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President Obama signed legislation, called Rosa's Law, requiring the federal government to use the term intellectual disability instead of mental retardation and individual with an intellectual disability instead of mentally retarded in health, education, and labor policy.

Click here to Read Rosa's Law

Attend Nevada PEP’s new class on advocacy!  Participants will learn the importance of advocacy and effective strategies to help children with disabilities.  Communication techniques will help you feel confident advocating for children.  Don’t miss this valuable workshop.  It is full of information that can change a child’s life!

Date and Time: Wednesday, 30 March 2011, 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Click here to register

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce announces the finalists for its annual Small Business Excellence Awards. Started in 2006, the awards recognize excellence and innovation by small businesses in a variety of categories.

Click here to see finalists

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The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) is pleased to announce the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Checklist iPhone application. The IEP is an individualized program designed to support the educational needs of school aged students with disabilities. This new IEP app helps parents of students with special needs become better-informed advocates by making IEP information easier to access.

The IEP app is offered free of charge.

For more information click here

To download the application click here

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Nevada PEP has received a five-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, under its new Family Support 360 Initiative. PEP is one of 18 organizations funded this year, 2009, to provide assistance to families in accessing services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities.

PEP's project will focus on developing a program to support the families of children with co-occurring developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues. PEP will implement the program in conjunction with key partners, including the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities; Nevada Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services and Division of Child and Family Services; Nevada Office of Disability, the Disabilities Advocacy Law Center and the Developmental Disabilities Council; and Clark County School District and Juvenile Justice Services. Through this partnership with public agencies as well as providers and parents, PEP will develop a system that enhances interagency collaboration, empowers families to participate in service planning and delivery, and ensures access to community based, individualized and culturally appropriate health, mental health, recreation, and educational services and supports.

Using a Systems of Care approach, a single location dedicated to supporting local families will serve as a focal point for the project to increase awareness of the needs of children in the target population, conduct outreach to their families, and provide families with strengths-based, individualized family navigation services and supports.

A family navigator will team with each child's case manager, serving as a mentor, guide and advocate to assist families in identifying their needs, developing a plan of action, and obtaining services for their child. The project will support 20 families in the first year and 40 families in each succeeding year of the project.

The role of the family navigator will be adapted from the family-to-family support model currently being used by Nevada PEP with families of children who have serious emotional disturbance. The project will assist case managers and key partners in using a wraparound model of service planning and implementation. The family navigator will support successful implementation of this approach in their work with families.

The project will provide flexible funding and linkages to specialized services such as PBS Nevada to increase the effectiveness of the child and family team in developing an appropriate plan for each child. The goal of the project is to improve outcomes for the child, increase family empowerment and satisfaction, and enhance community partnerships.

Click here to view in PDF format

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Problematic School Absenteeism and Selective Mutism

Christopher A. Kearney

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Problematic school absenteeism includes school-aged youths who display complete absences from school, skipped classes, tardiness, morning misbehaviors in an attempt to miss school, and/or substantial distress at school that precipitates pleas for future nonattendance. A recent national study revealed that the rate of chronic absenteeism (i.e., missing 10+% of the school year) among American youth may be 10-15%. Chronic absenteeism is higher among low-income students and school dropout rates are highest among Hispanics.

     Some youth are referred to treatment specifically because of absentee problems but such problems can also be an integral part of broader anxiety, mood, or disruptive behavior disorders. Key concomitants of problematic school absenteeism include substance abuse, violence, suicide attempt, risky sexual behavior, pregnancy, delinquency-related behaviors, injury, illness, and school dropout. Longitudinal studies reveal severe consequences of problematic school absenteeism into adulthood, including economic deprivation and psychiatric, social, marital, and occupational problems.

