How to qualify

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 disability, 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.

  • Your child will get an evaluation from the school system to find out for sure. 

Click on the boxes below to learn more:

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

Checkmark_Icon.jpgThe 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

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

Checkmark_Icon.jpgThe student needs specially designed instruction in order to make effective progress in school.

Checkmark_Icon.jpgThe 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

A Developmental Delay is when your child is not doing certain things that kids usually do at their age. If this is still happening after age 9 or so, they may call it a disability instead of a delay.

  • 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.

A Developmental Disability is any condition that limits someone's ability to take care of themselves, starts when they are young and will probably affect them for their whole life.

  • It can be physical (like being blind or hearing impaired) or intellectual. 
  • Intellectual or cognitive refers to how someone's mind works.  If you have trouble thinking, learning and communicating in a typical way, these are cognitive or intellectual limitations.

Source: CDC, National Institute for Health

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, just like children without autism.

Autism can look very different from one child to the next. Each will have their own strengths and challenges.

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.

Sources: Interactive Autism Network, Autism Speaks


Sources: Autism Speaks, IDEA, LA DOE