Disability Definitions

Disability Definitions

  • Autism – Autism means a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction generally evident before age three (3) that adversely affects educational performance. This includes other pervasive developmental disorders. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or changes in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disability, as defined in the rules of  the Alabama Administrative Code. A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three (3) could be identified as having autism if the criteria in the Alabama Administrative Code are satisfied.
  • Deaf-Blindness– 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 blindness.
  • Developmental Delay – Developmental Delay means a delay that adversely affects daily life and/or educational performance in one or more of the following developmental areas:
    1. Adaptive,
    2. Cognitive,
    3. Communication,
    4. Social or emotional, and/or,
    5. Physical,

and results in the need for special education and related services. A child may become eligible for this area of disability on his or her third birthday. A child identified with a developmental delay must be reevaluated prior to his or her ninth birthday to determine continued eligibility for special education services. At age nine, a child can no longer be eligible in the area of developmental delay and must be eligible in another area of disability in order to continue special education services. If a child turns nine during the school year and is eligible for an area of disability, that child may continue to receive special education services in his or her current program for the remainder of that school year. A child who turns nine during the school year and is not eligible for another area of disability will be served in general education programs for the remainder of the school year.

  • Emotional Disability – Emotional Disability 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:
    1. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
    2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
    3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
    4. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
    5. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. Emotional disability includes schizophrenia. The term does not include children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disability as defined in the Alabama Administrative Code.
  • Hearing Impairment – Hearing Impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. This term includes both deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • Intellectual Disability – Intellectual Disability means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with significant limitations in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects the child’s educational performance.
  • Multiple Disabilities – Multiple Disabilities means concomitant impairments (such as intellectual disability-blindness, or intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness.
  • Orthopedic Impairment – Orthopedic Impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures). If a medical diagnosis is presented, the medical diagnosis alone is not enough to justify being identified in the area of orthopedic impairment. The impairment must adversely affect the educational performance of the child.
  • Other Health Impairment – 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 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, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome. If a medical diagnosis is presented, the medical diagnosis alone is not enough to justify being identified in the area of other health impairment. The impairment must adversely affect the educational performance of the child.
  • Specific learning disability – Specific learning disability 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 the 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 aphasia. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, of emotional disability, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
  • Speech or Language Impairment – Speech or Language Impairment means a communication disorder in the area of articulation, voice, fluency, or language that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury – 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 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 brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
  • Visual Impairment – Visual Impairment means a visual impairment that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.