Other Health Impaired

  •  Other Health Impaired

         Other health impairment exists as an umbrella term encompassing hundreds of types of impairments that may result in a chronic condition limiting the individual's ability to effectively access the educational environment. This category is determined by limitations in the three areas of strength, vitality, and alertness, and these students may be cognitively intact. Three leading classifications under other health impairment include epilepsy, asthma, and diabetes.

         However, it is the subcategory of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that will probably impact your classroom most frequently. ADHD is defined as a "persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development."

         Because of the wide parameters of the other health impairment category, the bulk of this section will be devoted to those students with ADHD, as they are the highest incidence condition in this category. They are also the students most likely to be impacted negatively by their condition; students with epilepsy, asthma and other conditions in the other health impairment category may have little or no adverse impact on educational performance when their conditions are properly medicated.

         The U.S. Department of Education reports 5,971,945 students receiving special education services in the 2003-2004 school year. Of that number, 7.6% or 452,045 students, received special education services based on a classification of other heath impairments.

         Because IDEA does not specifically define or count incidence of AD/HD, the exact prevalence of the condition is difficult to determine. However, it is estimated that from 2 to 9% of all children are identified as having the condition.

         IDEA lists a number of different chronic health problems as possible reasons for the other health impairment label, including asthma, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, cardiac conditions, hemophilia, leukemia, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and nephritis. It would be impossible to list all of the possible characteristics under such a large disability category. The primary issue in other health impairments, whatever the condition, the resulting symptoms could adversely impact the student's educational performance. If a child has diabetes, but it is controlled through medication and does not impact learning, special education services are not appropriate for that child.

         Students with ADHD are categorized according to their characteristics into three distinct subtypes: predominantly inattentive ADHD, predominately hyperactive-impulsive AD/HD and combined type AD/HD.

    Students with the predominately inattentive type of ADHD will exhibit six or more of the following characteristics:

    • Does not pay attention to detail and often makes mistakes across a number of activities
    • Has difficulty maintaining attention during activities
    • Does not complete schoolwork or other assigned activities
    • Has difficulty with organization of activities
    • Avoids activities that require mental effort or concentration
    • Loses materials necessary to complete assignments
    • Easily distracted
    • Forgetful in many activities

    Students with the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD will exhibit six or more of the following characteristics:

    • Fidgets or squirms in seat
    • Gets up or leaves seat frequently during class
    • Runs about or climbs when inappropriate, and is generally restless
    • Difficulty in engaging in play activities quietly
    • Talks excessively
    • Blurts out answers
    • Has difficulty waiting for their turn
    • Interrupts others

         Students with the combined type of ADHD will have some features of both the inattentive type and the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD. This is the largest population of students carrying the ADHD label.