Understanding Special Education

The following links could prove helpful in better understanding the special education process, which can at times feel overwhelming for parents.

An Introduction to Special Education:

Written by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, this 12-page booklet explains the special education process in easy to understand language and offers valuable advice for parents and guardians of special education students. http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/files/sped/pdf/intro-se.pdf

Special Education in Plain Language:

This 63-page, in-depth book is a “user-friendly handbook on special education laws, policies and practices in Wisconsin,” It was created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in collaboration with teachers, parents, and others who work with special education students. It also includes a glossary with a definition of educational terms and a detailed map of the IEP process. http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/files/sped/pdf/spec-ed-plain-lang-english.pdf (en Español)


The Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training & Support – commonly called WI FACETS – is a statewide non-profit organization founded by parents to help families understand special education laws and systems. The organization offers information, referrals, support groups, parent training, and some mediation assistance. http://www.wifacets.org/

The Waisman Center:

Operated by the University of Wisconsin Madison, the center is “ dedicated the advancement of knowledge about human development, developmental disabilities, and neurodegenerative diseases.” World renowned, it is one of only 15 centers of its kind in the United States and features laboratories for biomedical and behavioral research, a brain imaging center, and a clinical biomanufacturing facility for the production of pharmaceuticals for early stage human clinical trials. The center also provides an array of services to people with developmental disabilities, offers numerous early intervention, educational, and outreach programs to young children and their families, and trains scientists and clinicians. Its specialized clinics offer services for autism, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and a number of other disabilities. http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/index.html