Important alert for parents in Lowell and Lawrence areas of Massachusetts

September 16, 2014 by  
Filed under News

I don’t normally post these types of news stories, but because it could impact children’s evaluations and IEPs, I’ve decided to do so.

A story in yesterday’s Boston Globe reports that two sisters who posed as licensed psychologists provided testing/evaluation services to children with special needs.

Sara Morrison reports:

According to the attorney general’s office, Nita Guzman and Nina Tischer are 49-year-old twins who ran two psychological service corporations based in Lowell. They are accused of assuming the identities of psychologists, a mental health counselor, and a social worker to provide services in the Lowell area. They then allegedly billed various agencies for those services to the tune of about $580,000.

If the charges are true, the sisters’ victims (besides the taxpayers) are children with special education needs and people with mental health disabilities.

They are accused of performing $60,000 worth of psychological evaluations of special education students in the Lawrence public school system. They allegedly used a licensed psychologist’s credentials to do so. Neither sister is a licensed psychologist.

They’re also accused of pulling the same scam on UMass Medical School when the duo evaluated people applying for mental health disability benefits.

Read more on Boston.com.

Additional details can be found in a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, including the allegation that Nita Guzman, through her company New England Psychological Consultants, Inc., allegedly billed Medicaid, Medicare, and Lawrence Public Schools more than $550,000 for unlicensed mental health services. Her twin sister, Nina Tischer, through her company PsychSupport, Inc., billed a division of UMass Medical School more than $30,000 for unlicensed psychological examinations. If those names appear on your child’s evaluation, you may wish to contact your child’s school district.

Why Tourette’s May Be Tim Howard’s Secret Weapon on the Field

July 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Everyone’s been e-mailing me to ask if I know about the extraordinary goal keeper, Tim Howard. Well, yes, I know – I included Tim in my inspiration page of famous people with TS or OCD over a decade ago!

But did having Tourette’s help Tim Howard become a better athlete? Michael Daly reports:

Those record 16 saves against Belgium might not have just been sheer athletic ability. Neurologist Oliver Sacks says the syndrome helps give the Team USA goalie ‘abnormal quickness.’

Tim Howard’s astonishing performance as the U.S. goalie in Tuesday’s World Cup game against Belgium shares a neurological component with a case described decades ago by the eminent neurologist Oliver Sacks involving an essentially unbeatable ping-pong player.

Both Howard and Sacks’ patient have Tourette syndrome, the most manifest ill effects of which are involuntary tics.

But in Sacks’ experience, many of those with the condition also possess preternaturally quick reflexes, which his ping-pong player also demonstrated by proving able to step in and immediately back out of a moving revolving door without being struck.

“Abnormal quickness,” Sacks told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “I see this in many other people with Tourette’s.”

Read more on The Daily Beast.

Carousel image from BeardWatch.

U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release School Discipline Guidance Package to Enhance School Climate and Improve School Discipline Policies/Practices

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Advocacy, Featured, News

A very exciting press release issued January 8 by the U.S. Department of Education:

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), today released a school discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law. Even though incidents of school violence have decreased overall, too many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments. Schools can improve safety by making sure that climates are welcoming and that responses to misbehavior are fair, non-discriminatory and effective. Each year, significant numbers of students miss class due to suspensions and expulsions—even for minor infractions of school rules—and students of color and with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. The guidance package provides resources for creating safe and positive school climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps.

“Effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless students feel safe at school,”U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions. Schools also must understand their civil rights obligations and avoid unfair disciplinary practices. We need to keep students in class where they can learn. These resources are a step in the right direction.”

The resource package consists of four components:

  • The Dear Colleague guidance letter on civil rights and discipline, prepared in conjunction with DOJ, describes how schools can meet their legal obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color or national origin;
  • The Guiding Principles document draws from emerging research and best practices to describe three key principles and related action steps that can help guide state and local efforts to improve school climate and school discipline;
  • The Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources indexes the extensive federal technical assistance and other resources related to school discipline and climate available to schools and districts; and
  • The Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, an online catalogue of the laws and regulations related to school discipline in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, compares laws across states and jurisdictions.

“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,”Attorney General Eric Holder said. “This guidance will promote fair and effective disciplinary practices that will make schools safe, supportive and inclusive for all students. By ensuring federal civil rights protections, offering alternatives to exclusionary discipline and providing useful information to school resource officers, we can keep America’s young people safe and on the right path.”

The guidance package is a resource resulting from a collaborative project—the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI)—between ED and DOJ. The SSDI, launched in 2011, addresses the school-to-prison pipeline and the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system. The initiative aims to support instead school discipline practices that foster safe, inclusive and positive learning environments while keeping students in school. The Department of Justice enforces Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in public schools, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin by schools, law enforcement agencies, and other recipients of federal financial assistance.

The guidance package also results from President Obama’s Now is the Time proposal to reduce gun violence. It called on ED to collect and disseminate best practices on school discipline policies and to help school districts develop and equitably implement their policies. To both continue ED/DOJ efforts in connection with SSDI and fulfill the administration’s commitment to “Now is the Time,” the guidance package was developed with additional input from civil rights advocates, major education organizations and philanthropic partners.

To view the resource documents, visit www.ed.gov/school-discipline.

The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder

December 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Commentary, Featured, News

I recently noted new research on the increasing rates of diagnosed ADHD.  Now there’s this article by Alan Schwarz in the New York Times:

After more than 50 years leading the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Keith Conners could be celebrating.

Severely hyperactive and impulsive children, once shunned as bad seeds, are now recognized as having a real neurological problem. Doctors and parents have largely accepted drugs like Adderall and Concerta to temper the traits of classic A.D.H.D., helping youngsters succeed in school and beyond.

But Dr. Conners did not feel triumphant this fall as he addressed a group of fellow A.D.H.D. specialists in Washington. He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990. He questioned the rising rates of diagnosis and called them “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”

Read the full news story in the New York Times.

The 2014 Tourette Syndrome Conference in Atlanta, Georgia

November 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Event, Featured, News

The 2014 Tourette Syndrome Conference organized by the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on February 8, 2014

The theme is “Breaking Down the Barriers” and educating teachers, parents, adults with TS, and all those who work with people who have Tourette Syndrome.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Dr. James Leckman from Yale University, Dr. Doug Woods from Texas A&M University, Sheryl Pruitt from Parkaire Consultants, Dr. Leslie Packer, Brad Cohen and more.

Early Bird Registration Rates will be open until December 1st.

For $99, you will leave the conference knowing more about Tourette Syndrome because we have the best experts in the nation attending.

Visit www.tourettesyndromeconference.com to learn more and sign up now!

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