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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

"Making life better!"

toddler in wheelchairWhat is a disability?

Do I have one? Do you?

It may surprise you to know that not everyone or every agency agrees on what is a disability. So, an individual may be able to receive services from some agencies and not others.

For children three years of age and older, federal education law identifies thirteen categories of disabilities that qualify children for special education:

  1. Mental retardation, .... a condition in which a person has trouble learning, absorbing, and practicing everyday skills, which delays them from being able to take care of themselves and interact with others,
  2. Specific learning disabilities - obstacles to the learning process that hinder a person’s full ability to be educated. These disabilities still allow the person to learn, he/she just has to find alternate ways to do this.
  3. Serious emotional disturbance .... that persists over a long period of time and adversely affects the child's educational performance.
  4. Visual impairment ... limited visual perception that, even with correction, has a negative effect on a child's ability to learn
  5. Deafness a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in understanding speech.
  6. Hearing impairment ... an impairment in hearing, that affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness
  7. Speech or language impairment,
  8. Multiple disabilities ... a combination of disabilities, such as mental retardation and orthopedic impairment, that cannot be served in programs for either individual disability alone.
  9. Autism .... significantly affects the student's language, non-verbal communication and social interaction.
  10. Orthopedic impairment, a physical impairment that affects the student's ability to learn, which may be present at birth or due to accident or disease.
  11. Traumatic brain injury ... an acquired brain injury, caused by external force, that causes physical, mental or social impairment.
  12. Other health impairments - cover a variety of diseases and disorders. This refers to people who have limited strength, energy or alertness that affects their ability to learn in a normal classroom.
  13. Deaf-blindness ... a combination of hearing and visual impairments 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..

What is a developmental delay?
Children from age 3 to 5 are diagnosed as having developmental delays. The term developmental delay means that the children are just a bit behind their peers. Special services are granted to these young children in the hopes that services will only be needed for a short while, that the children will soon develop at the same rate as their peers. This means that children may only need services for a short time. For more information on developmental delay, click here. Children with developmental delays qualify for early intervention services.

Another important category is developmental disability, severe disabilities that qualify for additional services.

NEXT arrowNext: What is Mental Retardation?

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