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Under IDEA, there are 13 classifications. They are as follows:

Autism Deaf-Blindness
Deafness Emotional Disability(ED)
Hearing Impairment Intellectual Disability
Multiple Disabilities (MD) Orthopedic Impairment
Other Health Impaired (OHI) Learning Disability (LD)
Speech/Language Impairment Traumatic Brain Injury
Visual Impairment including blindness

In order to be eligible for Special Education, the disability must adversely affect educational performance.


What is Autism?
IDEA specifically defines “autism” as follows:
.....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 engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term autism does not apply if the child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance, as defined in IDEA.
A child who shows the characteristics of autism after age 3 could be diagnosed as having autism if the criteria above are satisfied. [34 CFR §300.8(c)(1)]

There are five disorders classified under the umbrella category officially known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders, or PDD. As shown below, these are:

  • autism;
  • Asperger syndrome;
  • Rett syndrome;
  • childhood disintegrative disorder; and
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (often referred to as PDD-NOS).
Each of the disorders on the autism spectrum is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate, understand language, play, and relate to others. They share some or all of the following characteristics, which can vary from mild to severe:
  • Communication problems (for example, with the use 
    or comprehension of language);
  • Difficulty relating to people, things, and events;
  • Playing with toys and objects in unusual ways;
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine or to familiar surroundings; and
  • Repetitive body movements or behaviors.
According to the 2000 edition of the DSM-IV, a diagnosis of autistic disorder (or “classic” autism) is made when a child displays 6 or more of 12 symptoms across three major areas:
  • social interaction (such as the inability to establish or maintain relationships with peers appropriate to the level of the child’s development),
  • communication (such as the absence of language or delays in its development), and
  • behavior (such as repetitive preoccupation with one or more areas of interest in a way that is abnormal in its intensity or focus).

Some resources for more information dealing with Autism are listed below:

Books for Children and Parents:

 Rules by Cynthia Lord

 the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon (this weblink will take you to a listing of books on autism)

Books for Teens/Parents/Caregivers/Teachers:

 House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Daniel isn’t Talking by Marti Leimbach

Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive by Sally Oxonaff, Geraldine Dawson & James McPartland, Guilford Press.

No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behaviorby Jed Baker, Ph. D. 

The Incredible 5-Point Scale: Assisting students with autism spectrum disorders in understanding social interactions and controlling their emotional responses by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis.

Engaging Autism: The Floortime Approach to Helping Children Relate, Communicate and Think, by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, Ph.d. (2006), PerseusBooks.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children, by Ross. W. Greene, Harper Collins Publishing.

The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations, by Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa L. Trautman, and Ronda L. Schelvan, Autism Asperger Publishing.

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Quill Publishing.

Incorporating Social Goals in the Classroom: A Guide for Teachers and Parents of Children with High-Functioning Autism & Asperger Syndrome, by Rebecca A. Moyles & Susan J. Moreno, Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

Visual Strategies for Improving Communication, by Linda A. Hodgdon, Quirk Roberts, Publishing.

Social Skills Training for Children and Adolexcents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communication Problems, by Jed Baker, Autism Asperger Publishing

Websites: (there are many, below is a brief list)

Kelberman Center – is an affiliate of UCP and has an office in Utica and Morrisville. They are dedicated to providing autism services across the lifespan. Their website -

CASD - Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders:

The Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD) was established in fall 2007 and is affiliated with Binghamton University. The CASD is dedicated to disseminating information to educators, community professionals, and other service providers regarding evidence-based practices to improve services provided to children with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

Autism Society - Improving the Lives of All Affected by Autism:

Autism Speaks -

Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Their longtime friend Bernie Marcus donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization. Since then, Autism Speaks has grown into the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders -

Fact sheets, additional resources and links are on this site

CDC – Centers for Disease control and prevention:


Additional websites include:


Videos/TV shows/movies with characters who present as individuals on the ASD spectrum:

HBO special movie on Temple Grandin- Grandin - Doctor of Animal Science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry in animal behavior.

Bones – (tv series) character, Temperance “Bones” Brenan

Fringe – (tv series) character, Astrid Farnsworth

Big Bang Theory (tv series) - character, Sheldon Cooper and Amy Fowler (girlfriend)

Boston Legal (tv series) – character, Jerry Espenson

Parenthood (tv series) – character, Max (son)

Grey’s Anatomy (tv series) – character, Mary McDonnell

There are a number of Youtube videos about Aspergers/Autism.

One is ‘Asperger’s Syndrome Documentary’ -

A teen with autism tries to explain what autism is like -


Other Health Impairment

Other Health Impairment is a broad classification. The definition in NYS Part 200 regulations of the commissioner of education is "having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environment stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems, including but not limited to a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, diabetes, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or tourette syndrome, which adversely affects a student's educational performance.

See the attached link for a resource booklet on Identifying and Treating Individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a 43 page resource booklet for teachers and parents.

This is a resource of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA):

Learning Disability

Learning disabilities (LD) is an umbrella term for a group of related cognitive disorders involving the ability to acquire and use information through listening, speaking, or reading, and the related ability to use information through writing or mathematical reasoning. LD is a life-long disorder in one or more of the central nervous system process related to the input, processing and output of information. *

Generally speaking, a learning disability (LD) is a life-long disorder in one or more of the central nervous system processes related to the input, processing and output of information. In most instances an individual with a learning disability has average or above average intelligence. For the adult population with LD, there is no one correct term that defines learning disabilities. There are over 13 major definitions of learning disabilities accepted throughout the United States. Most of these definitions reflect a commonality in that LD is thought to be a processing problem. The lack of a standardized definition or common vocabulary often contributes to misinterpretation of the term "learning disability".

For rehabilitation counseling purposes, the U.S. Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) defines a learning disability "as a disorder in one or more of the central nervous system processes involved in perceiving, understanding and/or using concepts through verbal (spoken or written) language or non-verbal means. This disorder manifests itself with a deficit in one or more of the following areas: attention, reasoning, processing, memory, communication, reading, writing, spelling, calculation, coordination, social competence and emotional maturity."

The term learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage. However, a diagnosis of another disability does not preclude the co-existence of LD with that disability. Learning disabilities are life long disabilities that cannot be cured or fixed. Additionally, an individual can develop learning or performance strategies that can decrease the functional limitations of the disability. Because learning disabilities cannot be seen, they often go undetected. Oftentimes, these impact self-esteem, education, vocation, socialization and/or daily living activities.


Resource Links