Children (3 to 22)

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An elementary school-age boy, with backpack, gets off the school bus.

September 2010

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The education of children with disabilities is a top national priority. Our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), sets high standards for their achievement and guides how special help and services are made available in schools to address their individual needs.

More than 6 million children with disabilities receive special education and related services in our schools each year. To learn more about these vital services, explore the topics below. You may also find our A-Z Topics list a handy tool!

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10 Basic Steps in Special Education| Wondering how a child becomes eligible for special education and related services in school? Come here for NICHCY’s to-the-point overview of the 10 basic steps involved. Key Terms to Know in Special Education | This page is like visiting a dictionary of important special education terms (such as the term “child with a disability”). Each definition comes directly from IDEA.
Parental Rights under IDEA | By law, parents of children with disabilities being served under IDEA have specific rights. Find out what those rights are. Q & A Series on IDEA | Visit our evolving series on IDEA 2004 for a sharp-eyed look at: (1) IDEA’s Purposes and Key Definitions; and (2) Parent Participation.
Special Education Services for Preschoolers with Disabilities | What services are available for preschoolers who are experiencing developmental delays? Where can you turn for help and support? Evaluating Children for Disability | Before a child may receive special education for the first time, he or she must be evaluated fully and individually. The evaluation’s free! Find out all about the process here.
All About the IEP | Every child who receives special education services under IDEA must have an IEP—Individualized Education Program. Come here to learn all about IEPs —what the law requires, what information a typical IEP contains, how IEPs are developed, and why they’re so important. Placement Issues | Placement is where a student with a disability receives his or her special education and related services. IDEA requires placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE), a setting that is based on the child’s IEP. Find out who decides placement and how they decide it.
Supports, Modifications, and Accommodations for Students | There are many powerful ways to support children with disabilities in regular classrooms and school activities. Adaptations and modifications, designed to fit a student’s needs, can make all the difference in the world! Effective Practices in the Classroom and School | Connect with special education’s knowledge base on effective educational practices at the classroom level and across an entire school.
Addressing Behavior Issues | What to do about challenging behaviors in students? Visit the Behavior Suite, 5 separate resource pages that will connect you with the spectrum of expertise out there. Transition to Adulthood | Youth with disabilities need to plan ahead for their transition from high school. The law mandates it, in fact! Enter here if you’d like to connect with a wealth of materials and knowledge.
Resolving Disputes Between Parents and Schools | When disagreements occur between the parents of a child with disability and the school, both can turn to IDEA’s dispute resolution options. Find out more about these options here.

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NOTICE: The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is no longer in operation. Our funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) ended on September 30, 2013. Our website and all its free resources will remain available until September 30, 2014.