Autistic and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Recently passed federal legislation has brought unprecedented attention to the educational needs of preschoolers with developmental disabilities. In 1986, the Education of the Handicapped Act (Public Law 99–457) greatly increased assistance to states for providing education services to 3- to 5-year-old children with developmental handicaps. In 1991, this act was reauthorized by Congress and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or Public Law 102–119. Part B of IDEA required that participating states provide a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to all children and young adults (between the ages of 3 and 21) with disabilities by the 1991–92 school year. Schools are to provide specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, including classroom instruction, physical education, home instruction, instruction in hospitals and institutions, and related services such as transportation, speech pathology and audiology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, medical and counseling evaluation services, and early identification and assessment of disabilities (Thiele, 1993). Preschoolers are to be provided these services at no cost and as part of an individualized education plan (IEP) developed with parent collaboration and consent. Although these services were to be in place by the 1991–92 school year, many communities do not yet have sufficient educational and early childhood mental health resources to meet the needs of all eligible preschoolers. Mental health professionals with expertise in assessing and intervening with young developmentally disabled children will be increasingly in demand to provide services to these children as well as consultation to public school early intervention programs.
KeywordsAutistic Child Joint Attention Autistic Disorder Pervasive Developmental Disorder Early Intervention Service
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