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Every year, hundreds of U.S. families with special-needs children have to make career-related decisions about whether to go overseas and if so, where. The brochure, Transitioning to an Overseas Assignment with a Special Needs Child (PDF file ) is designed to help families think through such decisions and to facilitate their children’s transition to the most appropriate school setting possible.  Families will find additional information in Publications on Special Needs and Internet Resources below.

U.S. Government families will find additional information in:

Hard copies are available by e-mailing

The brochure was developed by the Office of Overseas Schools and its Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth, whose support, guidance and wisdom has helped increase services to children with special needs in international schools. It was developed in close collaboration with the Office of Allowances, Child and Family Programs, and the Family Liaison Office.

Publications on Special Needs

Learning Disabled

Kusuma-Powell, Ochan & Powell, William (ed.)Count Me In: Developing Inclusive International Schools. Overseas Schools Advisory Council, Washington, D.C., 2000.  The book provides teachers, administrators, parents and students with a practical blueprint of practices for exceptional children based on exemplary international learning theories and research. Although the project began in Africa, it is applicable to students around the world.

Shaywitz, S. Overcoming dyslexia: A new and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level. Borzoi , New York, 2003. This book takes advantage of recent brain research that demonstrates the ways in which dyslexic children differ in their processing of language/reading from other children, explains developmental progressions, and provides abundant strategies for parents and teachers to help dyslexic children become successful.

Hensley, Sharon. (1997). Home Schooling Children with Special Needs. Noble Publishing Associates. ISBN-10: 1568570244. ISBN-13: 978-1568570242. Home schooling mild to more severe learning disabled children. Resources and curriculum options for varying learning styles and unique issues special needs children have.

Bell, Debra. (2005). The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. Nashville, Tennessee. Tommy Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. ISBN-10: 1400305667. ISBN-13: 978-1400305667. Wonderful resource for homeschooling children for both the beginner and the family who has homeschooled for years. Numerous web links, insights on curriculums, and covers all ages/grade levels. This book has an entire chapter on homeshooling special needs children but the entire book can be applied to teaching the special needs student.


Rogers, K. B. (2001). Re-forming Gifted Education: Matching the Program to the Child. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.  A highly informative book for parents about the various models available and the process of matching an education to a child’s needs. A must read!

Ruf, D. L. (2005). Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.  A careful description of the characteristics and needs of children at various levels of giftedness, something too often ignored. Largely told through cases. A good resource for parents who are seeking to understand individual differences among gifted children.

Webb, J. T., Amend, E. R., Webb, N. E., Goerss, J., Beljan, P., & Olenchak, F. R. (2005). Misdiagnosis and Dual diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.  A valuable resource for parents and professionals who are trying to distinguish behaviors concomitant with giftedness and those concomitant with various psychological disorders.

Winebrenner, S. (2000). Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use to Meet the Academic Needs of the Gifted and Talented (rev. ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.  This book helps teachers see how to compact the curriculum so that children do not have to spend time re-learning what they already know well, and how to extend and deepen the curriculum. It is also a good introduction for parents seeking to understand how differentiated efforts in the classroom can help their children.

Gifted and Learning Disabled

Kay, Kiesa. (2000). Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Twice Exceptional Student. Gilsum. Avocus. Kiesa Kay has drawn together heartfelt essays from parents, wisdom from school administrators, and research from many of the top experts in the field.  It is an excellent resource woven together with intelligence and compassion.  Parents, teachers, principals, counselors, and psychologists will all benefit from reading this book.

Silverman, L. K. (2002). Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner. Denver: DeLeon. Silverman applies her abundant clinical experience to understanding the plight of children who are high spatial/lower verbal (the opposite of the usual pattern found in children accepted for gifted programs) and helping them cope with a world that isn’t designed very well for them.

Webb, Amend, et al. (2005). Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders. Scottsdale. Great Potential Press.  Too often our brightest kids are misunderstood because of their behaviour.  It seems that some educators and clinicians are too quick to label these kids ADHD or Asperger’s or OCD.  Webb and his colleagues help us realize that, in fact, they could just be showing quite normal signs of their giftedness.

Children’s Temperament

Carey, William B. with Jablow, Martha M. (1998). Understanding Your Child’s Temperament. New York: Simon & Schuster MacMillan. pp.1- 228.  William Carey, M.D., heads the Behavioral Pediatrics program at The Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Based on his many years as a practicing pediatrician, he shows how understanding individual differences in temperament can help parents work with children with particular temperaments or behavioral styles. The book is written specifically for parents and contains useful and common sense suggestions.

Kristal, Jan (2005). The Temperament Perspective. Working with Children’s Behavioral Styles. Baltimore, Maryland: Paul Brookes. pp. 1-420.  A comprehensive discussion of temperament theory and applications. Based on her own research and clinical experience, Kristal describes temperament from infancy through the school years, showing how temperament contributes to children’s adjustment and behavior. There are many examples of temperament types and suggestions for parents.

Kurcinka, Mary Sheedy (1998), Raising Your Spirited Child. New York: Harper Collins. pp. 1-302.  Practical suggestions and strategies for parents when interacting with a high active, intense, energetic, and “challenging” children. The book is based on Kurcinka’s extensive experience working with parents, children, and families, and is filled with useful insights and recommendations.

Living Abroad

These do not deal with children with special needs but may help you anticipate some of the complexities you will be facing as you prepare for the international move and in raising children in the overseas environment.

Gopnik, A.Paris to the Moon, Random House, New York, New York, 2000.  A personal, good-humored account of one young family living abroad. Much of this was originally published in the New Yorker.

