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For a student to meet criteria for special education services, he or she must meet one of the following eligibilities set by the state:

Autism means 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 include engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Students who are diagnosed with a pervasive developmental delay may meet criteria for special education services under the eligibility of autism. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.

Deaf-Blindness means 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.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing may meet criteria for either deafness or a hearing impairment. Deafness means a hearing impairment so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification -- with adverse effects on the child’s educational performance. Hearing impairment refers to an impairment, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but does not include deafness.  

Emotional Disturbance describes a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:

  • Inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors
  • Inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
  • Inappropriate behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
  • General pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
  • Tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems

The term includes schizophrenia but does does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.

Intellectual Disability means 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 means concomitant impairments (e.g., 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 based on one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.

Noncategorical Early Childhood may be used for children (ages 3-5) who are suspected of meeting criteria for autism, emotional disturbance, learning disability or mental retardation.

Orthopedic Impairment is a severe 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 from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

Other Health Impairment means having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness in the educational environment. It. . .

  • Is caused by chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, ADD, ADHD, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever and sickle cell anemia, and
  • Adversely affects a child’s educational performance

Specific Learning Disability. . .

  • Is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do math calculations. It includes conditions like perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia.
  • Does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

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

Traumatic Brain Injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in partial/total functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. It 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. It does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

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