IEP FAQs: Can More than one Disability Be Listed in an IEP?

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I was told that only one disability can be documented in the IEP. My son has an IEP for ADHD. He also has a sleep disorder. After our high school started block scheduling this year, my son missed so many of his first two classes that he fell far behind. He had to go to part time status.

The school refused to provide any support for him saying it wasn’t in his IEP.

I wanted to add it to the IEP. I provided the school with all the doctors information and notes documenting the condition. I was told that only one disability can be documented in the IEP.

Answer – of course. More than one disability can be documented in your child’s IEP. (Feel free to vote in the poll at the end of this article.)

Can a child be blind and in a wheelchair?

Can a child have a specific learning disability, a severe visual impairment, an orthopedic impairment – and ADHD?

The IEP is an individualized program based on your child’s unique needs. The special ed statute (IDEA) and regulations do not say that a child’s IEP can be limited to only one disability or need.

In the law it is clear that a child does not even have to have a label to be eligible for services.

Before getting into a battle with the school, you need to get a much better understanding of the law and your rights. As the parent of a child with a disability, you represent your child’s interests. You need to know what the law actually says and how to find answers to your questions in the IDEA statute and regulations.

School personnel’s knowledge of the law is often based what they were told in a training program or by “word of mouth.” Like parents, few educators question what they are told. Very few school staff have read the law.

If you don’t have a copy of IDEA 2004 and the regulations, get one now!

You can download most of these documents from the Wrightslaw site. Click here for an overview of the IDEA statute.

You’ll also find answers to your questions in the Commentary to the Special Education Regulations. In the Commentary, the Department explains why a regulation was changed, not changed, and often clarifies the “plain meaning” of a term.


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73 Comments on "IEP FAQs: Can More than one Disability Be Listed in an IEP?"

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I need help getting the school to adhere to the school till 21 rule. She will graduate this year and cannot read or do math. She cant identify letters or numbers. Any suggestions?

The regulations state your childs unique needs have to be met.
Every diagnosis your child has is part of his/hers unique needs which should be written into their IEP. One can not just address
part of the problem, the whole child has to be looked in order to see growth.

It’s a very frustrating situtation, when you have too fight the “system” to get your child tested, and yes, they don’t read anything. When you have a counselor tell you “this is my field, then watch them ignore all the laws, it makes it that much more difficult to get your child the help he/she needs.
Unfortuneatly, the child is most often the loser in this.

My son was recently evaluated for an IEP for ADHD, and it was determined that no IEP would be assigned. In order to understand the track record my school has in creating IEPs for its students, is it within my rights to request access to public records about the number of requested and granted IEPs from my school and the criteria which allowed the IEP’s to be granted to some students?

Does anyone have a sample IEP for a child with Type 1 diabetes? We are having issues at school with no one trained to watch her. The law requires a trained person but does not say what trained is. So we are sunk right now. Our lawyer said to get a IEP as it has more teeth than 504. However the sp. ed. department is resistant. I need to know how to secure an IEP. Ideas?


At least in Ohio, every preschool student who receives specialized services MUST undergo a transition evaluation before entering kindergarten. This is essentially a reevaluation to determine whether they qualify under a school-age category. A new IEP would be written after that evaluation is complete.

My 5 year old son is in a special day class for SLI and he has type 1 diabetes and his doctor put a request in writing to provide him with an individual aide. I asked for an IEP to discuss the possibilities of having his won aide and the principal let me know that they don’t have to do as the doctor has asked because that is not what IEPs are for. Yet, he also explained that a 504 wouldn’t help him at all either. What should I do.

The diagnosis that qualified my son under IDEA was ADD through the OHI door. However, he also has dysgraphia & dyscalculia, so I wanted academic goals in the IEP to address writing, spelling and math. School told me the IEP could only address the qualifying disability, that is until he failed the writing and math TAKs tests – now the school is interested in academic goals. Glad we’re getting there, but a shameful waste of time and hardship for my son.

If a preschool student had an school aide for support in the classroom, but now the student is going into kindergarden. Will that IEP still serve and the school district must supply an aide for the new school year until a new IEP is written?

If a student has an IEP in a classroom, what is the classroom teacher’s responsibility to that child and also to the rest of the class? For example, if a student has 4 IEP’s and the teacher has to spend 4 times as much time for 1 IEP and then it doubles for each additional IEP, when is that teacher supposed to actually teach the rest of the students in the classroom? It seems to me the rest of the class is not going to get any learning if the classroom teacher has to spend so much time with the one student.


CFR 300.306 (c) Procedures for determining eligibility and educational need:

(2) If a determination is made that a child has a disability and needs special education and related services, an IEP must be developed for the child in accordance with Sec. Sec. 300.320 through 300.324.

