs children of all ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. Additionally, it is a procedural requirement of the special education process that assessment not be racially or culturally biased and that children be assessed in their native language, which presents a number of challenges to school districts attempting to serve second language children who may have qualifying disabilities. [34 CFR Sec. 300.304(c)]

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The Proliferation of Tutoring Centers & FAPE

I’ve mentioned in past postings about privately operated tutoring businesses that cater to families that believe at least one of their children needs academic reinforcement for whatever reasons. Many times, it’s to help their kids boost their standardized test scores for college admissions purposes.  Others are contending with unaddressed learning disabilities or other handicaps that interfere with learning.

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