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Definitions and Characteristics


Carlos steps imageEach of us feels symptoms similar to those who have "disabilities" during our lifetimes. We may have periods of physical fatigue, poor attention or sadness. When these symptoms are long-lasting and interfere with our ability to perform a basic and necessary activity, they may be diagnosed as a disability. In the case of the symptoms above, the "disability" might be chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit disorder or depression. It is not uncommon for an individual to have more than one disability, such as a learning disability and an anxiety disorder, which occurs secondary to the learning disability.

Although it is sometimes helpful to consider classifications of disabilities, within each classification there is a wide degree of actual "disability" depending on the extent to which the individual can and the environment allows the student to compensate. Therefore, caution should be used when developing modifications to instruction and accommodations for students with disabilities based on the type of disability. What is needed to ensure educational "access" may differ widely between individuals with similar disabilities. Each category of disability and individual within that category requires different accommodations in order to gain full access to educational opportunities.

Below is a brief description of each category of disability.

 


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