Disability Categories

  • The nation’s special education law is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. As part of making special education and related services available to children with disabilities in the public schools, IDEA defines the term “child with a disability.” That definition includes specific disability terms, which are also defined by North Carolina Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities. 
     
    North Carolina recognizes fourteen specific disability categories that qualify a child for Special Education services.  In North Carolina we refer to these services as Exceptional Children services (EC).
     
     
    Definitions of Disability Categories (NC 1500-2.4)
     
     
    Autism (AU)
    • A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, which adversely affects a child's educational performance.  Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements, restricted interests, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

    Deaf-Blindness (DB)

    • 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)

    • 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.

    Developmental Delay (DD)

    • A child aged three through seven whose development and/or behavior is delayed or atypical, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following development areas:  physical, cognitive, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive, and who, by reason of the delay, needs special education and related services.

    Emotional Disturbance (ED)

    • A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a longer 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 behavior 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.

    Hearing Impairment (HI)

    • An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational peformance but that is not included under the definition of deafness.

    Intellectual Disability (ID)

    • Significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. 

    Multiple Disabilities (MU)

    • Two or more disabilities occurring together, the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.

    Other Health Impairment (OH)

    • A severe physical impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance.  Includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, disease, and other causes.

    Specific Learning Disability (LD)

    • A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological 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 to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

    Speech or Language Impairment (SI)

    • 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 language (semantic), and the form of language (phonologic, morphologic, and syntactic systems).

    Traumatic Brain Injury (TB)

    • An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or by an internal occurrence resulting in total or partial functional disability and/or psychosocial impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. 

    Visual Impairment, including Blindness (VI)

    • An impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance.

     

     

    How we can help?

    If you suspect your child has a disability, please contact the WS/FCS Exceptional Children's Division