NLDline- This is a slightly revised generic letter from a California parent writing to his governor. It is here to reflect the growing desire for the education of educators on the subject of NLD and to offer a model to those of you wishing to write your own legislators.
City, State, Zip
Governor Gray Davis (YOUR GOVERNOR)
State Capitol, First Floor (ADDRESS)
Sacramento, California 95814 (CITY, STATE, ZIP)
Dear Governor Davis: (YOUR GOVERNOR)
I do believe you when you say that the education of our children is your major concern. Do you want to improve every child's performance? Even the child with special needs?
Our child, has qualified for some special education resources because of their Nonverbal Learning Disorder. According to his grade level responsible special education administrator in the ______ Unified School District, the funds for these resources have been cut back. Do you plan to mainstream these children with special needs and thus lessen funding for special education? If so, an equivalent proportion of the increased funds that have become available for education in the State of California (YOUR STATE) must be designated for these children with special needs.
I included some excerpts from Sue Thompson's The Source For Nonverbal Learning Disorders, a book that describes a disorder that many children have; I include these for the review of your education staff so that they may knowledgeably inform you on this issue. Most students with Nonverbal Learning Disorders are not receiving adequate services in the public schools, and therefore are not receiving a "free appropriate public education as PL94-142 requires." This inadequacy of services is partly due to the newness of this diagnosis - despite the longtime existence of this condition - and therefore the lack of knowledge of and experience with the treatment of this learning disability.
The resultant lack of early intervention for these children may destroy their lives. They are prone to higher rates of depression and suicide, which can be minimized by early intervention. Children with NLD may make compensations in the early years of school that may discourage early intervention on their behalf. They may achieve adequately in the classroom and on standardized tests through the 4th grade. Intervention is too late in the 5th grade, when the "red flags" finally go up because their skills for organization and development of written work don't advance at the expected rate for a student! Until 5th grade these children may be viewed as academically adequate, but they are often viewed as social problems, "problem children," who are constantly berated and reproached because of their lack of social skills. As a result of four to five years of such negative reinforcement, the child with NLD may then believe he or she is bad, be stripped of any sense of self-worth, and consider him or herself a complete failure.
To make things worse, negative staff attitudes toward these children provide fellow students with license to emotionally abuse the student with NLD. This vicious cycle will have been in operation for several years when the academic warnings are sounded. This is too late. The tragedy of the lateness of this intervention in these children's lives by today's well-intentioned special educators is exacerbated by our well-meaning educators' lack of knowledge of NLD. There are not enough special education personnel and even they are often ignorant of NLD, besides being pointlessly burdened with required quarterly reports of at least six pages per student.
On page 72 of the material, which I hope has been forwarded to your education staff, there is a sentence that states "Teachers and other school personnel (i.e., psychologists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists) need to be trained to spot the early adjustment problems seen in a student with the NLD syndrome, and be better equipped to formulate and implement appropriate compensations, accommodations, modifications and learning strategies for this student. Only then can the child with NLD be treated with the competence and justice he or she deserves."
What can you do?
1. There are educators, psychologists, occupational therapists and speech therapists in the private sector who are highly trained in the recognition and treatment of this disorder. Find them and use them.
2. There are web sites (www.nldline.com; www.nldontheweb.org) with books, articles, videos and resource listings for NLD.
3. Funds should be made available for statewide inservices so that the experienced professionals from the private sector can come into the public schools to share their knowledge about NLD and its treatment with their colleagues.
4. Funds should be made available so that more educators and therapists in the public schools can attend the lectures, conferences and workshops on NLD.
5. Funds should also be made available for the books, articles and videos on the subject, as well as the appropriate teaching materials for the children with NLD, to be made available to the resource rooms or teacher libraries of the public schools.
This sort of help from the private sector should be necessary for only a few years, after which, hopefully, a growing mutually supportive and equally knowledgeable relationship may be established between both sectors.
If such expertise can be developed in the public school system, many lives will be saved, and the State of California (YOUR STATE), as well as society at large will benefit morally, socially, spiritually and financially. Our children deserve this level of service.
There are a growing number of concerned parents across the state, country, and apparently the world, as evidenced by the number and address of NLD web site visitors. Those of us in California (YOUR STATE) await your positive and aggressive response. We will tax the political system with our petitions. We hope that we need not tax our local school board's resources or our state's resources with legal petitions if our requests are not heard.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
cc: Senator (YOUR STATE SENATOR)
Special Education, _______ Unified School District
Special Education, ______ Unified School District
(CITY AND COUNTRY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS, MAYORS, etc.)
Please email NLDline with other letters of import or suggestions on this subject!
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