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Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services

IPAS > Special Education > What is Special Education? What is Special Education?

Special education describes an educational alternative that focuses on teaching students with academic, behavioral, health, or physical needs beyond those met by traditional educational programs or techniques.

Alert! Important Information for High School Students with Disabilities Leaving School! If your child or loved one is leaving high school, and was enrolled in special education services, he or she may immediately be eligible for services funded by a program called the Support Services Medicaid Waiver.  Click here for information about the Support Services Medicaid Waiver and how you can apply.

Who is eligible for special education?

Children with disabilities from birth to age 22 may be eligible for special education. Children up to age three receive services through the Infants and Toddlers program, provided at home, daycare, or at school. Preschool children may receive school-based therapy services in their home. School-age children usually receive special education services in public or private schools.

A child is considered educationally handicapped or disabled if he or she is having trouble learning in school because of mental, physical and/or emotional disabilities. A student must be evaluated and determined eligible for special education. A student may be found eligible for special education and related services in one or more of the thirteen (13) disability categories:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Blind or Low Vision
  • Cognitive Disability
  • Deaf or Hard of Hearing 
  • Deaf-Blind
  • Developmental delay
  • Emotional Disability
  • Language or Speech Impairment
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

For more detailed information on the individual categores, see 511 IAC 7-41-1 through 7-41-13 (in Article 7)