by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Each year, hew children with disabilities enter the school system; and each year students who are already enrolled in school become newly diagnosed with a disability. The Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) lists different types of problems experienced by children aged three to twenty-one, and offers services for these children that are paid for by the school district. Although these categories have been part of the special-education system since 1976, we at the American Mental Health Foundation hope that all citizens will become aware of and familiar with them.
Autism affects language, nonverbal skills, daily living skills, and deficits among interpersonal skills, perserverative behaviors, and other problems
Visual impairment includes blindness and any condition that makes a child unable to see adequately.
Hearing impairment hearing loss including deafness.
Deaf-blindness when both conditions are present.
Emotional disturbance long-term inability to maintain interpersonal relationships, inappropriate expression of feelings, or severe mental-health conditions such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, or severe and incapacitating fears.
Mental retardation intellectual functioning that is very low.
Multiple disabilities different conditions occurring together to cause severe impairment.
Orthopedic impairment problems with muscular bone systems.
Other health impairment medical conditions that severely restrict educational functioning such as seizure disorders, heart conditions, leukemia, asthma, and other serious medical problems.
Specific learning disability limited ability to listen, read, write, or calculate math problems.
Speech and language impairment voice impairments, stuttering, or other conditions that make it difficult to communicate.
Traumatic brain injury accidents, tumors, or other injuries to the brain causing severe educational problems.
It is interesting that in the past, many of these terms were avoided for fear of inappropriately labeling a child. This is something to be avoided when working with anyone. On the other hand, in our society and educational system, these labels are also the admission ticket to essential and highly expensive services that are provided free to the child and family.