Specific Disabilities Identified In The Georgia Department Of Education Special Education Regulations And Procedures For Exceptional Students
The following descriptions are based upon the definitions for each of the categories of disabilities contained within Georgia's State Program Plan. This plan is approved by the United States Department of Education under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction generally evident before age three. Students may also engage in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resist change in daily routines, and exhibit unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if the student's education performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has a serious emotional disturbance.
Emotional / Behavioral Disorders
(Georgia uses the term "Emotional and Behavioral Disorders" for the federal term "Serious Emotional Disturbance"). An emotional disability involving one or more of the following characteristics over an extended time:
- Inability to learn which cannot be explained by ability, health, vision or hearing deficits.
- Problems in relating to other children and adults Inappropriate behavior or feelings (e.g. extreme anger)
- Severe depression or unhappiness
- Tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears about person or school problems
A hearing impairment which involves a hearing loss, whether permanent or fluctuating, that interferes with the acquisition or maintenance of auditory skills necessary for the normal development of speech, language and academic achievement.
A hearing impairment in both ears so severe it significantly interferes with the understanding or use of normal speech and language without amplification, and thus adversely affects educational progress.
A hearing impairment in both ears so severe it significantly interferes with the understanding or use of normal speech and language, without amplification, and thus hinders normal educational development.
Hearing and vision impairments so severe that the combination causes severe communication and other developmental and educational problems which cannot be accommodated in special education classes for students who are only deaf or blind.
(Georgia uses the term "Intellectual Disability" for the federal term "Mental Retardation"). Significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning exhibited concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior, which adversely affect educational performance. Levels include mild, moderate, severe, and profound.
Physical impairments resulting from disease, such as polio, conditions such as cerebral palsy, or from amputations or birth defects which are so severe as to interfere with educational performance.
Other Health Impairment
Persistent medical or health problems such as heart conditions, epilepsy, diabetes, etc., which adversely affect education performance.
Preschool students who meet the criteria for one or more of the disability categories.
Significant Developmental Delay
(Ages three through seven) Georgia has established eligibility criteria for preschool students by categorical eligibility or significant developmental delay eligibility.
Preschool students who score at least two standard deviations below the mean in one or more of the following five skill areas:
- Adaptive Development
- Physical Development (gross and fine motor)
- Social-Emotional Development
Specific Learning Disability
A disorder in one of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an impaired ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. This term does not apply to students who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.
Difficulties with understanding thoughts, expressing them or producing correct sounds, to a degree that interferes with normal communication, or adversely affects social, intellectual or educational growth. Such disorders include stuttering, poor articulation, language or voice impairment.
Traumatic Brain Injury
An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in a total or partial functional disability and/or psychosocial impairment that adversely affects the student's educational program. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative in nature, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma or those resulting from internal occurrences such as stroke, tumor, or aneurysm.
Vision problems that, even with correction, are so severe that educational performance is adversely affected. This term includes:
- Functionally Blind A student who is legally blind and is unable to use print as the reading medium and who must receive instruction in Braille.
- Legally Blind A student who is legally blind is one whose visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction or who has a limitation in the field of vision that subtends an angle of 20 degrees. Some students who are legally blind have useful vision and may read print.
- Partially Sighted A student who is partially sighted is one whose visual acuity falls within the range of 20/70 to 20/200 in the better eye after correction. Some students with a visual acuity better than 20/70 will need specialized help for a limited time. The eligibility report shall document whether or not the visual loss constitutes an educational disability.