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Educating Special Needs Students

This course meets Florida state standards for teaching students with disabilities. For more information on this requirement, please click here

This course is designed for all educators and related providers who work with students diagnosed with learning disabilities, attention deficits (with or without hyperactivity), developmental delays, behavior problems or other distinctive disorders. Participants will gain understanding of students with Dyslexia, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and various other disabilities. Federal laws will be explored: IDEA, Every Student Success Act (previously known as No Child Left Behind), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, along with many required applications of these laws to the classroom. Participants will develop a clinical eye toward all students (with or without an IEP) and will be able to apply classroom accommodations, developmental teaching techniques and designed modifications. Each participant will have the option to organize and complete a case study based on one selected student. Participants will learn how to be diagnostic educators by reviewing student’s symptoms and test scores and customize an educational plan that will accommodate that student's weakness. Each module presents various activities, learning strategies, and curriculum adaptations. Participants will accumulate a portfolio of tools and strategies they can bring back to their classrooms to maximize learning for all of their students.


Carlow University ED 609 • Madonna University EDU 5960.16 •

Mercy University EDUT 521

The required text for this course is Commonsense Methods for Children with Special Educational Needs, 8th Edition by Peter Westwood.




Graduate participants earn 3 semester hours of graduate credit and will receive a transcript from one of our partner institutions below. Professional development participants will receive a certificate of completion for 45 hours of professional developments credit for face-to-face classes and 60 hours of professional development credit for online classes.

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Course Schedule

  • 2/13/24 - 5/14/24
  • 4/9/24 - 7/9/24
  • 6/11/24 - 9/10/24
  • 8/13/24 - 11/12/24
  • 10/8/24 - 1/14/25
  • 12/10/24 - 3/11/25

Course Schedule

Summer 2024

  • Aug 2-4 & Aug 16-18
  • Nicole Taliercio

Session/Module 1: Special Education in the Classroom

Objective: To introduce the history of special education including regulations and developments; to define the role of classroom teachers within those parameters

  • Definition and history of Special Education
  • IDEA law and regulations
  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
  • Mainstreaming
  • Necessary documents (The IEP and Psychological Report)
  • District/Teacher responsibilities
  • Common integration models

Session/Module 2: Eligibility for Special Ed. Services and Possible Categories Therein

Objective: To outline procedures that identifies and assists students with special needs; to review all categories of disabilities

  • Criteria for eligibility
  • Developmental delays
    • Physical development
    • Cognitive development
    • Communication development
    • Social/Emotional development
    • Adaptive development
  • Categories of Disabilities (13)

Session/Module 3: Learning Disabilities

Objective: To review the study of learning disabilities; to allow educators opportunities as diagnosticians

  • Types of Learning Disabilities
  • Classroom teachers as diagnosticians
  • Symptomatic checklist to facilitate educational diagnosis
  • Establishing a profile and developing a clinical eye
  • Successful reading programs for learning disabled students

Session/Module 4: Behavior Problems in the Classroom

Objective: To introduce the full gamut of behavior problems and facilitate plans for improvements

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Childhood depression
  • Section 504 (Of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
  • Medication
  • Behavior Improvement Plan (BIP)
  • Behavior modifications

Session/Module 5: Autism and Other Distinctive Disorders

Objective: To review and distinguish the difference between Autism and other forms of PPD; to outline a plan for a student case study

  • Autism and PPD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder)
    • Definition
    • Criteria
    • Social issues
    • Communication concerns
    • Stereotypical Behaviors
    • Intervention/teaching method
  • Other distinctive disorders
    • Tourette's Syndrome
    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
    • Selective Mutism
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Session/Module 6: The Referral Process

Objective: To provide a timeline for making referrals and establishing criteria within that timeline

  • School-Based Intervention Team (SBIT)
  • Elementary and Secondary pre-referral strategies
  • The Special Ed. Referral timeline
  • The Committee of Special Education (CSE)
  • Being prepared, developing your file and presenting your case at CSE
  • Voting members and possible outcomes

Session/Module 7: Every Student Succeed Act (Replaced No Child Left Behind Law)

Objective: To introduce regulations and provisions of NCLB; to review changing roles and accountability for all educators

  • Facts and mandates
  • Student testing
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (Nation's Report Card)
  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Common Core and Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA)
  • Special Ed. and ESSA

Session/Module 8: Adapting/Modifying Curriculum

Objective: To provide educators with plans and strategies for modifying curriculum of all special needs students

