How Autism is Reshaping Special Education: The Unbundling of IDEAby Mark K. Claypool, John M. McLaughlin
Special education in the United State is based on the concept of accesspublic schools are open to all children. But access is no longer a sufficient foundation. Approaches and accommodations that lead to academic success are increasingly demanded for those with learning disabilities. Functional, independent-living, and employable skills are requisite, but rare, for those with serious handicapping conditions. Since the last reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, four events have transpired that will have a dramatic impact on the next iteration of the federal law: the increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism, the rise of applied behavior analysis, the birth of social media, and the reality of unbundling. In How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education: The Unbundling of IDEA, Claypool and McLaughlin explore the effect of these events on a special education process burdened by regulation, where advances in the behavioral sciences and neurosciences blur the lines between education and medicine, and where social media fosters aggressive advocacy for specific disabilities.
A snapshot of the state of special education, 50 years after the launch of what became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Claypool and McLaughlin (We're In This Together, 2015) here provide an accessible crash course on the history of special ed. In the main, they leave the talking to a range of national experts that they've interviewed, but they bolster their arguments with verifiable, current data from government agencies and anecdotal testimony about families' experiences within the system. The authors are executives at ChanceLight, which provides behavioral health, educational, and therapy services for young people with autism and other disorders, and their entrepreneurial bent shows in this book. For example, they write that educational reform must take a leaf from business reform, citing Uber, Airbnb, and artisanal food producers as examples of "unbundling," or moving from global to local ideas. (Some readers may counter, however, that far more Americans rely on global firms, such as Target, McDonald's, and Wal-Mart.) The authors go on to argue that the efficacy of special education, especially for autism spectrum disorders, has been undermined by regulations. Programs vary from state to state, they say, and law-enshrined individualized education programs aren't always followed; roughly half of the states don't meet legal requirements in this area, they say. The book often quotes spokespeople from the advocacy organization Autism Speaks, because the authors deem it "a business disruptor whose innovations revolutionized the landscape"; less fully explored, however, is that group's controversial standing in the disability community. Similarly, the book heavily features the benefits of applied behavior analysis and only partly balances them with dissenting voices that argue that autism, as a neurological problem, requires a multidisciplinary approach. The book's recommendations for reform—such as a rethinking of definitions of "normal"—aren't groundbreaking. However, the book finishes optimistically, and overall, it should motivate all parents of children with special needs. An often valuable, if not comprehensive, overview of special education's successes and shortfalls.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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- 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Meet the Author
Mark Claypool is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy and Education, the nation’s leading provider of behavior, physical, occupational and speech therapy and alternative and special education programs for children and young adults. In 2015, along with John M. McLaughlin, he published We’re In This Together: Public-Private Partnerships in Special and At-Risk Education (Rowman & Littlefield), which won an IPPY award for education commentary/theory and was an Indie finalist in the education category.
John M. McLaughlin, PhD, is a school founder, professor, and researcher. McLaughlin is the author of The Last Year of the Season (North Star Press, 2014), a tale of education intrigue in fictional St. Luke, Minnesota. In 2015, along with Mark K. Claypool, he published We’re In This Together: Public-Private Partnerships in Special and At-Risk Education (Rowman & Littlefield), which won an IPPY award for education commentary/theory and was an Indie finalist in the education category.
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