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Special Education - IDEA Act Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The Indivi­duals with Disabi­lities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide special education and related services to eligible students. But not every child with learning or attention issues qualifies. To be covered, a child’s school perfor­mance must be “adversely affected” by one of the 13 conditions below.

For kids with learning and attention issues, two of these conditions are the most relevant. They are “specific learning disabi­lity” and “other health impair­ment.”

Special education and related services

1. Specific learning disability (SLD)
The umbrella term “SLD” covers a specific group of learning issues. The conditions in this group affect a child’s ability to read, write, listen, speak, reason or do math. Here are some of the issues that could fall in this group:
Auditory processing disorder
Nonverbal learning disability

2. Other health impairment
The umbrella term “other health impair­ment” covers conditions that limit a child’s strength, energy or alertness. One example is an attention issue like ADHD.
3. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
ASD is a develo­pmental disabi­lity. It covers a wide range of symptoms and skills, but mainly affects a child’s social and commun­ication skills. It can also impact behavior.
4. Emotional distur­bance
Children covered under the term “emotional distur­bance” can have a number of mental disorders. They include anxiety disorder, schizo­phr­enia, bipolar disorder, obsess­ive­-co­mpu­lsive disorder and depres­sion.
5. Speech or language impairment
The umbrella term “speech or language impair­ment” covers a number of commun­ication problems. Those include stutte­ring, impaired articu­lation, language impairment or voice impair­ment.



6. Visual impair­ment, including blindness
A child who has vision problems is considered to have a visual impair­ment. This condition includes both partial sight and blindness. If eyewear can correct a vision problem, then it doesn’t qualify.
7. Deafness
Children with a diagnosis of deafness have a severe hearing impair­ment. They aren’t able to process language through hearing.
8. Hearing impairment
The term “hearing impair­ment” refers to a hearing loss not covered by the definition of deafness. This type of loss can change or fluctuate over time. Remember that being hard of hearing is not the same thing as having auditory processing disorder.
9. Deaf-b­lin­dness
Children with a diagnosis of deaf-b­lin­dness have both hearing and visual impair­ments. Their commun­ication and other needs are so great that programs for the deaf or blind can’t meet them.
10. Orthopedic impairment
Any impairment to a child’s body, no matter what the cause, is considered an orthopedic impair­ment. One example is cerebral palsy. This condition is caused by damage to areas of the brain that control the body.
11. Intell­ectual disability
Children with this type of disability have below-­average intell­ectual ability. They may also have poor commun­ica­tion, self-care and social skills. Down syndrome is one example of an intell­ectual disabi­lity.
12. Traumatic brain injury
This is a brain injury is caused by an accident or some kind of physical force.
13. Multiple disabi­lities
A child with multiple disabi­lities has more than one condition covered by IDEA. Having multiple issues creates educat­ional needs that can’t be met in a program for any one condition.