Specialized Programs



Specialized programs are not currently expected to exist in every community school. While each school should have the capacity to serve the majority of students with disabilities, we recognize that our schools are working hard to develop expertise in serving students with more specialized needs, such as students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), intellectual disability, English Language Learners (ELLs) who are recommended to receive special education supports and services in their home/native language, and/or students who need to attend school in a functionally accessible building. It is important to note that not all students with these specific needs require a specialized program. Families and school teams should carefully consider whether students can learn and thrive in general education, special education, or a specialized program.

The following are currently considered specialized programs in NYCDOE community schools:

ASD Programs
may be appropriate for some students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There are two types of specialized programs in community schools that serve students with autism, which are designed to help students strengthen interpersonal skills and succeed academically.

  • The ASD Nest Program is supported by the NYCDOE and NYU's ASD Nest Support Project. The ASD Nest Program provides a reduced sized Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) class in a neighborhood school, led by two teachers- one special educator and one general educator. The ASD Nest Program are designed for students with autism whose academic abilities are on grade-level and whose primary need for support is in the areas of language and social skill development.
  • The ASD Horizon Program was developed in collaboration with the New England Center for Children and provides a Special Class (SC) of 8:1+1 in a neighborhood school for students on the autism spectrum whose academic abilities are approaching or below grade level and who may benefit from instructional and interpersonal supports grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia (ACE) is a web-based curriculum support tool used to support teachers in customizing lessons for each student, and targets over 1,300 skills such as self-help, social, and academic. 

This family resource has more information on each program, admissions criteria, and the process for submitting an application. Please review the program and admissions information before working with your child's IEP team to submit an application (NEW!).

For additional information contact ASDPrograms@schools.nyc.gov.  

Bilingual Special Education (BSE) Programs serve English Language Learners (ELLs) with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) who are recommended for Special Class (SC) or Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) instruction in their home language. In BSE Programs, students spend time learning in both English and in their home language depending on the bilingual program model. There are two ways students can receive their SC or ICT bilingual program:

  • Dual Language (DL): designed to continue developing students' home languages, as well as English language skills. Students receive half of their instruction in English and half of their instruction in the target (or non-English) language. DL Programs serve both ELLs and English-proficient students, who serve as role models for each other. Their interactions support skill development in both languages.
  • Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE): designed to support students in developing English language skills over time. Students begin to transfer skills in their home language to English by spending instructional time primarily in their home language before steadily transitioning to English. As a student's English proficiency increases, more of his or her instructional day is spent learning in English.

Students in BSE Programs also receive English as a New Language (ENL) services. ENL services may be provided as a stand-alone class or may be integrated throughout the day in content area classes like Math, English Language Arts (ELA), Social Studies, and Science.

Recommendations for BSE Programs are made on a case-by-case basis by the student's IEP team, which includes the family. Since BSE Programs do not exist in every community school, students many need to transfer schools in order to receive their IEP-recommended BSE Program. Families and IEP teams should discuss travel and transportation considerations.

Please work with your child's IEP team to consider whether a BSE Program may meet your child's needs. For more information, email SpecializedPrograms@schools.nyc.gov.

Academic, Career, and Essential Skills (ACES) Programs serve some students with Intellectual Disability (ID) who are alternately assessed. ACES Programs provide a Special Class (SC) in a community school that focuses on developing independent living and work skills. ACES Programs use the school and local community to support students in learning skills such as building relationships with peers and adults, and skills needed for daily living (e.g., grocery shopping, using a bank, etc.). 

For additional information, review this family resource, or email SpecializedPrograms@schools.nyc.gov.

Functionally Accessible Schools or Programs
are located in a fully or partially accessible building where an individual with mobility impairment may enter and access all relevant programs and services, including the science laboratory, library, cafeteria, auditorium, and the gymnasium; in some cases school programs may need to be re-located to accommodate access. At least one restroom is accessible. It is recommended that you visit schools that your child may attend.

For a list of functionally accessible schools and more information on accessibility please visit the Office of Space Planning.

District 75 Programs provide citywide educational, vocational, and behavior support programs for students who are on the autism spectrum, have significant cognitive delays, are severely emotionally challenged, sensory impaired and/or multiply disabled.

For more information, visit the Disrict 75 website.