May 2011 | News You Can Use

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Where to find reliable info on children with disabilities?

May 2011



In this age of ever-changing technology, there’s a staggering amount of information to be found online – so much that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Which are trusted sources, and which are marketing pitches? Why did my favorite ‘bookmarked’ resources move, and how can I find them again?

We’ve all been there. So this month, we’re focusing on helping folks find the best information and resources to support students with disabilities.

One source of online information that has recently changed is our website, We’ve changed the look and organization of our site to make it easier to find what you’re looking for among our many, many web pages. We’ve added targeted search features, and included links to “Related Information” to help you learn as much as possible on whichever topic you’re exploring. In this month’s News You Can Use, we’ll offer some tips and tricks for finding what you need on our redesigned website.

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



Wanna go to the movies?
To help you become familiar with our new website design, we’re pleased to offer a crash-course video that points out key areas to explore. The video is available by clicking on the image below or by visiting:

You’ll also find areas of NICHCY’s new website spotlighted throughout this newsletter, to guide you to information you can use to educate and support children with disabilities.

Screencast by nichcylisa from












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Looking for professional development resources?
Visit the IDEA Partnership’s Learning Port, which it has built as a “National Online Library of Professional Development Resources Compiled to Help Bridge Research, Policy and Practice.” This library provides local educators with easy access to an array of resources that can be used or customized to meet their needs.

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Just for you…at NICHCY’s site.
At NICHCY, we know that families and communities are the heart of supporting children with disabilities. Our new website is designed to give quick access to resources for families and communities. Look for this text:

Especially for…Families and Communities | On the side menu bar.
Look on the side menu bar (it’s on the right side of every page) and click on Especially for . . .Families and Communities.

Parents’ Guide to Student Success.
The National Parent Teacher Association has developed a Parents’ Guide to Student Success in response to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics that more than 40 states have adopted. The guide provides grade-by-grade overviews of what students are expected to learn in mathematics and English language arts/literacy. It is available in English and Spanish at the National PTA Web site.

Need a financial planning guide?
The PACER Center has updated its Possibilities: A Financial Resource for Parents of Children and Youth with Disabilities Financial Planning Guide for 2011. First published in 2004 by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and PACER, this financial planning guide is now in an online format and includes more content relevant to parenting transition-age youth with disabilities. Topics include organizing financial records, managing money, preparing income taxes, health insurance options, dealing with debt, saving for college, preparing youth for adult employment, and more.

Two from…About Special Needs Children.

Family Gathering Survival Kit
When you’re doing that planning, don’t forget your sense of humor. Here are 10 tools to fortify you with laughter before you enter the family fray.

Dealing with Toxic People
What do you say to that relative who just Does Not Get It? Think of it as a behavior-management problem, just as you would for your child.

Is the playing field level? Your opinion and input, please!
Parents and students are invited to participate in the IDEA National Survey. The study examines whether parents perceive the playing field as level for children with disabilities and their parents, and whether they believe their rights are protected. The survey also addresses inclusion and whether children with disabilities receive the education they need, or whether they are deprived of important services. Access the survey at:

Differences in how “disability” is defined in federal laws for children and for adults.
This December 2010 report is the Country Report for the United States, written to capture our status at the moment regarding Pathways for Disabled Students to Tertiary Education and Employment. Chapter 1 will give you the ultimate authoritative summation of how the federal laws in the United States define the term “disability.” These definitions have important implications for youths with disabilities as they transition to adulthood and to education, employment, and adult service systems.

Research into autism: The strategic plan for 2011.
The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) has released its 2011 strategic plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research. The document can be downloaded from:

SSA’s final rules for evaluating endocrine disorders in children and adults.
The Social Security Administration published final rules for evaluating endocrine disorders in the Federal Register on April 8, 2011. These are the rules that will be used to evaluate endocrine disorders in both adults and children who apply for, or receive, Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments based on disability. These rules will be effective on June 8, 2011, and will remain effective for 5 years, unless SSA revises and reissues them sooner or extends the effective date. The electronic version of these final rules is available in the Federal Register, at:

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Where to go on NICHCY’s new website.
If you provide services for infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth through age 3) or if you’re a parent of a little one with a disability, here’s where to start looking for info at NICHCY.

