Special Services Eligibility

Maine Unified Special Education Regulations defines a child with a disability. The district has a duty to provide a free appropriate public education to eligible students. According to this definition, a student with a disability is an individual who:

  • has reached school age 5 years
  • has neither graduated from a secondary school program with a regular high school diploma nor reached 20 years of age at the start of the school year
  • has been observed in the learning environment/classroom setting; and
  • has been evaluated according to these rules and has been determined to have a disability which requires the provision of special education services and supportive services.

According to the State's definition, a student with a disability will have one or more of the following disabilities:

Autism: A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three that adversely affects educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. 

Deaf/Blindness: Concomitant visual and hearing impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication, and other developmental and educational needs that he cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(2)]

Deafness: A student who is deaf has a hearing impairment that is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects the student's educational performance. 

Developmental Delay: A child with a disability aged 3-5, may, at the discretion of the local educational agency, include a child experiencing developmental delays, as defined below and as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development; cognitive development; communication development; social or emotional development; or adaptive development; and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services. [20 USC 1401(a)(3)(B)(i-ii)] 

Emotional Disturbance: A condition which exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects the child’s educational performance:

(a) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;

(b) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;

(c) Inappropriate types of behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances; 

(d) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression;

(e) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to students who are “socially maladjusted,” unless it is determined that they have an emotional disability. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(4)]

Hearing Impairment: A student who has a hearing impairment has an impairment in hearing whether permanent or fluctuating, and that adversely affects the student's educational performance but who is not included under the definition of deafness.

Intellectual Disability: A student with an intellectual disability exhibits significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning concurrent with deficits in adaptive behaviors, and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affect the student's educational performance.

Multiple Disabilities: Concomitant impairments the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that the child cannot be accommodated in special educational programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include children who have deaf-blindness. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(7)] 

Orthopedic Impairment: A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis) and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures). [34 CFR 300.8(c)(8)] 

Other Health Impairment: Having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems, such as asthma, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, or sickle cell anemia, Tourette Syndrome and adversely affects the child’s educational performance. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(9)]

Speech or Language Impairment: A communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects the child’s educational performance. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(11)]

Specific Learning Disability: A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Specific learning disabilities does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economical disadvantage. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(10)] 

Traumatic Brain Injury: An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment or both that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem-solving, sensory, perceptual and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(12)]

Visual Impairment Including Blindness: An impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects the child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. [34 CFR 300.8(c)(13)]