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F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga

PO Box 23731, Chattanooga, TN 37422
(423) 296-0092
October 2000
Volume II, Issue 6  

*opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FEAT-Chattanooga
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Upcoming Meetings 

October 10, 2000 -
Guest Speaker: Kim and Jessica Patterson 
Topic: Autism Spectrum Disorder 
           and the Impact on Siblings

November 14, 2000 
Guest Speaker: To Be Announced

December 12, 2000 -
Guest Speaker: To Be Announced

Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

Jackie Rockwell from Giant Step Therapy Center will be in Chattanooga from November 5, 2000 through November 15, 2000 to administer AIT using the Berard method.

The therapy consists of half-hour sessions, two times a day for ten days (total of 20 sessions). The fee is $1,350.00. If you have any questions, would like more information or would like to sign up for this therapy, please contact  Lauren Lebovitz at or by calling (423) 296-0092.

Website information about AIT can be obtained from the Society for Auditory Intervention Techniques (SAIT) web page at


A Thank You for Dr. Susan Speraw

At the last board meeting, the board voted to create a "thank you" photo album for Dr. Susan Speraw from all the members of FEAT-Chattanooga she has helped.

For those members who would like to contribute to this photo album, we are asking that you create an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper (plain or colored) that has a photograph of your child and any artwork or message you want to send to Dr. Speraw.

The deadline for turning in this artwork will be the November FEAT meeting. Please bring your page at that time.

From the 
Sacramento, California
Professors Adapt to Learning-Impaired Students
[By Arlene Levinson via Associated Press.]

AP - When Terry Wallace started teaching "Geologic Disasters
and Society" at the University of Arizona, some students surprised him by asking for extra time on tests and someone to take their notes. Official letters said their learning was impaired by obstacles like dyslexia and fleeting attention.

"Come on," the seismologist thought. "If you'd work twice as hard, you'd get it." That was two years ago. As Wallace learned more about this college minority, with their bright minds and mental hurdles, he adapted. Federal law says disabilities must be reasonably accommodated. But he went farther.

His straight lectures and abstract lingo gave way to vividly illustrated talks. He now puts lecture outlines on the Web. He makes a point of repeating every crucial concept three times. Anyone who asks may get copies of notes taken by students he rewards with extra credits.

Wallace is among many faculty members around the country inspired by the learning disabled to change the way they teach everyone.

"People learn differently," said the buoyant Wallace, a teacher for 17 years with a fascination for nuclear explosions. Rote memorization and parroting back to the professor, he said, "may not be making the connection, so that you really understand ..."

Prodded by federal law, aided by the Internet, such efforts coincide with a new philosophy.  Educators speak of "universal instructional design" - a phrase adapted from architecture, where "universal design" produced curb cuts. Those street corner inclines meant for wheelchairs proved a boon for all wheels: inline skates, grocery carts, bicycles, baby strollers.

"In the past, we've had the student adapt to the process, instead of just looking at the process," said Lynne Bejoian, director of Disability Services at Columbia University. She heads a project with peers at Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard and Stanford, helping faculty make courses accessible to all.

The schools are among 25 in a $5 million demonstration project for the U.S. Education Department to train college faculty in ensuring quality higher education for the disabled.

Federal law sent disabled children into the K-12 mainstream with the 1976 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required higher education to accommodate their needs, where appropriate. The law doesn't dictate how, only that campuses must remove obstacles to learning.

Schools can require psychological tests when students seek these accommodations. The University of Colorado at Boulder, for example, turns down 60 percent of the 100-150 students each semester who claim a learning disability, usually to get more test time, said Terri Bodhaine, the school's director of disability services.

Increasingly, Bodhaine sees "students seeking a diagnosis and support because they feel that's the only way they can be successful." She cringes when she hears: "I want to get whatever edge I can."

But many learning disabled students, tired of labels and being singled out, get to college and tell no one. Admissions officers are not allowed to ask. At the college level, disclosure is voluntary.

Solid numbers on the learning disabled in college are hard to find, but they are relatively few.

In a 1998 survey of 1.6 million incoming college freshmen, fewer than 4 percent said they were learning disabled - about 63,000. But that was more than twice the percentage found when the same American Council on Education survey was done 10 years earlier.

Most commonly, these students are dyslexic, unable to decode words on a page. Or they can't grasp math concepts, a condition called dyscalculia. Or their attention deficits prevent long stretches of concentrated study.

Conditions and their severity vary. Typically, what these students need is more time than most for taking notes or tests. Accommodating them has helped other students at many colleges.

At Western Maryland College, professor Debra Lemke provides a "quiet room," whenever possible, for all students taking her exams. This optional second exam space, where students are more spread out and have fewer distractions, is a choice schools often give learning-disabled students. Though she designs tests to last one hour, Lemke allows everyone to use the entire 90-minute class period. "It makes the classroom less threatening, and more accommodating for all students," said Lemke, sociology chairman at the small private school in Westminster, Md.

Ohio State University's Catherine Montalto gained insight to different learning styles wrestling with econometrics as a doctoral candidate at Cornell University. This fall, the assistant professor of family economics is offering all her students guided notes - an outline of each lecture with space between highlights where students can take notes. "Part of me always raises that question: If this helps one student, might it not help others?" Montalto said 

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities teaching fellow Karen Miksch once mainly lectured to her "Law in Society" students. "I learned pretty well by lecture in law school," she said. But when learning-disabled students asked for lecture talking points, she decided everyone could use them. At the end of each week, she posts her lecture notes on a Web page. "It allows them to pay more attention and discuss - and not worry."

