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Specialized Programs

November 3, 2021
K-12, Special Education

Some students with disabilities may require specially designed instruction in a unique setting to meet their individual needs. These specialized programs are available for consideration while exploring options for a child with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). You are encouraged to review the information for each of these programs and apply if they are appropriate for your child. 

Here are some specialized programs offered in community schools or at select District 75 program sites:

ASD Nest: an integrated class setting (reduced class size) in a community school for students with autism who are at or above grade level and require minimal support. 

ASD Horizon: a special class in a community school for students with autism at or near grade level who may require more support.

AIMS (Acquisition, Integrated Services, Meaningful Communication, and Social Skills):  is a special education program in select District 75 schools that serves some students with autism, using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Verbal Behavior (VB).

Academic, Career, and Essential Skills (ACES) Programs: a special class or integrated class setting in a community school for students who are classified as intellectually disabled or with multiple disabilities. In addition to academics, these students also learn work and independent living skills. 

Bilingual Special Education: a program for students whose IEP mandates instruction in a language other than English. Services are provided in an integrated or special class setting.

For more information, please visit:

Specialized Programs 

District 75 Programs

Programs for Students with Autism  

Students who are on the autism spectrum should be offered a range of programs and services along the continuum, as is the case with all students with disabilities, depending on students’ individual needs. The following represent some of the possible service delivery models for consideration for students who have an autism spectrum disorder, and are in specialized programs in community schools or District 75.

The criteria to be considered for an Autism program are:

Disability ClassificationAutismAutismAutism
CognitionLow-average verbal or Full Scale IQ, or borderline IQ with clear evidence of higher functioning, as determined by subtests of IQ testing; If entering K: Preschool level (developmentally 3 to 4 year old level)Average IQ; On or close to grade-levelFunctional levels include developmental delays in behavior, social, and communication skills
LanguagePhrase speech of at least single words or phrases used functionally; may rarely initiate communication; follows one and two step directionsClose to age appropriate speech; close to age appropriate comprehension of verbal languageSevere language and communication impairments
Struggle and profound delays with functional and spontaneous communications
BehaviorMild to moderate stereotyped behaviors; may occasionally tantrum, some non-verbal compliance; infrequent self-injurious behavior; infrequent physical aggressionMild to moderate stereotyped behaviors; self-injurious behavior is almost absent; mild and infrequent physical aggression; does not require one-on-one support frequently during daily activitiesDelays with adaptive functioning skills, like dressing or toileting.
May exhibit mild to severe behaviors. Note that AIMS does not have 1:1 paraprofessionals for behaviors. If your child’s behaviors may pose a safety risk, please take another look to determine if AIMS is the right fit.

Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities:

It is critical to understand that a classification of Intellectual Disability (ID) does not, in and of itself, indicate the need for a specialized program. Many students with ID are best served in a general education setting in a community school. It is extremely important to make thoughtful decisions appropriately, utilizing the full continuum of services matched to individual pupil needs so that all students are given equal opportunity to meet their academic potential. As with other specialized programs, if considering an ID program, always consider the least restrictive environment first.

The criteria for a student to be referred to the Academics, Career, and Essential Skills (ACES) program are:

  1. Classification of Intellectual Disabilities or Multiple Disabilities (According to NYSED, Part 200.1 regulations, “intellectual disability means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.”)
  2. Students are alternately assessed. The criteria that the IEP team must use to determine a student’s participation in alternate assessment are:

A. The student participating in the alternate assessment has:

  • a severe cognitive disability,
  • and significant deficits in communication/language, and adaptive behavior.


B. The student requires a highly specialized educational program that facilitates the acquisition, application, and transfer of skills across natural environments (home, school community and/or workplace).


C. The student requires educational support systems, such as:

  • assistive technology,
  • personal care services,
  • health/medical services, or
  • behavioral intervention.

Participation in the state assessment may not be based on: category of disability, excessive or extended absences, language differences, or cultural or environmental factors. For definition of “severe disability” and additional information see alternate assessment.

3. The student’s need for a program that includes functional skills precludes a full time general education setting, but the student is able to receive education in the community school.

If all three of these criteria are met (ID classification, alternate assessment, and the least restrictive environment has been considered), then the student may be recommended for a specialized program for students classified as ID.