Schools and teachers play an essential role in identifying students with reading difficulties, including dyslexia. This article offers a 5-step framework for identifying reading difficulties and determining if a student is eligible for special education services under IDEA — including the role of RTI, cognitive processing tests, and other statewide assessments and curriculum-based measures.
Find links to examples of curriculum and programs that can be used to teach students on the autism spectrum. Topics include commuication, sensory support, social skills, life skills, literacy, math, science, and social studies.
Learn about the three psychological theories of ASD — Theory of Mind, Weak Central Cohesion, and executive functioning. Understanding these theories can help families and educators manage challenging behaviors at home and in the classroom.
Communication impairment is a characteristic of autism spectrum disorder. Learn more about how speech-language pathologists can support teachers, including information about different classroom models (e.g., push-in or pull-out), managing an augmentative communication program, and what a service plan can look like.
The following questions can help you get to know your students with autism and give you insights that go beyond test scores and IEP goals.
Learn more about talents and challenges in children with high-functioning autism. Get tips on how to make your classroom welcoming and supportive, including lots of ideas for creating physical and instruictional supports, and how to use specific interests to jumpstart learning adventures with other subjects.
An organized classroom with defined areas and spaces can help students with autism in anticipating what is expected and to predict what will be happening during the instructional day. Get tips on how to create defined learning spaces and reduce distractions in your classroom.
A visual schedule communicates the sequence of upcoming activities or events through the use of objects, photographs, icons, or words. Find out how to set up visual schedules in your classroom to support your students with ASD.
A work system is an organizational system that gives students with ASD information about what is expected when they come to the classroom. Find out how to implement a work system in your classroom.
Visual structure adds a physical or visual component to tasks to help students with ASD to understand how an activity should be completed. Get ideas on how to implement visual structure in your classroom and support your students' independence.
Learn about four strategies for structured teaching to support students with ASD: (1) physical structure, (2) visual schedules, (3) work systems, and (4) visual structure.
Learning to read is a challenge for many kids, but most can become good readers if they get the right help. Parents have an important job in recognizing when a child is struggling and knowing how to find help. Here are some signs to look for and things to do if you suspect your child is having trouble reading.
Learn the benefits of getting your child evaluated, who does the evaluation, what happens during an evaluation, what to do with the results, and more. You can also view a video to get an inside look at a dyslexia evaluation.
There are many teaching methods that can help struggling readers, including children with dyslexia. Learn about the Orton–Gillingham approach and 10 other other methods to supplement your main classroom instruction.
Orton–Gillingham was the first teaching approach specifically designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. Many reading programs include Orton–Gillingham ideas, including a “multisensory” approach, which is considered highly effective for teaching students with dyslexia.
Reading requires strong skills in decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension. Learn about some AT tools that can support students in these three key areas.
Learn the basics about text-to-speech, what the research says about how well it supports comprehension, tips on how to get the most out of the technology, and a short list of recommended text-to-speech tools.
Are students who use assistive technology getting an unfair advantage? Will AT fix a student's learning challenges? Here are the top three misconceptions about AT and how it is used in the classroom and at home.
Learn how to use the SETT framework to identify a struggling student's learning needs and match that with the most appropriate assistive technology options. A case study is provided.
In this video, teachers of students with a range of learning needs discuss the ways in which assistive technology can help. (In English and Spanish)
High-leverage practices (HLPs) and evidence-based practices (EBPs) when used together can become powerful tools for improving outcomes for students with disabilities and those who struggle. This brief shows the promise of these practices in advancing educator preparation and practice.
Assistive technology is any kind of technology that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a physical or cognitive disability. Get the basics in this fact sheet from the Center on Technology and Disability.
It is important for parents to understand the "language" of assistive technology so they can be informed advocates for their child's technology needs. The following glossary of terms can help parents learn about the kinds of assistive technologies that are currently available and how they can be used.
With careful and creative planning, literacy instruction can be adapted to meet the needs of every student in the classroom. Five ways teachers can provide a literacy education for all learners are offered here.
Many learners with disabilities are visual learners and are best able to understand and remember content when they can see it represented in some way; in other words, they need to “see what we mean.” Three visual supports helpful for teaching and supporting literacy development are described here: picture books, graphic notes, and story kits.
Four strategies and practices are common to effective reading instruction programs: multi-tiered systems of support; universal screening, progress monitoring, and collaboration between special education and general education. This article provides links to tools that support implementation in each area.
Learn the basics about autism spectrum disorder (ASD): what it is, signs and symptoms, strengths and abilities, risk factors, diagnosing ASD, the value of early intervention, and treatment and therapies that can help children and their families.
Sesame Workshop has introduced Julia, a muppet with autism, to the world of Sesame Street. Using selected clips of Julia from the program, a psychologist explains practical ways teachers can support children with autism.
In this webinar from the Center on Technology and Disability, two experts demonstrate and discuss various apps and Assistive Technology (AT) options, including wearable technology to support students with autism.
In this webinar from the Center on Technology and Disability, you'll learn about assistive technology funding sources for children with and without IEPs.
For children with print-based reading disabilities, accessible formats provide alternate versions of print-based books that function in much the same way as a print-based textbook. Learn about the different kinds of accessible formats, including digital talking books, enlarged text, electronic publications, and more.
This resource guide identifies high-quality, useful resources that address various aspects of accessibility: developing an accessibility statement, conducting an accessibility audit, acquiring accessible technology, and building professional development resources on accessibility for school staff and others.
