Areas and Definitions of Disabilities Served by Special Education

  • List of Disabilities  


    A developmental disability determined by the presence of reciprocal social behaviors, qualitative impairment of communication, language and symbolic development and markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests as seen in a case study evaluation conducted by a multidisciplinary team. A psychological evaluation by a certified school psychologist is required.


    A sensorineural or ongoing or chronic conductive hearing loss with aided sensitivity of 30 dB HL or less; or a functional auditory behavior that is significantly discrepant from the person’s present cognitive and/or developmental levels. Corrected visual acuity of less than 20/70 in the better eye, restricted visual field of 20 degrees or less in the better eye, cortical blindness or does not appear to respond to visual stimulation.

    Early Childhood Special Education

    Identifies children ages three through five who have delays in one or more of the following domains: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social and emotional development, or adaptive development. Students may receive special education services with a significant delay as determined by a specialized evaluation.

    For eligibility for Early Childhood Special Education with a Developmental Delay (DD), a child must exhibit a delay in at least two of the previously stated domains. A child may be reevaluated prior to Kindergarten to reassess the DD label, and must be reevaluated before the student’s ninth birthday.

    Emotional Disability

    (includes schizophrenia but does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance)

    An inability to develop or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

    Hearing Impairments

    A confirmed chronic or recurring hearing impairment, unaided speech discrimination scores below 80% or a history/treatment of loss.

    Intellectual Disability

    Significantly sub average intellectual functioning, an IQ of 70 or below on an individually administered intelligence test and concurrent deficits in adaptive behavior evaluated according to developmental age. Onset must be before the age of 18.

    Other Health Impairment

    An acute or chronic health condition which adversely affects the student’s learning in the regular classroom.

    Orthopedic Impairment

    Severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance and is caused by congenital anomalies, disease, accidents or injuries.

    Specific Learning Disability

    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 State of Illinois requires that the determination of specific learning disability eligibility utilizes a method that documents the student’s response to scientific, research based interventions.. 

    Speech or Language Impairment

    Deficits in speech, voice, fluency, augmentative communication or language delay that affect the student’s educational performance in the classroom as determined by a full case study evaluation.

    Traumatic Brain Injury

    Evidence of educational deficits linked to traumatic brain injury resulting in impairments in one or more areas.

    Visual Impairment

    A significant medically diagnosed visual condition must be documented on an ISBE ocular report form, on a State of Illinois Vision Examination Report, in a letter from an eye doctor or in a copy of a doctor’s chart notes. An educational assessment of vision must be performed by a person certified in the area of visual impairment.