Thursday, April 3, 2008

Live blogging from CEC: A Primer on Physical and Health Issues in Severe/Multiple Disabilities

Presented by Meg Cooper, Ph.D. U. W. Georgia. (Live blogged by Kate.)

When she speaks of severe disabilities she means IQ below 50.

Why provide info in this area?
1. Teacher prep. standards require it
2. Expertise recommended for intensive sped teachers. She is concerned about the focus on gen ed curriculum is replacing attention to specialized areas. Teachers may be highly qualified in biology or history but can't handle seizures.
3. Greater incidence of multiple disabilities in indiv w/ IQ under 50. Allow a medical proceed can be done w/out understanding it, it is better for all if it is understood. Also teachers in this field often have to be the experts for the rest of their school and the parents. It is preferred trained personnel do this but teachers often fall into the role.
4. Pride in the profession - shared a story about a teacher who put that a student had "Billy Rubin" disease at birth in the IEP.

There is a need to learn how to access resources in addition to an informational base.

Links are provided in the handout to certain medical dictionaries, specialized dictionaries and internet resources. Including the Developmental Disabilities Handbook.

She reminds us that we must assess information we access online for validity. (I.e. Who wrote site, who sponsors site, when was it written, is it quackery?)

Also provided is a handout of conditions prevelant in severe sped settings by body system, components/function, associated disorders, medical assessment and interventions.

Finally a glossary is provided.

(Blogger's note: I will seek permission to post handouts.)

Cooper then focused on medical diagnoses, motor impairments, health disorders, and cultural aspects. Medical diagnosis can be helpful as in letting us know if we have to monitor for later issues like CVA or progressive hearing loss. Medical diagnoses may also be entirely unhelpful if it is made incorrectly, based on politics, based on greed, or serves to "box a child into a label". Medical dx may or may not impact what we do to teach a child. Studies in Finland tell us 86 percent of severe disabilities occur prenatally.

Motor impairment is some times used to classify or to help determine what/how we educate children. Frustration can occur if doctors do not seek to look at and treat issues when a child has certain primary disabilities (I.e. Not treating allergies in Down Syndrome appropriately because all learners with DS have runny noses).

High incidence of co-morbid CP and severe cognitive disability. Important that teachers know things like near point visual focus in ataxia causes nausea. Thus we can provide appropriate interventions. Many great online CP resources and tutorials. Important teachers understand correlations between medical and educational dx and terms.

Health disorders include routine disorders exacerbated and disorders as part of dx. Also routine procedures may be more difficult and specialized procedures may be needed. Teachers may need to educate school nurses.

Health Disorders may include;
*g.i., nutrition, elimination issues
*heart/circulation/respiratory issues
*routine medical conditions like diabetes, sickle cell, allergies, infection
*psychiatric issues

Health Procedures
*follow up surgical care
*tube feeds
*seizure care
*infection control
*respiratory care (trach, vent, suction)
*CPR and first aid
*DNR issues
*orthopedic care (added by me)
*skin care (added by me)

Lived blogged at CEC April 3, 2008 from a Blackberry Pearl.


  1. This is great post, it is give very important information. Really it will workout for me,thank you very much for sharing this info.

  2. Hi,

    Thanks a ton for sharing this useful information and hope to read few more instructions from you. :)

    Max Life Research


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