3 Ways to Use the 13 Disability Categories

Are you the parent of a child with a disability that has been unable to convince special education personnel that your child needs special education services? Did you read my number 1 article; What are the 13 Categories of Disability for Special Education Eligibility, and wonder how you could use this information to benefit your child? This article is for you, because I will be discussing 3 ways for you as a parent to use the 13 disability categories, to benefit your child.

#1 Way: Bring the eligibility category list to your child’s eligibility meeting. Use this list to advocate that your child’s disability is one of the covered 13 disabilities in the webmastershall Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004). For Example: Schools are reluctant to recognize Specific Learning Disabilities and provide correct remediation, so knowing the definition of Specific Learning Disability (Exhibits a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes-such as visual, motor language etc-which negatively affects a child’s education) can help you advocate for this disability category. Once your child is identified as LD you can investigate what the research based method is to re-mediate your child’s learning disability, and advocate for these services for your child.

#2 Way: Use the list to advocate for an appropriate disability category for your child. In order to determine appropriate services and remediation that a child needs, the child’s disabilities must be appropriately determined.For Example: Many school personnel want to state that children with Autism actually should be categorized as Emotionally Disturbed (ED). While the disability category is not supposed to determine services, in reality it often does; and children with ED categories are often denied educational services. In this example use the definition of ED from my article “… an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors” to advocate that your child has other issues that are affecting their ability to learn, so therefore your child cannot be labeled Emotionally Disturbed. Many children with Autism have issues related to the Autism, Sensory Integration issues, expressive and receptive speech difficulties, and Learning Disabilities that may explain their difficulty with learning. This leaves out ED as a disability category, because the child has other issues that are causing the difficulty with learning.

#3 Way: Use the category list to educate yourself about the category of OHI: The child exhibits limited strength, alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems, including but not limited to asthma, ADD/ADHD, etc, which negatively affects your child’s education.

Be careful about allowing your school district to use this category if your child has ADD or ADHD, and may have learning disabilities. Some school districts may be offering OHI as a compromise when parents believe that their child may have Learning Disabilities. The school district may then refuse to give the child educational services, that they may need. OHI is not a compromise for a specific learning disability category, in my opinion. Children with Learning Disabilities need appropriate remediation which can only be given if the child’s Learning Disabilities are recognized by special education personnel.

By educating yourself about the 13 Disability categories you can increase your child’s chance of being found eligible for special education services, and also increase their chances of being found eligible under the appropriate disability category. It will also increase your child’s chances of receiving an appropriate education! Keep fighting for your child, they are depending on you.

JoAnn Collins is a successful special educational advocate for over 20 years and author of the book “Disability Deception; Lies Disability Educators Tell and How Parents Can Beat Them at Their Own Game!” The book is filled with truths about special education, for parents, and lots of easy to use advocacy tips. Check out her blog at: http://specialeducationspotlight.disabilitydeception.com. For more information on the book and special education as well as testimonials on her book, please go to: http://www.disabilitydeception.com. For questions or comments feel free to E mail me at:



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