National Inclusive Education Initiative
For Students with Autism and Related Disabilities
The NIEI is focused on improving educational services and outcomes for students with autism and related disabilities through efforts in the areas of leadership development, personnel preparation, professional development, model demonstration, clinical evaluation services, and research and policy, briefly described next.
This project is supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Education and is administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
As the population of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) increases (1 in 150 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the U.S.), educators need strategies and resources to improve their ability to teach students with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities (ASDRD) in general education classrooms and neighborhood schools alongside non-disabled peers. Over 30 years of research has shown that academic and other important outcomes are positively correlated with the amount of time that these students spend in general education classrooms (IDEA, 2004). Furthermore, the high costs and poorer outcomes associated with educating students with ASDRD in out-of-district and/or segregated placements are troubling to families, schools, and communities. Emerging best practices need to be translated into formats that are accessible and usable, disseminated broadly to increase awareness, and sustained over time. Families must be fully engaged in the process of education, and therefore, also need skills to advocate for their sons and daughters. And finally, state and national policies must be informed by best practices in order that regulations, funding formulas, and enforcement activities support access to the general education curriculum, graduation, post-secondary education, and productive adult lives.
The Institute on Disability/UCED (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) is a nationally recognized source of cutting edge research, teaching, and service related to children and youth with ASDRD. With support from the Fund for the Improvement of Education administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the IOD has established the first National Inclusive Education Initiative for Students with Autism and Related Disabilities (NIEI).