Raven's Guide to Special Education
Comprehensive information about special education regulations,
procedures, evaluations, programs, and disabilities
Disabilities - 4
Children with physical and health impairments include those in the special education categories of orthopedic impairment, other health impairments and traumatic brain injury. Orthopedic impairments primarily involve disorders of the skeleton, muscles, and joints; cerebral palsy; and amputations or loss of limbs. The types and severity of orthopedic impairments vary greatly. Generally, such children have limited physical mobility. They also may have sensory and coordination problems, muscular weakness or spasticity, speech impairments, and social or emotional difficulties.
Orthopedically impaired children often are grouped according to the cause of their impairment. Children with neurological impairments have sustained damage to the brain or spinal cord. Causes include either accidents or congenital conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and muscular dystrophy. These children may be mentally retarded, have poor balance and coordination, speech and language impairments, as well as social and emotional limitations. Orthopedically impaired children with muscular and skeletal problems include those with muscular dystrophy, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, clubfoot, scoliosis, and brittle bone disease.
Muscular dystrophy is a term that includes several hereditary diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of skeletal muscles. The most common form is Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In early childhood the muscles become weak and abnormally enlarged. As the disease progresses, the child becomes confined to a wheelchair. Death usually occurs by the late twenties. Some other forms of muscular dystrophy are less severe and less progressive than the Duchenne form. There is no cure for any form of the disease.
Children with birth defects include those with heart defects, malformed or missing limbs, defects of the head and face, and fetal alcohol syndrome. The educational problems of such children can range from mild to severe and may include physical limitations, mental retardation, hyperactivity, and a poor social adjustment.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a term for defects that may occur in infants born to women who drink alcohol during pregnancy. Signs of this condition include low birth weight, facial deformities, and mild to moderate mental retardation. As these children develop, they often show behavioral and intellectual problems.
IDEA's TBI definition
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 a child's educational
performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in
impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory;
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 to brain injuries
induced by birth trauma.
The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) has reported that traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adolescents in the United States. The most frequent causes of such injuries are motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports, abuse, and assault. Traumatic brain injured children have either sustained an injury to the head or an internal trauma such as a stroke or aneurysm.
The most commonly reported problems following injury are impaired reasoning and conceptualization, rigidity in thinking, poor problem solving, difficulty attending and concentrating, loss of language or poor verbal fluency, and reading and writing difficulties. Deficits in memory are likely the most common problem and among the most long-lasting. The memory loss, however, may be limited to specific areas. For example, the student may retain memories of personal experiences but be unable to recall factual, general information. The brain injured student may be physically slow, have perceptual problems, and misunderstand the relationships of concepts, rules of grammar or even normal social conventions. This may cause the student to make inappropriate or offensive remarks, misunderstand social interactions, or behave inappropriately.
Other health impaired students have chronic or acute medical problems that interfere with their ability to learn in regular classes without support. Examples of such problems include heart disease, leukemia, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, diabetes, or the need for respirators. These students may be physically weak, tire easily, have difficulty attending to their schoolwork, or have poor school attendance because of their need for medical care and rest at home. This may lead to poor academic achievement, low self-esteem and social problems. An increasing number of students diagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are being categorized as other health impaired for educational purposes.
Asthma is one of the most common and costly health problems among children. Asthma is a respiratory disorder marked by breathing difficulty caused by temporary narrowing of the bronchi, the airways branching from the trachea to the lungs. Attacks usually are brought on by allergic reaction to pollens, molds, animal dander, certain foods, or chemical irritants. Episodes of asthma vary widely in severity and may last from a few minutes to several days. They may begin at any age, but they usually occur in childhood. The attacks usually become less frequent and less severe over the years. Symptoms of an asthma attack include feelings of tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Most asthma attacks can be controlled by medications, but occasionally, oxygen administration or use of a respirator is needed. Asthma attacks can result in death.
This Web site includes a list of abbreviations used in special education.