ERIC Identifier: ED291203
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and
Gifted Children Reston VA.
Disabilities: An Overview. ERIC Digest #420. Revised.
As considered in the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law
94-142), handicapped children must meet two criteria. The child must have one or
more of the disabilities listed in the next section, and he or she must require
special education and related services. In other words, not all children who
have a disability require special education; many are able to and should attend
school without any program modification. Following are the disabilities included
in the definition.
--Deaf: A hearing impairment so severe that the child cannot understand what
is being said with or without a hearing aid. --Deaf-Blind: A combination of
hearing and visual impairments causing such severe communication, developmental,
and educational problems that the child cannot be accommodated in either a
program just for the deaf or one that is specifically for the blind. --Hard of
Hearing: A hearing impairment that adversely affects a child's educational
performance but is not as severe as deafness. --Mentally Retarded: Both
significant subaverage general intellectual functioning and deficits in adaptive
behavior. These deficits should have been observable throughout the child's
development. --Multiply Handicapped: A combination of impairments, other than
deaf-blindness, that causes such severe problems that the child cannot be
accommodated in a special education program for any one of the impairments.
--Orthopedically Impaired: A severe physical disability that adversely affects
educational performance. The term includes impairments such as club foot,
absence of a limb, cerebral palsy, poliomyelitis, and bone tuberculosis. --Other
Health Impaired: Limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or
acute health problems such as rheumatic fever, asthma, hemophilia, and leukemia,
which adversely affect the child's educational development. --Seriously
Emotionally Disturbed: Schizophrenic children and others who have a marked
degree of one or more of the following characteristics, displayed over a long
period of time: An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual,
sensory, or health factors. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory
interpersonal relationships. 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. This term does not include students who are socially
maladjusted, unless they are also seriously emotionally disturbed. --Specific
Learning Disability: A disorder affecting the child's undrstanding or use of
spoken or written language. The student's ability to listen, think, speak, read,
write, spell, or do mathematical calculations may be affected. Conditions such
as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and
developmental aphasia are included in this category. This term does NOT include
children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual,
hearing, or motor handicaps; mental retardation; or environmental, cultural or
economic disadvantage. --Speech Impaired: A communication disorder such as
stuttering or impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice
impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. --Visually
Handicapped: A visual impairment that, even with correction, adversely affects a
child's educational performance. The term includes both partially seeing and
HOW MANY CHILDREN IN THE U.S. REQUIRE SPECIAL EDUCATION?
Estimates of the proportion of school-aged children requiring special
education range from 10% to 15%. The actual number of children under age 19
served in school year 1984-1985 was 4,363,031.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF DISABILITIES?
Children suspected of having a handicap are evaluated by a multidisciplinary
team that includes at least one teacher or other specialist with knowledge in
the area of the suspected disability. Following a full and individual evaluation
of the child's educational needs, the team determines whether or not the child
requires special education and related services.
If the evaluation confirms that a child has one or more disabilities and
because of the disabilities special education and related services are required,
then states and localities must provide a free, appropriate public education for
Public Law 94-142 has fueled a trend toward teaching more exceptional
students in the regular classroom. A variety of approaches have been developed
to implement this mainstreaming effort, including resource rooms and
consultation services by special education teachers. Regular classrooms are
being changed to provide for a wider diversity of students and educational
services. For those students with problems too severe to be served in a regular
class, provision must be made for the most normal, or least restrictive, setting
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Ballard, J., B. Ramirez, and K. Zantal-Wiener. PUBLIC LAW 94-142, SECTON 504,
AND PUBLIC LAW 99-457: UNDERSTANDING WHAT THEY ARE AND ARE NOT. 1987. Available
from The Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA
Jordan, J.B., and B.A. Ramirez. 1986 SPECIAL EDUCATION YEARBOOK. 1987.
Available from The Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive,
Reston, VA 22091.
Meyer, D.J., P.F. Vadasy, and R.R. Fewell. LIVING WITH A BROTHER OR SISTER
WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. A BOOK FOR SIBS. 1985. Available from University of
Washington Press, P.O. Box C50096, Seattle, WA 98145.
Schleifer, M.J., and S.D. Klein. THE DISABLED CHILD AND THE FAMILY: AN
EXCEPTIONAL PARENT READER. 1985. Available from Exceptional Parent, 605
Commonwealth Avenue, Third Floor, Boston, MA 02215.
Shore, K. THE SPECIAL EDUCATION HANDBOOK. A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR PARENTS
AND EDUCATORS. 1986. Available from Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam
Avenue, New York, NY 10027.
THE EXCEPTIONAL PARENT. A journal published 8 times a year. Available from
Psy-Ed Corporation, 605 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, Inc. 3417 Volta Place, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
American Association on Mental Deficiency 5101 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite
405 Washington, DC 20016
American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities 1012 Fourteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
American Foundation for the Blind 15 W. Sixteenth Street New York, NY 10011
American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association 10801 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities 4156 Library
Road Pittsburgh, PA 15234
Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States 2501 Avenue J
Arlington, TX 76011
Clearinghouse on the Handicapped Room 3132 Switzer Building Washington, DC
National Association of the Deaf 814 Thayer Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20910
National Easter Seal Society 2023 W. Ogden Avenue Chicago, IL 60612
National Information Center for Handicapped Children and Youth 155 Wilson
Boulevard, Suite 508 Arlington, VA 22209
National Society for Children and Adults with Autism 1234 Massachusetts
Avenue, N.W., Suite 1017 Washington, DC 20005
Rehabilitation International 432 Park Avenue, S. New York, NY 10016
United Cerebral Palsy Association 66 East 34th Street New York, NY 10016