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Children and Bipolar Disorder

It can also be extraordinarily difficult to get approval for. One tool that may help you win this battle is a thorough and accurate financial appraisal that compares the cost of an intensive home-based program in the early years to twelve years of residential or private placement. If your child has been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder at this early an age, it is likely that his symptoms are already very severe. That makes early, intensive intervention the most cost-effective solution, no matter how you cut it.
Early Intervention classrooms

Early Intervention Preschool Settings

A preschool setting with other children is often considered the best placement for a young child with a psychiatric condition, because it provides the child with the greatest number of opportunities to relate to others, play, and learn. Spending time with other children in a structured setting can be very beneficial for developing social skills. However, attention must be paid to your child’s special needs, deficits, strengths, and so on–just any preschool class won’t do.

Early Intervention preschools come in four basic flavors:

  • Regular preschool classroom, with or without special support. Also called a full integration setting or mainstreaming, this might be a Head Start or similar preschool classroom. Your child would attend preschool with therapeutic services, classroom adaptations, and personal support, such as an aide, as needed. These services, adaptations, and supports must be written into the IFSP.
  • Supported integrated preschool classroom. Also called a reverse integration setting, because it’s the nondisabled students who are integrated into a special program rather than the other way around. This is a specially created preschool setting that brings together a small group of children with disabilities and children without disabilities. Therapeutic services, classroom adaptations, and personal support are provided to each child with a disability as per his IFSP. Children in a supported integrated classroom may have a variety of different disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome, or mental illness.
  • Special preschool classroom. This is a specially created preschool setting for children with disabilities only. The children may have a mix of various physical or emotional disabilities, or a mix of different behavior disorders only. The classroom may be part of a larger school with other types of classrooms.
  • Special preschool. This is an entire preschool program created specifically to work with children who have disabilities. It may be within a larger school program that also educates school-age children. It may be owned and run by a public school district, or it may be a private school that contracts with the Early Intervention program to provide services. If it is private, EI and/or the school district should pay the full cost of tuition if it is judged to be the most appropriate setting for your child.

There are positive aspects to each of these typical settings. For children who can handle full, supported inclusion in a regular preschool classroom, there are ample opportunities to model the behavior of less-challenged peers.

Supported integrated classrooms offer similar benefits, with a daily program and structure that’s more geared toward the child with special needs.

Special classrooms and schools generally have the most services, but provide few opportunities to interact with nondisabled peers. Your child’s needs, abilities, and difficulties will dictate the right placement, as there is no workable one-size-fits-all approach.

Children and Bipolar Disorder

Sherrie Mcgregor, Ph.D.

APA Reference
Mcgregor, S. (2020). Children and Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.