By Sheri A. Marino, MA, CCC-SLP, from WMP Partner: Focus for Health
WMP Note: In this 4-part series, World Mercury Project partner, Focus For Health, examines the special needs epidemic and its effects on schools, the US economy, life after age 21 and the many theories that point to potential causes of the explosion of chronic disease and disability in our children.
Pick up a paper anywhere in the world and you are more than likely to see a story about the special needs epidemic affecting public schools.
Recent headlines read “Wolf Creek Public Schools hires additional staff to work with severely disabled students” and “York school system nearly $1M over budget in special education spending,” and “7 EV teen suicides in 6 weeks alarm schools,” and, “How Vermont schools manage food allergies.”
If you take the time to read some of these disturbing articles, you will see quotes from school directors making comments like “What’s different from past years is the students we’ve received really do have severe, very particular learning needs that are well beyond what we would typically see. It caught us by surprise, for sure,” admits Jayson Lovell, Superintendent for Wolf Creek Public Schools. This school district is one example of districts needing to hire additional staff in order to accommodate a sharp rise in the number of students requiring services through IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) due to their severely complex special education needs.
Every child with or without special needs is affected, just as every tax payer, with or without a child with special needs, will bear the burden.