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Calls to Action

Pediatricians can advocate for students with disabilities

January 05, 2016

In a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pediatricians are urged to advocate for children with disabilities and educate themselves about special education services. The report highlights the important role doctors have in ensuring students with disabilities receive the services they need in all settings, including schools.

The report outlines the major special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It explains the role of the school in providing all students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education, beginning with early intervention. It is estimated that 15 percent of children in the United States have a disability. In 2013, 6.4 million students were receiving special education services- 8 percent being students with autism.

For children with autism, early diagnosis and intervention services are critical.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children have been identified with ASD, a 30 percent increase since the last report in 2012. The CDC also reported that intervention has the greatest impact on autism if it begins before three years of age, yet 80 percent of children who could benefit from early intervention are missed. Unfortunately, many children with autism and their families face significant barriers to accessing inclusive high-quality early intervention and childhood programs.

Autism Speaks applauds the AAP for prioritizing the health and well-being of all children in the educational setting. Autism Speaks encourages you to urge your pediatrician to become an advocate for children with autism and help ensure they receive the services they need in school to reach their fullest potential.