SPE­CIAL PAR­ENT

YOUNG ADULTS LEARN HOW TO TRAN­SI­TION, WHILE NEW DYSLEXIA LAWS HAVE AN IM­PACT

201 Family - - CONTENTS - – LES­LIE PERL­MUT­TER

New leg­is­la­tions for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties

The start of a new school year is a great time to high­light some new de­vel­op­ments for those with spe­cial needs. There is a much-needed pro­gram for young adults tran­si­tion­ing to in­de­pen­dent liv­ing, as well as re­cent dyslexia leg­is­la­tion be­ing im­ple­mented in our schools.

LEARN­ING LIFE SKILLS

With an an­tic­i­pated fall open­ing, the Life Skills De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter at the Kaplen JCC on the Pal­isades is go­ing to fill a void and help many young adults who are an­tic­i­pat­ing tran­si­tion­ing to in­de­pen­dent liv­ing in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“The Life Skills De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter is de­signed to pro­vide teens and young adults with the op­por­tu­nity to so­cial­ize, learn and grow. The cen­ter will fos­ter in­de­pen­dence, pro-so­cial skills and be­hav­iors, and friend­ships,” says Shel­ley Levy, di­rec­tor of JCC’s Gut­ten­berg Cen­ter for Spe­cial Ser­vices. “Par­tic­i­pants will ex­pe­ri­ence the rich­ness of com­mu­nity while fo­cus­ing on three crit­i­cal com­po­nents, in­clud­ing daily in­de­pen­dent liv­ing skills, so­cial and recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties, and job sam­pling and com­mu­nity out­reach op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

There will be a washer and dryer, a tele­vi­sion and all the com­forts of home. Par­tic­i­pants will be taught how to main­tain an apart­ment, how to make a bed, set and clean up a ta­ble, and do laun­dry. The teach­ing kitchen at the JCC will be used to learn light meal prepa­ra­tion. In ad­di­tion, health and well­ness ac­tiv­i­ties and com­mu­nity-based out­ings will be com­po­nents of the new pro­gram.

NEW DYSLEXIA LEG­IS­LA­TION

Back in 2014, three new dyslex­i­are­lated laws were passed in New Jer­sey, which was the first state to have dyslexia- spe­cific laws. Now, more than 30 states have passed or have pend­ing leg­is­la­tion re­lat­ing to dyslexia. The three laws are as fol­lows: DYSLEXIA SCREEN­ING LAW This law says that the in­di­ca­tors of dyslexia or other read­ing dis­abil­i­ties can no longer be ig­nored by the school, and any child ex­hibit­ing th­ese warn­ing signs has to be screened by the end of the first se­mes­ter of sec­ond grade. If the screen­ing shows that the child may have dyslexia or an­other read­ing dis­abil­ity, the child will re­ceive a com­pre­hen­sive as­sess­ment. If the as­sess­ment con­firms a di­ag­no­sis of dyslexia or an­other read­ing dis­abil­ity, the child will re­ceive ap­pro­pri­ate ev­i­dence-based in­ter­ven­tion strate­gies.

DEF­I­NI­TION OF DYSLEXIA Prac­ti­cally speak­ing, a child with dyslexia will still be clas­si­fied as hav­ing a “spe­cific learn­ing dis­abil­ity,” but par­ents can no longer be told that dyslexia does not ex­ist be­cause it is now de­fined by the leg­is­la­ture.

DYSLEXIA PRO­FES­SIONAL DE­VEL­OP­MENT LAW

Cer­tain teach­ers, such as those in kinder­garten and first grade, spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teach­ers, and read­ing spe­cial­ists, are now re­quired to com­plete two hours a year of pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment on dyslexia and other read­ing-re­lated dis­or­ders.

Al­though th­ese laws were rolled out dur­ing the 2014-2015 school year, there has been no ad­di­tional guid­ance from the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, which has re­sulted in mixed re­sults in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the laws in the schools. De­cod­ing Dyslexia NJ is a par­ent-led grass­roots ad­vo­cacy group that was very in­volved in the leg­isla­tive process that led to the pas­sage of the dyslexia laws.

Liz Barnes, found­ing mem­ber of De­cod­ing Dyslexia NJ, sin­gled out Ha­worth as be­ing one of the schools em­brac­ing the laws and putting them in place. As for other school dis­tricts, “We have opened the door, and we are start­ing to see movement in the right di­rec­tion, but we are far from there,” says Barnes.

The New Jer­sey Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, with in­put from De­cod­ing Dyslexia New Jer­sey and other well­re­spected dyslexia experts, is work­ing on a Dyslexia Hand­book, which should be ready in Septem­ber.

“The hand­book should be a big help to get the rest of the dis­tricts on board and in­form par­ents,” says Barnes.

“WE ARE START­ING TO SEE MOVEMENT IN THE RIGHT DI­REC­TION.” Liz Barnes, De­cod­ing Dyslexia NJ

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