Identifying Children With Disabilities

While identification of gifted and talented children is done in various ways in various communities using various criteria, “Identification, Location and Evaluation” to ensure that children with disabilities are found, assessed, and receive appropriate services is mandated by law and has its roots in the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) of 1975. This point was continued in the revision of the law, now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The definitions that determine whether a child is eligible for service are as follows:

• An infant or toddler through age 2 is eligible for early intervention under IDEA if he or she experiences developmental delays in one or more of these categories:

• cognitive development
• physical development, including vision and hearing
• development of communication
• social or emotional development
• adaptive development

or if he or she has been diagnosed with a physical/mental condition likely to result in a developmental delay.

• A child age 3 to 9 is eligible for services under IDEA using the five bulleted categories in the definition for Infants and Toddlers, but with the requirement that he or she is experiencing a developmental delay in one of the areas. OR he or she may be assessed using the following definition.

• A child or youth aged 3 to 21 can be eligible under IDEA in thirteen disability categories:

• autism
• deaf-blindness,
• emotional disturbance
• hearing impairment (including deafness)
• mental retardation
• multiple disabilities
• orthopedic impairment
• other health impairment
• specific learning disability*
• speech or language impairment
• traumatic brain injury
• visual impairment (including blindness)

Specific learning disability refers to conditions such as brain injury, developmental aphasia, dyslexia, minimal brain dysfunction, and perceptual disabilities.

For more background on special education, see our articles on “Special Education History ” and “Special Education Statistics.”

And don’t forget to take our survey on students with special needs and standards-based education.