• The Fundamental Disconnect Between Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder Cognition: Implications of Empathy: A Meta Synthesis.

      Busch, Kathleen (University of Alaska Southeast, 2015)
      This meta-synthesis reviews literature on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in relationship with empathy. Specific areas addressed within this meta-synthesis include perspective taking, Theory of Mind, affective vs. cognitive empathy, mirror neurons, imitation/mimicry all in how it relates to those with ASD and their understandings to those typically developing. This meta-synthesis addresses those with high-functioning ASD more so than those who are lower functioning as research and literature did not have a significant amount of information on those lower functioning. The goal is to provide a better understanding of the disconnect that we share from one to another.
    • How Can Neuroimaging Inform Our Treatment of Reading Disorders in Children With Learning Disabilities?

      Rueter, Joseph (2015-04-28)
      Neuroimaging technology in the last two decades has allowed a direct 3 dimensional view of the processing activity in an individual’s brain while completing a particular cognitive task enabling the characterization of functional brain areas and typical processing pathways. This meta-synthesis examines current studies of the neuroimaging of reading in both typical proficient readers, and individuals with developmental dyslexia and examines how these studies can inform our treatment of reading disorders. Functional Imaging studies with fMRI, DTI, MEG, and EEG techniques have documented that the brains of individuals with dyslexia have distinct physical differences and an atypical processing of reading tasks when compared to their normal reading peers. These differences in both form and function can be determined in young pre-reading age children, enabling the early identification (with 90% accuracy) of individuals that will later struggle with the disability. Researchers in the field indicate that DD is an evolving progressive disorder beginning with a distinct phonological disorder and evolves into semantic word recognition disorder as the child ages. The underlying causes for DD that are being currently advocated are a Magnocellular/vision deficit, a cerebellar deficit, and/or a phonological deficit. Studies indicate that more than one of these deficits may be contributing factors, however 90% of individuals presenting with the DD have a phonological deficit as a major contributor making this the target area of most early interventions. Many studies have contrasted the functional scans of DD readers before, and after phonological interventions in an attempt to characterize a neuro-plastic change resulting from the intervention. These contrast studies indicate that many individuals with dyslexia will normalize their atypical processing of written information to appear to process written text much like their proficient reading peers. However, there are still many individuals with dyslexia who do not respond to interventions with normalization, but instead compensate for their atypical processing of written text by recruiting disparate areas in the brain to accomplish the same task. These researchers’ results indicate central challenge of developing interventions guided by the neurology. These interventions should target activation of a given brain system identified to be the source of the deficit in an individual’s Dyslexia with the intent to induce a neuro plastic, normalizing change in brain.
    • The Role of Teacher Bias in the Disproportionate Representation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Special Education Programs: A Meta-Synthesis

      Rae, Hilary (University of Alaska Southeast, 2014)
      This meta-synthesis of the literature on the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education programs examines the extent to which teacher bias impacts that disproportion. The factors that contribute to culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students being overrepresented in special education and underrepresented in gifted education are complex and have deep social and political roots. One such root is that of cultural bias that may be exhibited by teachers working with students whose cultural backgrounds vary from their own. Examining how this bias can impact ways that educators interact with minority students, and how it may affect the assessment and referral of CLD students to special education will help to illuminate ways in which practicing educators can work towards alleviating this bias.
    • Use of Response to Intervention in Social, Emotional and Behavioral Domains: A Meta-Synthesis

      Ragland, Hannah (University of Alaska Southeast, 2014)
      The use of Response to Intervention (RTI) was formalized with the passage of revisions to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004. This reform bill provided Special Education programs direction on an emerging approach to assess and recommend students for special education services, RTI. The intent of RTI was to address concerns with the previous model of Special Education qualification for learning disabilities based on discrepancies in IQ achievement. The discrepancy model gave clear criteria for identifying students with special needs, but quickly became known as the “wait to fail'' model. Rather than delaying identification of students with special needs until the point they were failing, RTI provided a method for early identification of struggling students, and research-based academic interventions to address problems prior to Special Education referral.