Low-Incidence Disabilities

Students with low-incidence disabilities make up 20% of all students with disabilities. Friend and Bursuck (2012) say students with low-incidence disabilities:
  • have received some type of special education service since birth
  • need the same attention as students without disabilities
  • includes students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities (IQ < 50)
  • may have a developmental delay

Low-Incidence disabilities include the following IDEA categories:

  • Mental Retardation - although listed as a category under federal law, other titles have been adapted for this disability, which shows significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior, manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance
  • Hearing Impairments - permanent or fluctuation impairment in hearing but not deafness
  • Orthopedic Impairments - includes impairments caused by
    • congenital anomalies - clubfoot, absence of limg
    • disease - bone tuberculosis
    • cerebral palsy
    • amputations
    • fractures or burns resulting in contractures
  • Visual Impairments including Blindness - includes both sight and total blindness even with correction
  • Deaf-Blindness - combination of hearing and visual impairments which results in severe communication and other developmental and educational problems, in that a child cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or blindness.
  • Deafness - hearing impairment even with amplification that adversely affects linguistic processing through hearing.
  • Other Health Impairments - Having limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems.  Includes
    • tuberculosis
    • rheumatic fever
    • sickle cell anemia
    • many others (click NICHCY website in link section)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury - acquired injury to brain by external force.  Does not include congenital or degenerative brain injuries
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders - developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction.
  • Multiple Disabilities - cannot be accommodated by special education services solely for one impairment

General accommodations and modifications for students with Low-Incidence disabilities:

    • Individualize - accommodations will vary from student to student.  Some students may be incredibly gifted in traditional subjects. 
    • Make changes to classroom environment - Classroom arrangement is crucial for students with physical disabilities.  Students with hearing, visual, and physical impairments require adequate space for efficient movement throughout the classroom.  Materials needs to be placed for easier access.  Appropriate seating arrangements and orientation to the classroom and school may be necessary.
  • Match expectations to curricular objectives and instruction - goals and expectations may not be the same as students without disabilities, but may be related to the course standards and competencies
  • Allow scheduled breaks - Students with low-incidence disabilities may get exhausted or need time alone (Autism spectrum disorder). 
    • Predictable schedules - Students with low-incidence disabilities need predictable, structured routines.  For students with Autism spectrum disorder, this may help reduce behavioral issues.