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Being the parent of a special needs child is no easy task. It can seem like a daunting, solitary task. This pamphlet was created to connect you to support services, make you, the parent, aware of your child’s rights, as well as to assist you in ensuring that your child receives the best education possible.

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act there are 14 disability categories. Your child must fit into one of these categories in order to qualify for special education services in the public school system.

1) AUTISM: a neurological disorder that primarily affects social skills and verbal and non-verbal communication. This condition can usually be detected as early as age 3. Other behaviors commonly associated with this disorder are repetitive activities and movements, inflexibility to changes in environment or routine, and mild to extreme sensory sensitivity.

2) DEAF-BLINDNESS: simultaneous vision and hearing impairment which together cause such extreme developmental and communication difficulties that the child cannot be accommodated in a regular special education class or in a program for children suffering only from deafness or blindness.

3) DEAFNESS: a hearing disablement so severe that a child is unable to process auditory sensation, with or without amplification that negatively affects a child’s educational performance. 4) DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY: this applies to children from birth to age 9 who have a delay in one or more areas including- physical, cognitive, communication, socialemotional, or behavior development. 5) EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE: A condition demonstrating one or more of the following behaviors for an extended period of time and to a noticeable degree, that is not a result of another disorder, and that does affect the child’s educational performance.

a) An inability to learn that cannot be attributed to cognitive, sensory or health factors.

b) An inability to create or sustain satisfactory relationships with peers and educators.

c) Irrational behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. d) A general pervasive temperament of depression and discontent. e) An inclination to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school difficulties. 6) HEARING IMPAIRMENT: partial hearing loss in one or both ears. May be permanent or vacillating, and is not the same as deafness, but does have an adverse effect on the child’s academic performance.

7) INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY: noticeably below average general intelligence, existing alongside deficits in adaptive behavior, which become apparent during the early developmental stage, and negatively impacts the child’s academic performance. 8) MULTIPLE DISABILITIES: concordant impairments from the 14 disability categories that adversely affect a child’s educational performance. The term does not include deaf-blindness.

9) ORTHOPEDIC IMPAIRMENT: a severe orthopedic impairment that negatively affects a student’s academic success caused by a congenital anomaly, disease, or other causes.


OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENT: a child has limited strength, stamina,

and alertness, including heightened sensitivity to environmental stimuli, that result in limited focus in an educational setting that is due to health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, or Tourette syndrome, that significantly impact a child’s academic performance.


SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY: a disorder that affects a child’s

ability to comprehend and utilize language. This disorder creates difficulty with the skills of listening, thinking, reading, writing, math, and spelling. This term includes diagnoses such as brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, perceptual disabilities, and developmental aphasia. This term does not include learning problems that are primarily a result of visual, auditory, and motor dysfunction; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economical disadvantage.

12) SPEECH/LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT: a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, or language or voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s ability to successfully function in a school environment. 13) TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: an acquired injury to the brain caused by external physical trauma, causing partial or total functional disability or psychosocial impairment. This can include open or closed head injury that result in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; psychosocial behavior; judgment; problem-solving; physical functions; speech; information processing; and sensory, perceptual and motor skills. This category is not to include brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

14) VISUAL IMPAIRMENT INCLUDING BLINDNESS: a visual impairment that, even with corrections, negatively affects a child’s ability to succeed in an educational setting. This term includes partial sight and blindness. Information on diagnostic categories retrieved from .

Resources That Can Help 1. The National Dissemation Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)- The goal of this organization is to keep parents informed about laws and news articles pertaining to their child with disabilities, as well as connecting them with resources and disability services in their state. This site can be accessed by going to 2. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)- The goal of this organization is to work to continuously improve the learn environment of children with disabilities, as well as through advocacy, ensuring that these exceptional children are treated as valuable members of society. This organizations site can be found at HomePage.cfm. 3. ED is a combination of government agencies that joined together with the common goal of ensuring academic excellence in order to make America’s children more competitive on the global stage. The special education portion of this site is entitled, “My Child’s Special Needs”, and can be accessed through by going to . 4. The purpose of the National Association for Parents with Children in Special Education (NAPCSE) is to provide parents of special education students with all possible assistance, resources, and support in an effort to help them handle any difficulties that they may face in personal and academic situations. This organizations site can be found by going to .

5. The National Center for Learning Disabilities can be found by going to This organization strives to help people with learning disabilities achieve success at home, in school, and throughout the rest of their lives. Please go to to access these resources. Parents, I hope that this pamphlet is helpful to you throughout the school year, and for the duration of your child’s academic career. I look forward to working with you as a part of your child’s educational team.

A Guide for Parents of Special Education Students  

pamphlet/ school project

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