Under IDEA there are 13 disabilities a child can qualify under to receive special need services through the school systems (there are others but I’m focusing on schools). These include Autism, Deaf-blindness, Deafness, Emotional disturbance, Hearing impairment, Intellectual disability, Multiple disabilities, Orthopedic impairment, Other health impairment (including ADHD), Specific learning disability (including dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, among others), Speech or language impairment, Traumatic brain injury and Visual impairment, including blindness. Under each classification there may be a range or spectrum of disabilities that fall under it.
The IDEA states that “Kids with disabilities don’t automatically qualify for special education services, though. In order to be eligible, a student must: Have a disability and, as a result of that disability need special education in order to make progress in school. The problem comes from the administering and scoring of the tests needed to make these classifications. Each state has different requirements to meet this classification. Here is a chart of what each state considers to be Mentally Disabled and what criteria a person (child or adult) must meet in order to receive services. Of the 54 cites 18 said that their eligibility standards were not broader than mass standards. But just going through the list, even though 36 said their eligibility standard was broader than mass standards, the definition of what Mental Illness or Mental disability is as are the qualifications. It’s very interesting but also very frustrating as a parent. http://www.dlcma.org/resources/Intellectual_and_or_Developmental/chart_of_state_laws_defining_int.htm
When moving from one state to another the process of eligibility has to be started all over from the beginning with tests, exams, etc. Even though IDEA is a federal law, states are given the lead way to define these terms and qualifications. This is one of those things that should be the same from state to state, city to city, school to school. Children with disabilities deserve the same amount and type of education as other children (within their limits) but they also deserve to be challenged just like all other children.