Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What are the IDEA eligibility categories?

The first prong of IDEA eligibility requires the existence of a specific condition of disability. In Arizona, the MET (Multidisciplinary Education Team) must identify at least one of the following conditions before considering is a student qualifies for special education and related services:
Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) Section 15-761(2)(a):
(i)        Autism (A, which is now Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD)
(ii)       Developmental delay (DD)
(iii)      Emotional disability (ED)
(iv)      Hearing impairment (HI)
(v)       Other health impairments (OHI)
(vi)      Specific learning disability (SLD)
(vii)     Mild, moderate or severe intellectual disability (what used to be called mental retardation) (MID, MOID)
(viii)    Multiple disabilities (MD)
(ix)      Multiple disabilities w/ severe sensory impairments (MDSSI)
(x)       Orthopedic impairment (OI)
(xi)      Preschool severe delay (PSD)
(xii)     Speech/language impairment (SLI)
(xiii)    Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
(xiv)    Visual impairment (VI)

Diagnosing certain mental or neurological disabilities in very young children is often difficult, and thus Arizona may choose to designate children as experiencing "developmental delays." Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states may recognize children ages 3 years through 9 years who need special education and related services as a result of developmental delays in physical development; cognitive, communication, social, or emotional development; or adaptive development, as children with disabilities. 34 CFR 300.8 (b).

In order to be eligible for an IEP, a child must fit the definition of one of those disabilities expressly listed above.   However, the list of specific impairments included within the definition of each of the categories of disabilities is not meant to be exhaustive.  Thus, for example, children with dyslexia fit within the category of Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and children with anxiety disorder may fit within the category of Other Health Impaired (OHI) or sometimes Emotional Disability (ED).  

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