Disabilities Covered under Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

  • The following defines each area of disability included in the Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (Amended – June 2010), Public Schools of North Carolina, State Board of Education Department of Public Instruction: Exceptional Children Division, Section NC 1500-2.4 (b) (1-14) Definitions:

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (AU)

    Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three 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. This impairment may include: Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (Atypical Autism), Asperger’s Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder or all Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disability.

    Deaf-Blindness (DB)

    Deaf-blindness is hearing and visual impairments that occur together, 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.

    Deafness (Df)

    Deafness is 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 the child’s educational performance.

    Developmentally Delayed (DD)

    Developmentally delayed is when a child is aged three through seven, whose developmental and/or behavior is delayed or atypical, as measured by appropriate diagnostic 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, by reason of the delay, needs special education and related services.

    Emotional Disability (ED) (also referred to as Serious Emotional Disability)

    Serious emotional disability is 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:
    • An inability to make educational progress that cannot be explained by Intellectual sensory or health factors.
    • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
    • Inappropriate types of behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances.
    • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
    • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
    Serious emotional disability includes schizophrenia. The terms do not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance related to (5) (A-E) above.

    Hearing Impairment (HI)

    Hearing impairment is an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness. The term “hard of hearing” may be used in this capacity.

    Intellectual Disability (ID)

    Intellectual disability is a significant sub average general intellectual functioning that adversely affects a child’s educational performance existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period.

    Multiple Disabilities (MU)

    Multiple disabilities means two or more disabilities occurring together (such as intellectual disability and blindness, intellectual disability and 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. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness.

    Orthopedic Impairment (OI)

    Orthopedic Impairment is a severe physical impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures, etc.)

    Other Health Impaired (OHI)

    Other health impairment is 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’s Syndrome, etc.; and
    • Adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

    Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

    Specific Learning Disability is a disorder in the processes involved in understanding or in using language spoken or written that may manifest itself in the impaired ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. Alternate conditions may include, but are not limited to, dyslexia and dyscalculia. Disabilities not included: Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, of serious emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

    Speech or Language Impairment (SI)

    Speech language impairment is -
    • A communication disorder, such as an impairment in fluency, articulation, language, or voice/resonance that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
    • Language may include function of language (pragmatic), the content of the language (semantic), and the form of the language (phonological, morphologic and syntactic systems).
    • A speech or language impairment may result in a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities. 

    Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

    Traumatic brain injury is an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to 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; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

    Visual Impairment (VI)

    Visual impairment is an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. A visual impairment is the result of a diagnosed ocular or cortical pathology.