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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

"Making life better!"

IDEA - Why we need it 2.0

Allan's Story
Allan was left as an infant on the steps of an institution for persons with mental retardation in the late 1940s. By age 35, he had become blind and was frequently observed sitting in a corner of the room, slapping his heavily callused face as he rocked back and forth humming to himself. In the late 1970s, Allan was assessed properly for the first time. To the dismay of his examiners, he was found to be of average intelligence; further review of his records revealed that by observing fellow residents of the institution, he had learned self-injurious behavior that caused his total loss of vision. Although the institution then began a special program to teach Allan to be more independent, a major portion of his life was lost because of a lack of appropriate assessments and effective interventions. Unfortunately, Allan’s history was repeated in the life experiences of tens of thousands of individuals with disabilities who lacked support from IDEA. Inaccurate tests led to inappropriately labeling and ineffectively educating most children with disabilities.

 From the U.S. Department of Education website, a history of IDEA.

Under IDEA, Allan would have been evaluated every three years and the fact that he was wrongly placed in an institution for people with mental retardation discovered thirty years sooner!

An amended IDEA was passed that required planning for what students in special education would be doing after they left the school system. If Allan were in special education today, by age 16, the school would be required to have written in his IEP a plan for independet living, employment or further education. These transition services are to be based on the needs of the student, and include multiple agencies, such as vocational rehabilitation, vocational education, independent living centers and other needed services. The success of the transition plan is evaluated based on the student's post-school adjustment. Obviously, if this law had been in place, Allan would have been receiving evaluation and assistance to move into the community 19 years earlier than actually happened.

Transition planning is covered in detail in both the special education and vocational rehabilitation workshops of Caring for Our People training.

blue next arrowMore amendments to IDEA bring more services

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