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The 14 Categories of Disabilities by Mind Map: The 14 Categories of
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The 14 Categories of Disabilities


Developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Intervention Strategies, Art and music are particularly useful in sensory integration, providing tactile, visual and auditory stimulation. Music therapy is good for speech development and language comprehension. Art therapy provides a nonverbal, symbolic means of self-expression, and can develop fine motor skills., Floortime, or Difference Relationship Model (DIR): The premise of Floortime is that an adult can help a child expand his circles of communication by meeting him at his developmental level and building on his strengths., TEACCH is a special education program using Structured Teaching, a process designed to capitalize on the relative strength and preference for processing information visually in individuals with autism, while taking into account the recognized difficulties.

Case Studies, Anderson is a 3-year-old boy with ASD who was referred to a university speech and hearing center by a local school district. He communicated through nonverbal means and used communication solely for behavioral regulation., Because Anderson could not meet his needs through verbal communication, AAC was considered. He had been taught some signs but did not use them communicatively. More importantly, his motor imitation skills were so poor that it was difficult to differentiate his signs., Incidental teaching methods including choices and incomplete activities were embedded in home and preschool routines. In addition, a variety of joint activity routines (e.g., singing and moving to “Ring Around the Rosie” or “Row Your Boat” while holding hands) that were socially pleasing to Anderson were identified., By the end of the year, a video taken at preschool showed that Anderson was spontaneously using PECS for requests and protests. He was using speech along with his PECS requests in the “I want” format.


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.

Intervention Strategies, Assistive Technologies, Computer Adaptations, Braille printer: connects to a computer and embosses Braille on paper, Screen reader: converts text on a computer screen to audible speech, Screen enlargement software: increases the size of text and images on a computer screen, Refreshable Braille display: converts text on computer to Braille by an output device connect to the computer, Adaptive Devices, Braille notetakers: lightweight electronic note-taking device that can be connected to a printer or a Braille embosser to produce a printed copy, Optical character reader: converts printed text into files that can be translated into audible speech or Braille, Electronic braillewriter: produces Braille, translates Braille into text or synthetic speech, Teaching Strategies, Individuals who are deafblind will often need touch in order for them to be sure that their partner shares their focus of attention., Exploring objects should be done in a "nondirective" way, allowing the individual who is deafblind to have control, The individual may have very slow response times. Therefore, the teacher should allow time for the student to respond.

Case Studies


Hearing impairment so severe that a child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Case Studies, Marcy  was  born  in  Bulgaria  in  December 1987 and lived in an orphanage for the first 4 years of her life.  She  was  a  deaf  and  mute  child, communicating through mime and physical behavior., Marcy’s parents believed that her exposure to the same language at home and at school would benefit her as she acquired a first language., Teachers and interpreters were rated by a state  evaluation  system,  and  those working  with Marcy had earned the highest SEE rating. Thus, both professionals  at  school  and  Marcy’s family members attempted to accurately represent the morphology of English., By kindergarten Marcy had adjusted to home life and was participating in literacy experiences. Marcy also saw her sisters, who were as much as 9 years older than she, engaged in a barrage of literacy activities. She was beginning to communicate more with her deaf 7-year-old sister, who had been assessed as signing English as a typical 7-year-old hearing child would speak it

Intervention Strategies, Teaching Strategies, Keep instructions brief and uncomplicated as much as possible. When repeating instructions, repeat exactly without paraphrasing., Clearly define course requirements, the dates of exams, and when assignments are due. Provide advance notice of any changes., Present lecture information in a visual format (e.g., chalkboard, overheads, PowerPoint slides, handouts, etc.)., Use more than one way to demonstrate or explain information., When teaching, state objectives, review previous lessons and summarize periodically., Visual Aids and Assistive Technologies, Boards and Flipcharts: When using OHPs, boards and flipcharts, allow students time to read what is written before starting to speak again. It is not possible to read and lip-read at the same time!, Slides: When using slides in a darkened room leave a curtain open or a spotlight on the speaker or interpreter., Videos and Tapes: If possible, try to use subtitled videos or obtain a transcript of the commentary.

Emotional Disturbance

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.

