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Newsline is the quarterly newsletter of the Federation for Children with Special Needs, which provides valuable information and resources for parents and professionals. Each edition covers topical news relevant to families of children with disabilities, as well as updates from Federation projects, book reviews from our Executive Director, Federation event announcements, and more. Past editions of Newsline are archived to the left of the page, and can be accessed in web or .PDF form. Thank you for reading!


In the Current Edition

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students learning with teacher

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

There is nothing more important than ensuring that every child has his/her learning needs met in the classroom. Each child has a unique set of strengths and abilities he/she uses to learn and grow. With careful planning and partnering with parents, educators can create classrooms that are inclusive and accepting of all learners academically, socially, and emotionally. One way to create more inclusive classrooms is through Universal Design for Learning (UDL).


Diseño universal para el aprendizaje (DUA)

No hay nada más importante que asegurar que el aula satisfaga las necesidades de aprendizaje de todos los alumnos. Cada niño tiene un conjunto único de habilidades y aptitudes que utiliza para aprender y crecer. Los educadores pueden crear aulas inclusivas que den cabida académica, social y emocional a todos los estudiantes a través de una planificación cuidadosa y con la colaboración de los padres. El diseño universal para el aprendizaje es una manera de crear aulas más inclusivas.


Desenho Universal de Aprendizagem (UDL)

Não há nada mais importante do que garantir que as necessidades de aprendizagem de todas as crianças sejam atendidas em sala de aula. Cada criança tem um conjunto único de pontos fortes e habilidades que ela usa ao aprender e crescer. Com o planejamento atencioso e a parceria com os pais, os educadores podem criar salas de aula inclusivas e acolhedoras para todos os alunos em termos acadêmicos, sociais e emocionais. Uma maneira de criar salas de aulas mais inclusivas é pelo Desenho Universal da Aprendizagem (UDL, pelas siglas em inglês).


Register Today for our Visions of Community Conference!

We have opened registration for the Visions of Community Conference, to be held on Saturday, March 4th, at the Seaport World Trade Center. This year we have 47 workshops on the topics of Special Education, Health, Early Childhood, Transition, Behavioral and Mental Health, including strands in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian-Creole, and Arabic.


It’s Annual Appeal Time!

Vicki is the mother of a 12 year old with a behavioral health diagnosis. Vicki contacted the Federation’s Family-to-Family Health Information Center about a number of concerns and problems she was having trying to navigate the complicated world of obtaining insurance coverage forher child. It soon became clear that Vicki needed more than just health insurance information.


From the Executive Director

“Don’t we already do Inclusion?” This is the question that many parents and schools ask when the topic is discussed. The word “Inclusion” can mean many things. Sometimes it is used to describe a particular classroom which has been dubbed “The Inclusion Classroom”, which means student with disabilities who receive special education services attend this class. Or “Inclusion” is sometimes called “mainstreaming” which is a term to describe the student with special needs who participates in general education classes more than 80% of their school day. However, for many of us who are parents, “Inclusion” is a term used to assert the rights of all students to be educated with their peers in “Inclusive” classrooms.


IEPs and Section 504 Plans – What’s the Difference?

The staff at our Parent Training and Information Call Center is frequently asked to explain the differences between an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and a Section 504 accommodation plan. We agree that it can be confusing, so here is a short primer on some key points.


Secondary Transition Updates

Transition projects at the Federation for Children with Special Needs are expanding as the organization engages young adults in a new Advisory Council and launches a new project in partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Momentum in the secondary transition field is strong, with a push from school systems, workforce development, and vocational rehabilitation programs to support young adults for college and career readiness.


Another Successful Walk!

Families, friends, and community members enjoyed a beautiful day while celebrating the Federation’s annual “Walk, Roll, Shobble*, Stroll” event on September 25 at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital. The walkers enjoyed a peaceful mile-long walk down a nature path to raise funds for and awareness of the Federation.

Ninth Annual Joining Voices Conference

On November 3, Mass Family Voices brought together more than 60 parents and professionals for the 9th annual Joining Voices Conference at the Edwards Conference Center in Framingham. Joining Voices is an annual opportunity for families of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) and their professional partners to learn specific skills to advocate effectively for their children and make informed decisions about healthcare services and supports, ultimately becoming better partners in decision-making. A huge thank you goes out to our sponsors Exceptional Lives, Franciscans School and Boston Medical Center Autism Program.