December 2011 | News You Can Use

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Surviving School Holidays

Photo of a gingerbreadman cookie.

It's almost holiday time!


Children will be soothed by routine, structure, and normality. Getting them back to routine is typically considered good.

~~Catherine Cook.


Just when we’ve all gotten into the groove of the school year, there’s a break. We look forward to this time to recharge our batteries and spend time with family and friends, but it can also be challenging and frustrating to be outside of familiar routines.

This month we’re focusing on resources to help manage disruptions in routines. When the excitement of sleeping in and family gatherings turns into something that feels more like chaos, come back to NICHCY for some comfort and help.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please feel free to contact us at

Our best to you,

Your friends
at the National Dissemination Center
for Children with Disabilities



On our theme…home for the holidays.
Last December we featured “Home for the Holidays” as our theme of the month. Might want to have a look at the resources we identified last year, holiday-time.

Inclusion in Action: Good Morning!
The latest NICHCY blog features guest blogger Nicole Eredics. She takes us inside her inclusive classroom, where we start the day as her students do.

Who Can Help?
This recent NICHCY blog guides you through our State Organization Search to find state agencies, disability-specific organizations, organizations for parents, and other disability organizations in your state.

The Facts on Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities
Our apologies for the premature announcement last month; this helpful resource clarifies the role of charter schools in serving students with disabilities. Use our list of links to find your state’s charter guidance, as well as to connect with “helpful websites” for more information.

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Secondary Transition Collection
Transition services under IDEA 2004 are defined as a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that is designed to be within a results-oriented process. The focus is on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities. The tools and resources in the IDEA Partnership’s Secondary Transition Collection help to improve the transition process.

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Tips for surviving family gatherings.’s Terri Mauro shares ways you can plan to “mak[e] family gatherings good, not ghastly.”

I’m booooooooooooooored.
We all know that cry! If you hear it during the holiday season, run to these 4 articles for some easy ideas for spontaneous child-amusing–no pre-planning or preparation needed.

Speaking of family life . . . offers advice for family and caregivers on managing the impact of a child’s disability on family life. Find specific tips for specific disabilities including Down syndrome, epilepsy, Asperger’s, and more.

One more holiday survival guide.
Dan Coulter offers advice for families to make holidays with an autism spectrum disorder more manageable.

Gift ideas for children with autism.
From the National Autism Resources blog, 10 Fun Gifts That Teach Children with Autism Social Skills.

Sensory friendly films.
Holiday breaks are a great time to catch the latest kid movies, but if you have a little one on the autism spectrum or other sensory issues, attending a noisy, visually arresting film might be a tall order. Fortunately, AMC Entertainment offers a special screening of the latest kid-friendly movie with lower sound levels, lights turned low, and invitations to move around, talk, or sing along. Check out your local AMC listing for the first Saturday of every month–December’s selection is the new Muppets movie!

New Spanish resources from NCLD.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has recently released its collection of Spanish-language resources for parents of children with learning disabilities.

Autism fact sheet in multiple languages.
The University of Southern California (USC), Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) has translated (with permission) the CDC “Learn the Signs. Act Early” Autism Fact Sheet into multiple languages to reach underserved populations and to encourage early identification of autism. The Autism Fact Sheet is available in Arabic, Armenian, Farsi, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.

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Holidays & fairness.
Many early childhood educators have questions about how to approach the holidays. From the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves offers useful information and tools for teachers as they consider the specific families in their program.

Reducing challenging behavior by clarifying expectations, rules, and routines.
The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention’s Make and Take Workshops are designed to provide information on a focused topic. This month’s workshop addresses the difference between program-wide expectations and classroom rules, the importance of teaching expectations to children in a manner that is developmentally appropriate, and strategies and techniques to teach clear expectations.

Behavior training programs.
From the What Works Clearinghouse, The Incredible Years is designed for children (ages 0-12) with challenging behaviors and focuses on building social and emotional skills. Lessons can be delivered to children referred for difficult behavior or to an entire classroom as a preventative measure.

Part C non-regulatory guidance.
This guidance provides parents, early intervention service (EIS) providers, State lead agencies, and other interested parties with detailed information about the some of the changes made to the Part C regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The document focuses on where changes were made to regulatory requirements that directly affect infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families and local EIS providers and programs.

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11th annual Inclusive Schools Week is Dec. 5-9, 2011!
Inclusive Schools Week is an annual international event celebrated the first week in December. It is a time when schools and communities can begin or continue the journey toward providing a quality education to all children regardless of differences in ability, gender, ethnicity, language, and health status. The Inclusive Schools Network offers Activities and Resources for Schools, Classrooms, and Families. Get your kit today!

Free teaching resources.
Federal Resources for Educational Excellence is a great source for information on holidays as well as history, language arts, math, and more. Resources come from the Library of Congress, Department of Education, the National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, and more.

A resource aid for improving teaching and learning supports by addressing the rhythm of a year.
The UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools has published thematic resource aids reflecting the yearly rhythm of schools, for school staff (especially student and learning supports personnel) to use in planning a proactive and timely focus on some basic concerns that arise throughout the year and in planning and implementing interventions.

Implementing RTI in urban settings.
In Cultural Adaptations When Implementing RTI in Urban Settings, Chemay Morales-James and a team from New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education outline cultural adaptations to consider when developing and implementing RTI in urban settings. They also define a culturally responsive RTI approach to guide schools that are addressing disproportionate representation of minorities in suspension and special education.

Writing an inclusive IEP.
Practical advice from Christi Kasa and Julie Causton-Theoharis on how to write IEP goals to meet students’ needs within the context of the general education classroom.

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Early identification of autism spectrum disorders | Online module.
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders offers this free online module addressing the importance of early identification, early characteristics of ASD, and a recommended set of practices that will lead to early identification of ASD. The module also provides information about national resources and initiatives committed to early identification for the purpose of follow up and referral to services, resources, and supports.

Secondary “Just in Time” training resources.
The National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) offers resources to provide transition personnel at all levels with access to information on critical secondary transition competencies. There are separate documents for secondary special education teachers, secondary transition specialists, and state agency secondary special education administrators

Explore data trends across states.
The Data Accountability Center (DAC) is excited to introduce its Analytic Tool. This tool provides users with the most recent publicly available state-level IDEA data. The tool may be used to view data trends, generate data reports, copy data into spreadsheets, generate graphics as appropriate to the data selected, and run cross-tabulations using variables collected as part of that data set.

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Publication of this eNewsletter is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #H326N080003 between FHI 360 and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.


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