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Special Education Disabilities

Types of Special Education Disabilities

As required by law, West Shore ESD serves special needs children and students from birth to age 26. These individuals have a wide range of disabilities including developmental delays, learning disabilities, autism, traumatic brain injuries, and a wide variety of physical and emotional impairments. WSESD professionals follow state and federal special education rules and regulations to determine the presence of the impairments listed below.

Cognitive Impairments

Students with cognitive impairments have an IQ that is well-below average, perform behind grade level in math and reading, and have difficulty with everyday life skills such as self-help. Many will not be able to live on their own once they reach adulthood.

How is the presence of a cognitive impairment determined? A school psychologist determines the presence of cognitive impairments.

Emotional Impairments

Students with emotional impairments may have trouble getting along with others, may act out of place when faced with normal, everyday situations, may be unhappy or depressed, and/or show physical signs or fears toward people or school.

How is the presence of an emotional impairment determined? A team of WSESD professionals that includes a school psychologist and a school social worker determines the presence of an emotional impairment.

Hearing Impairments

Students with hearing impairments have some level of hearing loss that directly affects how well they perform. This disability includes those who are hard of hearing and deaf.

How is the presence of a hearing impairment determined? A team of WSESD professionals that may include a school psychologist and a teacher consultant for the hearing impaired determines the presence of a hearing impairment. Students must have documentation of a hearing impairment from a physician specializing in hearing.

Visual Impairments

Students with visual impairments have a vision loss that adversely affects how well they are able to perform in school. They may have some sight, be blind, and/or have a declining eye condition.

How is the presence of a visual impairment determined? A team of WSESD professionals that may include a school psychologist and a teacher consultant for the visually impaired determines the presence of a visual impairment. The student must have documentation of a visual impairment from a physician specializing in vision.

Physical Impairments

Students with physical impairments have severe bone or muscle development or lasting injuries that negatively impact how well they can perform in a school setting.

How is the presence of a physical impairment determined? A team of WSESD professionals that may include a school psychologist and a physical therapist determine the presence of physical impairments. The presence of a physical impairment must be documented by a family physician or specialized physician.

Other Health Impairments

Students with other health impairments have limited strength, energy, or alertness and include conditions such as epilepsy, leukemia, or heart conditions. These impairments adversely affect a student's educational progress in the general education curriculum.

How is the presence of a health impairment determined? A team of WSESD professionals that includes a school psychologist determines the presence of health impairments. A neurologist, internist, or other physician must also document the health impairment.

Speech and Language Impairments

Students with speech and language impairments may have difficulties using spoken language, understanding what others say, stuttering, talking too loudly or softly, etc. These impairments adversely affect how a student performs in school.

How is the presence of a speech and language impairment determined? A WSESD speech and language pathologist determines the presence of a speech and language impairment.

Early Childhood Developmental Delays

This category of disability refers to children from birth through the age of seven who show a delay in developmental skills equal to or greater than one-half their age.

How is the presence of an early childhood developmental delay determined? A team of WSESD professionals that includes a school psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, a school social worker, and a physical therapist determines the presence of early childhood developmental delays.

Specific Learning Disabilities

Students with specific learning disabilities may have average to above average IQs but perform well-below grade level in math, reading, writing, speaking, and/or listening. Specific learning disability characteristics may include taking longer than usual to learn new skills, learning new ideas in a different manner, and/or learning a new skill one day and forgetting its essential elements the next.

How is the presence of a specific learning disability determined? A school psychologist determines the presence of specific learning disabilities.

Severe Multiple Impairments

Students with severe multiple impairments have well-below average IQs, and two or more of the following conditions: a physical; impairment a health impairment; a hearing impairment; a visual impairment.

How is the presence of a severe multiple impairment determined? A school psychologist and a team of WSESD professionals that may include a teacher consultant for the visually impaired, a teacher consultant for the hearing impaired, and a physical therapist determine the presence of severe multiple impairments. Documentation from a physician is required.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Students with autism spectrum disorders have difficulty with turn-taking social interactions, give-and-take speaking/communication delays, and engage in the repetition of behaviors that interfere with everyday life functioning. A few examples of these characteristics include playing beside a peer but not playing interactively with the peer, repeating sounds or phrases often, or repeating motor activities such as hand flapping.

How is the presence of an autism spectrum disorder determined? A team of WSESD professionals that includes a school psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, a school social worker, and an occupational therapist determines the presence of an autism spectrum disorder.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Students with traumatic brain injuries have suffered from an open or closed head injury that can affect memory, communication, and reasoning.

How is the presence of a traumatic brain injury determined? A team of WSESD professionals that may include a school psychologist, a physical therapist, and an occupational therapist determines the presence of a traumatic brain injury. Documentation from a physician is also required.