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Eligibility for Special Education

To be found eligible for special education, your child must meet all three prongs of the following test:

  1. My child has one of more of the disabilities defined in the state’s governing code (in NJ, NJAC 6A:14-3.5);
  2. That disability adversely affects my child’s educational performance; and
  3. My child therefore is in need of special education and related services.

A disability alone without any adverse educational impact will not avail a student of special education programming or related services in school.

In considering whether an adverse educational impact is present, it is important to remember that education is not restricted to academics. Rather, education is a broad concept that includes anything a child may need to learn in order to one day go on to post-secondary education, independent living, and/or a job (i.e. social skills, behavioral skills, communication skills, coping skills, independent living skills; toileting skills, etc.)

School districts often argue that eligibility criteria are not met because a student is receiving good grades in school. If faced with such an objection to classification, ask whether facets of your child’s education other than academics are being adversely impacted by his/her disability.

There are 14 classification categories for special education and related services:

  1. Auditorily impaired
  2. Autistic
  3. Cognitively impaired
  4. Communication impaired
  5. Emotionally disturbed
  6. Multiply disabled
  7. Deaf/blindness
  8. Orthopedically impaired
  9. Other health impaired
  10. Preschool child with a disability
  11. Social maladjustment
  12. Specific learning disability
  13. Traumatic brain injury
  14. Visually impaired