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Special Education - Eligibility & Test Scores


Your Child & Special Education
Eligibility Categories & Test Scores (all categories must meet all 3 prongs of eligibility)


illustrated students holding hands with the words 'learning knows no bounds'







Developmental Delay: Ages 3-9

  • Developmental areas assessed: Cognitive, physical, communication, social—emotional and adaptive.
  • Criteria: The child functions at least 2.0 standard deviations (SD) below the mean (30% delay in age equivalency or below the 3rd percentile) OR 1.5 SD below the mean in 2 or more broad developmental areas (25% delay or below the 7th percentile).

Multiple Disabilities: Ages 3-21

  • Two or more co-existing impairments, one of which includes a cognitive impairment (typically life long impairments).

Speech or Language Impairment: Ages 3-21

  • Language: Disorder or delay in the development of comprehension and/or the uses of spoken or written language and/or other symbol systems (the form, content and function of language).
  • Speech: Articulation is the ability to speak distinctly and connected (sound omissions, distortions, substitutions or additions) (interferes with communication)
  • Criteria: Two procedures (assessments, etc.), at least 1 that produces a standard score; 1.5 SD below the mean (at or below the 7th percentile)

Cognitive Impairment: Ages 3-21

  • "Significantly sub-average intellectual functioning that exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior."
  • Criteria: IQ at or below 70 and deficits in adaptive functioning.

Autism: Ages 3-21

  • "Autism is a developmental disability, generally evident before age 3, significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, and adversely affecting educational performance."
  • Child has a diagnosis of a disorder in the autism spectrum by a school psychologist and a speech-language pathologist; or by a psychiatrist, physician or licensed psychologist.

Health Impairment: Ages 3-21

  • Health impairment that exhibits limited strength, vitality or alertness (including heightened alertness)
  • Criteria: Child exhibits limited strength, vitality or alertness (including heightened alertness) and has been diagnosed by a physician as having a health impairment.

Other (not as common) categories for preschool include: Deaf-Blindness, Deafness, Emotional Disturbance, Hearing Impairment, Specific Learning Disability (elementary age or higher), Orthopedic Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, Visual Impairment Including Blindness

Three-Prong Test of Eligibility (all of the following must be true):

  1. The student must meet eligibility requirements established by the state for a specific disability;
  2. The child's disability must have an adverse impact on the student's education (harmful or unfavorable impact);
  3. The student must need special education (specially designed instruction) in order to benefit from his or her education.

Special Education Services offered at Lincoln Early Intervention:

  • Services related to Outcome 1: Social, emotional, behavioral
  • Services related to Outcome 2: Pre-reading, pre-math, speech therapy, language, communication
  • Service related to Outcome 3: Occupation therapy (fine motor), physical therapy (gross motor), adaptive, vision, hearing

Standard Deviation Information (Normal Distribution of Data):

  • Mean = Average of all the values in a data set
  • -1 SD to +1 SD low– to high– average range
  • Below -1 SD = below average; Above +1 SD = above average


graphic for standard deviation information