Introduction

Research in genetics, embryology, fetal development, and the birthing process unveils what can happen before, during, and shortly after birth that may put children at risk for disabilities. Environmental factors such as poor nutrition, substance abuse, disease and infection, and physical trauma can have dire consequences for the development of the brain, micro skeletal systems, organs, and sensory systems. The developing child is also at risk when social-emotional environments are unhealthy and traumatic.

Many evaluations and reevaluations may be necessary to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a child with a disability, all for the purpose of providing the best possible services and improving quality of life. According to the regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), parents or guardians must approve assessments that determine the existence of suspected disabilities. The single most important reason for assigning a disability label is to qualify individuals for needed services, entitlements, and legal protections.


Definitions of disability vary among agencies and states, although in all cases disabilities must be documented by appropriate personnel (e.g., psychologists, medical doctors).  After children are assigned disability labels, their uniqueness as individuals must remain the foremost consideration in all curricular and instructional decisions. It is with the deepest regard for the unique aspects of every child that we have made available these pages that provide information about different types of disabilities.

This site provides general information about organizations and agencies that offer a variety of services and support for persons with disabilities and information for 19 different disabilities and syndromes, all of which are listed either as separate categories or within categories of IDEA.  Be sure to visit the sites under “Resources for All Disabilities,” and in particular the site “Special Research Interest Group: Children with Exceptionalities,” a group associated with the Society for Research in Music Education.

There are active links throughout to help you reach other sites. Most all of the material is quoted directly from the original sites although quotation marks are eliminated for ease of reading; sources are always cited.  Should you find materials that need to be revised or deleted, please let me know.  The site undergoes regular updating.

Many thanks go to CML and the faculty and graduate students of the Butler School of Music who have helped in the review of these pages.  In particular, we greatly appreciate the work of Ellary Draper who has contributed her many talents to revisions and additional contributions. 

We hope that this site will save you time in your search for materials and, most important, that you find useful information that will contribute to improving the lives of children with disabilities.

Best wishes,

Judith A. Jellison, PhD
Mary D. Bold Regents Professor in Music and Human Learning
University Distinguished Teaching Professor

August 2012