Intervention Strategies, Assistive Technologies, Some modification in instruction will be necessary to allow a student with an emotional disorder to demonstrate mastery in a number of academic areas, and most especially in the area of writing. Word processing software can be an excellent supplementary aid for these students, allowing them to edit and revise their work as they produce it. These programs can strengthen spelling skills and writing cohesion simply by making the writing process easier overall. Of particular benefit are word processing programs that read the text as it is typed, providing an additional audio cue for the student., Teaching Strategies, A strategy such as allowing students to choose between classroom tasks, for example, is an effective way to decrease problem behaviors in general. Consistent and specific praise is also a great technique to utilize with all students in the classroom, but can be particularly effective with students with emotional disorders.

Case Studies

Hearing Impairment

Impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but is not included under the definition of “deafness.”

Intervention Strategies, Hearing Aids and Auditory Training Devices: Hearing aids are one of the most well-known types of devices used by individuals with hearing impairments., Alerting Devices: Many everyday devices have been adapted for individuals with hearing impairments, including items such as watches, doorbells, fire alarms, school bells, and alarm clocks., Closed-captioning makes television and film accessible for individuals with hearing impairments.

Case Studies, My name is Michael and I am a graduate student in Rehabilitation Counseling at San Diego State University. I have a severe-profound, bilateral hearing loss and use hearing aids and speech reading (watching the movement of a person's lips) to maximize my communication abilities. I have some knowledge of American Sign Language but not enough to effectively use a sign language interpreter as an accommodation., For a person with a significant hearing loss, or who is deaf, vision is a primary channel for receiving communication. Make full use of available aids, including films, videotapes, overhead projectors, Power Point, diagrams, and chalkboards/dry-erase boards. Give the student time to read/analyze before speaking., Like other people, deaf people learn quickly by "doing." What may be difficult to communicate verbally may be explained easily by hands-on demonstration.

Intellectual Disability

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.

Intervention Strategies, Teaching Strategies, Teach one concept or activity component at a time, Teach one step at a time to help support memorization and sequencing, Teach students in small groups, or one-on-one, if possible, Always provide multiple opportunities to practice skills in a number of different settings, Use physical and verbal prompting to guide correct responses, and provide specific verbal praise to reinforce these responses, Assistive Technologies, There are a number of existing software packages designed to support students with intellectual disabilities in the classroom. One promising approach in literacy software utilizes universal design for learning principles. This approach combines reading for meaning with direct instruction for decoding and understanding. The resulting software consists of an audio and video based curriculum that can be adjusted by the teacher to meet the specific academic capacities of the student.

Case Studies, Drew  is  a  Year  3  student with  a  Mild  Intellectual  Disability  (MID)  who  attends  an  IM  (Intellectually  Mild) support class within an Australian public primary school. Research was conducted in 2011  as  part  of  an  honours  study  to investigate  ways  in  which  to  enhance  understanding of safe behavior at school., 'Slow  animation’ was  implemented  across three  forty minute  lessons  between the  researcher  and  each  individual  student as  a  means  of  addressing  this  need.  This paper  explores  the  extent  that  Drew  was able  to  use  slowmation  to  construct  an animated social narrative and the ways in which doing so supported his understanding and application of safe behaviour at school., In  the  five  weeks  after  the  intervention  of  Drew constructing  an  animated social  narrative,  behaviour  records  showed  him  to  be  involved  in  only  two  unsafe incidents  at  school; this  figure  is  considerably  less  than  Drew’s  nine documented unsafe experiences prior to starting.

Multiple Disabilities

Concomitant [simultaneous] impairments (such as intellectual disability-blindness, intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for one of the impairments.

Intervention Strategies, Teaching Strategies, One area of support that can be particularly effective for all involved is peer tutoring. Peer tutoring has been proven to have positive results for students with multiple disabilities in a number of separate research studies. However, care must be taken that the tutoring is not a one-way relationship, but is reciprocal. The student with multiple disabilities should also be able to provide something to the tutoring process, even if it is a simple social behavior. Some training on both sides will be necessary to make this a fruitful support system., Assistive Technologies, One particularly promising technological support can be found in the handheld personal computer. Using software such as the Visual Assistant, teachers and service providers can program a number of different skill sets and instructions to be accessible to the student at any time. These technology can include visual information in the form of digital pictures or line drawings, as well as audio messages and instructions. This can be instrumental in helping students gain independence in the community, such as during vocational training activities.

