Special education refers to the customized education that is provided to students with diverse learning abilities, disabilities or special needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) recognizes 13 different categories of disabilities that qualify students for special education services. Understanding the diverse categories of special education needs can help educators and parents navigate the education landscape and provide appropriate support to students who require it.
- Specific Learning Disabilities
Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) are a group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s ability to read, write or compute. These disabilities are caused by the brain’s inability to process information efficiently. Students with SLD require additional support to help them overcome their challenges.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects a student’s ability to communicate, socialize, and understand abstract concepts. Students with ASD require differentiated instruction and environmental adjustments to meet their unique learning and socialization needs.
- Intellectual Disability
Intellectual Disability is characterized by below-average intellectual functioning, limitations in adaptive behavior, and the onset of these impairments before the age of 18. Students with intellectual disabilities require specialized support to access the curriculum and participate in everyday activities.
- Emotional Disturbance
Emotional Disturbance (ED) is a disorder that affects a student’s behavior and emotional stability. These students require support through counseling and behavioral interventions to help them manage their emotions and learn appropriate coping mechanisms.
- Speech or Language Impairment
Speech or Language Impairment affects a student’s ability to communicate effectively. These students may require speech therapy or language instruction to improve their communication skills.
- Deafness or Hearing Impairment
Students with Deafness or Hearing Impairment have difficulty hearing and require assistive technology or sign language to communicate.
- Visual Impairment
Students with Visual Impairment require specialized support to access materials in a format that is accessible to them. They may also require orientation and mobility training to navigate their environments effectively.
- Orthopedic Impairment
Orthopedic Impairment affects a student’s ability to move or control their movements. These students require specialized support to access the curriculum and participate in everyday activities.
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a result of a head injury that causes damage to the brain. Students with TBI require specialized support to manage their learning challenges and participate in everyday activities.
- Multiple Disabilities
Students with Multiple Disabilities have a combination of two or more disabilities that affect their learning ability, behavior, or physical functioning. They require specialized support to address their unique needs.
Deaf-Blindness affects a student’s ability to see and hear. These students require specialized support to communicate and navigate their environments.
- Developmental Delay
Developmental Delay is a delay in one or more areas of a child’s development. These students require specialized support to meet their unique needs.
- Other Health Impairment
Other Health Impairment (OHI) refers to physical or mental conditions that limit a student’s ability to learn. These students may require medical interventions and accommodations to access the curriculum and participate in everyday activities.
Understanding the different categories of special education needs is essential in providing appropriate support to students. By recognizing their unique learning challenges, educators and parents can collaborate to provide customized instruction and interventions that maximize the student’s learning potential.