To be able to receive special education, a child must have a disability and must need special education services and/or related services. If a child has a disability but does not need special education services, the child is not eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) but may be eligible for assistance under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Decisions about special education eligibility must be made by a school-based team that includes the child's parent(s). Eligibility decisions are based on evaluations of the child. Parents may receive copies of all evaluation reports and documentation about how eligibility decisions are made.
IDEA lists 13 disability categories: autism, deafness, deaf-blindness, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury and visual impairment, including blindness.
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