Special education teachers are part of the assessment team that determines eligibility for special education services. There are 14 major eligibility categories defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For each of these disability categories, educators must have general knowledge of the guidelines for eligibility, characteristics, causes, effects on learning, and how often the disabilities occur within a defined population in order to contribute to team collaboration and consult articulately with staff and parents/guardians. Additionally, there are specific conditions, such as dyslexia, that are included within each of the broad categories, and special education teachers must be well informed about the potential effects on learning for each specific disorder.

Use the information in the textbook and study materials to complete the “Disability Comparison Template” to summarize information for the categories of disability under IDEA as well as for common, specific learning disabilities. The first category, Autism, is completed for you.