This guide focuses on ways to encourage the independence of a student with learning disabilities while in school and as they transition to college or work.
These 27 identified evidence-based teaching practices have been shown through scientific research to be effective when implemented correctly with students with ASD.
Children's picture books about autism can be a valuable resource for teachers in inclusive classrooms attempting to teach awareness, empathy, and acceptance among students. This article provides instructional tips for educators and offers suggestions for using children's picture books about autism to encourage positive, inclusive instruction.
Many struggling and special needs students have a print disability. Teachers can meet these students’ needs by translating the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into practice. Learn about the seven features of "born accessible materials" and how to select these materials for your school and classroom.
Teaching children with autism to comprehend text can be challenging. Here are some strategies educators can incorporate into daily lessons to meet the literacy needs of their students.
Find out the characteristics of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that make writing difficult, and how use of technology can help support writing development. Results of a pilot study that utilized First Author® software to improve the writing of secondary students with ASD are described.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides the opportunity for all students to access, participate in, and progress in the general-education curriculum by reducing barriers to instruction. Learn more about how UDL offers options for how information is presented, how students respond or demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and how students are engaged in learning.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects a child's handwriting. Children with dysgraphia usually have other problems such as difficulty with written expression. Learn more about causes, the importance of early assessment, dysgraphia and spelling, and effective instructional strategies that strengthen written language skills.
In addition to the unique gifts and interests that autistic students bring to the classroom as people, their responses can serve as an early warning system for pedagogical problems that are happening in the classroom as a whole.
To create environments most conducive to learning for students with autism and their peers without disabilities, teachers may need to examine ways in which classroom spaces are organized. Specifically, teachers may need to consider the sounds, smells, lighting, and seating options in the classrooms.
For many learners with autism, transitions are the toughest part of schooling. These four strategies are designed to prepare the learner with autism for a new school or a new schooling experience and can be used days or months before the student arrives as well as throughout the school year.
Students with autism may have unique needs with learning, social skills, and communication. These ten simple ideas will help teachers address some of these needs and provide guidance for bringing out the best in learners with autism.
Speech recognition, also referred to as speech-to-text or voice recognition, is technology that recognizes speech, allowing voice to serve as the "main interface between the human and the computer." This Info Brief discusses how current speech recognition technology facilitates student learning, as well as how the technology can develop to advance learning in the future.
Our Top 8 back-to-school tips for parents emphasize communication, organization, and staying up-to-date on special education news.
Our top 10 back-to-school tips for special education teachers emphasize communication, organization, and a focus on student success.
Some students identified with autism can participate successfully in whole-class rich literacy experiences, with the right kind of support. Learn about strategies for designing lessons that are appropriate, engaging, and challenging for every learner in the inclusive classroom.
Knowing how to engage in signature scientific acts, such as formulating questions and using evidence in arguments is an important part of science learning. This InfoBrief from the National Center for Technology Innovation offers more information about using technology to support struggling students.
As we head towards September and a new school year, here's advice from special education expert Rick Lavoie that may be helpful as you attempt to make special needs kids in your class feel warm, welcome, and wanted. Using the word SEPTEMBER, he shares nine concepts that can help you in this effort.
Teachers: How do you convince your principal, fellow teachers, and other school staff to help the student in your class who has a learning disability? Rick Lavoie, world-renowned expert, speaker, and author on teaching children with LD, tells you how to get your voice heard. Learn how to handle common road blocks and become a proactive and successful advocate in the hallways, the teacher's lounge, and the administrative suite.
Discover 20 ideas for including all students in classroom read alouds. These suggestions may work for students who need to fidget during whole-class instruction, those who need materials to keep focused, and those who require alternative ways of demonstrating attention, engagement, and interest.
If your child cannot read their textbooks, they need digital copies of their books. Schools now can use National Instructional Material Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) to get e-text. Learn the details that will help you advocate for your child so they can use NIMAS. And learn where to find the publishers and producers that provide e-text.
This article discusses the challenges in providing psychoeducational services to the rapidly increasing minority populations in the U.S. and offers a brief elaboration of the role and function of school counselors and school psychologists and how they can meet the mental health and educational needs of this large and growing population.
This article provides an overview of the federal No Child Left Behind law and includes information to help parents use provisions of NCLB to ensure that their child has access to appropriate instruction.
Students with autism spectrum disorder have a number of unique challenges in the classroom. Learn how to set up work systems that can help your students become more independent by strengthening organization skills, reducing distractibility, understanding sequence of events, and more.
Teachers are often asked to modify instruction to accommodate special needs students. In fact, all students will benefit from the following good teaching practices. The following article takes the mystery out of adapting materials and strategies for curriculum areas.
This article discusses current research-supported instructional practices in reading and writing. It also reviews alternatives to ability-achievement discrepancy in identifying students for special education services, as well as introduces the idea that ability-achievement discrepancies should be based on specific cognitive factors that are relevant to specific kinds of learning disabilities rather than Full Scale IQ.
Many professionals are involved in the diagnosis of LD: psychologists, educational specialists, and other professionals who work in specialized fields such as speech and language. This article identifies licensure requirements and who can diagnose LD and/or ADHD.
Parents are often the best educational advocates for their children, especially children with a learning disability. Discover nine tips to help you be a strong champion for your child.
Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. This article provides a brief overview list of typical signs of dyslexia in preschool and kindergarten.
Inclusion is a belief that ALL students, regardless of labels, should be members of the general education community. The philosophy of inclusion encourages the elimination of the dual special and general education systems, and the creation of a merged system that is responsive to the needs of all students.