Qualifying For Special Education

Children who have a disability that causes them to need specialized educational services to benefit from their education are entitled to receive special education and related services. In the case of a learning disability, there must be a severe discrepancy (difference) between intellectual ability and achievement in academic areas.

Disabilities That Qualify for Special Education Include:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional disturbance
    (used to be Serious Emotional Disturbance) *
  • Hearing impairment
  • Mental retardation
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
    (now includes ADD and ADHD)
  • Specific learning disability.
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment including blindness


* Emotional disturbance is defined as follows:

(i) The term means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:
(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
(B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
(C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
(D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
(E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

(ii) The term includes schizophrenia.
The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.