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Journal Issue: Children with Disabilities Volume 22 Number 1 Spring 2012

Children with Disabilities: Introducing the Issue
Janet M. Currie Robert Kahn


This issue of The Future of Children explores childhood disability—its prevalence, nature, treatment, and consequences. With unprecedented numbers of U.S. children now being identified as having special medical and educational needs and with the nation's resources for addressing those needs increasingly constrained, the topic is timely.

Public discussion of childhood disability, by the media, parents, scholars, and advocates alike, tends to emphasize particular causes of disability, such as autism, asthma, cystic fibrosis, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In this volume, however, we focus not on individual disabilities, but rather on cross-cutting themes that apply more broadly to the issue of children with disabilities.

To this end, we commissioned a group of experts to review research on childhood disability, including its definition (itself a challenge), its prevalence and trends over time (likewise), and the costs it imposes both on the individual child and on the child's family. Our contributors also consider disability within the context of the nation's educational, health insurance, and medical systems; the impact of emerging technologies on the experience of disability; and the definition of health care quality. The volume concludes with a discussion of the prevention of childhood disability.