IDEA’s 13 Disability Categories

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The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) sets forth the 13 disability categories for students to receive special education services. To determine if a student is eligible, the student must first receive a full individual evaluation.

1. Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability affecting a person’s verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction.

2. Developmental Delay

In South Carolina, a child is considered to have a developmental delay if she is behind other children her same age in at least one area of development – cognitive, physical, communication, social-emotional, and adaptive.

3. Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Deafness means the child’s hearing is so impaired he has difficulty processing information through hearing and it negatively affects his learning.

4. Deaf-blindness

This disability means the child visual and hearing problems at the same time and the disability causes severe communication, developmental, and communication needs.

5. Emotional Disturbance

The IDEA describes emotional disturbance as a condition that presents itself over a long period of time and affects the child’s educational performance. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are a few examples of emotional disturbances.

6. Intellectual Disability

Children with below-average intellectual ability.

7. Multiple Disabilities

As the name suggests, this category includes children with more than one condition covered by IDEA.

8. Orthopedic Impairment

A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects the child’s academic performance. This includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease, and other impairments such as cerebral palsy, burns, and amputations.

9. Other Health Impairment

Conditions that affect a child’s strength, energy, or alertness that could adversely affect a child’s learning fall under this category. Examples include ADHD, Epilepsy, Sickle Cell Anemia, and Leukemia.

10. Specific Learning Disability

This is category covers specific learning disabilities such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia.

11. Speech or Language Impairment

Students with difficulties in speech or language fall under this category. This could include stuttering, difficulty understanding words, and problems with articulation.

12. Traumatic Brain Injury

Children who have brain injuries caused by external force and the injury affects the child’s educational performance.

13. Visual Impairment

For a visual impairment to fall under the IDEA disability category, the impairment cannot easily be corrected with glasses or other eyewear. Blindness or partial blindness fall under visual impairment.

If you believe your child may have one of the above disabilities and you are concerned the disability is adversely affecting his/her education, please feel free to contact us for help in having your child evaluated.

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