RehabWire - Volume 8, Number 2, March 2006

Children with Special Needs.

For March, RehabWire looks at current research in children with special needs, their families, their communities, and their schools.

NIDRR Grantees on the Cutting Edge.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Children's Mental Health, University of South Florida (H133B040024) led by Robert Friedman, PhD. Bonnie Gracer, Project Officer.
Abstract: The Research and Training Center Children’s Mental Health conducts an integrated set of research projects designed, in the short run, to enhance knowledge about effective implementation of systems of care, and, in the long run, to make it possible for children with serious emotional disturbances to live, learn, work, and thrive in their own communities. The Center has developed a theory of factors that contribute to effective implementation; within that theory is a strong emphasis on the importance of understanding from a systemic perspective the interrelationship between the different factors, and their relationship to the community culture and context in which a service delivery system exists. The Center has a set of six interconnected research projects that use both quantitative and qualitative methods, and are holistic in their focus, to further test and develop its theory.
Find out more at:

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Community Integration for Individuals with Disabilities, Strengthening Family and Youth Participation in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Portland State University (H133B040038) led by Barbara Friesen, PhD. Bonnie Gracer, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project conducts research, training, and technical assistance activities to study and promote effective, community-based, culturally competent, family-centered, individualized, and strength-based services for children and youth with emotional or behavioral disorders and their families. Projects include: (1) Community Integration (CI) of Transition-Age Youth; (2) Transforming Futures: Research on Expanding the Career Aspirations of Youth with Mental and Emotional Disorders; (3) Partnerships in Individualized Planning; (4) Work-Life Integration for adult caregivers of children and youth with emotional disorders; (5) Transforming Transitions to Kindergarten; (6) Practice-Based Evidence: Building Effectiveness from the Ground Up: a case study in partnership with a Native American youth organization and the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
Find out more at:

Opening Doors for Children with Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs, Children's Hospital (H133B060012) led by Judith S. Palfrey, MD. Bonnie Gracer, Project Officer.
Abstract: This rehabilitation research and training center (RRTC) on children with disabilities who have special health care needs (CYDS) tests the effectiveness of two intensive interventions, integrated transition planning and community participation in recreation and fitness, and demonstrates the viability of a screening tool to promote access to services and supports for traditionally underserved communities. Research activities include two intervention projects that use randomized controlled designs to improve the educational and recreational activities of CYDS and a demonstration project to improve the early identification of CYDS from traditionally underserved communities. Find out more at:

Evaluation of Barriers to Delivery of Rehabilitative Services to Infants and Toddlers in the Custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family, Christina M. Bruhn, PhD (H133F050018) led by Christina M. Bruhn, PhD. A. Cate Miller, PhD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project evaluates systems for delivery of early intervention services to children aged 0 to 3 with developmental delays who are under the guardianship of the State of Illinois and living in foster care due to having been adjudicated as abused or neglected, and provides vital information concerning the efficacy of one programmatic approach. The project determines the percentage of these children in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) assessed for probable developmental delays by a specialized assessment unit mandated to serve this entire population, the percentage found to have likely developmental delays, the percentage formally evaluated, the percentage found to have confirmed developmental delays, the percentage receiving services identified in the Individualized Family Service Plan, barriers associated with the assessment/referral delivery process, and characteristics associated with cases of children most and least likely to receive services.

Lost in Foster Care: What are the Experiences of Youth with Disabilities in Foster Care, Jennifer M. Hogansen, PhD (H133F050028) led by Jennifer M. Hogansen, PhD. A. Cate Miller, PhD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project examines the incidence, characteristics, and experiences of youth with disabilities in foster care. There are five major project objectives: (1) Systematically examining the characteristics of children and youth with disabilities in the foster care system; (2) examining the foster care experiences of adolescents with disabilities; (3) identifying and evaluating any differences that exist for adolescents in foster care based on type of disability; (4) comparing the experiences of adolescent youth with disabilities in foster care to peers in foster care without disabilities; and (5) developing and disseminating products for researchers, service providers, individuals with disabilities, and their families.

