Eligibility Areas

Autism Spectrum Disorder (AUT)

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability generally evident before age three that adversely affects a child's educational performance and significantly affects developmental rates and sequences, verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction and participation. Other characteristics often associated with autism spectrum disorder are unusual responses to sensory experiences, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements and resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines. Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance as defined in (d). Children with autism spectrum disorder vary widely in their abilities and behavior. [34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(1)(i)]

The term of autism spectrum disorder includes all subtypes of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (such as Autistic Disorder; Rett’s Disorder; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; Asperger Syndrome; and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified) provided the child’s educational performance is adversely affected and the child meets the eligibility criteria. Autism spectrum disorder may exist concurrently with other areas of disability.

Autism eligibility for special education services is based upon assessment of the five characteristic areas associated with autism. A student with autism may be served in any educational program as described in the students’ IEP. The identification of autism for educational programming does not dictate a specific placement; however it is based on the assessed strengths, weaknesses, and individual goals and objectives of the student.


Autism Society - http://www.autism-society.org

Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) - http://ucf-card.org

Center for the Study of Autism - http://www.autismwebsite.com



A child who is deaf or hard of hearing is one who exhibits a hearing loss that, whether permanent or fluctuating, interferes with the acquisition or maintenance of auditory skills necessary for the normal development of speech, language, and academic achievement and, therefore, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. [See 34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(3) & (5)]

A hard-of-hearing (HI) student exhibits a pure tone average range of 30-65 decibels. A deaf (DF) student exhibits a pure tone average of 65-90 decibels. A student with an unilateral hearing loss may be considered for eligibility provided sufficient evidence exists that indicates academic or communicative deficits are the result of that loss.


Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
An international membership organization and resource center on hearing loss, spoken language approaches and related issues.

American Society for Deaf Children
A national organization that provides support, encouragement and information to families raising children who are deaf/hard of hearing.

Auditory-Verbal International, Inc.
An organization dedicated to education and support of the auditory-verbal approach for children who are deaf/hard of hearding.

National Association of the Deaf
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is a private non-profit organization safeguarding accessibility and civil rights of individuals who are deaf/hard of hearing. This organiztion administers the Captioned Media Program.


Deafblind 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. [34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(2)]

For a child to be determined eligible for placement in special programs for the deafblind, the child shall have current optometric or ophthalmological examination and an audiological evaluation, all administered by qualified professionals. Children who are deafblind shall have an audiological evaluation administered by a certified/licensed audiologist annually, or more often if needed.



An emotional and behavioral disorder is an emotional disability characterized by the following:

(i) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and/or teachers. For preschool-age children, this would include other care providers.

(ii) An inability to learn which cannot be adequately explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors.

(iii) A consistent or chronic inappropriate type of behavior or feelings under normal conditions.

(iv) A displayed pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

(v) A displayed tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains or unreasonable fears associated with personal or school problems. [34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(4)(i)(A – E)]

A child with EBD is a child who exhibits one or more of the above emotionally based characteristics of sufficient duration, frequency and intensity that interferes significantly with educational performance to the degree that provision of special educational service is necessary. EBD is an emotional disorder characterized by excesses, deficits or disturbances of behavior.


Raising Children to Resist Violence - http://helping.apa.org



A student with intellectual disabilities exhibits significantly sub-average intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior that adversely affect educational performance and is manifested during the developmental period.

Significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning is defined as approximately 70 I.Q. or below as measured by a qualified psychological examiner on individually administered, standardized measures of intelligence. Deficits in adaptive behavior are defined as significant limitations in an individual's effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility and especially school performance that is expected of the individual's age level and cultural group as determined by clinical judgement. A student may be classified as having an intellectual disabiltiy at one of the following levels:

Mild Intellectual Disability - Intellectual functioning ranging between an upper limit approximately 70 to a lower limit of approximately 55.

Moderate Intellectual Disability - Intellectual functioning ranging from an upper limit of approximately 55 to a lower limit of approximately 40.

Severe Intellectual Disability - Intellectual functioning ranging from an upper limit of approximately 40 to a lower limit of approximately 25.

Profound Intellectual Disability - Intellectual functioning is below approximately 25. The primary focus is to provide the necessary supports which will enable each student with significant disabilities the opportunity to receive a high school diploma and become as functionally independent as possible in school, home and community.



Orthopedic impairment refers to a child whose severe orthopedic impairments adversely affects their educational performance to the degree that the child requires special education. This term may include:

(1) Impairment caused by congenital anomalies, e.g., deformity or absence of some limb.

