Physical and Health Disabilities

Chapter 10- By: Chris Dillon

Exceptionality Description

Physical- Physical disabilities are labeled as orthopedic impairments that result in special health care needs.

Must meet 2 requirements

>Be severe

>Affect educational performance adversely

Health- Students with health disabilities have health situations that are precarious, meaning their ability to learn is lessened or compromised.

Must meet 3 requirements

>Limited strength, vitality or alertness

>Is due to criteria or acute health problems

>Affects educational performance adversely

Prevalence Rate-

.09% of students who have a disability have a physical impairment.

1.38% of students who have a disability have a health impairment.

Characteristics vary greatly depending on which disability is present.


>Seizure Disorder- Students can have many convulsions or seizures depending on what sets them off

>Scoliosis- Curvature of the spine, limits students' ability to move

Physical disabilities don't usually impact the student's ability to learn.


>Diabetes- lifelong disease resulting in low blood sugar, students may experience excessive hunger, thirst or blurry vision. Need insulin shots every day to regulate the body.

>HIV/AIDS- potentially fatal viral infection, requires medical attention and sanitary procedures.

Health disabilities may require the student to leave the classroom to get medication or the student may be too sick to go to school.

Students With Diabetes: What we're about

Instructional Practices

Physical and health disabilities can affect a child's ability to learn if the student doesn't feel like they're a normal child. If a student has diabetes for example, they might feel excluded if they have to leave in the middle of class to get an insulin shot.


Teachers can do many things to accommodate students with physical or health disabilities.

>Provide easy access to seating for physically disabled student so they don't have to go around bags or tables to find a seat.

>Have a notetaker or audio device for students who are physically unable to make it to class so they may still receive the notes for the day.

>Give students with health disabilities more time on examination so if they have to leave, they can take their time getting the service they need.

>Use assisted technology for students so that they may participate

>>>Skype, for example, can allow students to be in the classroom even if they aren't physically there. Computers also can be programmed to use voice instead of typing if the student can't move their hands.

>Flexible attendance requirements so students don't have to worry about coming to class.

>Alternative testing arrangements so they can take the test on another day if necessary or in a different environment that'll better suit them.

>Environments that limit fatigue and injury so students with a physical or health disability don't put themselves in danger.

Home Strategies

Here are some strategies that parents can use at home for a child with a physical or health disability:

> Clean up clutter around the house so it is easy for a student who has a physical disability and who might need a wheelchair get around the house.

> Provide assistive technology for students in the home like an alternative keyboard so students with a physical disability can do their work more easily.

> Have guests use gloves or use extreme cleaning habits when they come over so a students who has a health disability like HIV doesn't catch anything more since their body systems aren't as functional.

Web Resources

This website serves as a guide for teachers trying to figure out ways to teach students who have a physical or health disability. It provides many tools that a teacher can use and it even quizzes teachers on what they learned!

This website is targeted for parents, specifically mothers of children with disabilities. It has many sources that parents can use to find any information they need about their child's disability, including physical and health disabilities.

Showbie App

This app allows students and teachers to engage in an online classroom. This is a great way to allow students who cannot make it to class the opportunity to still learn. The students who do make it to class have a fun alternative to learning and students with a physical disability can use assistive technology to their benefit through this app.


Greenspan, S. (n.d.). Working With Children Who Are Physically Challenged. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from

Smith, D. D. & Tyler, N. C. (2014). Introduction to contemporary special education. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Teaching Students with Physical and Health Impairments. (2010). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from