Eligibility for special education services requires a condition and an educational need that necessitate services which only special education can offer.
Intellectual Disability (ID) is another of those conditions. Intellectual Disability is characterized by substantial limitations in cognitive functioning and in adaptive behavior. Cognitive functioning involves reasoning, learning, and problem solving skills. Adaptive behavior involves everyday social and practical skills.
Per 34 Code of Federal Regulations 300.8 c 6 plus 19 Texas Administrative Code 89.1040 c 5, 5A, and 5B, consideration of ID eligibility is based on two things. These include “a significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning” paired with deficits in at least two areas of adaptive behavior listed below:
- Functional academic skills
- Home living
- Social & interpersonal skills
- Use of community resources
Additionally, these issues must manifest themselves before age 18 and as a result must adversely affect educational performance.
The process of how a child meets criteria for this eligibility requires many steps. A diagnostician gives and analyzes standardized individually administered cognitive and achievement assessments, noting strengths and weaknesses. “Significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning” is defined as “an overall test score of cognitive ability that is at least two standard deviations below the mean, when taking into consideration the standard error of measurement of the test.” In lay terms, a standard score on a cognitive assessment of 70 or below may indicate an Intellectual Disability if other criteria (from a variety of sources and individuals) are met.
Standard Scores in the Lower Ranges
Furthermore, adaptive behavior is generally measured using a standardized assessment. Teacher and parent give information about the child using either rating scales or interviews. The student’s abilities are then measured in comparison with other children in the same age range. An individual’s strengths and weaknesses are shared with parents and school staff to develop a system of supports in the school setting.
Especially relevant resources include:
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities