nav-left cat-right


Group of Children

Disability Definitions


Learning Disabilities

“Specific learning disability” is defined under federal law as “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 aphasia…. 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 disadvantage.”

Emotional Disturbances

The term “Emotional Disturbance” refers to extreme behaviors that are chronic and not acceptable because of social or cultural expectations. Under federal law, “Emotional Disturbance” is defined as: “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: 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; a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.”

Mental Retardation

“Mental retardation” is defined under federal law as “significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”

Occupational Therapy

“Occupational Therapy” is defined under federal law as: “services provided by a qualified occupational therapist, and includes improving, developing or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation; improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost; and preventing, through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function.”

Speech & Language

“Speech or language impairment” is defined under federal law as “a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”