To the Editor:
As an occupational therapy student, I have concerns about the funding schools are currently receiving. (“Why the Feds Still Fall Short on Special Education Funding,” Jan. 10, 2020). I believe federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) should be granted in full.
The goal of this act was to provide children with disabilities the same education opportunities as students without disabilities. However with funding cuts, this promise is not being fulfilled. I understand that special education needs and expenses vary by state, but that is no reason to cut funding short.
Students with disabilities must receive special services provided by speech, physical, and occupational therapists within the school system. School-based occupational therapists focus on improving students’ self-care, academic, and social-interaction skills. If federal funding keeps following this downhill trend, it will limit the tools (assistive devices, handwriting devices, sensory tools, etc.) we can use in providing the best therapy interventions. Worst case scenario, it may reduce the number of occupational, physical, and speech therapists serving students with disabilities, which will ultimately cause a decline in their education. School-based therapy primarily addresses concentrating on tasks, verbally participating in class, and mental-health concerns, so without support services, the classroom will be an overstimulating environment for children with behavior and attention deficits, hindering their education and that of their peers.
We need to draw more attention to IDEA funding so that special education resources are available to students with disabilities to provide them the education they deserve, and to guarantee they receive occupational, physical, and speech therapy services.
Occupational Therapy Student
University of Pittsburgh
A version of this article appeared in the March 04, 2020 edition of Education Week as Boost IDEA Funding