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13 Qualifying Disabilities for Special Education

At Wise County Shared Services we work to provide special education and related services to eligible students. To be covered, a child’s school performance must be “adversely affected” by one of the 13 conditions below.

1. Specific learning disability (SLD)

The umbrella term “SLD” covers a specific group of learning issues. The conditions in this group affect a child’s ability to read, write, listen, speak, reason or do math. Some examples are:

2. Other health impairment

The umbrella term “other health impairment” covers conditions that limit a child’s strength, energy or alertness. One example is an attention issue like ADHD.

3. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

ASD is a developmental disability. It covers a wide range of symptoms and skills, but mainly affects a child’s social and communication skills. It can also impact behavior.

4. Emotional disturbance

Children covered under the term “emotional disturbance” can have a number of mental disorders. They may include anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. (Some of these issues may also be covered under “other health impairment.”)

5. Speech or language impairment

The umbrella term “speech or language impairment” covers a number of communication problems. Those include stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment or voice impairment.

6. Visual impairment, including blindness

A child who has vision problems is considered to have a visual impairment. This condition includes both partial sight and blindness. If eyewear can correct a vision problem, then it doesn’t qualify.

7. Deafness

Children with a diagnosis of deafness have a severe hearing impairment. They aren’t able to process language through hearing.

8. Hearing impairment

The term “hearing impairment” refers to a hearing loss not covered by the definition of deafness. This type of loss can change or fluctuate over time. Remember that being hard of hearing is not the same thing as having auditory processing disorder.

9. Deaf-blindness

Children with a diagnosis of deaf-blindness have both hearing and visual impairments. Their communication and other needs are so great that programs for the deaf or blind can’t meet them.

10. Orthopedic impairment

Any impairment to a child’s body, no matter what the cause, is considered an orthopedic impairment.

11. Intellectual disability

Children with this type of disability have below-average intellectual ability. They may also have poor communication, self-care and social skills. Down syndrome is one example of an intellectual disability.

12. Traumatic brain injury

This is a brain injury is caused by an accident or some kind of physical force.

13. Multiple disabilities

A child with multiple disabilities has more than one condition covered by IDEA. Having multiple issues creates educational needs that can’t be met in a program for any one condition.

If you haven’t done so already, you might want to find out if your child is eligible for special education. If your child is found eligible, the next step will be to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP). If he isn’t school-age yet, you may want to learn about early intervention.