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Although special education programs help the child to develop a comprehensive understanding of academic material being covered in the classroom, it is often difficult for children that were not diagnosed with a learning disability to catch up. Prior to the 1970’s, many children that suffered from learning disabilities did not receive the academic services they needed to prosper. This was in part attributed to the fact that the costs of special education services were not covered in school. However, the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) helped to ensure all children would receive an education. This Act was further important in ensuring that children with severe disabilities would receive an education. Prior to this Act, children with severe disabilities often were denied access to an education, as many schools could not afford to hire additional staff members to help educate these individuals. Although the 1975 passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) was a monumental Act that helped to ensure schools could afford to provide special education services to children, educators soon found that the timeliness in which the child receives special education services directly affected the child’s academic successes.
Overtime, it became increasingly evident that the longer children with special needs went without some kind of intervention the more serious the issues became and the deeper effect these needs had on them and their further development. As identified by O’Shaugnessey, Lane, and Beebe-Frankenberger reading problems continue throughout the child’s school and later life if not addressed early. It is also not uncommon for reading problems to also lead to behavioral problems. This is in part believed to be attributed to the child’s struggles with comprehending the material and the need to act out as a way of verbalizing his or her academic difficulties. Another example is the child who does not develop prosocial skills by the third grade has the potential to display antisocial behavior throughout their lives. Behavioral problems can also contribute to learning difficulties. There seems to be a reciprocal relationship between learning difficulties and behavioral issues. Developmental differences can be temporary in some children, but in others the delays persist and it is important for the child to be screened and evaluated and have the differences addressed early. It is not easy to determine whether or not the differences are temporary, therefore once a child demonstrates difficulty in any of the developmental areas early in life early intervention services should be provided. The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities advises against the wait-and-see attitude that some parents and teachers take or to having an attitude that the child will grow out of it. Yet many parents are apprehensive about putting their child or children in special education due to the stigma associated with learning disabilities. Despite this apprehension, many parents find that special education provides their child with an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the material being explored in school. However, overtime, it is increasingly important for the child placed in special education to be monitored. The use of continuous testing is necessary in order to ensure that the child’s needs are being met in their current special education program.
The need for early identification in children with special needs has been well established in research. It is important to identify the special needs early in the child’s life and implement interventions to address these needs in order for the child to learn to his or her fullest potential and also to prevent possible worsening of the disability. Early intervention must be a well-coordinated and school-wide program of identification of special needs and intervention strategies, which includes the administrator, the teachers, remedial instructors, school psychologists and counselors. In exploring the importance of early interventions, Guralnick concluded that from decades of small- scale and large-scale studies early intervention is definitely successful. Evidence showed early intervention programs prevented the decline of intellectual development of children with Down’s syndrome, and long-term outcomes were better for children suffering from autism and developmental disorders.