HELP, My daughter has ADHD, sensery intergration disorder, ODD, PDD, and major depressive disorder and school says she dos’nt need a IEP. yeah right! please help. Has anyone else been in this situation? Do you have ideas? Is there a law saying she needs to have an that I can refer to, saying you need to help and give my child a IEP because she is falling thrugh the cracks? HELP!!!!!!

Thank you. I learn a great deal from you.
Keep posting, please.

My son’t IEP says autistic. I know he has multiple disorders from his medical diagnosis, but the child study team didn’t identify the rest. Can I have them added based on his medical diagnosis. I think that’s why he’s not getting everything he needs. When I questioned the team, they said I wanted things for him that were not education-related. Like, social skills training, occupational therapy, riding therapy for sensory integration. Should I go back and insist? Thank you, I love this site. I may never stop reading!

My child has several disabilities stemming from a neurological condition. Among these are ADHD, sensory integration disorders, speech and constructional dyspraxia, dysgraphia. Even has not been evaluated in all areas of suspected disability because no such professional exists in our area to evaluate (audiological processing). The school system labeled MMR and pulled speech services due to this (they claim child reached highest expected level of performance). This is common in our area.

Lauren: Take a look at 20 U.S.C. 1412 about Child Find on p. 72 and footnote, and 300.111 on pp. 206-207, Special Education Law

As a special education teacher, I know that a child certainly can have more than one disability. Sometimes I wonder if we are applying too many labels, but I understand that labels are mostly there to help direct services. I am wondering about the one statement in bold that says, “In the law it is clear that the child does not even have to have a label to be eligible for services.” This is confusing to me…are you referring to a 504 plan? I would love to be able to qualify a child for services even without a disability. Where can I find this language in the law?

my son is diagnosed with ahd and odd

In my experience as a psychologist, the IEP is written for the child’s needs as identified, the evaluation is the where the classification is determined. On the evaluation is where we list all the areas where a child may need service. As others have pointed out, there are many instances where children have multiple needs. Otherwise we wouldn’t have related services if speech, occupational therapists, etc, because we would only address the main concern. Where I live, there aren’t any ‘labels’ on the IEP at all, you have to look at the evaluation data to see which of the 13 eligibility catergories was considered. Therefore in this case, the child’s medical needs could be mentioned in the IEP with no problems, as it is something that adversely impacts his education.

As an Educational Advocate and parent of a child with multiple challenges I have experienced years of IEPs and misperceptions. An IEP should address any disabilities that may interfere with your child’s ability to learn. While there may be one primary disability listed, by no means does this mean it can be the only one. Good Luck.

I speak as both a special needs consultant and the parent of an adult child (now gainfully emloyed as a hydraulics technician on a nuclear submarine) who benefitted from a properly written and implemented IEP. If a child exhibits more than one disability that will inhibit him/her from “making effective progress” without the appropriate modifications and/or accommodations, each disability with the corrective action must be written into the IEP and implemented as prescribed.

My daughter has PDD, Dysgrapia, Verbal Apraxia, and Motor Dyspraxia and ADHD. Her IEP lable is EMH. With having that lable being in the duval county school district, I was told that she did not quailify for small group setting and autism program they have untill her lable changes. They said they have to do a reevaluation on her IEP before they can change it. Why can’t they just add PDD to her lable and send her over to the school with the program? I gave them all the documents that have her diagnosis on them.

Can a child be emotionally disturbed and mentally retarded? Are there cases to support this? What about emotional disturbance and learning disabled? I know that the IEP should reflect the needs of each individual child, but how common could this be?

My Zac has been diagnosed with: MMR, ADHD, Severe mixed language disorder, PDD/NOS, ODD ,OCD and Tourettes. But he is considered MMR, Period. So none of the other conditions are addressed. I simply do not know how to get it through to the school to help him in these other areas! By the way, he receives two SPED classes a day , period, regular ed the rest of the day. One fifteen minute session once a week with the school counselor.

I am a moderate/severe special education teacher. If a child has more than one disability (i.e. the student has learning disorder and the student is hard of hearing) the pysch assessing the student may document both disabilities. Since hard of hearing students are considered low-incidence, this would benefit both student and school because they would receive special funding (at least in the state of California). The psych is not REQUIRED to list more than one disability since the primary disability qualifies the student for special education services. However, the IEP is not legally limited to one disability. The decision to list more than one disability is left to the discretion of the psych doing the assessment. However, it is against the law to tell someone that only one disability may be listed on an IEP.

My son has autism and Type 1 diabetes. Both are documented in his IEP. Indeed, both MUST be documented. If we left out the diabetes, it could lead to life threatening consequences. If we left out his autism, he would not receive the accommodations he needs to be academically successful.

You might approach this by being sure the school had the appropriate documentation, and it sounds like you did. Then you might use the “Columbo” approach, asking questions about how the specific consequences of the sleep disorder will be addressed.