Who is Eligible for Special Education Services?

Under IDEA, states are responsible for meeting the special needs of eligible children. To receive special education services, under IDEA Part B, children and youth must be between the ages of 3-21. In order for a child to qualify for special education services, he or she:

  • must have a disability, as defined by IDEA (IDEA includes 13 disability categories which are listed below. Missouri breaks these categories down even further); and
  • the disability must adversely impact the child’s educational performance.

To find out if a child is eligible for services, he or she must first receive a full and individual initial evaluation.

What if my child has a medical condition not specified by IDEA?

According to the Missouri state plan “If a child has a medical condition, diagnosed by other professionals such as physicians, psychologists, etc. that are not specified by IDEA, These may include such conditions as Tourette syndrome, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, leukemia, etc. Students who present significant learning problems by virtue of the condition may demonstrate eligibility for special education under one or more of the disabilities identified (in IDEA).”

Who is not eligible for services?

A child is not eligible for services if:

  • he or she does not meet the criteria listed above; or
  • poor academic performance is due to a lack of appropriate instruction in reading, including the essential components of reading instruction a or lack of appropriate instruction in math or limited English proficiency.

Disablity Categories

Click on any category below to view it’s defintion under IDEA.

“Autism” means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal or nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three (3) that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disability as defined in this document. A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three (3) could be identified as having autism if the criteria are satisfied.
“Deaf/Blindness” means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of 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.
Emotional Disturbance
“Emotional Disturbance” 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; and, E. a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or social problems. The term includes schizophrenia, but does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted unless it is determined they have an emotional disturbance.
Hearing Impairment/Deafness
“Hearing Impairment” means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance, but is not included in the following definition for deafness. “Deafness” means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Intellectual Disability
“Intellectual Disability” means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Multiple Disabilities
“Multiple Disabilities” means concomitant impairments (such as intellectual disability-blindness, intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf/blindness.
Orthopedic Impairment
“Orthopedic Impairment” means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g., club foot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations and fractures, or burns that cause contrachures).
Other Health Impairment
“Other Health Impairment” means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment that is due to chronic or acute health problems, such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome, and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Specific Learning Disability
“Specific Learning Disability” means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of a visual, hearing, or motor disability; intellectual disability; emotional disturbance; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; or, limited English proficiency.
Speech or Language Impairment
“Speech or Language Impairment” means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment, or voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Traumatic Brain Injury
“Traumatic Brain Injury” means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability, psychosocial impairment, or both that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as, cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem solving, sensory, perceptual and motor abilities, psychological behavior, physical functions, information processing, and speech. The term does not include brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
Visual Impairment
Visual Impairment, including blindness, means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness
Young Child with a Developmental Delay (specific to Missouri)
“Young Child with a Developmental Delay” means a child ages three (3) through five (5) who is experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate evaluation instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development, and who need special education and related services. This disablity category is specific to Missouri. It is not listed under IDEA. Note: LEAs in Missouri are not required to adopt and use the term “Young Child with a Developmental Delay” for any children in their jurisdiction. However, if an LEA uses the term “Young Child with a Developmental Delay,” the LEA must conform to both the State’s definition of the term and the age range.

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