Friday, October 28, 2011

DOE Finalizes Infant Disabilities Program

The early childhood special education community received welcome news last month that the U.S. Department of Education finalized regulations for IDEA’s Infant and Toddlers with Disabilities Program, known as Part C. IDEA Part C serves more than 340,000 infants, toddlers and their families each year.

The final Part C regulations contain numerous changes and additions, including:
  •  Transition requirements have been revised, including provisions related to notification of the local education agency (LEA) and state educational agency (SEA), timelines, an opt-out policy, the transition conference, and the transition plan.
  •  The 45-day required timeline from referral to the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)  meeting has been retained with the addition of some provisions permitting documentation of extraordinary circumstances for a delay
  •  Natural environment provisions have been revised to reflect the 2004 statutory change.
  •  Changes in the content of the IFSP have been made, including in the “early intervention services” and “other services” components.
  •  Several changes have been made to procedural safeguards, including provisions related to written prior notice, confidentiality, surrogate parents, and dispute resolution.
  •  Changes have been made in provisions related to financial responsibility, systems of payment and ability to pay as well as to the use of public benefits, insurance, and private insurance.
  •  Provisions related to monitoring, enforcement, reporting, and allocation have been included in a new subpart of the Part C regulations.

For a complete list of Part C federal regulations click here.

About IDEA Part C in New York State
The New York State Early Intervention Program (EIP) is part of the national Early Intervention Program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. First created by Congress in 1986 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the EIP is administered by the New York State Department of Health through the Bureau of Early Intervention. In New York State, the Early Intervention Program is established in Article 25 of the Public Health Law and has been in effect since July 1, 1993.
To be eligible for services, children must be under 3 years of age and have a confirmed disability or established developmental delay, as defined by the State, in one or more of the following areas of development: physical, cognitive, communication, social-emotional, and/or adaptive.
 For more information click here.

Myths About Bullying

Knowledge is power, and following up on our very successful Anti Bullying Forum, we wanted to share this important information to dispel some notions you might have regarding abuse or harassment at school.

What is Bullying?
The repeated exposure over time to negative actions or acts of intimidation on the part of one or more students.  The definition includes three important components:
  1.    Aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions
  2.    A pattern of behavior repeated over time
  3.    An imbalance of power or strength

Some common myths about bullies:
•    Bullies are loners:  Research shows that bullies are not socially isolated; have an easy time making friends; they have a small group of friends who support the bullying behaviors.

•    Bullies have low self esteem:  Bullies have average or above average self-esteem; interventions that focus on building self esteem in bullies are not effective

•    Bullies are looking for attention:  Bullies are looking for control, and the behavior will not stop even if they are ignored.

•    Most bullying happens off school grounds:  Most bullying actually occurs in classrooms, hallways, and playgrounds

•    Bullying affects only a small number of students:  Research shows that 25% of students are victims of bullying and 20% are engaged in bullying; bullying affects everyone involved, even bystanders. 

Source:  Equity Alliance - Addressing Bullying & Harassment Matters 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Son-Rise: An Innovative Program for Autism

Fifty Sinergia families attended the Son-Rise Program workshop/lecture on September 20th. Son-Rise was developed by Barry Neil and Samahria Lyte Kaufman, of the Autism Treatment Center Of America in Sheffield- Massachusetts, as a way to work with their son Raun. The Kauffmans created an innovative path which enabled Raun to go from severely autistic to become an intellectually curious, lively and socially engaged young man, bearing no traces of his former condition. The idea behind the program is to help parents meet and engage their child where he or she is, by joining them in their activities until they respond, and then patiently teaching them new ones, for as long as it takes them to come out of the place where they seem to be.

The workshop was a complete success. Susan Humphries, an excellent presenter and great communicator, was able to reach all families present with the help of our simultaneous translator, who we brought in for the high number of Spanish speaking parents that attended. Everyone was left with a sense of wonder and hope, and at least 5 families said they were going to apply for scholarships to Son-Rise's well known retreats in Massachusetts. The Autism Treatment Center will hold a much needed retreat in Spanish during the month of December. For more information on Sinergia's Autism Initiative contact Gina Peña-Campodónico at 212-643-2840 x305 or at gpena at

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sinergia hosts Vision Screening Event

Sinergia hosted a special event on Friday September 23rd which offered free eye health screenings to individuals who did not have any medical insurance and who had not seen an eye doctor in over a year.

Over thirty five parents of children with disabilities showed up to have their eyes examined. The Kress Vision Program of New York Downtown Hospital provided a technician and an eye doctor who checked their vision, checked for cataracts or eye disease, and conducted a glaucoma test. 

After the eye exam, participants saw the technician who took measurements for eyeglasses. Parents were able to choose from a large assortment of eyeglasses and will be provided with a pair of glasses, free of charge!

Many of the participants were unemployed and had no medical insurance, so they had not seen an eye doctor in years, and they expressed gratitude to the Kress Vision Program and to Sinergia, who provided the space for this event.