Including Children with Disabilities and their Families in Omaha

Brisa Medina, Madison Haubold, Carter Abel , Lisette Barcenas-Soto

Disability is a condition affecting a person’s movement, senses, or activities, and can be either physical or mental. According to the Census, there are 4,027 individuals under the age of 18 that have been diagnosed with a disability in the city of Omaha. Through the years, disability has become more accepted; evidence of this is shown through the American Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA). This is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination towards the disabled through employment and public services. The study of disability relates back to Nebraska, most specifically, Omaha as it provides insight on the resources and the accommodations supplied to disabled children in the Omaha community.


This study began with the collection of data from eight different websites.  The websites included, the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, the Omaha Public Schools district, PTI Nebraska, PREP Parents, Ollie Webb Center, and the Madonna school regarding the education of disabled children and their families, as well as government websites. The information gathered, reflected five interconnecting themes: parent resources, transitioning to society, educational programs, transitioning to the classroom, and nonpublic schools. These sources were chosen in order to give a general idea of how community institutions serve the disabled.


Parent Resources:

Parent resources was one of the major themes found in the secondary data sources. Many of the sources found, provided helpful information for parents with disabled children and the type of help and treatment these kids should be receiving. The secondary resources, provides support groups for families to help them cope and go through hard times that they would be encountering from having disabled children. The Omaha Public School website provides information on the Special Advisory Council for disabled students from the ages of birth to 21 years old. This group’s responsibility includes discussing research-based educational practices and reviewing activities designed to improve the outcomes for disabled children in the Omaha Public Schools. This theme reflects that there are many parental resources offered all around the world and here in the community of Omaha.

Transitioning to Society:

Transitioning to society is seen in most of the secondary data sources. After further analysis of the themes, they were divided into the specific forms of transition: to society and to the classroom. In the OPS district, the study reveals the role of the public education system providing resources to disable students. A transition program is offered for students who have finished high school within the ages of 19-21 years (Omaha Public Schools). Although there are certain prerequisites for the OPS transition to independence program, the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is another program that encompasses all of Nebraska. The VR program is specific to helping disabled adult students with support in life after the school stage. Overall, there seems to be a decent amount of help for transitioning through the state of Nebraska and more specifically the city of Omaha through the public-school district. This is reflected through Nebraska statistics showing the percentages of students who graduate, go to college, or work after high school that are considered disable (“Data Display: Nebraska).

Transitioning to the Classroom:

Transitioning to the classroom was one of the major themes the study revealed through the secondary research data resources. Through all the resources, the study found that many of them provided information on what it is like for disabled children to transition into classrooms. In the OPS resource the study also found that they have an early childhood program, and an incorporation to help disabled children get involved in general curriculum classes. Through PTI Nebraska, they explained how in schools today, they are trying to implement more accommodations and modifications for disabled children. Children’s Hospital and Medical center of Omaha is a great resource too for transitions because they have a reentry program for students and professionals. This program teaches them the right ways they should re-enter back into the classrooms. This theme reflects back on that Omaha actually does have programs to help these children transition back to the classroom and you can see that through the Omaha public schools, and even the Omaha Children’s Hospital.

Educational Programs:

Educational programs were found through the secondary research data resources. In the study, it was revealed that Omaha has many different programs that are offered to students. Omaha Public Schools (OPS) has many different programs such as the Early childhood education program, which is for kids ages 3-5 that help them with social-emotional, language, mathematics, etc. OPS also has programs for the hearing impaired, the multi-handicapped, and kids who are home schooled or the hospital. Along with these programs there are also ones that are not through the school such as the Parental training and information (PTI). PTI offers preparedness tips for the IEP meeting. The IEP meeting is designed for school officials to come together and create a learning plan for the success of the student. This reflects back on the other themes due to the repetition in the themes in being tools for success. As the study clearly reveals, there are plenty of accommodations present in the city of Omaha designed for the success of students with disabilities.

Nonpublic Schools:

Lastly, the theme found in a couple of the data resources is nonpublic school services. Although it does not have as in-depth information as the Omaha Public School district, the Madonna school, for example, allows a comparison to be created between the education resources provided. One specific characteristic seen in the nonpublic programs was that since they are specifically designed for special needs, they provide more accommodations (“Madonna School & Community Based Services”). Finally, the study reveals that the theme reflects further education from professionals in order to accommodate individuals, yet they seem to be less accessible due to income.


