Least Restrictive and Natural Environments for Young Children With Disabilities: A Legal Analysis of Issues
Topics in Early Childhood Special Education
Providing appropriate programs for young children with disabilities is a priority of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 (IDEA), recently reauthorized as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004. The IDEIA requires that programs be provided in natural or least restrictive environments, and issues concerning this area have been the focus of recent litigation. In this article, the author explores the issues surrounding this litigation and offers recommendations for developing Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for young children with disabilities. An analysis of administrative and judicial decisions revealed four themes: placement decisions were based on the potential for academic and nonacademic benefits, placement decisions were based on readiness for inclusion, placement decisions were based on instructional approaches, and placement decisions must be based on the considerations of a full continuum of options. Guidelines for promoting inclusive placement decisions include expanding professional development, improving the “readiness” of inclusive placements, and coordinating the exploration of natural and inclusive environments. © 2006, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
Etscheidt, Susan, "Least Restrictive and Natural Environments for Young Children With Disabilities: A Legal Analysis of Issues" (2006). Faculty Publications. 2846.