A couple months ago, we wrote about new guidance documents issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The agency reiterated some important messages, including the advice that Individualized Education Plans must be designed and implemented with grade-level learning in mind.
The Goals of the IDEA are noble and - at times - difficult to implement. Many parents of special-needs students realize that children are more likely to thrive if they have a whole community of supportive adults. With this in mind, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a report recommending that Pediatricians take the time to learn about the IDEA and how they can be education advocates for their patients.
Medical professionals obviously don't have the final say when it comes to issues of education, but they do have an important role to play. The AAP reminded its members that pediatricians can:
- Aid with early detection of developmental issues
- Recommend appropriate services based on identification of special needs
- Communicate with the school and school-based programs about the needs of their patients, when appropriate
- Help ensure that a student's medications are correctly administered and monitored
- Advocate against harmful disciplinary practices such as corporal punishment and the use of restraints
- Serve as a source of stability for students during periods of transition, including when they are changing schools or changing programs
If you have a child who needs an IEP and other support services, please consider reaching out to your pediatrician to learn what help they may be able to offer. And if your child's school is failing to comply with IDEA requirements, please consult with an experienced education law attorney.