Have special education personnel stated that your child was ineligible for special education, because they do not fit into one of the 13 eligible categories? Does your child have Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) but you were told by school personnel that this does not fit into the 13 eligible categories? Has your child been diagnosed as emotionally disturbed and you believe the child has autism? This article will discuss how you can determine what category of classification that your child can receive special education services under. By knowing these categories you can advocate for the one that meets your child’s needs.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that every child with a disability must receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Also special education services to meet their unique needs. Labels or classifications do not determine, if a particular child is eligible for a particular special education service, though sometimes special education personnel act like it does.
1. Autism: If you suspect that your child has autism ask special education personnel to give him or her, a childhood autism rating scale (CARS). The scale is done by the parent answering 13 questions about their child, and a knowledgeable person giving a score to the scale. The higher the number the more chance that the child has autism. If the scale is positive take your child to a specialized Pediatrician that specializes in autism.
Pervasive developmental disorder is on the Autism spectrum. Autism is one of the eligible categories for special education services. So a child with PDD is eligible for special education services under the category of autism.
2. OHI: For a child to be eligible under this category usually requires some type of documentation from the child’s physician. Many children with ADD and ADHD receive special education services under this category.
3. Mental Retardation: Determined by IQ score; a child’s IQ score under 75 is considered to be in the mental retardation range. Be careful if your child’s IQ is normal and decreases as they grow older, this is indicative of an inappropriate education, not necessarily mental retardation.
4. Emotional Disturbance (ED): Many children with autism are being given an ED label-Why? Because in my opinion special education personnel are reluctant to give a child an autism label due to cost of special education services. For a child to truly be ED, they must have no other disability!
5. Deafness: This is a total loss of hearing and usually requires physician documentation.
6. Hearing Impairment: Not a total loss of hearing as above!
7. Visual Impairment: Severe impairment not fixed by glasses or contacts.
8. Deaf-Blindness: Total loss of hearing and total loss of sight.
9. Specific Learning Disability (LD): Children with reading difficulty despite appropriate instruction, math difficulty despite appropriate instruction, dyslexia, visual processing disorder, sensory integration disorder (SID), auditory processing disorder, all qualify under LD.
10. Multiple Disabilities. Must include another disability and also mental retardation.
11. Orthopedic Impairment: A child with Cerebral Palsy would qualify under this category.
12. Speech or Language Impairment. Includes delayed speech, communication disorder, language disorder such as dyslexia, receptive and expressive language disorder etc.
13. Traumatic Brain Injury: Any injury to the brain either at birth or when the child was older.
By understanding the 13 categories and what is required for each one, you will be able to be an informed advocate for your child. Children who need special education services and do not get them may have their lives ruined forever!