Terms & Definitions
Students with moderate and severe disabilities may include the following as defined by IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Accommodations for these students are typically described on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) by the public school. The following definitions are from U.S. Department of Education, Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 at idea.ed.gov.
Autism (including Asperger’s Syndrome):
“A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, and which will adversely affect a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activitiesand stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Asperger’s Syndrome is on the mild end of the autism spectrum.”
“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, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”
“A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:An inability to learn that 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 feelings under normal circumstances,A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression, and a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.”
“An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating that adversely affects a child’s educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.”
“Significant sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”
“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.”
“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), impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).”
Other health impairments:
“A condition that results in limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness
with respect to the educational environment, that:is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia.adversely affects a child’s educational performance. In practice and application, the category of other health impairments encompasses a wide range of medical conditions.contagious diseases, such as AIDS, may fall within the definition of “other health impairment.” Chemical dependence, in and of itself, does not fall within the definition of “other health impairment,” or any other disability category under the current IDEA. A substance-abusing student will only qualify as disabled within the meaning of the current IDEA if another independent condition exists which constitutes a disability requiring special education, or the use of drugs results in a condition that is covered under of the current IDEA’s disability categories.”
Speech or language impairment:
“A communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a 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 occurrences such as strokes or aneurysms.
Visual impairment, including blindness, is defined as, “an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance.” The term includes both partial sight and blindness.