Caregiver and Environmental Influences on Outcome for Infants and Preschoolers with Traumatic Brain Injury, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (H133G040279) led by Mary R. Prasad. A. Cate Miller, PhD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project is guided by a transactional model of development which postulates that a child’s eventual outcome is a result of transactions between the child’s biological risk factors and a continuum of environmental conditions. Project 1 assesses predictors of outcome in infants and preschoolers with moderate or severe TBI who are 6 to 47 months of age in relation to socio-demographically matched comparison children. Child behavior, caregiver stress, and family functioning are expected to have a direct impact on outcome from TBI; however, the effect of brain injury on developmental outcomes is also expected to be partially mediated through the influence of these factors on the caregiver-child interaction. Project 2 pilots a randomized, controlled, home-based, caregiver-focused intervention for infants and preschoolers with TBI that enhances caregiver skills for stimulating cognitive development.

Teen Online Problem Solving for Pediatric Brain Injury, Children’s Hospital Medical Center (H133G050239) led by Shari L. Wade, PhD. A. Cate Miller, PhD, Project Officer.
Abstract: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adolescents is a significant stressor for both the teen and his or her family. The current project addresses the need for effective, accessible interventions by developing and piloting an innovative online intervention for adolescents with TBI (Teen Online Problem Solving: TOPS). The TOPS intervention is adapted, based on input from teens with TBI, from a recently developed online program for school-aged children with TBI and their families. The project tests the TOPS intervention in a randomized trial comparing the effects of usual care to TOPS on the following outcomes: (1) Adolescent problem-solving and communication skills; (2) adolescent emotional/behavioral adjustment; (3) parent burden and distress; and (4) parent-teen conflict. TOPS makes use of emerging technology to address the multifaceted needs of teens following TBI with the goal of improving the teen’s social and emotional functioning, thereby enabling him or her to better negotiate the complex transition to adulthood and independent functioning.
Find out more at:

Please note: These abstracts have been modified. Full, unedited abstracts, as well as any available REHABDATA citations, are available at

The National Center for Physical Activity and Disability has a handy Camp Resources factsheet on their website at The Discover Camp Booklet is also available from NCPAD and answers many questions parents have about sending their little ones away for the summer. 

New Research: Selections from REHABDATA

Bedell, G., Cohn, E. (2005) Exploring parents’ use of strategies to promote social participation of school-age children with acquired brain injuries. American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT), 59(3), 273-284. NARIC Accession Number: J49145. Project Number: H133P990004.
Abstract: Parents were interviewed concerning the strategies they used to promote social participation for their school-age children with acquired brain injuries in home, school, and community life. Data were examined using content and constant-comparison analyses. Over time, parents reported using "anticipatory planning", which involved previewing upcoming events and activities and using strategies to promote positive and prevent negative experiences for their children. The specific strategies used were classified into three categories: (1) creating opportunities, (2) teaching skills, and (3) regulating cognitive and behavioral function.

photo of child smiling. Photo used by permission: Natalija Krznaric,  Zagreb, Croatia

Prouty, R., Lakin, K. (2005) Progress toward a national objective of healthy people 2010: "Reduce to zero the number of children 17 years and younger living in congregate care." Mental Retardation, 43(6), 456-460. NARIC Accession Number: J49774. Project Number: H133B031116.
Abstract: Article provides statistics reported by states relevant to the national objective of eliminating congregate care for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). Congregate care facilities were defined as settings in which children or adults with disabilities live in a group of 4 or more people with disabilities in order to receive needed supports and services. The data shows a substantial decrease in the number of children and adolescents with ID/DD in out-of-home residential placements between 1977 and 2005.

