Special Education Column
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have been awarded a $4.2-million grant to study preschool programs that integrate disabled children with their nonhandicapped peers.
Phillip Strain, the principal investigator for the five-year, federally funded project, said the study has four components. One segment examines the long-term impact of "mainstreaming" handicapped toddlers. The researchers will track the educational progress of 400 handicapped toddlers over five years. Half of the children will be integrated into programs with nonhandicapped children, while the other half will be segregated into special programs.
Another part of the study focuses on how disabled and nondisabled children form friendships with each other.
And researchers working on other aspects of the study will develop handbooks--one to guide existing preschool programs in accommodating handicapped children and another to guide administrators in the legal, financial, and personnel issues involved in the operation of such programs.
More than 1,200 special educators across the nation could be trained to work with handicapped infants and toddlers as part of a new program being developed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Financed with a $255,000 grant from the U.S. Education Department, the three-year project includes a 12-day training institute for interdisciplinary teams of special educators from each state. Each participating team will, in turn, train at least five other teams in its home state.
The association also plans to develop a package of instructional materials that will be distributed though national professional associations, professional-development programs, and state education agencies.
Other organizations participating in the project include: the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Occupational Therapy Association, and the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center.
Frederick J. Weintraub, one of the best-known special-education lobbyists in Washington, is leaving the political arena to head the Council for Exceptional Children's new communications department.
In his 22-year career with the cec, Mr. Weintraub has played a major role in helping to shape federal special-education law. In his new post, he will handle the group's publications and public relations.--dv