Why Should Parents Know the Disabilities That Are Considered For An IEP In New Jersey?
It is important for parents to know the disabilities that qualify for an Individualized Education Plan. It enables him or her to become an informed and effective partner with the school district’s personnel in supporting your child’s special learning and behavioral needs. What you know and what you contribute in any meeting with them can help avert mislabeling the child’s disability, and thereby inaccurately determining his or her disability. You can help in answering many of the district’s questions, as well as the district answering your questions as you navigate through the special education process. Further, you will understand how the State of New Jersey deals with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6A, Chapter 14 states that a student shall be determined eligible and classified “eligible for special education and related services” when it is determined:
- that the student has one or more of the disabilities listed below,
- the disability adversely affects his/her academic performance, and
- the student is in need of special education services.
Auditory Impairment or Auditorily Handicapped. This is the inability to hear within normal limits due to physical impairment or dysfunction of auditory mechanisms characterized by:
- “Deafness” – The auditory impairment is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, and the student’s educational performance is adversely affected;
- “Hearing impairment” – An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating that adversely affects the student’s educational performance.
An audiological evaluation by a specialist qualified in the field of audiology and a speech and language evaluation by a certified speech-language specialist are required for this determination.
Autism. This a pervasive developmental disability that significantly impacts verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The onset of autism is generally evident before age 3. Some characteristics are: repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term autism does not apply if the student’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because he or she has an emotional disturbance, as defined below.
Intellectual disability. This is a disability that is characterized by significantly below average general cognitive functioning. It exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior, and is manifested during the development period. It adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
Communication impairment. This is a language disorder that adversely affects a student’s educational performance and is not due primarily to an auditory impairment. When the area of suspected disability is language, assessment by a certified speech-language specialist and assessment to establish the educational impact are required.
Emotional regulation impairment. This is a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time, and it adversely affects a student’s educational performance due to:
- an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
- an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
- inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
- a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
- a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
Multiple disabilities. This is the presence of two or more disabling conditions, the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a program designed solely to address one of the impairments. This does not include deaf-blindness.
Deaf-blindness. This is the simultaneous impairments of hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational problems that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with deafness or students with blindness.
Orthopedic impairment. This is a disability characterized by a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. It includes malformation, malfunction, or loss of bones, muscle, or tissue. A medical assessment documenting the orthopedic condition is required.
Other health impairment. This is a disability characterized by having limited strength, vitality, or alertness (including a heightened alertness with respect to the educational environment) due to chronic or acute health problems, such as:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
- heart condition,
- rheumatic fever,
- sickle cell anemia,
- lead poisoning,
- diabetes, or
- any other medical condition that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
For any of the above conditions, a medical assessment documenting the health problem is required.
Preschool with a disability. This is a child between ages 3 and 5 who have developmental delay of 33% in one area or 25% in two or more areas as measured by a standardized assessment or criterion-referenced test. These developmental areas include:
- physical (gross motor, fine motor, and sensory);
- social and emotional, and
Social maladjustment. This is characterized by a student’s inability to conform to school behavior standards and is seriously disruptive to his/her educational performance and/or the education of other students. This is not due to the conditions described under emotionally disturbed.
Specific learning disability (SLD). This is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in language skills. It is characterized by an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or perform mathematical calculations. SLDs are not the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, general cognitive deficits, emotional disturbance, or environment, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Traumatic brain injury. This is due to an acquired injury to the brain with a resulting full or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment. It adversely affects a student’s educational performance. An assessment by a specialist is required.
Visually impaired. This is a partial or total impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. An assessment by a specialist is required.
There are many instances where certain traits or behaviors seemingly may or may not qualify into any of the above categories. Consult a physician if necessary.