April 1, 2017, CentralMaine.com: Special education, behavioral services drive RSU 18 budget increase http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/04/01/special-education-behavioral-services-drive-rsu-18-budget-increase/ The Oakland-based district's proposed 3.2 percent budget increase reflects a steadily growing need for such services. … One of the largest increases in the budget is for behavioral programs. Without those changes, the increase would be in the 2 percent range, Smith said. Children fall along a spectrum when it comes to learning, according to Smith. While some require little to no support to do well, others require much more — though not all for the same reasons. “If you are a special education student with an IEP (Individualized Education Program), there is a prescribed plan,” Smith said. “But there are some kiddos who kind of fall in this middle.” Some students have behavioral problems or learning challenges “for a host of reasons that do not qualify, technically, for support, but very much need support,” he said. In a continued effort to address the increased need for support for these children, this proposed budget includes a behavioral program position at Messalonskee Middle School. …. Smith said he anticipates “there will be requests for more of this type of support.” Over the past few years, the district also has increased its special education staff in each elementary school…. The district has seen a general increase in the percentage of students who require special education support since 2010, with one small dip. In 2010, there were 445 students receiving special education support out of 3,257 total students, or 13.7 percent. In 2016, there were 480 students out of 2,892, or 16.6 percent. While RSU 18 was below the overall state percentage of students who qualified for special education, it is now on par with the state average. The number of students who require special education has increased in Maine as a whole over the past few years. In the 2010-2011 school year, 15.6 percent of the state’s student population had diagnosed disabilities, which steadily rose to 16.7 percent by the 2015-2016 school year. Cheryl Mercier, director of special education services for the district, said that the type of problems that children are dealing with now are different. In the past, special education teachers might have mostly taught children with learning disabilities; now more children are on the autism spectrum or are diagnosed with anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Mercier said district officials don’t know why there has been an increase in special education students, but she and others stressed that getting an IEP, a plan designed for each special education student, is a long process and not a quick diagnosis.
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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