What Disabilities Are Covered By Special Education?

Educational Evaluations in US

IDEA covers 13 types of disabilities. These categories include autism, hearing impairment and intellectual disability (which used to be referred to as “mental retardation”). Another category, called “specific learning disability,” applies to many kids who have learning and thinking differences.

A specific learning disability most often affects skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning and doing math.

Common learning differences in this category include:


Difficulty with reading, writing, spelling, speaking. For Educational Evaluations in US visit UT Evaluators.


Difficulty doing math problems, understanding time and money, remembering math facts


Difficulty with handwriting, spelling, organizing ideas


Difficulty with hand-eye coordination, balance, fine motor skills

Auditory processing disorder:

Difficulty interpreting what the ear hears (which is different from having a hearing impairment)

Visual processing issues:

Difficulty interpreting what the eye sees (which is different from having a visual impairment)

Specific learning disabilities are very common. Some 2.4 million students in U.S. schools have been identified as having a learning disability.[1] This is the largest disability category of students receiving special education.

There’s a separate category called “other health impairment.” It’s defined as having limited strength or alertness, which affects educational performance. Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often covered by this category.

What does “least restrictive environment” mean?

By law, schools are required to provide special education in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means the starting point for discussion should be the supports your child needs to succeed in a general education classroom. To know more information on Educational Evaluations visit Icadl2013

Schools have a special term for deciding to place a child in one type of classroom rather than another. Schools refer to this as “placement.” General education classrooms are the most common placement for kids with learning disabilities.