Mandating child life services

When IDEA was being drafted, a fierce debate raged behind the scenes over whether to include ADHD in the list of eligible disabilities.

The opponents--including teacher organizations and the NAACP, among others--prevailed and when IDEA was first passed in 1990, it did not include ADHD in its list of disabilities that would qualify people for special educational services.

When Jeremy Wartenberg, a ninth-grader at Capistrano High School in southern California, flunked every course from gym to math, his parents attributed his educational failures to ADHD and Jeremy was afforded protection under IDEA.

The school district set up one-on-one tutorials, but Wartenberg's performance didn't improve.

Since learning is considered a major life activity, children who have been diagnosed with ADHD who have demonstrable difficulty learning in school, or whose disability prevents them taking part in another life activity, become eligible under Section 504 for special educational services.

(Among other things, "major life activities" include walking, seeing, hearing and speaking.) This does not mean that the student is evaluated and, if found eligible, placed in special education classes.

After a controversial court decision in 1995, IDEA's guarantee to a private education if public school accommodations were inadequate was tested when the law was amended in 1997.

Students who qualify for services under IDEA are entitled to an evaluation and, if it is determined necessary, access to special education services.

These services must be designed to meet each child's unique educational needs, which are set forth in their individualized education program (IEP).

Mary Ellen’s case has been documented in history as the first known case of abuse in the U. and occurred at a time when there were no laws protecting children from physical abuse by their parents. After seeing Mary Ellen in court and hearing her testimony, Judge Abraham R. “Some people come into public office with view to protect kids at expense of parental rights, and others have feeling that we are taking too many kids into foster care” (B. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.

In fact, when neighbors reported Mary Ellen’s unending cries and screams to the Department of Public Charities and Correction, the designated case worker ultimately turned to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Mary Ellen’s story caught the attention of the A. Lawrence ordered Mary Ellen removed from the home, and charged her adoptive mother with several accounts of assault and battery. Rosenburg, personal communication, February 3, 2017). Funding to enact such a policy could also be problematic, since there are currently no designated State funds to train medical professionals in the detection of child abuse. Retrieved from

In September 1991, however, after advocates launched an extensive lobbying campaign, the Department of Education issued a Policy Clarification Memorandum directing schools to include ADHD as a covered disability under the IDEA.

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Mandating child life services

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