Can an IEP List More than One Disability?

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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.

Answerof course. The IEP is required to meet all the child’s needs. Many children with special needs have more than one disability. The IEP should document all the child’s disabilities.

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.

The law is clear — a child does not need to have a “label” to be eligible for an IEP and special education services. 

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

School personnel’s knowledge about the law and rights under special education laws is often based on what they were told in a training program or by “word of mouth.” Like parents, very 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 find answers to your questions in the law – IDEA, in the federal and state special education regulations, and the Commentary to the Special Education Regulations. In the Commentary, the Education Department explains why they decided to change or not change a regulation. The Commentary often clarifies the “plain meaning” of a term

  1. If a student meets the requirements for two different classifications and an LEA decides only one is the primary disability but the parents disagree with the said “primary” and want to continue with the second classification instead, can the district then decide not to give any services because they declined services under the “primary classification”?

  2. My child has an IEP since prek. His classification was multi disabled prek child. When he went to kindergarten they changed his classification saying communication impaired only? I questioned it and i was told they only list one? Same with 1st grade. They told me the same. My child had expressive language disorder/apraxia, orthotic impairment, auditory impairment and physical impairment, visual impairment along with communication impairment.

    I was told recently by a dr that my child can have dual classifications in his IEP. One is addressed as multi disabled for all issues except communication impairment which would be a seperate classification but both cab be listed. Legally it should be so how can i make them fix it. He is going into second grade soon.

    • Shana, The key issue under federal rules is that the IEP is to identify and address all of a child’s needs, regardless of the disability/disabilities listed.

  3. My thoughts about this is that ADHD is categorized as health under the disability categories and I would imagine that sleep disorder also falls under that category. So while your child might have multiple disabilities, it might still just be one disability category. What’s important is that language in the IEP refers to all of his needs and that schedule modifications and other accommodations are made.

  4. Our child already has an IEP and was diagnosed with ASD. Can the IEP address the educational needs of ASD without having to meet the initial criteria to qualify for ASD under special education? Is the only way to get services for ASD to do another comprehensive evaluation and meet the initial criteria for ASD, even with an active IEP?

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