Vincent Caballero

Non-Attorney-Special Education Advocate

Special Needs

The term special needs is a catch-all phrase which can refer to a vast array of diagnoses and/or disabilities. In my career as a special education advocate, I have helped with a vast array of disabilities from birth to 22 years of age IDEA Part C & B.

Responsive image Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act there are 13 eligibility categories:

• Autism
• Deaf-blindness
• Deaf
• Developmental Delay
• Hearing Impaired
• Orthopedic Impairment

• Speech and Language Impairment
• Multiple Disabilities
• Emotional Disturbance
• Traumatic Brain Injury
• Specific Learning Disability
• Other Health Impairment

Essentially, categories of disability that qualify a student for special education require that the condition “adversely affect educational performance." However, even though grades and test scores may be one measure of educational performance, rules do not require poor grades and test scores to find an adverse affect on educational performance. In addition, schools must consider how a child’s emotional, health or other conditions adversely affect non-academic performance in social, behavioral and other nonacademic areas.

To go one step further, the purposes of IDEA includes ensuring that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.
[34 CFR 300.1(a)] [20 U.S.C. 1400(d)(1)(A)]

Pictured at right are my son and wife at graduation. Our son is a young man with Autism who has matured as an adult who works, pays taxes, lives independently, and enjoys a fully enriching life with friends and family. All due to the collaborative efforts of his family, the local education agency, regional center and service professionals who relentlessly invested their time and energy.