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With the implementation of PL 94–142 and its successor, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the United States passed federal legislation requiring the education of all students, regardless of their life situations or challenges. The legislation applies to K-12 schoolchildren, children from birth to age 3, and some adults. Special education involves modifying instruction and the environment for children with special needs. These needs include learning disabilities and cognitive-processing disorders; sensory and physical challenges; conditions such as attention deficit disorder, cerebral palsy, and autism; mental or developmental disabilities; speech and communication difficulties; and behavioral challenges and disorders. Services are provided in schools, homes, medical facilities, or group homes.

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