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Disabilities Assessed in Texas

  • Autism - a developmental disability that can affect communication (verbal and nonverbal) as well as social interaction with others. Students with autism might display negative reactions to change and/or might have sensory maladjustments. Click here to view an example of autism struggles along with recommended accommodations.

  • Deaf-Blindness - visual impairment with possible hearing loss and displays no speech when expected developmentally; combination of hearing and visual losses that negatively affects learning; medical diagnosis of auditory and visual losses that will negatively affect learning in the future.

  • Deaf or Hard of hearing -  hearing impairment that negatively affects processing language and learning. This can be shifting or permanent.

  • Emotional Disturbance - a condition over extended periods of time that negatively affects learning that is not explainable by cognitive, sensory, or health contributors; struggles to create or sustain relationships with others; atypical behavior or feelings under typical settings; general feelings of sadness or gloom; develops physical ailments or fears in connection with problems in daily living; includes schizophrenia.

  • Intellectual Disability - notably below-average general functioning that exists simultaneously with adaptive behavior deficits in at least two areas and negatively affects learning to include: communication, self-care, home living, social and interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, or safety. The term intellectual disability is now used in place of a past term, "mental retardation." It is no longer acceptable to use the term "mental retardation."

  • Multiple Disabilities - impairments occurring simultaneously and negatively affects learning. Must meet conditions that include the anticipation of indefinite occurrence of the disability. Disabilities must strongly hinder the child's performance in two or more areas to include: psychomotor skills, self-care skills, communication, social and emotional development, or cognition. It is important to note that this does not include deaf-blindness.

  • Noncategorical Early Childhood Disability - A child between the ages of three to five and is evaluated to have an intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, or autism.

  • Orthopedic Impairments - severe orthopedic impairment that negatively affects learning caused by congenital anomaly, disease, or other causes to include cerebral palsy, amputation, fractures or burns causing tightness or stiffness.

  • Other Health Impairment - These impairments can be of varying categories of physicality or awareness negatively affecting learning. This can include: asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette's Disorder.

  • Specific Learning Disability - A disability that affects the achievement for the child's age or does not meet state-approved grade-level standards in one or more areas to include: oral expression, written expression, listening comprehension, basic reading skills, reading fluency skills, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, or mathematics problem-solving.

  • Speech or Language Impairment - a communication disorder or voice impairment that negatively affects learning to include: stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment, and voice impairment.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury - an injury to the brain obtained by external physical force that emanates total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both. TBI negatively affects learning. This includes open or closed head injuries developing impairments in one or more of the following: cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem-solving, sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing, or speech. It is important to note that this does not include congenital, degenerative, or injuries from birth trauma. 

  • Visual impairment - impairment in vision that negatively affects learning even with correction, and does include partial sight and blindness.

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What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a legally-binding written document that is completed by an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee for every child that receives special education services. This document includes the child's present levels of academic and functional performance, goals and objectives, as well as placement decisions. Once a child has been determined to qualify to receive special education services, it is up to the ARD committee, including parents, to design the IEP for the best interests of the child. The local education agency is legally required to uphold the agreed upon and final IEP.

  • The process by which the IEP is created should first define the learning team. This team includes the student, parents/guardians, teachers involved in the student's education, specialists involved in education of the child, and administrators.

  • The present levels of academic, functional performance, strengths and needs should be established. This helps the team determine the baseline for setting attainable goals for the student, and should utilize the student's strengths in this process.

  • Goals should be set for each area of need the student displays. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and expected to be met within a reasonable amount of time. The progression of attaining goals set should be documented by the specialists and/or teachers delivering instruction towards specific goals. This should be done through progress monitoring that is reported to the parents at specified increments of time throughout the year.

  • Choosing modifications and/or accommodations for a student should be discussed, agreed upon, and written into the IEP. Accommodations allow a student to demonstrate learning without changing the curriculum or what is being measured. For instance, a textbook accessed with an audio component assists the student's access to the information being presented without changing the student's assignment expectations or grading expectations. Modifications change assignment expectations or content expectations. An example of a modification includes reducing the individual student's amount of work as compared to peers. Grading might be based on content knowledge as a whole rather than smaller details such as spelling when writing an essay.

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