Leiter, V. (2005) The division of labor among systems of therapeutic care for children with disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 16(3), 147-155. NARIC Accession Number: J49836. Project Number: H133B001200.
Abstract: Study examined the provision of physical, occupation, and speech/language therapies to children with disabilities within medical and educational systems. National survey data was analyzed to determine whether access to care was obtained through insurance systems only, through educational systems only, or through other or multiple systems of services. Results showed that about 75 percent of the children received therapies through school, whereas the remaining children were almost equally split between insurance systems (14 percent) and other/multiple systems of care (11 percent). Most of the children who received therapies through school received speech/language therapy while most who received therapies through health insurance received physical therapy. Children served through schools were younger and were more likely to have communication and learning disabilities, compared with those who received therapies through insurance. Policy implications regarding payment for pediatric therapies and coordination of care across multiple service systems are discussed.

(2005) Schoolwide PBS: Helping kids achieve. Beach Center Newsletter. NARIC Accession Number: O15960. Project Number: H133B031133.
Abstract: Newsletter of the Beach Center on Disability. This issue focuses on schoolwide positive behavior support (PBS). Topics include: (1) the story of Joshua Frames; (2) the connection between schoolwide PBS and student achievement; (3) reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and PBS; (4) urban applications of schoolwide PBS; and (5) a book review, project news, and resources.

(2005) NTBRMS newsletter. NARIC Accession Number: O15999. Project Number: H133A020104.
Abstract: Newsletter for patients of the Model System for Burn Injury Rehabilitation, University of Texas, and their family members. This issue includes brief articles on a survivor of burn injury caused by electrical shock and a camp for children with burn injuries, and a calendar of events.

Quinn, M., McComas, J. (2005) Feature issue on fostering success in school and beyond for students with emotional/behavioral disorders. Impact, 18(2). NARIC Accession Number: O16031. Project Number: H133B031116.
Abstract: This issue focuses on challenges related to educating students with emotional/behavioral disorder and offers strategies for overcoming those challenges. Topics include: (1) promoting positive outcomes for students with EBD, (2) school-wide positive behavior support, (3) five strategies to foster student success, (4) creating caring schools, (5) ten alternatives to suspension, (6) using self-monitoring strategies to address behavior and academic issues, (7) teaching for generalization, (8) functional assessment of classroom behavior problems, and (9) supporting social skill development, and (10) school profiles, success stories, and resources.

Walker, J. (Ed.). (2005) Resilience and recovery. Focal point, 19(1). NARIC Accession Number: O16075. Project Number: H133B040038.
Abstract: Issue examines the concepts of resilience and recovery and what they mean in the context of mental health care for children and adolescents. Topics covered include: defining the concepts of resilience and recovery, findings from the Kauai Longitudinal Study, the importance of a secure social base for adolescents, surviving the system, supporting recovery for older children and adolescents, changing perspectives and policy on resilience and recovery in Ohio, and developmental assets and the promotion of positive development.

Gordon, L., Tullis, K. (2005) Building on family strengths: Research and services in support of children and their families: 2004 conference proceedings. NARIC Accession Number: O16366. Project Number: H133B990025.
Abstract: Publication presents proceedings from the annual conference of the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children’s Mental Health, which focuses on improving services to families whose children have mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders. Transcripts from the keynote and plenary sessions, as well as summaries of paper, symposium, and poster presentations are provided. The conference agenda and an index of authors are included.

Where Can I Find More? A quick keyword search is all you need to connect to a wealth of disability and rehabilitation research. NARIC’s databases hold more than 75,000 resources. Visit to search for literature, current and past research projects, and organizations and agencies in the US and abroad.

Additional Resources

  • The Campbell Collaboration Education Coordinating Group is an international network of scholars, policy makers, practitioners, funders, students, and others who are interested in effective methods of education and training. You can view their systematic reviews of education research at

photo of three children sitting on a bed. Photo used by permission: Luc Sessel, Agedem, Belgium