II. - 2.Care and Education for Children with Disabilities at Early Stage

(1) Early Stage Care

In order to bring up children with disabilities properly, we should offer adequate care, for example, medical rehabilitation, guidance and training as early as possible. Children with disabilities need such care to reduce their disabilities, improve their basic abilities in daily life, live independently and participate in society.

Public health center and municipalities have a regular mental and physical check-ups system at the age of 3 months, 18 months, and 3 years, in order to detect and provide appropriate care for disabilities as early as possible. This kind of health screening system in Japan has achieved excellent results.

Care facilities for children with disabilities are homes for children with visual, aural and speaking disabilities, physical disabilities and intellectual disabilities. Each facility offers medical and special care.

We have provided General Day Care Centers for Children with Mental and Physical Disabilities to offer early diagnosis and care for children with disabilities and act as central care facilities in the community. Day Care Centers for Children established by municipalities are also expected to take on the role of the Developmental Support Center for children with various types of handicap in the community.

We have established systems to support children with disabilities and their family members because the way that the children are treated by their family strongly influences the care process. Child guidance centers and public health centers offer the necessary counseling and guidance to children with disabilities and their family members.

The private sector are supporting care services for children with disabilities and their family members in the community, i.e. counseling, compiling care plans and coordinating services with other agencies, based on the children's needs and their families' needs.

(2) Education

The Government guarantees an appropriate education for each child, regardless of the nature or severity of their disability, in all areas of the country.

There are only 147 children (as of 1 May 2001) who, through parental or guardians' request, are acknowledged as being difficult to attend schools because of severe physical or mental health problems, and whose obligation to attend school is therefore postponed or exempted. This figure represents only 0.001% of all school age children. Accordingly, in Japan education for all children is being provided regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.

Responding to the individual educational needs of each child with disabilities, Japan provides education in various schools such as primary schools, secondary schools, and special schools for children with disabilities. The ratio of students who are enrolled in such special schools stands at 0.443%, compared to all children enrolled in compulsory education. This ratio is lower than the ratio in Western countries.

As to curricula, in order to provide an appropriate education that responds to the individual educational needs of each child, in each primary, secondary school and special school, appropriate curricula can be flexibly organized, based on the condition of the disability.

Given recent IT improvements, education with advanced IT equipments is also being implemented in schools to meet the educational needs of children with disabilities, for various types of disabilities.

Moreover, various joint activities between children with disabilities and others in various situations such as in kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school or local society are made so that children can grow up with a deeper understanding and recognition of each other's situation.

As stated above, in order to develop the capabilities of the children with disabilities to the maximum extent possible and cultivate their ability to participate independently in all aspects of society, Japan provides carefully tailored education for individual educational needs by preparing fundamental elements for education for children with disabilities, such as teaching staff with special knowledge and experience and facilities and equipment that consider educational needs from the perspective of their disabilities in primary and secondary schools and special schools.

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