What is Special Education?
Special Education is specialized instruction provided for children from birth to age 22 who qualify according to the laws and regulations outlined by the state and federal government. A student may qualify for special education services as an individual with special needs in one of thirteen areas identified by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). These are:
- Hard of Hearing
- Visually Impaired
- Speech-Language Impaired
- Specific Learning Disability
- Multiple Handicapped
- Orthopedically Impaired
- Other Health Impaired
- Intellectual Disability
- Emotionally Disturbed
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Special Education Categories
A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.
Concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.
A hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, which adversely affects a child's educational performance.
Emotional Disturbance (ED)
Emotional Disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics, over a long period of time and to a marked degree, that adversely affects educational performance:
- An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
- An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
- Inappropriate types of behavior or feeling under normal circumstances;
- A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
- A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
The term (ED) includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.
Established Medical Disability (EMD)
A disabling medical condition or congenital syndrome that the individualized education program (IEP) team determines has a high predictability of requiring special education and services. (This eligibility category is only applicable for children ages 3-5)
Hard of Hearing
Hard of Hearing means hearing, impairment, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of “deaf” in this section.
Significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
Multiple Disabilities (MD)
Concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.
Orthopedic Impairment (OI)
A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g., clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments form other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
Other Health Impairment (OHI)
Having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment.
Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
A specific learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. Eligibility for services requires that there is a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in one or more of the following academic areas: oral or written expression, listening or reading comprehension, basic reading skills, mathematics calculations and reasoning. Disorders not included - the term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, or mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Speech or Language Impairment (SLI)
A communication disorder, impaired articulation, language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
Visual Impairment, including Blindness
Impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.