Special Education

Glossary, Categories and Definitions


More About Special Education provides students, parents/guardians and teachers with a host of helpful information. In this section, you will get a better understanding of the terminology associated with special education, including the different categories of exceptionalities.

Glossary 

The Education Act contains the following definitions, which pertain to special education:

Special education program means, in respect of an exceptional pupil, an educational program that is based on and modified by results of continuous assessment and evaluation and that includes a plan containing specific objectives and an outline of educational services that meets the needs of the exceptional pupil.

Special Education services means facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program.

Exceptional pupil means a pupil whose behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities are such that he/she is considered to need placement in a special education program by a committee.

Categories of Exceptionalities in Rainbow Schools

The Ministry of Education has provided us with details of the categories and definitions of exceptionalities for students in Rainbow Schools. The following lists the multiple student exceptionalities and describes the individual characteristics associated with each.

Behaviour

A learning disorder characterized by specific behaviour problems over such a period of time, and to such a marked degree, and to such a nature, as to adversely affect educational performance, and that may be accompanied by one or more of the following:  a) an inability to build or to maintain interpersonal relationships; b) excessive fears or anxieties; c) a tendency to compulsive reaction; or d) an inability to learn that cannot be traced to intellectual, sensory, or other health factors, or any combination thereof.

Communication - Autism

A learning disorder characterized by specific behaviour problems over such a period of time, and to such a marked degree, and to such a nature, as to adversely affect educational performance, and that may be accompanied by one or more of the following:  a) an inability to build or to maintain interpersonal relationships; b) excessive fears or anxieties; c) a tendency to compulsive reaction; or d) an inability to learn that cannot be traced to intellectual, sensory, or other health factors, or any combination thereof.

Communication - Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

An impairment characterized by deficits in language and speech development because of a diminished or non-existent auditory response to sound.

Communication - Language Impairment

A learning disorder characterized by an impairment in comprehension and/or use of verbal communication or the written or other symbol system of communication, which may be associated with neurological, psychological, physical, or sensory factors, and which may: a) involve one or more of the form, content, and function of language in communication; and b) include one or more of the following -language delay, dysfluency, voice and articulation development, which may or may not be organically or functionally based.


Communication - Speech Impairment

A disorder in language formulation that may be associated with neurological, psychological, physical, or sensory factors; that involves perceptual motor aspects of transmitting oral messages; and that may be characterized by impairment in articulation, rhythm, and stress.

Communication - Learning Disability

A learning disorder evident in both academic and social situations that involves one or more of the processes necessary for the proper use of spoken language or the symbols of communication, and that is characterized by a condition that:

  1. Is not primarily the result of - impairment of vision, impairment of hearing, physical disability, developmental disability, primary emotional disturbance, cultural difference and

  2. results in a significant discrepancy between academic achievement and assessed intellectual ability, with deficits in one or more of the following - receptive language (listening, reading), language processing (thinking, conceptualizing, integrating), expressive language (talking, spelling, writing), mathematical computations

  3. may be associated with one or more conditions diagnosed as a perceptual handicap, a brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, developmental aphasia.

Intellectual - Giftedness

An unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth and breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular school program to satisfy the level of educational potential indicated.

Intellectual - Mild Intellectual Disability

A learning disorder characterized by a) an ability to profit educationally within a regular class with the aid of considerable curriculum modification and supportive service b) an inability to profit educationally within a regular class because of slow intellectual development c) a potential for academic learning, independent social adjustment, and economic self-support.

Intellectual - Developmental Disability

A severe learning disorder characterized by a) an inability to profit from a special education program for students with mild intellectual disabilities because of slow intellectual development b) an ability to profit from a special education program that is designed to accommodate slow intellectual development c) a limited potential for academic learning, independent social adjustment, and economic self-support.

Physical - Physical Disability

A condition of such severe physical limitation or deficiency as to require special assistance in learning situations to provide the opportunity for educational achievement equivalent to that of pupils without exceptionalities who are of the same age or developmental level.

Physical - Blind and Low Vision

A condition of partial or total impairment of sight or vision that, even with correction, affects educational performance adversely.

Multiple Exceptionalities

A combination of learning or other disorders, impairments, or physical disabilities, that is of such nature as to require, for educational achievement, the services of one or more teachers holding qualifications in special education and the provision of support services appropriate for such disorders, impairments, or disabilities.

No Designation

The profile of the student does not meet current Ministry of Education and Training definitions of exceptionality.