(2) Impairment caused by disease (poliomyelitis, osteogenesis imperfecta, muscular dystrophy, bone tuberculosis, etc.)

(3) Impairment from other causes, e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures. [34 C.F.R.§ 300.8(c)(8)]

Secondary disabilities may be present, including, but not limited to, visual impairment, hearing impairment, communication impairment and/or intellectual disability.

Christie Couch
Margaret Pierce


Brain Industry Association of America
Serves as a clearing house of community services, information and resources

Muscular Dystrophy Association
News and information about neuromuscular diseases

Spina Bifida Association of America
The association addresses the specific need of the spina bifida community

United Cerebral Palsy
UCP is the leading source of information on cerebral palsy


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 -

(1) Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit
disorder or attention deficient hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, or heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome, and

(2) Adversely affects a child’s educational performance. [34 C.F.R.§ 300.8(c)(9)]

In some cases, heightened awareness to environmental stimulus results in difficulties with starting, staying on and completing tasks; making transitions between tasks; interacting with others; following directions; producing work consistently; and, organizing multi-step tasks.



The term significant developmental delay refers to a delay in a child’s development in adaptive behavior, cognition, communication, motor development or emotional development to the extent that, if not provided with special intervention, the delay may adversely affect a child’s educational performance in age-appropriate activities. The term does not apply to children who are experiencing a slight or temporary lag in one or more areas of development, or a delay which is primarily due to environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage or lack of experience in age appropriate activities. The SDD eligibility may be used for children from ages three through nine (the end of the school year in which the child turns nine). [See 34 C.F.R. § 300.8(b)]


Specific learning disability is defined as 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 an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not apply to children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage. [34 C.F.R. §300.8(c)(10)]

The learning disabled student will typically score average or above average on tests of intelligence and, therefore, is predicted to be able to master the requirements of the regular curriculum. The learning disabled student has one or more serious academic deficiencies that are sharply discrepant with measured potential and ability. The nature of the deficit(s) is such that classroom performance is not correctable without clinical/specialized techniques that are fundamentally different from those available in the regular classroom or in basic remedial/tutorial approaches. The student's need for academic support is not sufficient for eligibility and does not override the other established requirements for determining eligibility. The impairment must be in one of the following eight areas:

Oral Expression

Listening Comprehension

Written Expression

Basic Reading

Reading Comprehension

Reading Fluency

Math Calculation

Math Reasoning


American Academy of Pediatrics - www.aap.org

National Center for Learning Disabilities

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities


Speech or language impairment refers to a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language or voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. A speech or language impairment may be congenital or acquired. It refers to impairments in the areas of articulation, fluency, voice or language. Individuals may demonstrate one or any combination of speech or language impairments. A speech or language impairment may be a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities. [34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(11)]

Disorders of articulation (sound production), language (use of symbols to comprehend and express ideas), fluency (rate and rhythm of speech) and voice (volume, pitch and quality) interfere with the acquisition and utilization of effective oral communication skills.

While there are disorders or oral communication, not all oral communication problems are disorders. Such communication problems as dialectal differences, limited English proficiency and maturational articulation and language delays are frequently brought to the attention of the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), but are unlikely to require remediation by the SLP. To determine when students who have oral communication problems should be referred to SLP, the classroom teacher and speech-language pathologist work as a team to make this decision.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) www.asha.org

Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association (GSHLA) www.gsha.org



Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) refers to 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 the child's educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments which are immediate or delayed 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, speech and information processing. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative in nature, brain injuries induced by birth trauma. [34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(12)]



A child with a visual impairment is one whose vision, even with correction, adversely affect a child’s educational performance. [34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(13)] Examples are children whose visual impairments may result from congenital defects, eye diseases, or injuries to the eye. The term includes both partial sight and blindness as follows:

(1) Functionally blind refers to a child who is legally blind and unable to use print as the reading medium. Consideration of instruction in Braille is essential to this child's education.

(2) Legally blind refers to a child whose visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction or who has a limitation in the field of vision that subtends an angle of 20 degrees. Some children who are legally blind have useful vision and may read print.

(3) Partially sighted refers to a child whose visual acuity falls within the range of 20/70 to 20/200 in the better eye after correction or when the child cannot read 18 point print at any distance. Some children with a visual acuity greater than 20/70 will need specialized help for a limited time.


American Foundation for the Blind

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

National Eye Institute

National Federation for the Blind