Babies and Toddlers (Birth to the 3rd birthday) | On the top menu bar.
This entire section of NICHCY’s website addresses the developmental needs of babies and toddlers with disabilities or delays (up to the 3rd birthday). Here, you can connect with an overview of early intervention, how to have a child evaluated free of charge to see if there’s a disability or delay involved, parent participation, how to write the services plan for a child, effective practices in early intervention, and planning for a child’s transition from early intervention to preschool.

Especially For . . . Early Intervention Providers | On the side menu bar.
Linked on the right hand column of every page of our website, this section offers information on the law establishing early intervention services, guidance for developing a child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), effective practices, and links to even more resources on early intervention from our friends at the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC), the National Early Childhood Transition Center, and more.

Importance of early intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
Hot off the press from NECTAC, this fact sheet provides a brief overview of the Part C program and quick facts from the research on early brain development, the importance of intervening early, the benefits of early intervention, and current unmet needs. It is meant to be used as a tool to communicate with policymakers, pediatricians, families, and community leaders about the importance of high quality services for infants and toddlers with or at risk for developmental delays and their families.

May is Mental Health Month.
How to address the mental health needs of young children? The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) has developed a set of practical teaching strategies to create a plan to support young children with challenging behavior. Creating Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior has materials that have been designed for reproduction and may be reproduced for educational purposes.

What’s your state doing in early childhood?
Our friends at the Early Childhood Outcomes Center (ECO) have links to state web sites with information related to child and/or family outcome measurement system development, training, and resources.

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Finding info quick at NICHCY’s new website.
School is a huge part of a child’s life, especially when there’s a disability involved. That’s also one of the reasons why so much information is available on NICHCY’s website to help you address the educational needs of school-aged children with disabilities. Find what you’re looking for through these entrance points:

Children (3-22) | On the top menu bar.
This option appears on every page of our site—-look on the menu bar across the top. When the door swings open, you can see all the key school issues you can investigate: introductions to special education, the rights that parents have under federal law, evaluating children for disability, all about the IEP, effective practices for educators, transition to adulthood for youth with disabilities, and how to resolve disputes between families and schools.

Especially for…Schools and Administrators | On the side menu bar.
This door “in” appears on the quick-links bar on the right of every page. This section of our site offers info for educators about the laws governing services for children with disabilities, resources for classroom teachers, guidance for administrators in dealing with students who have disabilities, and helpful summaries of current research on serving students with disabilities.

A-Z Topics | On the side menu bar.
If you have a specific topic you’re investigating, try the A-Z topics page. It’s probably the fastest way to zero in on the info you’re seeking about school-aged children with disabilities. There’s a quick link to A-Z topics in the right column of every page on the site.

High school improvement: A self-assessment tool.
The National High School Center’s Self-Assessment Tool: A Coherent Approach to High School Improvement is designed to help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current high school reform efforts, then align and build on them to develop a comprehensive high school improvement plan that will result in rigorous and high-quality teaching and learning for all students.

Bullying, reduced.
Bullying is an age-old problem for schools, but it’s not insurmountable. The OSEP Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports offers a newly revised practical guide for Reducing the Effectiveness of Bullying Behavior in Schools.

Videos on accessible instructional materials (AIM).
Consider including one or more of the AIM Tips videos in training sessions or with families as a way to introduce critical issues to consider for effective student use of AIM.