    Treatments for problematic absenteeism involve Tier 1 (preventative), Tier 2 (early intervention), and Tier 3 (complex intervention) approaches. Tier 1 interventions involve school-wide efforts to maintain attendance as well as regular monitoring to identify students with emerging attendance problems. Tier 1 interventions are broad-based in nature and include strategies to improve school climate and safety as well as student health and social-emotional development. Tier 2 interventions include (1) cognitive-behavioral procedures to address anxiety- and non-anxiety-based cases of absenteeism, and (2) those implemented more systemically to boost student engagement and to provide peer and teacher mentoring. Tier 3 interventions include expanded Tier 2 interventions, alternative educational programs, and legal strategies.

     Selective mutism is a persistent and debilitating condition in which a child fails to speak in public situations where speaking is expected. Selective mutism affects 0.2-2.0% of children, with girls slightly more affected than boys. The disorder commonly begins during preschool years but treatment is often delayed by parents or others who believe the problem is temporary. Selective mutism may have a chronic course for some children and can produce significant problems with respect to peer rejection, incomplete verbal academic tasks or standardized tests, or inadequate language or social skills.

     A primary goal of treatment for selective mutism is to increase the audibility and frequency of speech, especially in public situations such as school. The most common and empirically supported treatment components for selective mutism are behavioral in nature. These components include exposure-based practices that are integrated with stimulus fading, self-modeling, and shaping and prompting. Supplementary procedures include negative reinforcement/escape, social skills and language training, family therapy, and anxiety management techniques. Parent-based contingency management procedures are also important to facilitate a child’s more audible and frequent speech and reduce nonverbal compensatory behaviors. These treatment components are typically used in conjunction with one another in various settings and with various people such as parents, school officials, and peers.

Department of Psychology

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

4505 Maryland Parkway

Las Vegas, NV 89154-5030

Office Telephone: 702-895-3305

Office Fax: 702-895-0195





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Carol Broadbent, parent of twin four-year-old girls

Lori Hoffman, grandmother to a boy with learning problems

Karen Goodwin, mother of a son with learning difficulties

Stephanie Vrsnik, Community and Development Director, Nevada PEP

Robin Kincaid, Training Director, Nevada PEP

BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Parenting ordinary children can be tough enough but special needs children are something else. Teachers and schools often cannot find exactly what they need. Programs like Nevada PEP can often help.

It’s a statewide parent-training organization, PEP Training Director Robin Kincaid says. Most of all, PEP helps families find ways to communicate and collaborate with schools.

Children with special needs or disabilities do create problems that need individual solutions. Carol Broadbent’s twins, for example, suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. That has left them with significant developmental delays and behavioral problems. “Every day’s battle with stuff,” Broadbent said.

Just getting them into school was problematic and they felt abandoned once Nevada Early Intervention finished providing the initial help. Broadbent and her husband just read a lot but felt they were “just kind of stuck.” The girls’ aggressive behavior made it difficult to find a pre-school that would take them. By the same token, the pre-K school program has helped them. It is a special education class of eight students with a teacher and two aides.

“They’ll always struggle. I know that,” says Broadbent. But, she added, she was happy PEP was able to help her.

Lori Hoffman’s grandson was born with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, a condition, which required he be born at 35 weeks because of tumors on his kidneys. Numerous surgeries followed to reduce an abnormally large tongue, correct growth abnormalities and deal with intestinal problems. He struggled in school and was finally diagnosed as having a “written expression disorder,” said Hoffman.

“He would just sit there and not do his work. You could ask him and he could tell you everything but he would not write at all, he just wouldn’t do it,” she said. After three years of struggling with this problem, counselors from PEP were able to work with Hoffman to get her son an iPad. Using that at summer school has allowed him to catch up with grade level work.

The first place to begin is the the “individual education program” or IEP. That program is individualized to the special education needs of each child, said Stephanie Vrsnik, Community and Development Director of Nevada PEP.  All special education students must have an IEP, she added. Nevada PEP offers parents clinics and special training in what they need to know to make sure their IEP is working.