Prior to 1969, there was no special education or related services offered to learning-disabled children. By providing funds, the Public Law of 1969 known as the Children with Specific Learning Disabilities Act has recognized children with “learning disabilities” (Berger, 2008, p. 302) and enabled them to receive special education and other services such as physical therapy, speech, transportation, etc. In addition, by enforcing mandated education for all children, the Public Law has protected children with disabilities from being rejected or forced out of school as it used to happen before 1960’s (Berger, 2008, p.302).
By requiring local educational agencies to offer special education services for students with disabilities (Dunlap, 2009, p. 5), the Public Law provided parents/guardians with the opportunity to receive necessary assistance. As of 1975, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) required each child with disabilities to have the Individual Education Plan (IEP) written by the multidisciplinary team working with the student, which allowed specifying educational goals according to child’s unique needs.
Also, by placing children with special needs in “least restrictive environment” (a setting as close as possible to a setting designed for children without disabilities), the EAHCA has helped the students with learning disabilities to advance their academic achievement and social skills (Berger, 2008, p. 302). Since the integration of EAHCA in 1975, the parental participation in the writing, approval, and evaluation of each child’s IEP has become mandatory (Dunlap, 2009, p. 91).
The EAHCA also guarantees parents the right to sue a district if they feel that the best interest of their child is not being met or if they disagree with decisions regarding services provided to their child (Dunlap, 2009, p. 7). Since 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has worked in favor of “individuals” (previously referred to as “children”) to assist them with their “disabilities” (previously referred to as “handicaps”) (Berger, 2008, p. 302). IDEA emphasized parent’s right and collaboration in educational placement, IEP, and assessment of their child (Dunlap, 2009, p. 11).
This law allowed parents to have advocates in schools (trained individuals to work for the welfare of their children). Updated in 1997 and 2004, IDEA strengthened the role of parents and their rights to be involved in educational decisions affecting their children. As these laws have contributed to the present status of Special Education in the U. S. , they continue being crucial in ensuring the help that individuals with disabilities need. While the public law makers have incorporated numerous special services, they keep modifying previously integrated laws to ensure that each child’s unique needs are met.
The IDEA of 1990, for example, added autism as classification category to address current disability (Dunlap, 2009, p. 9). Its amendment of 1997 listed AD/HD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) as a “separate disability category, making children with AD/HD eligible for services under the health-impairment category Other” (Dunlap, 2009, p. 11). Bibliography Berger, K. S. (2008) The developing person: Through the life span (7th ed. ) (pp. 301-305). New York, NY: Worth Publishers. Dunlap, L. L. (2009). An introduction to early childhood special education: Birth to age five. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc..