The Special Education Department promotes opportunities for gifted and disabled students to participate in educational activities designed to help each student achieve maximum potential. A full range of services, meeting the needs of all identified and placed disabled students (Pre-K – 12), is offered in schools throughout the DeKalb County School System. Disabilities recognized by the State of Alabama include Autism, Deaf-Blindness, Developmental Delay, Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Traumatic Brian Injury, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, and Visual Impairment.
Before a student is referred for special education services, pre-referral intervention strategies must be implemented by the classroom teacher and monitored through the Problem Solving Team (PST). A referral is made for special education evaluation when interventions/strategies have been determined unsuccessful.
Autism- Autism is a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction evident before age three that adversely affects educational performance.
Developmental Delay-A child becomes eligible for this area of disability on his/her third birthday if there is a significant delay in one or more of the following areas: 1. Adaptive development, 2. Cognitive development, 3. Communication development, 4. Social or emotional development, and/or 5. Physical development; and if the child needs special education services.
Deaf-Blindness is a concomitant hearing and visual impairment, 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 hearing and visual impairments.
Emotional Disability means a disability characterized by behavioral or emotional responses so different from appropriate age, cultural, environmental, or ethnic norms that the educational performance is adversely affected. Characteristics must be exhibited over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance.
Hearing Impairment is an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. This term includes both deaf and hard-of hearing children.
Intellectual Disability means significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects the child’s educational performance.
Multiple Disabilities means concomitant impairments, the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.
Orthopedic Impairment is characterized by impairments caused by congenital abnormality (e.g., spina bifida), disease (e.g., Poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., fractures, or burns that cause contractures, amputation, cerebral palsy). Having a medical diagnosis alone is not enough to justify being identified in the area of orthopedic impairment. The impairment must adversely affect educational performance.
Other Health Impairment is characterized by 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 a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or diabetes. Having medical diagnosis alone is not enough to justify being identified in the area of other health impairment. The impairment must adversely affect educational performance.
Specific Learning Disabilities is characterized by 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 an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. Children with specific learning disabilities will demonstrate a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in one or more of the following areas: reasoning, oral expression, listening comprehension, or written expression. No single criterion or specific number of characteristics can be used in identifying children with specific learning disabilities. Rather, the age-appropriateness of observed behaviors and the frequency, intensity, and duration of a child’s learning problems are critical in distinguishing specific learning disabilities from learning problems resulting from such factors as low motivation, underachievement, or inadequate instruction.
Speech and Language Impairment is characterized by a communication disorder in the area of articulation, voice, fluency, or language that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Traumatic Brain Injury is characterized by 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 educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem-solving, sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
Visual Impairment is characterized by a visual impairment that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
Gifted students are those who perform at high levels in academic or creative fields when compared to others of their age, experience, or environment. These students require services not ordinarlily provided by the regular school program. Students possessing these abilities can be found in all populations, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor.