Adolescents who have been diagnosed with disabilities constitute a significant portion of the school population in the United States. For example, the National Survey of Children’s Health identified one in four children ages 12 to 17 as having special healthcare needs in 2019 (Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, n.d.). These adolescents are often diagnosed with a wide range of conditions, ranging from specific learning difficulties to more global delays across developmental domains. In the school setting, adolescents with disabilities often have an individualized educational program (IEP). Mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA) of 2004, an IEP is an educational document that describes a child’s disability, along with specific supports a child will receive in school to help achieve optimum educational and developmental success (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). Approximately 14%— or 7.3 million students—in the United States ages 3 to 21 had an IEP during the 2018–2019 school year (US Department of Education, 2021). Although an IEP does not capture all adolescents with developmental and behavioral concerns, the presence of an IEP is a strong indicator of disability. For example, in 2019 and 2020, students in the United States with a specific learning disability represented 33% of students with an IEP; those with autism spectrum disorder represented 11% of students with an IEP; and those with an intellectual disability represented 6% of students with an IEP (US Department of Education, 2021).



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