My Student Has a Disability- now what?

I imagine that my posts sometimes seem impersonal, because I fear sometimes that there is some risk of retaliation, if I say something that someone else wouldn’t like, but I find that is a poor reason not to share and help those who could use it. So, here goes, my first post using my expertise.


My student has a disability- now what?

The thing about this is that when a child is found eligible for an Individualized Education Plan many parents don’t know what to do. You are NOT alone! I’m going to do a series on this to help anyone out. I teach Special Education and have a Masters in it. So, lets start off.

If your student has just been found eligible you have likely sat through the eligibility meeting. It likely included your child’s normal teacher, a special education teacher, a school psychologist, a principal or county coordinator, and likely an additional teacher, though who that is is different for each person. I intend at some point to go over what to do/know going into those meetings, but for now, lets just focus on the point where many parents become stumped.

The first thing to know is what does that eligibility even mean?

SLD- Specific Learning Disability. This means your students has a clear pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Maybe they are a rock star at math, but reading is tough. This is your kiddo.

Significant Developmental Delay- This student is young, usually kindergarten or lower. They are typically immature for their age, and may have struggle with emotional regulation. Also, they may not be acquiring content at the expected rate. Some students will grow out of this eligibility. Some may instead develop into something more specific.

SLI- Speech or Language Impairment. This student is having difficulty with either articulation, forming the sounds, or they are not acquiring language/ utilizing it as typical. These can affect the academics as well.

OHI- Other health impairment. This eligibility is an option when we have documentation from the doctor of a health condition AND there is significant evidence showing that the condition is affecting the student at school and many interventions already tried have not worked. One common example is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

ASD- Autism Spectrum Disorder. More often than not this student was diagnosed by an outside doctor, however sometimes they can get an educational diagnosis at school. They may have academic struggles in one of several areas. Also, they are likely going to be struggling to thrive in their classroom with things such as making friends, adjusting to change, or sensory issues.

EBD- Emotion Behavior Disorder. These students are ones who struggle to re gulate their emotions and/or behavior. They are not students who just misbehave, which is a huge difference, as Conduct Disorder is NOT EBD. Students with EBD do not choose to make poor choices, they are often stuck in Fight or Flight or emotional states that cause them difficulty.

MID- Mild Intellectual Disability. This means the student has an IQ of 70 or lower, and also are struggling to adapt and thrive in their environment. They may be emotionally immature. They might struggle with change, forget where their classrooms are, or take longer to acquire new content.

MOID- Moderate intellectual disability. Most parents know this is their student before the school completes testing. Many students in this category have medical conditions such as Downs Syndrome.

SID/PID- Severe/Profound Intellectual Disability. These categories again, you likely are aware of before the school communicates anything as these students have the most severe needs. They are very developmentally delayed, and will struggle with communication, interactions, learning basic skills such as potty training, and typically have additional medical conditions.

VI- Visual Impairment

Deaf Hard of Hearing.


At the meeting you likely developed an individualized education plan. You probably didn’t say much because you got way too much information. It happens. Whats important now is to read over the IEP (it should be sent to you within 10 days of the meeting. If not, inquire at the school) and jot down any questions you have. It is your childs case manager’s job to explain these to you. Also, go over your procedural safeguards (parental rights) and again, jot down any questions. Make sure you know when you should be getting progress reports, and check those. If your case manager is doing their job, respectful questions should be appreciated. If they aren’t, point that out to them. Many sped teachers are overworked, with too many kids, and they may not realize they are not being their most gracious. If that doesn’t clear it up, contact their supervisor.

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