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Getting Help through School Districts

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), School Districts are required to develop a personalized plan for every school-aged child who qualifies as having one of the 13 disabilities identified by IDEA. This Individual Education Program (IEP) is a written program designed to meet the unique needs of a single child. It includes audiology, counseling, nursing services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and transportation related to these services. Per IDEA regulations, School Districts provides all required services as specified on a child’s IEP at no cost to parents.

The qualification process for IEP is complex and can take up to 60 days to complete. It also requires a referral, an evaluation, and determination of qualification by an IEP team. However, not every child with a disability may qualify for special education services. In order to be eligible for these services, the student must both have a disability and, as a result of that disability, need special education in order to make progress in school and in order to receive benefit from the general educational program.

The Division of Special Education provides a range of program and related services to students found eligible for special education, called Designated Instructional Services (DIS). Service and support is also provided to schools and parents in a variety of areas included, but not limited to:

  • Adapted Physical Education(APE)
  • Assistive Technology (AT)
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Physical Therapy (PT)
  • Pupil Counseling (PCU) and Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS)

Provisions within IDEA also address the use of Response to Intervention (RTI) for school-age children, with a particular focus on children in kindergarten through third grade. RTI is designed to prevent, detect and address children’s learning difficulties as early as possible, and helps teachers organize instructional approaches from least to most intensive, based on a child’s learning needs. It involves ongoing assessment through universal screening of all children, helps provide strategic support for some children through small-group interventions and activities involving targeted skills, and provides intensive support for a few children. RTI in early childhood is intended to complement, not replace, existing special education services for children with identified disabilities.


  • CDC estimates that about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). From 2002-2008, this percentage increased by 78%.
  • In 2007, CDC’s ADDM Network first reported that about 1 in 150 children had an ASD (based on 2002 data from 14 communities). Then, in 2009, the ADDM Network reported that 1 in 110 children had an ASD (based on 2006 data from 11 communities). This means that the estimated prevalence of ASDs increased 23% during 2006 to 2008 and 78% during 2002 to 2008.


  • The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that 5% of children have ADHD. However, studies in the U.S. have estimated higher rates in community samples. As reported by parents, more than 1 in 10 (11%) US school-aged children had received an ADHD diagnosis by a health care provider by 2011. These 6.4 million children include 1 in 5 high school boys and 1 in 11 high school girls.

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Speech Delays

  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 3% of students have been treated for speech delays/impairments, as reported for 2009-2010.

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Learning Disorders

  • 35% of students identified with learning disabilities drop out of high school. This is twice the rate of their non-disabled peers (does not include the students who are not identified and drop out).
  • 50% of juvenile delinquents tested were found to have undetected learning disabilities.
  • Up to 60% of adolescents in treatment for substance abuse have learning disabilities.
  • 62% of learning disabled students were unemployed one year after graduation.
  • 50% of females with learning disabilities will be mothers (many of them single) within 3-5 years of leaving high school.

The National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) recently reported that students with disabilities make up 11.1% of all college students. With a website offering disability resources, you know this large demographic faces unique challenges during post-secondary education. Numerous scholarship programs address the needs of these students in assisting them with education costs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. With significant savings on education, these programs can benefit any student. is committed to helping students of all demographics in paying for education with research on scholarships, grants, and more. Our new guide to College Accessibility for Students with Disabilities provides easy access to scholarship resources with helpful information on how to apply.