How to qualify for special education

Who qualifies for special services:

  • Children with any kind of disability that affects how they learn in school

  • This can be a physical or learning disability, a developmental delay, or autism

  • This can include issues in any of the following areas: physical, learning, social, behavioral, medical, communication, or developmental.

  • Louisiana residents between the ages of 3 and 22

How do you know if your child qualifies?

  • Click on "Eligibility Requirements"below to see if these apply to your child

  • They will get an evaluation from the school system to find out for sure. We'll tell you about that soon!

Click on the boxes below to learn more:

To qualify for an IEP in Louisiana, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • The child must have one of the following types of disabilities:

    • Autism

    • Deaf or hard of hearing

    • Deaf-blindness

    • Developmental delay

    • Emotional disturbance

    • Intellectual disabilities

    • Multiple disabilities

    • Orthopedic impairment

    • Other health impairment

    • Specific learning disability

    • Speech or language impairment

    • Traumatic brain injury

    • Visual impairment

  • The student is not making effective progress in school, and the lack of progress is a result of the student's disability.

  • The student needs specially designed instruction in order to make effective progress in school.

  • The student needs certain services in order to follow the general curriculum.

The evaluation and the eligibility meeting help decide if your child meets these criteria. If your child meets all of them, they will qualify for special education and an IEP.

If your child does not qualify for an IEP, they might still qualify for other services and programs. For example, they may be able to get accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


Source:  LA DOE

Developmental Delay is when your child is not doing certain things that kids usually do at their age.

There are different kinds of development, and different milestones: things a child usually can do at a certain age.

Kids learn things at different ages, so there is a big range of what is "normal". But an evaluation can tell if your child may need some help to catch up.

Here are some examples of different kinds of milestones:

  • Physical things like holding up their head at 3 months old, or sitting up at 9 months.

  • Cognitive (thinking and learning) skills, like imitating a movement at 1 year old, or knowing some body parts at age 2.

  • Communication skills, like saying "ba-ba-ba-ba"at 9 months, or waving "bye-bye"at age 1.

  • Social and Emotional skills, like laughing at 6 months, or showing affection for caregivers at age 1.

Click here for more about Developmental Milestones. (It will open in a new tab on your computer.) You can look up what your child should be doing at a certain age.

You can also click on the link at the bottom of the page to download a 4-page fact sheet.

Source: CDC, U.S. Office of Special Education Programs

Autism is also called Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

This name reflects that there is a wide spectrum  - or range - of how severely a child may be affected, and in what ways. It can be very different in different kids.

Autism has to do with brain growth and development. It can affect people's social interactionscommunication, and behaviors.

People with autism often have trouble relating to people in ways that we consider typical.

They may have issues like these:

  • trouble expressing themselves or reading the expressions of other people

  • repetitive physical behaviors

  • sensitivity to things like noise or textures of clothing

  • needing to have a very structured routine, and can get upset easily

Autism does not limit how smart kids are!

Children with autism can be very smart and talented, sometimes in very specific and impressive ways.

Autism can look very different from one child to the next.

Some kids have trouble with things like:

  • Challenging behaviors that are hard to control
  • Communicating verbally
  • Forming social relationships

Image of a child running past a stop sign with parent right behind them.  Image of an unconfortable face with an empty speech bubble beside it.   Image of two children playing with a ball.

Each child will have their own strengths and challenges.

Sources: Interactive Autism Network, Autism Speaks


Sources: Autism Speaks, IDEA, LA DOE