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October 20, 1978

New law spells out rights of `exceptional children'

JAMA. 1978;240(17):1836. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290170018006

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Pediatricians, psychiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, and otolaryngologists are among those physicians who will be consulted more often by educators and parents under the mandates of a new law (effective since Sept 1) delineating the rights of "exceptional children."

Known as Public Law (PL) 94-142, the act stipulates that all "exceptional" (previously called handicapped or gifted) children between the ages of 3 and 18 years shall be offered, without charge, certain services that will help them reach their educational potential. (Beginning Sept 1, 1980, provisions of the law will extend to the age of 20 years.)

These children include the mentally retarded, the hard of hearing, the deaf, the speech impaired, the emotionally disturbed, and the orthopedically impaired, as well as children with certain chronic illnesses or specific learning disabilities.

As much as possible, the children will be kept in regular school programs. One type of service covered by the law, for