  • Alternative ways of teaching
  • Suggestions for academic/related accommodations
  • Testing Modifications: Purpose and Eligibility
  • Modifying the Classroom
  • Practical Academic Strategies
  • Leveling out the playing field

Session/Module 9: Building Partnerships

Objective: To strategize opportunities for cooperative partnerships that will strengthen and support all educators

  • Working with parents
  • Administrators lend a hand
  • Getting help from special care providers and support staff
  • Collaborative Teaching
  • Aides and Paraprofessionals

Session/Module 10: Becoming Advocates

Objective: To offer opportunities for educators to become clinicians and advocates for all students

  • Developing sensitivity towards the special-needs student
  • Remember to honor the IEP
  • Rebuilding self-esteem
  • Protecting the vulnerable student
  • Outline the history of special education, including current regulations and developments.
  • Distinguish the roles of the classroom teacher and other educators within the parameters of current regulations and developments.
  • Appraise recent statistics concerning children with disabilities.
  • Assess and recognize developmental delays and procedures that identify students with special needs.
  • Examine and recognize the 13 types of disabilities as defined by IDEA.
  • Compare and contrast the specifics of learning disabilities by examining the traits of each type of learning disability.
  • Illustrate methods for adapting instruction.
  • Compare and contrast numerous behavioral disorders that may be encountered in the classroom environment.
  • Evaluate, characterize, and recognize behavior modification plans, and locate resources that are available to assist teachers in designing/utilizing those plans.
  • Compare and contrast Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) with IDEA.
  • Appraise and distinguish between autism and other pervasive developmental disorders (PDD).
  • Characterize additional disorders and syndromes that he/she may encounter among future students.
  • Assess the role of the school-based intervention team in addressing behavioral issues.
  • Appraise pre-referral strategies that he/she may adapt for use in the classroom.
  • Examine the legally mandated timeline for progressing through the special education referral process.
  • Locate and research guidelines for referring his/her student(s) to the Committee of Special Education (CSE) in his/her district.
  • Appraise the regulations and provisions of Every Student Succeed Act that replaces the NCLB Act.
  • Evaluate the changing roles and accountability practices for all educators.
  • Appraise strategies and devise plans specifically aimed at modifying curriculum and instruction for students with special needs.
  • Assess alternative teaching methods and strategies which provide adapted instruction for students with special needs.
  • Compare and contrast a multitude of approved testing modifications which are designated for accommodating students with special needs.
  • Design instruction that incorporates differentiations which characterize accommodations for students with special needs.
  • Assess opportunities for educators to form cooperative partnerships with administrators, parents, and primary service providers that will provide the strength and support necessary for maintaining a productive educational environment.
  • Evaluate methodologies which promote favorable opportunities for advocating parental support and involvement.
  • Distinguish between various service providers who support classroom teachers in catering to students with special needs.
  • Appraise opportunities for educators to recognize all students’ potential, and to facilitate intervention as is necessary to empower students to achieve success.
  • Evaluate means of assessing the needs of his/her students and develop habits that exemplify sensitivity towards students and how to best support them in the educational environment.
  • Characterize behaviors/practices that prioritize protection of vulnerable students by comparing various methods/considerations which serve to promote high self-esteem within students, especially those who exhibit waning or non-existent self-confidence.
Partner Universities

Our Partners are well-established regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities, recognized for academic excellence and their commitment to teachers.

Important Information

Online 3-graduate credit courses are 13 weeks in length.

On-site weekend courses are held Friday evening from 6:00pm-9:00pm and Saturday/Sunday, 8:30am-5:30pm.

Weekday courses are Monday-Friday from 8:00am- 6:00pm.

It is the responsibility of the student to check with their state, county, district, or school to ensure that all requirements are being met by the course you're taking.  

Check the Partner Universities page for specific university information as well as course numbers which are specific to the university partner. 

Students are required to purchase their own textbook, the information for which can be found here. If no book is required it will be specified on the list. We have copies of many of the textbooks should you wish to purchase directly from TEI. 

Professional development (PD) participants receive a certificate of completion from TEI for 45 hours of PD credit for face to face classes and 60 hours of PD credit for online classes. These certificates are mailed within one week of the end of the class and reflect the course title, dates of attendance, and credit hour information. 

Student Academic Integrity
Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by our partnering colleges and universities and is subject to academic disciplinary action.