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Categories of Disability for Special Education Eligibility

  • Published: 2008-12-31 (Revised/Updated 2014-03-14) : JoAnn Collins.
  • Synopsis: Classifications of disability covered in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEA.

Main Document

Quote: "By knowing what categories are covered under IDEA you will be able to understand if your child has a disability that makes them eligible for special education services."

Does your child struggle with academics, and you are concerned that they may have a disability? Have you been told by special education personnel that your child does not fit any of the 13 eligibility classifications to receive special education services

This article will discuss the 13 classifications of disability, that are covered in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and make a child eligible for special education services. Whether a certain child is eligible is up to the parent and the IEP team, but having a disability in one of the 13 categories is required in order to be found eligible.

The categories are:

1. Autism:

A developmental disability that can affect the verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and can have a negative affect on the child's education. The prevalence of autism is 1 in 150 as determined by the CDC or Center for Disease Control.

2. Other Health Impaired (OHI):

The child exhibits limited strength, alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems, including but not limited to asthma, ADD/ADHD, cancer, diabetes, which negatively affects the child's education.

3. Mental Retardation:

Defined as significantly below average general functioning, with deficits in adaptive behavior, which negatively affects the child's education.

4. Emotional Disturbance (ED):

Exhibits one of the following conditions over an extended period of time and these conditions negatively effect a child's education. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors. For a child to be ED they are not supposed to have any other type of disability negative affecting their education.

5. Deafness:

Residual hearing is severely impaired in processing the spoken word, negatively affecting the child's education.

6. Hearing Impairment:

Exhibits a hearing loss that is permanent or fluctuating, which even with amplification negatively affects the child's education.

7. Visual Impairment:

Impairment is such that educational potential cannot be fulfilled without special services and materials.

8. Deaf-Blindness:

Child has both hearing and visual disabilities.

9. Specific Learning Disability (LD):

Exhibits a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological process (such as visual, motor, language etc) which negatively affects a child's education.

10. Multiple Disabilities:

The child exhibits two or more severe disabilities, one of which is mental retardation.

11. Orthopedic Impairment:

Displays severe impairments that are the result of congenital anomaly, developmental, or other causes (such as CP) which negatively affects the child's education.

12. Speech or Language Impairment:

Exhibits a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a receptive and/or expressive language disorder, that negatively affects the child's education.

13. Traumatic Brain Injury:

The child has an injury to their brain resulting in total or partial functional disability.

By knowing what categories are covered under IDEA you will be able to understand if your child has a disability that makes them eligible for special education services. You are the only advocate that your child has-do not let them down!

Reference: JoAnn Collins is the mother of two adults with disabilities and the author of Disability Deception; Lies Disability Educators Tell and How Parents Can Beat Them at Their Own Game. For more information on special education and how parents can advocate for their child go to: www.disabilitydeception.com

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