Despite my slow progress, we have actually made it through most of the IDEA disabilities. I say this even though there are five we have still not discussed because these five are quite rare. In fact, a typical teacher is will probably work with only one or two students in each of the remaining five categories in a career at most. The remaining five disabilities are:
- Visual Impairment including Blindness
- Hearing Impairment
- Multiple Disabilities
- Orthopedic Impairment
Unlike the other disabilities I am not going to include the idea description of each of these five. (However, those descriptions are available here.) The first three of these categories have to do with profound vision and/or hearing impairment. Depending on your district, students with these disabilities may go to a special school that provides specialized training (in American Sign Language or using a cane to navigate, for instance). If this is not the case, the student may have an interpreter or paraprofessional who spends most of the day with the student to allow her to access the curriculum. These students may need support with socialization as they will seem different than the other students. It may be wise to have a class meeting in which the disability is explained. It is important for staff to remember than a disability such as a hearing impairment does not mean that a student will also have a cognitive disability. Students with vision or hearing difficulties are just as likely to have average intelligence as any other student.
This is often true for students with orthopedic impairments as well. Often, if a student has average intellectual ability and an orthopedic impairment, he will not have an IEP as he does not need specialized instruction. Instead, he will have a 504 plan that provides accommodations in order to allow him to participate as much as possible. These accommodations would be most evident in physical education and other classes requiring movement but may be used throughout the school.
Multiple disabilities can sound like it would apply to many students at first glance as there are many students who have two or more disabilities, such as ADHD and a learning disability. However, this category was designed for very specific cases. The law defines multiple disabilities as: “Multiple disabilities means concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness or mental retardation-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” (IDEA regulations § 300, A, 300.8, c(7)). This means that these students would most likely be involved in a specialized program for students with severe needs. However, they may still participate in electives and other activities in the school. It is crucial for staff members to learn about each students individual needs and how to respond if there is a problem.
Now that we are finished with IDEA disabilities, I may have to start a new series. I might review different assessments and/or resources available. Any ideas?