May 2, 2003

In this Issue:

1. House Approves Major Special Education Reform Bill With Bipartisan Support

Source: - April 30, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Signaling another important step for education reform in America, on April 30, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Improving Education Results for Children with Disabilities Act (H.R. 1350), a bill making landmark reforms to the nation's special education law. The bill is available at

2. Updates of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

Source: NIH Autism Listserv - April 29, 2003

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) held its last meeting on November 22, 2002. Highlights from that meeting, along with the 2003 HHS Report to Congress on Autism Activities, may be found on the IACC Web page at: The next meeting of the IACC will be held on May 13, 2003. The agenda for this meeting may also be found on this Web page.

3. Statewide Program to Educate Medical Professionals on Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: - April 28, 2003

An innovative statewide campaign designed to educate physicians and parents of young children about the early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders is underway in Minnesota. The program -- Minnesota First Signs - is providing free training, screening kits, and CME credits for physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in a statewide program that organizers believe can serve as a national model. The campaign is a collaborative effort of the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning, Autism Society of Minnesota, University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Health, and First Signs, Inc., a nonprofit organization that is spearheading the effort. The goals of the initiative, which begin in May, are to:

  • Increase knowledge and awareness of the early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders.
  • Improve frequency and quality of screening of young children from birth through the early school years.
  • Facilitate timely referral of children to local early intervention programs.
  • Lower the age when children with autism and other development disabilities are identified.

"We neither know how to prevent autism nor how to cure it, but we do know that early detection and intensive treatment can profoundly change the quality of life for children at risk and their families," said Nancy Wiseman, President of First Signs...

For more information about the program go to:
Additional information for parents and physicians regarding autism and related developmental disorders can be found at

4. No One's Priority: The Plight of Children with Serious Mental Disorders in Medicaid Systems

Source: MCH Alert - April 25, 2003

No One's Priority: The Plight of Children with Serious Mental Disorders in Medicaid Systems examines parents' experiences in attempting to access mental health services for their Medicaid-eligible children. Building on their previous report on the expansion of child mental health services in state Medicaid plans, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law examined whether Medicaid-eligible children in two states (Oregon and New York) were, in fact, receiving an expanded range of mental health services in their communities. The report includes an overview, services listed in each state's Medicaid plan, parent reports, implications for public policy, recommendations, and a conclusion. The report is available at

[Originally published in MCHAlert 2003 National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health and Georgetown University. Reprinted with permission.]

5. Research on Understanding and Supporting Paraeducators

Source: IDEA News - April 2003

The latest issue of Research Connections in Special Education, published by the ERIC/OSEP Special Project, focuses on paraeducators and highlights research related to enhancing paraeducators' work to help students with disabilities achieve high standards. It points out that in decades past the chief responsibilities of paraeducators were primarily clerical. Today, these professionals are charged with providing increasing instructional and learner support for students with disabilities...

6. NICHD Study To Test Surgical Technique To Repair Spinal Defect Before Birth

Source: HHSPRESS@LIST.NIH.GOV - April 25, 2003

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) will conduct a large study to determine whether a new surgery to correct spina bifida in the womb is safer and more effective than the traditional surgery to correct the disorder, which takes place a few days after birth. For more information go to: