Autism Spectrum Disorder Program

Autism is a lifelong neurological disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand language, play and participate in social relationships. Autism is classified as a developmental disability because it interferes with the typical rate and patterns of childhood development. The first signs of autism usually appear as developmental delays before the age of three. Diagnoses closely related to autism include Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and Rett’s syndrome. These diagnoses are included in the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Resources for parents of students with Autism:

Autism Today, a privately-funded organization with information for parents and people living with autism

NICHCY, Resources from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.

Autism & PPD Support Network

Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

A student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing has a hearing impairment that gets in the way of how information is processed and communicated to others. The hearing impairment affects developmental skills, academic achievement, vocational-career skills, or social-emotional adjustment. The degree of hearing loss may range from mild to profound. Although deaf or hard-of-hearing students may wear a hearing aid, the aids do not enable them to hear as well as we do.

Resources for parents of students who are hearing impaired:

The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, an information source for parents and students regarding all things related to hearing impairment (Gallaudet University is a publicly funded secondary school for students with hearing impairments).

Auditory-Verbal International, a non-profit organization promoting listening and speaking for children with hearing impairments.

NICHCY, Resources from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.

Dual-Sensory Impaired

Students, who have dual-sensory impairments affecting both vision and hearing, are seriously impaired in their abilities to acquire information, communicate, or function within the environment unless special instruction, materials, adaptations or counseling are provided. Eligibility for this special program may also include students who have a degenerative condition that will lead to a dual-sensory impairment.

Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities

The student with emotional handicaps exhibits persistent and consistent maladaptive behavior, even after receiving supportive educational assistance and counseling services. Intellectual, sensory or health factors that get in the way of the student’s learning and ability to build and keep social relationships cannot explain such behavioral disabilities. A serious emotional handicap exists over an extended period of time, and in more than one situation; may result in a general mood of unhappiness or depression; and the student may develop physical symptoms, pains or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Florida Administrative Rule for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities

Hospital / Homebound

A homebound or hospitalized student is a student who has a medically diagnosed physical or mental condition that is a chronic illness. Such a condition or illness confines the student to home or hospital and restricts his/her activities for an extended period. A licensed physician qualified to assess the student’s physical or mental condition shall make the medical diagnosis. The Hospital/Homebound program follows the regular school curriculum as closely as possible, taking into account the student’s physical and mental health.

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is characterized both by a significatnly below-average score on a test of mental ability or intelligence and by limitation in teh ability to function in areas of daily life, such as communication, self-care and getting along in social situations and school activities.

Children with intellectual disability can and do learn new skills, but they develop more slowly than children with average intelligence and adaptive skills. There are different degrees of Intellectual disability, ranging from mild to profound. A person's level of intellectual disability can be defined by their intelligence quotient (IQ) or by the types and amount of support they need.

Occupational Therapy

OT is a service for a student with disabilities that will help to develop mental or physical well being in daily living skills, academic learning skills or adaptive social or emotional behaviors.

AbleData, information about assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment

Kids OT, information resource collection developed by an experienced Occupational Therapist

Physical Therapy

PT is treatment for a student with disabilities that will help to maintain, improve, restore, or develop the use of bones, joints, muscles, and nerves.

Physio-net.com, good source of general information about physical therapy (though the source is in Australia)

Specific Learning Disabled

The student with a learning disability has near average, or above average intelligence, but may not achieve at that level. Problems with learning are not primarily due to emotional disturbance, physical impairments, environmental disadvantage or lack of previous school experience. The student with a learning disability has the ability to learn, but because of problems such as receiving, organizing, remembering and/or expressing information, he/she may have difficulty in school. Individuals may also have dyslexia, which is difficulty with processing written language. Students with learning disabilities may have SOME of the following characteristics:

  • Strong in one area (such as math) and a disability in another area (such as spelling and/or reading)
  • Good listening skills, but unable to read the subject material
  • Difficulty remembering multiple-step directions and carrying out an assignment
  • Ability to read on grade level and have good verbal reasoning skills, but unable to do the required written work
  • Strong in mechanical fields, art, music, or sports, but with weaknesses in academic areas

Resources from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

Learning Disability Association, an educational site intended to help parents work with their children who have learning disabilities.

The Learning Disability Institute is a Florida-based, national, non-profit organization which seeks to determine and disseminate successful educational approaches for people with learning disabilities.

Speech and Language

Impairments in speech and language can interfere with learning, vocational training, or social adjustment. The Speech and Language services are offered to students who have problems in communicating so that they can be understood, or in listening, so they can understand what others are saying. Speech and Language programs are designed to assist students with communication problems to function as well as possible and independently. Instruction in communication is provided to improve academic, social, and vocational success.

Resources from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

Visually Impaired

A visual impairment is defined as a disorder in the structure and function of the eye that, even with the best correction and treatment, interferes with a student’s ability to function in an educational setting. The degree of visual ability is different among visually impaired students. Partially sighted students (acuity of at least 20/70 with correction) are those who after the best possible adjustments, use their remaining vision for learning. Blind students have no useful vision and rely on tactile or auditory senses for learning. Both groups of students require the use of special materials and/or equipment such as large print, Braille and tape recorders.

Free national library of Braille and audio materials for the blind and physically handicapped.

Blindness.org, a national, non-profit organization which disseminates information about many diseases which cause blindness, and raises funding to drive research to cure these diseases.

American Foundation for the Blind's Braille Bug, a fun site for kids with visual impairments, and for other kids to learn about visual impairments and Braille.