Areas of Eligibility Defined
Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and
nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3,
that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics
often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and
stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily
routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
Deaf-blindness 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
Deafness means 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 a child's educational performance.
Emotional disturbance is defined as follows:
(i) The term means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following
characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely
affects a child's educational performance:
(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or
(B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with
peers and teachers.
(C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
(D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
(E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or
Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or
fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not
included under the definition of deafness in this section.
Intellectual Disability means significantly subaverage general intellectual
functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and
manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's
Multiple disabilities means concomitant impairments (such as mental
retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the
combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be
accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.
The term does not include deaf-blindness.
Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that
adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes
impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g., clubfoot, absence of some
member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone
tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy,
amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
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-
(i) Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit
disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart
condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and
sickle cell anemia; and
(ii) Adversely affects a child's educational performance.
Specific learning disability is defined as follows:
(i) General. The term means 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 to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual
disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental
(ii) Disorders not included. The term does not include learning problems that are
primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation,
of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic
Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder, such as
stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment,
that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
Traumatic brain injury means 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 a child's educational
performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in
impairments 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;
information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that
are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision
that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance.
The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1401(3)(A) and (B); 1401(26))