EXCEPTIONAL   CHILDREN (HANDICAPPED  AND  GIFTED) Of  the  3  million  babies  born  in  the  United States each year, approximately one out of every ten has a birth defect serious enough to require special attention. Finding help for children with special  needs  is  often  difficult.  Parents  may  be overwhelmed by a lack of knowledge concerning resources  and  services  available  to  exceptional children.  Parents  may  consult  the  chaplain  for guidance  and  referral  assistance.  The  military resources  which  are  available  to  parents  of exceptional  children  include  the  following: Family  Service  Centers Champus  Program  for  the  Handicapped Military  Physicians Family  Service  Centers Family  Service  Centers  (FSCs)  serve  as  a link  between  military  resources  and  community resources which provide support to handicapped children.  Family  Service  Centers  maintain detailed,  specific  information  on  the  following public laws: PL  95-561—the  Education  Amendments of   1978,   requires   that   the   Department   of Defense  Dependents  Schools  (DODDSs)  con- form  to  PL  94-142. PL  94-142—the  Education  of  All  Handi- capped  Children  Act,  guarantees  the  right  to  a free,  appropriate  public  education  in  the  least restrictive environment for all handicapped per- sons between the ages of 3 and 21. Members of the FSC staff frequently contact state  and  local  agencies  and  advocacy  groups to  obtain  current  Federal  and  State  guidelines to   facilitate   implementation   of   PLs   95-561 and  94-142  and  to  determine  what  programs are   available   for   handicapped   persons.   Many areas have recreation and educational programs including   adaptive   swimming   and   adaptive physical  education,  support  groups  for  parents, and  vocational  rehabilitation  for  adults. The   FSC   staff   can   provide   support   to families   either   directly   or   through   support groups  comprised  of  persons  sharing  similar problems.  Support  groups,  such  as  the  “Candle- lighters”  for  parents  of  terminally  ill  children, can provide the empathy and emotional support needed  to  live  through  an  extremely  difficult period. Another   method   of   support   is   providing information  about  respite  care  for  handicapped children.  A  few  hours  of  respite  care  per  week can provide a needed break for parents of handi- capped  children. Gifted  children  have  special  needs  also.  The education  for  the  gifted  and  talented  is  not governed  by  PL  94-142  and  many  areas  do  not provide  special  classes  for  these  children.  The FSC  staff  normally  maintains  contact  with  the State  Department  of  Education,  local  colleges, and local school districts in order to receive con- tinuous  updated  information  on  the  gifted  and to impart this information to concerned parents. CHAMPUS Program for the Handicapped The   CHAMPUS   Program   for   the   Handi- capped  provides  financial  assistance  to  active duty   members   for   the   care,   training,   and rehabilitation  of  a  child  or  spouse  who  is physically  handicapped  or  mentally  retarded. ELIGIBILITY.—To   qualify   for   CHAMPUS assistance,  the  handicapped  person  must  be  a spouse  or  child  of  a  member  of  the  uniformed services  who  is  on  active  duty  under  a  call  or order that does not specify a period of 30 days or less. A spouse or child of a deceased active duty member  may  qualify  if  all  of  the  requirements listed below are met: The spouse or child has not reached his or her 21st birthday. The   spouse   or   child   was   receiving assistance  under  the  Program  for  the  Handi- capped  at  the  time  of  the  member’s  death. The  member  died  after  January  1,  1967, while  eligible  for  hostile  fire  pay  or  from  a disease  or  illness  incurred  while  member  was eligible  for  such  pay. 5-13


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