Special education in the United State is based on the concept of access—public schools are open to all children. But access is no longer a sufficient foundation. Approaches and accommodations that lead to academic success are increasingly demanded for those with learning disabilities. Functional, independent-living, and employable skills are requisite, but rare, for those with serious handicapping conditions. Since the last reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, four events have transpired that will have a dramatic impact on the next iteration of the federal law: the increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism, the rise of applied behavior analysis, the birth of social media, and the reality of unbundling. In How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education: The Unbundling of IDEA, Claypool and McLaughlin explore the effect of these events on a special education process burdened by regulation, where advances in the behavioral sciences and neurosciences blur the lines between education and medicine, and where social media fosters aggressive advocacy for specific disabilities.
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