Lack of training:

The findings in this study were focused on the resources and accommodations for disabled children within the Omaha community. The main recurring theme was the privilege and benefit that the OPS system brings for the community. Although there were some private institutions that provided support for these children and their family, no resources outside of education were seen through these institutions for the disabled. “Do Not Hinder Them” was a scholarly article written by Christina Richie. This article spoke about the different stigmas in society that families and children with disabilities face. The main example was the church; it gave a detailed perspective on how many families avoided bringing their disabled children to church for the fear of the stigmas. Not only did the fear stop them from incorporating their children into the church, but they were also hesitant due to the lack of training the staff and members of the church had towards the disabled (Richie). This article gives a distinct point of view showing the different opportunities that are kept from children who have a disability. Although the church is not the only place that lacks professional development on disability, it was one example that brought attention to the fact that the Omaha community lacks this development. Throughout the findings, there was no information supplied in support of how smaller organizations could aide in the involvement of children with disabilities.

Education and Cultural Differences:

Through distinct methods of research, the study portrayed the importance of parents within the education of their children. The scholarly research performed contrasted cultures and the expectations parents had for the treatment of their children at school. Although the article found was a general view of the culture differences and was not applied directly towards Omaha, it served to explain the many factors that build up a child’s education. In the article, “Parental Experiences of Children’s Disabilities and Special Education in the United States and Japan”, there was a strong comparison between the societal culture of Japan and the United States in terms of Education. The two main distinctions between the two countries was that in Japan, social stigmas toward disabled students are more prominent while in the United States, the ADA act allows for the inclusion of the disabled (Kayama). The ADA can be seen to lower the stigmas through society. It is known that stigmas cannot be completely abolished. Through the OPS this article can be seen to be relative since there has been more of an effort to incorporate disabled children into general classes as well as to help them transition easily to society after high school.  The second distinction that can be made between the U.S and Japan is the treatment parents expect their children receive. In the U.S. parents expect the school professionals to provide equal and appropriate resources for their children. In Japan on the other hand, parents expect their children to receive emotional support. When relating this back to Omaha, although the study does not directly establish a comparison with other countries, it is implicated that parent’s in Omaha are in favor of equality. This is due to the grand amount of resources available for transitioning into the classroom and into society post classroom experience.

Effects of Distinct Incomes:

Another issue which was implied through the findings was the importance of income. This especially was seen in the findings through the resources provided by the Madonna school. As stated before, this is a private institution providing more resources rather than just education in a classroom. The greatest concern is income; it can be predicted that only families at a greater income advantage would be able to provide this resource for their children. Throughout the city of Omaha, there were no other opportunities for education outside of the normal classroom that could be available to students with a median to low income. Through the Census statistics, in Nebraska it is seen that the poverty percent increases by a 13.3% in families that include an individual with disabilities as compared to those families that do not have individuals with disabilities (Cornell University). This information furthermore supports the statement that the study provides in reference to the Madonna school.

Gender and Age:

Finally, the study did not explicitly link gender and age to the different aspect of disability found through research done, primarily for the city of Omaha. Although gender does not appear to be a dividing factor in the resources found for individuals with disabilities, age can be assumed to be an obstacle. It is known that not all disabilities appear at birth; some disabilities are possible to appear after an accident in adulthood, for example. The study did not reveal any specific resources for disabled older adults with the exception of VR Nebraska as it was centered around children and their transition to society as well as accommodations within the classroom.


In conclusion, the most important subject that should be taken from this issue is that the city of Omaha is a continuing support system for families and students with mental disabilities. Children of all backgrounds receive equal opportunities through OPS, and there are also private institutions allowing for further education and preparation for their future. Not only does each child in need have access to services, but the study found that there is a substantial amount of resources for families.



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Cottingham, Patricia. Report on the Nebraska 2013 Family Support Survey. The Arc. of Nebraska, Supports Project Report 5-14.pdf.

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Kayama, Misa. “Parental Experiences of Children’s Disabilities and Special Education in the United States and Japan: Implications for School Social Work.” Social work 55.2 (2010): 117-25. ProQuest. 5 Mar. 2018 .

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Richie, Cristina. “Do Not Hinder Them: Educating Children with Mental Disabilities in the Church.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, vol. 20, no. 2, May 2015, pp. 72-85. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/1364436X.2015.1030593. 5 Mar. 2018

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