Approximately 10% of young persons between the ages of 6 and 17 years receive special education and related services.1 An additional 750 000 neonates each year may have or be at risk for having developmental disabilities.2 Therefore, pediatricians have many patients who have disabling conditions or are at risk for them.
Federal legislation requires each child identified as having a disability to have a written plan of service: an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for children aged 3 through 21 years or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) for children aged birth through 2 years. The pediatrician is in a unique position to be involved in planning and providing care for both groups of children.
The Individual Education Plan
In 1975 Congress passed Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, as an educational bill of rights to guarantee handicapped children a free and appropriate education. The law required that identification, diagnosis, education, and related services be provided for children 5 to 18 years of age. In 1977, the age range was extended to include children aged 3 to 21 years, with services for children aged 3 to 5 years remaining optional. Not only were these services to be provided, but states also were encouraged to seek out children who had not been served previously.
Conditions eligible under Public Law 94-142 include mental retardation, hearing deficiencies, speech and language impairments, specific learning disabilities, visual handicaps, emotional disturbances, orthopedic impairments, and a variety of other medical conditions categorized as "other health impaired."
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics