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April 7, 2021

Special Education: The September Issue

Welcome back to another exciting school year! Change is in the air. New schools, new students, new colleagues, new standards. Always so much to stay on top of, and this year is no exception.

As you may (or may not) know (i.e. care), Fashion Week is currently underway in NYC and designers are sharing their visions for what’s in and what’s out for the new season (btw – crop tops in, wedges out).  And as educators, we also know how important it is to stay on top of the latest trends.

Since you likely provide direct or indirect services to students with IEPs, it is critical that you are up to speed on what’s trending in Special Education. So in my first post (The September Issue), we will take a sneak peek at “What’s Hot” and “What’s Not” in Special Education this fall. (And for more Special Education goodness, be sure to check out our new AUSL Special Education Website!)

Person-first language

Disability labels

Is language really that important? Absolutely! Person-first language means putting the person before the disability. The language we use says a lot about our attitudes, perceptions, and misconceptions. Language is always evolving and we need to recognize that some terms have negative connotations, even if we didn’t intend for them to. Here are some examples:


  • The boy who has a learning disability (LD)/an IEP
  • The student who receives special education

 Don’t Use:

  • The LD/IEP boy
  • The SPED student

CPS also recently revised their disability descriptions to promote more positive terminology. Check out the new CPS terms here.

CPS Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS)

CPS Office of Special Education and Supports (OSES)

CPS officially announced this name change back in March, but word is still getting out. In a memo from ODLSS, this change demonstrates a “renewed focus to support a variety of diverse learners by equipping them with quality supports and services”.  Other changes in CPS lingo include replacing “special education teacher” with “learning behavior specialist” and “students with disabilities” with “diverse learners”. To access the ODLSS site, visit

Knowing your role and responsibility in providing special education services

Pretending like you do

When it comes to special education, sometimes we are confused about what we are on the hook for. Nothing is more important than having a clear understanding of your job description.  A great place to start is the ODLSS Roles and Responsibilities checklist for your particular position:

Also, if you provide direct services to students with disabilities, be sure to access and review student IEPs so that you know how to support your students.  Refer to the Accessing the eIEP document for a step-by-step guide in SSM. If you have additional questions about your responsibilities, how to read a student IEP, or how to make accommodations and modifications, be sure to contact the student’s service provider for support.

…And that’s it!  Now that you are caught up on some of the hottest trends in Special Education, you are ready to rock the runway…I mean, classroom. Have a great year and contact me if you have suggestions for special education topics you’d like to see featured on TchAUSL.


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