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NYT: Schools Struggle Over How to Teach Severely Disabled People

At a time when his peers are enrolled in college or earning money at jobs, Donovan, a handsome 20-year-old with a sliver of a mustache, is still in public school, being taught the most basic of facts. His vocabulary for this science unit, which lasted about two weeks, was three words: seeds, fruit and juice.

And yet, because of his cognitive disabilities brought on by a traumatic brain injury at nearly 6 months old, it is almost impossible to know what he comprehends and retains. After 15 years in the New York City school system, he is less reserved and more social, but otherwise has shown almost no progress, his mother said.

Once predominantly isolated in institutions, severely disabled students have been guaranteed a free, appropriate public education like all children since the passage of federal legislation in 1975. In the years since, school districts across the country have struggled to find a balance between instruction in functional skills and academics while providing basic custodial care.

via Schools Struggle Over How to Teach Severely Disabled People –

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  1. June 21, 2010 |