Jehle-Caitcheon, NgaireParenting Abroad, Aletheia Publications, Putnam Valley, New York, 2003.  Written by an expatriate who lived abroad for twenty-six years, this guide provides useful insights on the many and complicated issues that arise as one raises children abroad.

Kalb, Rosalind and Welch, PenelopeMoving Your Family Overseas, Intercultural Press, Inc., Yarmouth, Maine, 1992.  The authors of this book are Americans who draw on their personal experiences to balance general advice and detailed suggestions as they explore the major issues in raising children in the internationally mobile lifestyle.

McCluskey, Karen C., ed., Notes from a Traveling Childhood, Foreign Service Youth Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1994.  This paperback is an anthology of writings by parents, children, educators, researchers, and mental health professionals about the effects of international mobility on children.

Meltzer, Gail and Grandjean, Elaine, The Moving Experience: A Practical Guide to Psychological Survival,Multilingual Matters, Ltd., Cleveland, England, 1989.  This book gives practical suggestions for surviving the psychological stresses and challenges of moving for both local and international moves.

Parker, Elizabeth and Rumrill-Teece, KatharineHere Today There Tomorrow, A Training Manual for Working with Internationally Mobile Youth, Foreign Service Youth Foundation, Washington, D.C., 2001.   This manual is designed to help facilitators provide a framework for mobile teenagers to interact with each other and to deal with relocation and cross-cultural issues that affect their identity and worldview.

Pollack, David C. and Van Reken, RuthThe Third Culture Kid Experience, Intercultural Press, Inc., Yarmouth, Maine, 1999. Based on both research and the personal stories of countless individuals, this book fully explores the various implications of growing up abroad as a “Third Culture Kid.” The authors are internationally considered to be leaders and experts in the field of TCK studies.

Seaman, Paul AsburyPaper Airplanes in the Himalayas the Unfinished Path Home, Cross Cultural Publications, Inc., South Bend, Indiana, 1997.  An autobiographical account by a “Third Culture Kid” of his journey from his childhood in Pakistan, to a boarding school for missionary kids to the struggle in his adult years to find a sense of belonging. Recounts one man’s struggles to find peace with the “Third Culture Kid” experience.

Taber, Sara MOf Many Lands, Journal of a Traveling Childhood, Foreign Service Youth Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1997.  A journal for people brought up in foreign countries. It is designed as a learning and exploration tool to help those of many lands in the long process of putting together the stories of their lives. It consists of excerpts that describe experiences the author had at different ages in different countries, followed by prompts or questions designed to evoke the reader’s own life experiences.

Westphal, C.A Family Year Abroad: How to Live Outside the Borders. Great Potential Press., 2001.  This paperback book is part narrative of a family’s year abroad and part instruction manual for individuals and families considering spending an extended period outside their country.

Returning Home

Copeland, Anne (Ph.D.) and Bennett, GeorgiaUnderstanding American Schools: The Answers to Newcomers Most Frequently Asked Question, The Interchange Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts, 2001. schools.htm .  This book guides newcomers to the United States, or those who have been abroad for a long time, about the challenges of understanding the U.S. school system. Foreign born spouses might find this book especially helpful.

Eakin, Kay BranamanBouncing Back. Family Liaison Office, Department of State, Washington, D.C., 2013. This book addresses the challenges faced by children returning “home” from another country and discusses their transitional and reentry needs.

Smith, CarolynStrangers at Home: Essays on the Effects of Living Overseas and Coming “Home” to a Strange Land. Aletheia Publications, Putnam, New York. The editor of this book is a Foreign Service spouse who understands well the full implications of the internationally nomadic lifestyle. The compilations of essays by others who have been through it offer many insights, as well as practical suggestions for helping children especially teenagers – to adjust.

Other Publications

The Optimal Match: The Goldilocks Solution

Count Me In – Developing Inclusive International Schools

Internet Resources for Learning Disabled

General Information

  •  – Council for Learning Disabilities, an international organization concerned about issues related to students with learning disabilities.
  •  – Learning Disabilities Association of America.
  •  – a parent resource with numerous articles about specific learning disabilities and links to more information on disabilities and parent support groups.
  •  – Association for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
  •  – Publisher of The Special Needs Collection made up of 62 books and other products on disabilities and related topics for parents, children, therapists, health care providers, and teachers.
  • www.aacap/org/  – American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Resource Centers.
  •  – Council for Exceptional Children
  •  – The Division of Early Childhood  of the Council for Exceptional Children
  •  – The National Association of School Psychologists Resources
  •  – The National Institute of Mental Health list of free publications.
  •  – Parent Advocacy Training Center state and national resources
  •  – strategies to help children struggling to read.
  •  – website dedicated to improving educational outcomes for elementary and middle school students with disabilities. Site contains access to Webinars, Discussion rooms, Resources and Links.
  •  – resources for individuals with special needs.
  •  – IDEA Partnership reflects the collaborative work of more than 50 national organizations, technical assistance providers, and organizations and agencies at state and local level.

Resources within the Department of State– Office of Allowances, Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) on education. This site contains information on educational allowances available to civilian employees of the U.S. Government and their families. – Family Liaison Office, Education and Youth. This site contains a variety of information specifically related to educating the Foreign Service child, including gifted education, homeschooling, special educational needs, relocation, and third culture kids. – Information on the role of MED’s Child and Family Program and questions and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.


Language Disorders

Mental Health

  •  – American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Family Resources.

Internet Resources for Gifted and Talented

Internet Resources for Gifted and Learning Disabled

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future