Orthopedic Impairment

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).

Intervention Stratgies, Assistive Technologies & Teaching Strategies, Assistive Technologies, Devices to Access Information, speech recognition software, screen reading software, augmentative and alternative communication devices (such as communication boards), academic software packages for students with disabilities, Devices for Positioning and Mobility, canes, walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, specialized exercise equipment, specialized chairs, desks, and tables for proper posture development, Teaching Strategies, Accomodations, Special seating arrangements to develop useful posture and movements, Instruction focused on development of gross and fine motor skills, Securing suitable augmentative communication and other assistive devices, Awareness of medical condition and its affect on the student (such as getting tired quickly), Specialists, Physical Therapists who work on gross motor skills (focusing on the legs, back, neck and torso), Occupational Therapists who work on fine motor skills (focusing on the arms and hands as well as daily living activities such as dressing and bathing), Speech-Language Pathologists who work with the student on problems with speech and language, Adapted Physical Education Teachers, who are specially trained PE teachers who work along with the OT and PT to develop an exercise program to help students with disabilities, Other Therapists (Massage Therapists, Music Therapists, etc.)

Orthopedic Impairment Case Studies, Glen is an 11 year old student who is working at grade level in most areas. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. He uses assistive technology to compose and produce written work (uses “speech to text” software)., IEP states that he is allowed to take a 3-5 minute break to reposition every 30 minutes when he is using his laptop to complete written work. When Glen talked to his mother about his IEP accommodations, he explained that he wanted to be able to become fluent with multiplication and division facts., Annual Goals, Given non-structured settings, Simon will appropriately initiate contact with peers with minimal prompting by the end of 6thgrade. Objective: During a role-played scenario with his teacher, Simon will appropriately introduce himself, using proper greetings. Objective: Given a social skills instructional class, Simon will learn how to remain the appropriate distance from his peers when initiating a conversation. Objective: Given peer-support (e.g. a playground buddy), Simon will learn the appropriate mannerisms for social interaction.

Other Health Impairment

Having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment.

Intervention Strategies, Teaching Strategies, Allow extra time for these students to shift from one activity or environment to the next., Teach these students specific techniques for organizing their thoughts and materials. Organize the classroom accordingly, and keep all materials in permanent locations for easy access., Allow extra time for finishing assignments or for testing., For more complex activities, simplify steps to make them more manageable., Seat the student close to the teacher and away from any peers that might be distracting., Post a daily and weekly schedule that clearly delineates each activity. These schedules can then be used as prompts to direct the student back on task., Keep these schedules as consistent as possible, and keep unstructured time at a minimum., Assistive Technologies, There are no specific technological devices that are recommended for students with AD/HD, but there are a number of tools that can be helpful in strengthening and supporting the organizational abilities of these individuals. Low tech devices such as notebooks and dividers can be utilized to record and organize assigned homework and classroom tasks. For older students, personal digital assistants, dictating machines, and a variety of computer programs can perform the same task.

Specific Learning Disability

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.

Intervention Strategies, Students with learning disabilities have a variety of difficulties in school. In order for many students with learning disabilities to be successful in school, assistive technology devices are used to accommodate the student's learning., Reading, Text to Speech software, OCR software applications, Screen Reading software, Audio Books, Writing, Portable Word Processors, Auditory Word Processing Software, Word Prediction Programs, Graphical Word Processors, On-Screen Keyboards, Voice Recognition Software, Organizational/Outlining/Drafting Software, Online Writing Support

Case Studies, Sam is a seven year-old student at a private school. When Sam was only three years old he was diagnosed with epilepsy. The doctors described Sam as a boy who suffered from simple complex seizures., Sam’s teachers were focused on developing his memorization abilities, reading comprehension, and written expression. When tests are given orally, Sam’s scores greatly improve and recently Sam received 100% on a reading quiz that he was able to read entirely to himself., In the place of a special education program, his school has a resource room that is used by the school’s resource and inclusion coordinator. Sam visits the resource and inclusion coordinator with two other male students from his grade level every day for about forty-five minutes., Sam is integrated into the general education classroom about 85% of the day, every day. Sam receives preferential seating and his teacher works with him during Math in a separate assistance group with other low-scoring students.

Speech or Language Impairment

Communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Intervention Strategies, Students with a speech or language impairment will need speech-language pathology services., The most basic AAC devices are non-electronic communication boards. The boards usually are limited to a number of choices (two to four). The choices can be represented by real items, pictures of items, and symbols for items (including print). The objective of the communication board is to have the student make a choice, typically of food or activity.

Case Studies, Steven, an exuberant 8-year-old second grader who has good social language skills, but is starting to fall behind his classmates in reading and language arts., Based on test results, an instructional program was recommended using the The Bridge of Vocabulary. These evidence-based activities can be provided in Steven’s classroom setting with a group of peers who can also benefit from vocabulary expansion exercises.

Traumatic Brain Injury

An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both.

Intervention Strategies, Altering the environment to provide external devices and cues that the student can use to compensate for organization, memory, and motor deficits., Students may receive services with a speech or language pathologist, occupational or physical therapist, psychologist, or other related services., Teachers are recommended to use Direct Instruction materials available, including sequenced curricula and scripted wording.

Case Studies, Catherine is a 22-year-old freshman at the local community college. She sustained a brain injury as a result of a car crash at age 18., Catherine thought that doing so well the first semester meant she did not need help after all. Due to a neurological-based lack of insight into the cause-and-effect relationship, she was unable to understand that the assistance she received helped her to succeed., While Catherine’s desire for increased independence and determination to succeed alone indicate positive and healthy behavior, Catherine still needs assistance with self-monitoring, managing her schedules, and assessing her priorities.

Visual Impairment Including Blindness

Impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.

Intervention Strategies, Teaching Strategies, One key accommodation that is absolutely essential is access to textbooks and instructional materials in the appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted peers. For students who are blind this may mean braille and/or recorded media., Assistive Technologies, Computer Adaptions, Braille translation software and equipment: converts print into braille and braille into print., Braille printer: connects to a computer and embosses braille on paper., Screen reader: converts text on a computer screen to audible speech., Screen enlargement software: increases the size of text and images on a computer screen., Refreshable Bbraille display: converts text on computer to braille by an output device connected to the computer., Adaptive Devices, Braille notetakers: lightweight electronic note-taking device that can be connected to a printer or a braille embosser to produce a printed or brailled copy., Optical character reader: converts printed text into files on a computer that can be translated into audible speech or Braille with appropriate equipment and software., Electronic braillewriter: produces braille, translates braille into text or synthetic speech., Talking calculators: calculates with voice output., Optical Devices, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV): enlarges an image to a larger size and projects it on a screen, Magnifiers: enlarges images, Telescopes: used to view distant objects

Case Studies

Developmental Delay

For children from birth to age three (under IDEA Part C) and children from ages three through nine (under IDEA Part B), the term developmental delay, as defined by each State, means a delay in one or more of the following areas: physical development; cognitive development; communication; social or emotional development; or adaptive [behavioral] development.

Developmental Delay Case Studies

Intervention Strategies, Assistive Technologies, The educational needs of this group of children may involve how they think and remember, how they feel and interpret motions and actions, how they move, and how they communicate. As each child is evaluated, the assistive technology that will be necessary for the child to learn will vary. These items may range from a daily calendar made of photographs showing routine activities, to a rocking chair, a set of headphones for blocking noises, or other tools that enable the express needs or interests., Teaching Strategies, Their educational needs will vary with the characteristics of the associated disability categories and with the skills, the culture, the preferences, the interests, and the experiences the children have. The children who are evaluated as having developmental delays and who require special education should have programs that are appropriate to their development and that will build on their skills., The activities should be adapted and individualized, by changing the content, by providing supports that promote learning, and by making the materials and toys usable, based on the information gathered about the children’s progress throughout the year.