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Receives special education or early intervention services

Codes and Frequencies

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LASPED indicates whether sample children ages 0-17 (and, prior to 2019, children under age 18) currently receive Special Education or Early Intervention Services. Beginning in 2001, the survey collected information annually on whether children with an affirmative response for LASPED received these services because of an emotional or behavioral problem (LASPEDEM). In 1994-95, LASPED indicates whether children under age 18 in the Disability Phase I sample received Special Education or Early Intervention Services.


Prior to 2019, this inquiry into the receipt of Special Education and Early Intervention Services was part of the section of the survey that collected information about activity limitation due to health problems. The interviewer began this section with the words, "I am now going to ask about the general health of family members and the effects of any physical, mental, or emotional health problems."


For discussion of the survey's formal definitions of "problem" and "limited," see LAPLAYAM (Limited in kind or amount of play).

The Field Representative's Manual for 1997-2000 defined Special Education as follows:

Special Education is teaching designed to meet the needs of a child with special needs and/or disabilities. It is designed for children and youths aged 3 to 21. It is paid for by the public school system and may take place at a regular school, a special school, a private school, at home, or at a hospital.

The Manual for 1997-2000 defined Early Intervention Services as follows:

Early Intervention Services are services designed to meet the need of very young children with special needs and/or disabilities. They may include but are not limited to: medical and social services, parental counseling, and therapy. They may be provided at the child's home, a medical center, a day care center, or other place. They are provided by the State or school system at no cost to the parent.

The Manuals for 2001-2018 included similarly worded definitions for Special Education and Early Intervention Services.

Related Variables 

Two other questions gauged activity limitation in children under age 5. LAPLAYAM indicates whether young children were limited in the amount of play activities they could do because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem. For those with an affirmative response in this variable, LAPLAYAL indicates whether the child was "able to take part at all in the usual kinds of play activities" done by most children of the same age.
In 1994 and 1995, this variable is part of the Disability Supplement (NHIS-D) that collects information on disability. NHIS-D included two household interviews: in Phase I all members of sample families were screened for any indication of disability; in Phase II persons with any indication of disability were followed-up for additional information. Phase I includes sensory, communication, and mobility problems; health conditions; activities of daily living and independent activities of daily living; functional limitations; mental health; services and benefits; special health needs of children; early child development; education; relationship to respondent; and perceived disability. Phase II includes four Disability Followback Survey (DFS) questionnaires: one for children, one for adults, one for elderly persons (69 years of age and over) without any indication of disability (also called the Supplement on Aging or SOA; only in 1994), and one for persons with a history of polio.


This variable is completely comparable from 2001-2018. Refer to the universe and questionnaire tabs for more information on differences in who was asked the question and question wording before 2001. Beginning in 2019 LASPED is only asked of sample children who ever received special education services (SPEDEV).

The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 1994-1995: Persons under age 18 in the NHIS-D Phase I sample who were not in school because of age or illness, or receiving homeschooling for problems expected to last at least 12 months, or were in school or on vacation from school.
  • 1997-2018: Persons under age 18.
  • 2019-2022: Sample children ages 0-17 who ever received special education services (SPEDEV).


  • 1994-1995, 1997-2022