Cerebral Palsy and IDEA.
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy and IDEACerebral PalsyCerebral PalsyCerebral Palsy

Education is fundamental to leading a full and gratifying life. Beginning at even the earliest age, a child’s education can prove to be an invaluable asset to a successful life. Unfortunately, not everyone has always been given an equal opportunity to obtain an education, and educational accessibility for disabled persons is no exception.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy

Throughout history, people with disabilities have been stigmatized by society. Even if the disability in no way affected the person’s cognitive abilities, a physical disability was more often than not enough to merit the term “retarded.” It wasn’t until the middle of the twentieth century that most disabled persons were allowed to attend public schools; up to that point, they were usually sent away to group homes and residential schools, many of which employed cruel and disrespectful treatment. Today, many changes have occurred both in societal mentality and policy that reflect a relatively more politically correct and accepting society.

 America saw a bevy of change during the 1960s, and thankfully, the legislative policies on disabled persons and education changed as well. Federal, state, and municipal laws began to provide educational opportunities to disabled children that to this day continue to further and develop. Perhaps the most influential of all legislation to guarantee people with disabilities the right to an education is the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA (formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975), administered by the Department of Education (DOE) and by each respective state. Enacted originally in 1975 and amended extensively in 1997, IDEA, also known as Public law 94-142, has vastly advanced educational opportunities for all children with disabilities.

Under Idea, the Department of Education dispenses funding to every state for the education of disabled children, provided that the state meets or exceeds the conditions of special education as expressed by the Department of Education and IDEA. IDEA demands that, in order to collect funding, a state must provide: a “free appropriate public education” under the “least restrictive environment”; an approved special education curriculum; the opportunity to “mainstream” your child, or to enter him or her in the regular curriculum; and follow a extensive range of procedural rights for you and your child. The appeal of federal funding has been enticing enough to move all states to provide special education programs for all disabled children, including your cerebral palsied child.

 The phrase “free appropriate public education” sits at the core of IDEA. “Free” means that, regardless of your family’s ability to pay for your child’s education, his or her special education comes at no cost to you. If you prefer to place your child in a program other than what your school district sanctions, however, you run the risk of having to bear the full cost of his or her education yourself. “Appropriate” means that your child’s education must achieve success, although, it does not mean that his or her education be perfectly tailored to her needs. Educational success is measured differently by each state, and each state must establish quantifiable objectives that will lead the child toward economic independence, employment, and community living in their adulthood.

IDEA also requires that parents and educational professionals work together to build the most suitable plan for your child, called an Individualized Education Plan, or an IEP. Only you know your child completely, and you can make sure that your child receives what is best for him or her.

 In accordance with IDEA, an appropriate education consists of “special education and related services.” The “special education” portion refers to specialized lessons unique to the needs of the child provided in a variety of surroundings (separate classrooms, institutions, home instruction, regular education classrooms, private schools, or hospitals). The special education services are provided by the school district through regular education teachers, special education teachers, therapists and other trained specialists. The “related services” that your child may be entitled to are generally defined as transportation and other developmental, corrective and supportive services necessary for the academic success of your child.

 IDEA does more than guarantee a special education – it also specifies that a child receive his or her education in the “least restrictive environment.” This means that your child is entitled to have the most possible interaction with his or her non-disabled peers. As aforementioned, historically, people with disabilities have been isolated from their communities and non-disabled peers. IDEA, in part, seeks to end this historical practice by guaranteeing a child the right to educational inclusion. It is often recommended that children with cerebral palsy be educated in a separate classroom, but many cerebral palsied children can be educated quite successfully in a regular classroom, as long as auxiliary aids are available.

 Under IDEA, a child is covered beginning at the age of three and continuing until at least 18, and in some states 21. How much time your child spends in school each year will depend on their assessment and IEP. Usually children protected under IDEA spend the average 180 days in school each year, but for some children with disabilities who have a diminished mental aptitude and may regress without year-round instruction, summer classes may be available.

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