Child-Centered Process

  • Once the parent and school agree that they suspect a child may have a disability that impacts his/her learning, the child is scheduled for a Full and Individual Evaluation (FIE). During this evaluation the child is evaluated in each area of suspected disability. Typically the child will be evaluated to determine his/her learning ability and his/her current academic achievement. Information is collected about the child's health status, communication skills, and emotional/behavioral needs. When necessary, other professionals are asked to provide information about the child's current abilities. This could include reports from the child's physician, additional evaluation of the child's speech and language skills, an evaluation by an occupational therapist or a physical therapist, or an evaluation by a psychologist.

    Once the Full and Individual Evaluation is completed, a written report is developed, and a copy is provided to the parent. The results of the evaluation are reviewed by the Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) committee. This committee is comprised of the child's parent, teacher, administrator, and other school staff as required by law. This group, after reviewing the results of the evaluation, determines whether the child meets federal criteria as a child with a disability and the educational needs of the child.

    The disability categories identified in federal law include:


    Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired with processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects the child's educational performance.

    Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects the child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness.

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    A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental changes or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

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    Concomitant 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.

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    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


    Significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.


    A severe orthopedic 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 contracture).


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

    • is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and
    • adversely affects a child's educational performance.


    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 the 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.

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


    An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

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

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