According to the US Department of Education, 4.36 million children in the United States (more than 11% of children 3 to 21 years of age) received some special education services during the 1984/1985 school year.1 Therefore, it is likely that a sizeable percentage of children seen in a pediatric practice for initial evaluation and follow-up care will have a developmental disability that requires an individual education plan. Pediatricians must understand the importance of such a plan and be aware of their role in its development, implementation, and interpretation.
Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, was intended as an educational bill of rights for handicapped children, guaranteeing them a free and appropriate education. The law required identification, diagnosis, education, and related services for children 5 to 18 years of age. In 1977, the age range was extended to include children between 3 and 21 years, with services for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years remaining optional. Not only were these services to be provided, but states were encouraged to seek out handicapped children who had not been previously served. Public Law 99-457, the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1986, further extends the range of the law by mandating services for children 3 to 5 years of age. This new law also provides funding for states to voluntarily develop programs that serve infants and toddlers (birth to 3 years of age) who are at risk for or are suspected of having handicapping conditions.
- Copyright © 1987 by the American Academy of Pediatrics