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Special Education in Texas: The Difference between Diagnosis and Disability

Diagnosis vs. DisabilityThis is a confusing point of Special Education for many teachers and parents. Students may be diagnosed by a doctor outside of school as having a certain diagnosis, however students may only qualify for Special Education services if they fall under one of the disability categories set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. Moreover, each state has the ability to define those categories as they see fit, as long as they retain the key elements of IDEA.

The federal law (IDEA) uses the following terms to define a “child with a disability”:

  • Autism,
  • Deaf-blindness,
  • Deafness,
  • Emotional disturbance,
  • A hearing impairment,
  • Intellectual Disability,
  • An orthopedic impairment,
  • Other health impairment,
  • A specific learning disability,
  • A speech or language impairment,
  • Traumatic brain injury,
  • A visual impairment including blindness, or
  • Multiple disabilities.

Texas uses the following list of disability categories to determine if a student (aged 3-21) is eligible for special education and related services:

  • Auditory Impairment (AI)
  • Autism (AU)
  • Deaf-Blindness (DB)
  • Emotional Disturbance (ED)
  • Intellectual Disability (ID) (formerly called Mental Retardation)
  • Multiple Disabilities (MD)
  • Orthopedic Impairment (OI)
  • Other Health Impairment (OHI)
  • Learning Disability (LD)
  • Speech Impairment (SI)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Visual Impairment (VI)
  • Non-Categorical Early Childhood (NCEC)

Disability is determined through evaluation by a licensed school psychologist, and accepted by a committee that includes the student’s parent or legal guardian during the initial Admission, Review and Dismissal committee meeting. If a child doesn’t qualify for Special Education services, they may still be eligible for services to be provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to ensure that their individual educational needs are met as adequately as those of non-disabled students.


Nominated for TWO Liebster Awards!

I want to thank Mandi at Life with Middle Schoolers and Danielle at Oh, My Science Teacher! for both nominating me for a Liebster Award! I feel like I must be doing something right. This award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It helps other bloggers get to know us “newbies” and helps circulate great new blogs for all to read!

There are a few rules/guidelines:

  1. You have to link back to the blog(s) that nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions posted by the person that nominated you.*
  3. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5 more blogs that have less than 200 followers.
  5. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answers.

11 Questions…Answered

*Since I was nominated by two different bloggers, I’m going to pick a selection of 11 questions from each of their blogs! It takes a long time to answer these questions!

1. What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love to sit outside at Starbucks with a Pumpkin Spice latte, people watching and enjoying the crisp fall air.

2. What’s your favorite part of starting the school year?

I love meeting my students and meeting the teachers that I will be working with. There is so much positive energy at the beginning of the year. I wish I could bottle it up and save it for February!

3. What’s the worst thing about starting the school year?

Getting up early and getting everybody back into a our school routine.

4. What advice would you give to teachers for starting the new school year?

Take the time to organize yourself now because three weeks from now, you won’t have time! Putting in the extra work to plan and prepare seems tedious, but the payoff is huge. Many new teachers skip the planning part because they think that they have it “all in their head”. You don’t. You are a better teacher when you plan.

5. What is your favorite professional book?

I am constantly referring to my book “Behavior Management” by John Maag.

6. Where did you study and what was your degree in?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I also have a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, plus I’m just 3 credits away from another Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Art Education.

7. How many years’ experience do you have?

I will be starting my 4th year of teaching. I also spent also spent 3 year working as a para-educator which was trial by fire and a great learning experience. I have a lot of respect for paras.

8. What is your opinion on the Common Core?

I have lived and taught in two of the five states (Nebraska and Texas) that don’t use Common Core, so I’m not as familiar with it as I probably should be. I am anxious to learn more about it.

9. Give me a book recommendation and tell us why.

The best book I read this summer was “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer. I love books that turn familiar stories on their head, and make you look at it from a different perspective. This book is part of the Lunar Chronicles. I also love series because I when I finish one book, I can move on to the next one!

10. Coffee VS tea?

Coffee, for sure! My Verismo machine will definitely be accompanying me to school this year.

11. Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

The glass is always half-full. There is no point in going through life any other way!

11 Random Facts

  1. I start every morning with a cup of coffee.
  2. I drive a stick shift.
  3. My first major in college was Biology.
  4. I recently moved to from Nebraska to Texas.
  5. I have at least five machines/methods for making coffee in my house.
  6. I have travelled across country with two small children in the car and made it home alive.
  7. I hate high-heels.
  8. I hoard fabric.
  9. My husband is from Brazil.
  10. I have a basic proficiency in Portuguese.
  11. My favorite station on Songza is “Sunshine Indie Pop”!

Bloggers you should follow

  1. Surviving and Thriving: Teaching Middle School Social Studies
  2. Middle School Stories
  3. Middle School Teacher to Literacy Coach

11 Questions…Asked

  1. What made you decide to start a blog?
  2. What made you go into teaching?
  3. How many years have your been teaching?
  4. What do you teach?
  5. What would you do if you weren’t a teacher?
  6. Have you ever been to another country?
  7. Do you speak any other languages?
  8. What advice do you have for new teachers?
  9. What is your favorite lesson?
  10. What is your favorite app or technology for the classroom?
  11. What was the best thing you did this summer?


WelcomeWelcome to my blog! Whether you are a Special Education teacher, or just someone interested in education,  I hope that you will find the information here helpful. This blog is growing and changing based on current education issues, and reader interest. Please let me know what you are interested in knowing more about. If you would like me to add your education blog to my site, email me and I will make it happen.  Together we can build a great meeting place for Special Education teachers and General Education teachers to connect and collaborate with each other in ways that can only improve our teaching and foster learning in our students. Thanks for reading, sharing and contributing. I can’t wait to see what we come up with this year!


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