Autism – a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a student’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.Autism does not apply if a student’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional behavioral disability.


Deaf-blindness – 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 students with deafness or students with blindness and adversely affect a student’s educational performance.


Deafness – a hearing impairment so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.

Developmental Delay

Developmental delay – relates to students, age 3-8, who experience developmental delays that adversely affect the student’s educational performance as demonstrated on a standardized norm referenced test, with a test-retest or split-half reliability of .80 that is at least:

(A) Two standard deviations below the mean in one or more of the five developmental areas; or
(B) One and one-half standard deviations below the mean in two or more of the five developmental areas:

  1. Cognitive development: Comprehending, remembering, and making sense out of one’s experience. Cognitive ability is the ability to think and is often thought of in terms of intelligence;
  2. Communication development: The ability to effectively use or understand age-appropriate language, including vocabulary, grammar, and speech sounds;
  3. Physical development: Fine and/or gross motor skills requiring precise, coordinated, use of small muscles and/or motor skills used for body control such as standing, walking, balance, and climbing;
  4. Social/Emotional development: The ability to develop and maintain functional interpersonal relationships and to exhibit age appropriate social and emotional behaviors; and
  5. Adaptive development: The ability to develop and exhibit age-appropriate self-help skills, including independent feeding, toileting, personal hygiene and dressing skills.

Developmental Delay ages birth to three years ­ meet the eligibility criteria established by the state lead agency under Part C of IDEA; and are in need of early intervention services under Part C of IDEA. Infants and toddlers who qualify for early intervention services must be evaluated prior to age three in order to determine eligibility for special education and related services.

Students who qualify under the developmental delay eligibility category must be re­evaluated before the age of nine and determined eligible for services under one of the other eligibility categories.


Emotional/Behavioral – a condition where the student exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a student’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 or teachers.
  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
  • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Emotional/behavioral disability includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to students who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.

Hearing Impairments

Hearing Impairment – defined by IDEA as “an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.” The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly the Education of the Handicapped Act (P.L. 94-142), includes “hearing impairment” and “deafness” as two of the categories under which children with disabilities may be eligible for special education and related services programming. While the term “hearing impairment” is often used generically to describe a wide range of hearing losses, including deafness, the regulations for IDEA define hearing loss and deafness separately.

Intellectual Disabilities

Intellectual Disabilities – a term used when a person has certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, taking care of him or herself, and social skills. These limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child. Children with mental retardation may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating. They are likely to have trouble learning in school. They will learn, but it will take them longer. There may be some things they cannot learn.

Multiple Disabilities

Multiple Disabilities – concomitant impairments, the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term, multiple disabilities, does not include deaf­-blindness.

Orthopedic Impairment

Orthopedic Impairments – a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly (e.g. clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g. poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

Other Health Impairments

Other Health Impairments – having 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, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and adversely affects a student’s educational performance.

Specific Learning Disability

Specific learning disability ­- a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. Specific Learning Disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, or emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Speech/Language Impairment

Speech or language Impairment ­- a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or voice impairment, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury – ­ an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psycho-social impairment, or both, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgement; problem solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Visual Impairment

Visual Impairment -­ an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.

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