At Utah State University in Logan, Ted Alsop opens his course in physical geography with a jest. Everyone has  some disability he'll say, brushing a hand over his bald head to find his glasses. "Follicle-impaired," he quips. Students can get his lectures on audiotape and buy a complete set of lecture notes. Anyone who complains of test anxiety can get a head start. He began this practice years before the law changed. It came from seeing his wife zip through college courses that he plodded through for the same grade.

"I am really sensitive to the notion that all of us have some obstacle to our learning," he said. 

The University of Arizona has long been hospitable to deaf, blind and wheelchair-using students, as well as the so-called "invisible disabled" with learning difficulties, now numbering about 900 among some 35,000 students. As at other campuses, these students have been professionally tested and certified disabled, which qualifies them for help like note takers and more test time.

But in recent years, the students have grown more assertive and some teachers more responsive.

With heavyweight terms like "asthenosphere" and brain-twisters like "equation of state," Terry Wallace's core science course - two mornings a week, 75 minutes each - is no easy "A."

Yet students don't hunch over notebooks. Most of the time they listen and watch, riveted.

As Wallace lectured recently on Earth's origins, five large screens displayed the course Web site and a running outline of his talk. They also showed gripping photographs of natural disasters, multicolor drawings, maps and satellite images of the planet's dramatic geology. Later, the course Web site preserved the highlights.

Krista Brown, a sophomore from Thousand Oaks, Calif., says science is her hardest subject and she learns well from simple lectures. Yet the 19-year-old excitedly recalled the drawing Wallace showed while describing the solar system: "a cloud, then it started to rotate ..."

Unlike other teachers, Wallace "tries to do something visual for each concept he puts across ... just seeing it visually reinforces it," she said.

For Emily Shack, that's a godsend. One of at least 19 learning disabled students among 170 undergraduates in GEOS 218, she faces immense difficulty taking notes from a torrent of spoken ideas.

"I feel like sometimes I have to concentrate five times more than other people," said Shack, a serious but outgoing retailing and consumer studies major from Scottsdale. She hopes to become a department store buyer.

She manages to maintain a GPA of 3.48 with help from tutors, her own hard work and Wallace's array of cues, in written words and pictures, which "helps to re-establish what I've already heard."

Successful professors use "the art of teaching" to reach today's widening variety of students, said Amie Amiot, a disabilities 
expert overseeing the federal project on the learning disabled in higher education.

"Good teaching is helpful for all kids."


Take the Mystery out of Autism 
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FEAT Board Elections

During the September meeting, 
elections were held for the positions on the FEAT-Chattanooga Board. The new board elected officers at their last board meeting and they are as follows:

Phillip Deal, President

Tammy Torres, Vice President

Tami Burt, Secretary

Cindy Mansfield, Treasurer

Additional elected Board members:

Susan Bollinger

Julie Duff

Henry Hardin

Jayne Trapnell

Meeting Time and Place

Second Tuesday of Each Month
6:30 pm 
Room 140
Massoud Pediatric Building
T. C. Thompson Children's Hospital

FEAT Welcome Packet Updating

As we all know, Autism Spectrum Disorders have been a "hot topic" in the news for the past few years. FEAT-Chattanooga's Welcome Packet provided to families and professionals in the area will be two years old in January.

The FEAT Board is asking for volunteers from our group to help bring our Welcome Packet "up to date". Please contact the FEAT phone number at 296-0092 to let us know if you are interested in helping with this important project.

FEAT-Chattanooga Brochures 
and Welcome Packets will be 
available at the next meeting.

Lunch in the 
Outback 2001
Sponsored by
Outback Steakhouse

Plans are already underway for "Lunch in the Outback 2001". Last year's "Lunch in the Outback" raised over $4,000 for our organization. The luncheon is tentatively scheduled for April 28, 2001, during National Autism Awareness Month.

The luncheon committee is creating a target sponsorship solicitation list and discussing ideas to make the luncheon as fun and as successful as possible. The committee asks that each FEAT member think of potential sponsors for the event. The best target sponsors are probably individuals or business people that we know and/or work with. The sponsorship levels will remain at $100, $250, and $500. By creating a master sponsorship target list, our group will not solicit potential sponsors more than once. Please contact Susan Bollinger, Tammy Torres  or Phillip Deal 
a or by calling 296-0092, with your suggested sponsors. Make sure you provide the contact name, address and phone number. The committee plans to send out the first sponsorship proposals around Thanksgiving.

FEAT Family 
Holiday Party

Friday, December 8, 2000 will be the date of our third annual Holiday Party. Mark your calendars to celebrate the holidays with FEAT-Chattanooga.

This get-together for your entire family will again be held at Bayside Baptist Church on Highway 58 from 6:30 pm until 8:30 pm.

Santa will be here again this year, so get ready to have your picture made with him. There will also be holiday videos and music, and craft items for the children to make for gifts. Like the last two years, each segment of the party will be in separate rooms to help reduce the chance of our children being overwhelmed by all the excitement.

We ask that FEAT members bring your favorite holiday dessert or finger food and join in the fun. If you need more information, leave a message on the FEAT voice mail at 296-0092.

Target Christmas Tree Giveaway

For the past two years, Target has donated a decorated Christmas Tree to FEAT-Chattanooga and we have used it as a fundraiser for our Chapter. Board members are working on this annual fundraiser and plan to present materials and more information at the October meeting. You could be the next winner of a tree valued between $750 and $1,000!!!