Physical and Health Disabilities
What is the difference between a physical disability and a health disability?
A physical disability, which IDEA calls orthopedic impairments, are when a child has a problem with the function or structure of their body it impacts them so significantly, their educational performance is affected. These types of impairments can be caused by diseases, like bone tuberculosis, or other causes, like cerebral palsy.
A health disability, or other health impairments, are when a child has health needs that affect them in which they have limited strength vitality, or alertedness, therefore causing the ability to learn very difficult for them. These types of impairments could be acute or chronic health problems, like asthma, or adversely affect a child's educational performance.
Types of Physical and Health Disabilities
Neuromotor Impairments- conditions caused by damage to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Examples of this are:
- Seizure disorders (Epilepsy)
- Cerebral palsy (CP)
- Spinal cord disorders ( Spina bifida/spinal cord injuries)
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Muscular/Skeletal Conditions- impairments that affect the limbs or muscles. Examples of this are:
- Juvenile arthritis
- Limb deficiencies
- Skeletal disorders (Dwarfism)
- Osteogenisis imperfect or brittle bone disease
Chronic Illnesses- a long-lasting condition that can be controlled, but not cured. Examples of this are:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Congenital heart defects
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Childhood cancer (Leukemia/ Lymphomas)
- Blood disorders (Sickle cell anemia/ Hemophilia)
Infectious Diseases- illnesses that can be passed from person-to-person and can be sometimes cured, but not always. Examples of this are:
- Rubella Cytomegalovirus
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
- Hepatitis B
Living with a Physical Disability (Cerebral Palsy)
Living with a Health Disability (Diabetes)
Prevalence of Physical and Health Disabilities
In the United States, the combined prevalence rate of physical and health disabilities is very low. Out of the 11% of students who receive special education services, 0.09% of these students have a physical disability, while 1.38% of these students have a health disability. The top conditions of these categories are:
- Asthma (7-10%)
- Type1 diabetes (0.26%)
- Epilepsy (0.3%)
- Cerebral palsy (0.3%)
- Sickle cell anemia (0.02% of all children, 0.2% of African American children)
Accomodations for Physical and Health Disabilities in the Classroom
Universal Design Features
- Remove hazards and barriers to movement
- Improve classroom traffic patterns
- Create flexible seating arrangements
- Provide safe and secure space to store AT devices
- Extended time
- Abbreviated assignments
- Flexible due dates
- Note takers
- Provide learning accommodations in testing situations
- Allow flexible scheduling and alternative setting
- Read or simplify directions
- Read items to student
- Use distance education
- Skype or teleconference important lectures and class discussions
- Establish communities of practice
- Create virtual classrooms
- Substitute word processing for handwriting
- Permit voice-to-text options
- Use e-texts
- Special or adaptive pens
- Book holders or page turners
Adapted computer keys
Accommodations for Physical and Health Disabilities in the Home
The use of technology in the classroom can be carried on to the home environment, especially for students with physical and health disabilities who can’t always make it to school because of a severe illness.
Distance Technology, or accessing general curriculum with technology at home or hospital, can be achieved through…
Establishing communities of practice
Skyping lectures and class discussions
- Creating virtual classrooms (i.e.. Blackboard)
This website can be beneficial for parents and teachers who want to learn more information about what it means to have a physical or health disability and this site also provides many different links for more information explaining different disabilities and accommodations for children.
This website can be beneficial for teachers who want to learn what the best way is to teach and interact with students with physical or health disabilities. This site gives examples of certain disabilities, their weaknesses or limitations, and some possible accommodations that the teacher can provide.
- Center For Parent Information and Resources/ (2010, Sept.). Support, modifications, and accommodations for students. Retrieved from http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/accommodations/.
- National Center on Accessible Instructional Material. (2015, Jan. 30). Physical disability. Retrieved from http://aim.cast.org/learn/disabilityspecific/physical#.VUqoMhtFBMs.
- Smith, D., & Tyler, N. (2014). Introduction to contemporary special education: New horizons. Boston: Pearson Education.