Special Needs

Special Needs

Intro, Articles, Useful Links,

 Local Organizations, & On-line Support


"Special needs" has come to be a highly inclusive catch phrase. It refers to kids with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges that make it difficult for them to get their needs properly met in a mainstream education or caregiving situation. Special accommodations are often required for these children in order to enhance the quality of their lives, to aid them in developing their strengths, and to help them minimize the impact of their developmental or physical challenges.

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Attention Deficit Disorders Made Easy
By Barbara Stein

Insights into coping with ADD and ADHD. Includes Stein's insights and wisdom as a mother of five (including two ADD children) and her humor and advice as a teacher, workshop leader, and advocate. A useful, if extensive, article that may help comfort parents and orient teachers and caregivers regarding the features of ADD. Information is also available on ordering her book of the same title.



Explaining Down Syndrome to Children

Deciding how to explain Down syndrome to young children may challenge the beliefs and expectations of adults who see more differences than similarities among children with Down syndrome and their mainstream peers.


Learn Soma® Rapid Prompting Method 

As seen in the documentary film "A Mother's Courage: Talking Back To Autism" .  From HALO.


Making Modifications in the Classroom: A Collection of Checklists

An excellent and extensive checklist of what teachers [or advocates] can do to make improve the experience and performance of the learning for the disabled child -- including classroom environment, discipline policies, and methods of instruction.



Recognizing Early Signs of Autism

Recognizing early signs of autism helps families find resoures and support for very young children with autism spectrum disorders. The autism video glossary shows film clips of autism symptoms, helping families reach professionals to find an earlier diagnosis and early intervention options.



The Problem With Traditional Labels
by Stanley L. Greenspan

A good explanation of why we must be careful when labeling or diagnosing children's behaviors. In short, "The danger of using the labels is that the uniqueness of each particular child is lost. Settling for the labels often becomes more confusing than helpful."


Understanding the Emotional Landscape:
For Families of Children with Special Needs
By Robert Naseef, Ph.D.

Useful information on dealing with the depression that sometimes afflicts parents whose children have been diagnosed with disabilities. Includes an overview of the symptoms of depression, advice on when (and when not) to seek medication for depression and how to re-infuse your life with the ingredients that nurture a sense of well-being.


Working With Children Who Are Physically Challenged
by Stanley L. Greenspan

A brief overview of the impact of physical challenges on social-emotional development, plus concrete advice on involving the special needs child in the classroom.


Working With Children Who Have Processing Challenges
by Stanley L. Greenspan

An overview and explanation of this type of challenge and some useful advice on how to work effectively with the child and the parents.


Working With Children Who Show Attention Problems
by Stanley L. Greenspan

An explanation of the different reasons/source for attention problems -- worries, fears, sensory overload, difficulty with directions, visual-spatial processing problems, etc. Advises parent/teacher on how to identify the specific problem areas and to work from there. "While it's tempting to try to find a single answer to a problem, deciding a child 'has ADHD' and needs to be medicated can lead us to miss out on opportunities to strengthen underlying capacities. "




How Can I Talk If My Lips Don't Move: Inside My Autistic Mind
by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay

In short chapters, some including evocative prose poems, Mukhopadhyay, a severely autistic adolescent whose mother painstakingly taught him how to read and write, introduces the reader to his daily inner life. Sometimes his thoughts are compulsive—he misses an entire film while mentally drawing diagonals across every one of the design squares on the cinema's ceiling—and sometimes fragmented, as when looking at a bucket: I might easily get distracted by its redness, since it would remind me of how my hands bled when I had fallen from a swing, how I was so absorbed in that red that I had forgotten about my pain, and how that red resembled a hibiscus.... Mukhopadhyay reflects on autism without romanticizing it, acknowledging my physical and neurological limitations and declaring, I am not worried about hell because I have experienced it here on earth. Occasionally, his writing is somewhat sketchy, but for the most part this is an eye-opening book on a serious disorder and the hope that other autistic children can learn to transcend it through education and imaginative self-reflection.

Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Other ASDs
by Chantal Sicile-Kira

What Chantal Sicile-Kira does so well is to make the reader understand and appreciate what it is like to be a parent of an autistic child, what family life can be like with siblings, what the educational prospects are, how one fits into the community and what the future may hold. Autism spectrum disorders are becoming better and better understood all the time, and there is even a school of thought that suggests that, in their milder forms, to look for a "cure" may be a misdirection because many autistics have a unique and valuable way of viewing the world and living life.  






Useful Links


Autism Society of America 

Wonderful resources, including how to connect with support groups and a variety of services in your state. 

Autism Info 

This is a great resource for both children and adults with autism.  This comprehensive site offers an "Action Plan for Parents of Newly Diagnosed Kids", explanations of autism, a medical overview with links to additional information on the web, nutritional information, recommended books, and so much more.


Coloring Sheets

Enhance your special needs lesson plan with these printable coloring sheets.


Disability Inclusion Awareness

This special section from Earth's Kids is focused on diversity and inclusion.


ERIC Clearing House on Disabilities and Gifted Education

From the Educational Resources Information Center.


Laurent Clerk National Deaf Education Center & Clearinghouse

Sponsored by Gallaudet University.


LD Online

Billed as "the interactive guide to learning disabilities", this site features excellent articles on a variety of topics important to LD individuals and those who interact with them. Official website of the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities & the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities



The National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education Mainly useful for learning more about working in special ed. Contains info about professional support networks, outlines different specialties or career areas within the special education field, and supports links to a recruiters network -- to facilitate job placement.


The National Information Center For Children & Youth With Disabilities

This is an exceptional site, chock full of useful information. Contains vast numbers of excellent high quality publications and fact sheets (free for download and distribution), news about current legislation & budget issues relevant to persons with disabilities, plus conference information. While there, check out their colorful mini posters -- download them, for free, and print them out.



Schwab Foundation for Learning

Excellent information on learning disabilities. Online publications, articles, web resources, online support, and more. Great for parents & teachers.


Special Child

Sponsored by The Resource Foundation for Children with Challenges (RFCC), this is an excellent online resource for parents (and teachers) of developmentally challenged children. Features an inspiring collection of success stories, information on various disorders, a place to vent and share your horror stories, a bulletin board for exchanging tips with other families, and help in diagnosing a child's particular developmental disorder.


Special Needs Children Site

Excellent resources for families and teachers with special needs children.   Besides useful articles, there are recommended books and videos, including picture books for children.


Special Needs Links (For Homeschoolers)

Great links to information on educating children with special needs. Good for teachers and parents. From Homeschool Central.


The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses

A passionate collection of articles refuting the over prescription of ridalin for active children



Toys R Us -- Toy Guide for Differently-abled Kids





Local Organizations -- in the South San Francisco Bay Region


Families In Partnership Of South Bay

A support resource for South Bay/Santa Clara parents of special needs children. Check out this site for a schedule of support group meetings. (Formerly Parents In Partnership).


Kitty Petty Institute
6268 Snell Ave. San Jose, CA 95123
(408) 972-9774

The mission of the Kitty Petty ADD/LD institute is to provide education resources and support to children, youth, and adults with ADD/LD to become self-advocates and reach their true potential.


Parents Helping Parents  -- Don't miss their playgroup listings!




MeetUp.com allows you to create your own online presence for your play group, support group, or other related get together.  There is a cost for hosting your own group, but you can always look for other groups to join. 




On-line Support


Cafe Mom

This site features blogs and websites by moms as well as discussion groups on a variety of parenting topics, including special needs issues.   Parenting Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder , Autism Moms, and  Special Education are just a few of the groups this site has featured.   You'll have to browse their groups folder to find one for you-- or just start a new group focused on your particular concern.



Parenting Special Needs

A forum just for parents of special needs children, from About.com. Live chat sessions are also scheduled.


Teachers Helping Teachers

One of a number of discussion forums sponsored by the Council For Exceptional Children. This is a place for special ed. teachers to share their insights, tips, and inspirational stories with each other. Surf the C.E.C. site for the latest policy information, online courses, as well as leads on jobs in the special ed. field.




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