Introducing AIM to Students | a 4-minute clip highlighting issues for teachers to consider when supporting students in the effective use of AIM

Technology and Skills | a 4-minute clip identifying how students and teachers can use technology to deliver accessible instructional materials

Self Advocacy and Postsecondary | a 2-minute clip with tips for students on strategies for self-advocacy for technology and services to acquire and use AIM

Using AIM at Home | a 3-minute clip where teachers and students discuss the benefits and challenges of using AIM at home and strategies and supports to overcome them

What U.S. laws and policies provide “pathways” for students with disabilities to life after high school?
This December 2010 report is the Country Report for the United States, written to capture our status at the moment regarding Pathways for Disabled Students to Tertiary Education and Employment. The title’s big, but the content is a gold mine. It’s precise and authoritative about the U.S. policies and laws in…well…look at that title again! The report was written through the teaming of multiple federal agencies. Inside you’ll find a terrific summary of how federal laws define “disability” differently for children and for adults; a statistical comparison of students with disabilities and the general student population; policies and laws relevant to students in transition; financing; parental involvement in transition planning; and available training for transition personnel and parents of transitioning students with disabilities.

Transition policies: An international look.
The report just mentioned above was developed as part of an international effort of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Want to know about transition policies and laws in other countries—specifically, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Ireland, and Norway? Each prepared a Country Report similar to the one prepared by the United States. Find all the reports at:,3746,en_2649_39263294_38913705_1_1_1_1,00.html

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State tools to explore at NICHCY’s website.
Although public education for students with disabilities is a federal mandate, it can look very different from state to state. To help you find the most appropriate resources for supporting your child, we’ve created a searchable data base of state-level organizations. You may know these are our State Resource Sheets.

State Organizations | On the side menu bar.
State Organizations is one of the choices on the Quick-Links menu side bar. Here’s where you can find resources in your state. You can select what types of resources you’d like to see: State Agencies, Disability Organizations, Organizations for Parents, or Other Disability Organizations. And we’re not done yet enhancing the state pages. More features will be added this month to make these state pages the best ever!

NCES releases Digest of Education Statistics, 2010, and a Mini-Digest of the same.
To view the full reports please visit:

Digest |

Mini-Digest |

Education reform and the reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB.
‘Education reform’ is a hot topic these days, and it’s a term that pops up in political campaigns, documentary films, and business and community forums.In public schools, ‘education reform’ is closely connected with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently called NCLB). The U.S. Department of Education has shared its priorities for the reauthorization of ESEA in its Blueprint for Reform. To better understand what ‘education reform’ looks like for public schools, get your information from the source – the Department of Education.

More on the reauthorization of ESEA.
NICHCY is pleased to offer up-to-date info on the reauthorization as it proceeds. Visit this new page on our website, at:

Getting the conversation going between stakeholders.
If you’re working to implement effective practices in a school system, you’ll want to use the IDEA Partnership’s Dialogue Guides. Developed around specific topics, the guides include a Facilitator’s Handbook; content documents to ground your dialogue in current policy, research, and best practices; and dialogue starters to help you ask the right questions.

Evaluating children for specific learning disabilities.
When evaluating children for specific learning disabilities (SLD), local education agencies (LEAs) must use criteria set forth by their respective State Education Agencies (SEAs). A recent study was conducted to identify the criteria of SLD identification used by each of the 50 states. Results indicate that many states allow the option of other alternative research-based procedures along with severe discrepancy and a process based on RTI. The article we’ve linked below describes one of these alternative research-based assessment procedures—specifically, the processing deficit approaches, and how it may help educators in linking specific strategies to address the unique needs of a student with SLD.

The complex ecology of RTI.
The American Institutes for Research and the University of Kansas recently released a report called The Complex Ecology of Response to Intervention. It contains nine articles on various facets of RTI. Of keen interest to the learning disabilities community will be the article, “Response to Intervention and Specific Learning Disabilities,” which discusses the growing trend of states to use RTI as the required approach for SLD identification.

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Publication of this eNewsletter is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #H326N080003 between AED 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.


Comments on our newsletter? Too long? Too short? Off-target? Right on? Suggestions for future topics? Please feel free to contact us at We’re here to help you help children with disabilities.

NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to