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PI 11.36 Areas of Impairment
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View the legal criteria for the educational disability

Autism is a developmental disability significantly affecting a child’s social interaction as well as verbal and nonverbal communication. This is generally evident before age 3 and can adversely affect learning and educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism include engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routine, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

For information, contact Misti Trowbridge, District Director of Special Education.

Cognitive Disability (CD)

View checklist for eligibility consideration [PDF]

View the legal criteria for cognitive disability

Cognitive Disability means significantly sub average intellectual functioning that exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior. This combination adversely affects educational performance.

Significantly sub average intellectual functioning is defined as an IQ standard score of approximately 70-75 or below. This score is based on an individually administered general intelligence test.

Existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior means that the intellectual imitations occur at the same time as the deficits in adaptive behavior. Adaptive behavior generally refers to the quality of everyday performance in coping with environmental demands. This is the behaviors that people do to take care of themselves.

Adversely affects educational performance means that the individual is below average in the academic areas of language, reading, mathematics and general information areas as determined by a comprehensive individual assessment.

For information, contact Misti Trowbridge, District Director of Special Education.

Emotional/Behavioral Disability (EBD)

Checklist for eligibility consideration [PDF]

View the legal criteria for emotional/behavioral disability

By statutory definition, an emotional behavioral disability is exhibited as social-emotional or behavioral functioning that so departs from the generally acceptable norms that it impacts the child’s progress throughout the academic and social domains. The demonstrated behavior(s) must be extreme, long-term, and occur frequently; and, occur in the school setting and at least one other environment. The behavior(s) are typified primarily by any one of the following: poor social relationships, inappropriate situational response, depression or anxiety, social withdrawal, real or imagined physical illness/injury, verbal or physical aggression, low academic achievement that cannot be supported by intellectual or health factors, and other behaviors deviant from the norm that have a negative impact on the education of other children.

For information, contact Toni Sturtz, District Director of Special Education.

Hearing Impairment (D/HH)

View the legal criteria for hearing impairment

A hearing impairment is a substantial loss of hearing that adversely affects the pupil’s educational performance. Educational performance includes academics, speech and language skills, and social emotional development. The effects of hearing loss can occur whether the child uses hearing aids or not. A licensed clinical audiologist evaluates hearing and a specialized physician (ENT or otolaryngologist) makes the specific diagnosis. The amount or degree of hearing loss can vary greatly from minimal loss to total deafness, as well as a loss in one or both ears. Some types of hearing loss are permanent and others can be treated and possibly resolved or improved to some degree through medications or surgery. Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing compare the medical information with educational performance to determine whether the hearing loss has an adverse effect.

For more information, contact Vickie Waters, Director of Special Education.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

A learning disability is a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the capacity to acquire and use listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or math skills. These abilities and difficulties vary from person to person and occur despite normal or above normal intelligence. They tend to encompass not only a distinctive collection of problems, but also usual creative and visual skills. A learning disability cannot be cured or out-grown.

Students with SLD have severe trouble learning or demonstrating academic skills in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation, and mathematical reasoning. Although the students often do well in some school subjects, they usually have extreme difficulty with certain skills such as decoding (reading) words, calculating math facts, or getting their thoughts into writing. As a result, they lag significantly behind their peers in these skills. Specific learning disabilities are believed to be caused by problems the child has processing information. In other words, while students with SLD almost always hear and see normally, they have trouble understanding or using what they see or hear.

When someone suspects a student has a SLD, a referral for a special education evaluation is made. A team, which includes the child’s parents, conducts the evaluation and decides if the child meets state and federal eligibility criteria for special education. Each of the following criteria must be considered and met in order for the child to be determined to have a SLD.

  1. A severe delay in classroom achievement, AND
  2. A significant discrepancy between intellectual ability and academic achievement, AND
  3. A processing deficit that is linked to the delay(s) in classroom achievement and significant discrepancy.

The IEP team may not identify a student as having SLD if the student’s achievement problems are primarily the result of other disabilities, insufficient instruction, lack of English proficiency, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

For more information, contact: Lorna Margenau, District Director of Special Education

Other Health Impaired (OHI)

View the legal criteria for other health impaired

For more information, contact Vickie Waters, Director of Special Education.

Orthopedic Impairment (OI)

Orthopedic impairments include a variety of conditions that impact the function of muscles and bones and adversely affect a child’s educational performance. Such impairments may result from conditions that are present at birth, or that are residual effects of disease or injury. There are numerous examples of orthopedic impairments that may or may not impact a child’s school performance. A few examples include: cerebral palsy, limb amputation, burns/contractures, dwarfism, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, spina bifida, club foot, etc.

View the legal criteria for orthopedic impairment

For more information, contact Gwen Westlund, Therapy Services Coordinator.

Significant Developmental Delay (SDD)

In Wisconsin use of the impairment of significant developmental delay (SDD) is limited to children ages three through five. To determine that a child has a significant developmental delay the IEP team must document that all other suspected impairments were considered and a complete developmental history including vision and hearing screening must be done. These “rule out” other explanations for difficulty the child is having.

The child must be observed in his or her daily living environment (home or child care). Watching the child in play or other activities, talking with people who know the child well (family members, teachers), or having the child perform tasks all give information about the child’s skill and development. This evaluation must include the use of “ norm referenced” testing procedures. This means that the child’s development and skills are compared to those of other children who are the same age with tests that have been carefully designed for this purpose.

If a child is quite below average development in two or more areas development, the child is said to have an impairment of significant developmental delay. The technical term is -1.5 SD or 1.5 standard deviations below the mean. The testing instruments give tables and chart to compute this statistic.

For more information, contact Mary Joslin, Special Education Program Support.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

View the legal criteria for traumatic brain injury

TBI means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external force. These outside forces may include motorized vehicles accidents, firearms, child abuse/assault, falls and sports. The injury may result in total or partial functional disability and/or psychological-social impairment and adversely affect the individual’s educational performance. TBI applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more of the following areas: cognition, speech/language, memory, attention, reasoning, communication, judgment, psycho-social functioning, physical functioning, information processing, planning and organizing.

For information, contact: Misti Trowbridge, District Director of Special Education.

Visual Impairment (VI)

View the legal criteria for visual impairment

For more information, contact: Vickie Waters, Director of Special Education

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