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Special Education Eligibility

Connecticut law defines a child requiring special education as a child who meets the criteria for eligibility for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 USC 1400, et seq., as amended from time to time…”

Disabilities Recognized by the IDEA

Special education services eligibility under IDEA requires that your child be between the ages of three and twenty-one years old. Connecticut school districts are obligated to provide special education and related services to children five years of age or older until the earlier of either high school graduation or the end of the school year in which your child turns twenty-one years of age. In addition, a child must have one or more of the following disabilities as determined by the IDEA:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Developmental delay (for 3 to 5 years old)
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability (mental retardation)
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairments (limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems    such as lead poisoning, asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), diabetes, a heart condition, hemophilia, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome)
  • Physical impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment (including blindness)

Evaluations and IEPs

If a formal evaluation determines that your child is impaired by one of these disabilities, adversely affecting your child’s educational performance, a specific educational program must be developed to meet their unique educational needs. This is known as an Individual Education Program (IEP), a cornerstone of special education that we will explain further in the following pages.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), while not expressly listed under the IDEA, are construed as falling within the Other Health Impairment category. If a child suffers from either ADD or ADHD and their educational performance is disaffected as a result, he or she will be eligible for special education services.

A child requiring special education in Connecticut includes not only children with disabilities but also those who are found to be especially gifted and talented. The pertinent statute states, “A child requiring special education” means any exceptional child who . . . has extraordinary learning ability or outstanding talent in the creative arts, the development of which requires programs or services beyond the level of those ordinarily provided in regular school programs but which may be provided through special education as part of the public school program.” Although gifted and talented children may be offered special education in the State of Connecticut, it is not a requirement.

Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.