Physically Impaired: Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury
Students with physical impairments in most cases receive their special education services in their home school accessing the general curriculum with their non-disabled peers. Related services including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language therapy, counseling, special transportation, use of assistive technology devices, and nursing services are provided using itinerant or school based personnel. Collier County Public Schools also identifies cluster school sites that offer more intensive and specialized services to students with severe and profound needs. Inclusive educational practices are considered for all students and implemented to meet individual student needs.
Orthopedic impairments includes those impairments caused by a congenital anomaly (e.g. clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g. poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns which cause contractures).
The intensity of services provided to students varies based on individual needs of the student. Persons with orthopedic impairments are usually able to attain a substantial degree of independence but, in some cases, may need considerable assistance.
Important advances have taken place in the last 15 years which have had a great effect on the education for children with orthopedic impairments. Advanced technology, including computers and engineering devices, have been applied to their needs and technological innovations have been developed in the areas of speech and communication, self-care, and adapting living arrangements and work sites.
Other Health Impairment
Students with Other Health Impairments have limited strength, vitality or alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes, which adversely affects a child's educational performance. Students who are eligible for special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as "other health impaired" have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) developed to specify appropriate services to meet their individual needs.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Students with TBI have an injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment, or both, which adversely affects educational performance. The term applies to mild, moderate or severe open and closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
When children with TBI return to school, their educational and emotional needs are likely to be very different from they were prior to the injury. Careful planning for school re-entry (including establishing linkages between the trauma center/rehabilitation hospital and the IEP special education team at the school) and assessment of current strengths is provided to meet the educational needs of the student to build opportunities for success and to maximize the student’s strengths. Every TBI case presents differently and requires a continuum of services to meet individual student needs.
For students recently injured and still under medical care, educational services may be provided at the hospital or in the home through itinerant teachers and/or the use of specialized telecommunications. The transition of students back into their home school is coordinated by district staff and the receiving school.
Jocelyn Schafer, ESE Coordinator