Disability Resource Center

Types of Disabilities

As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The students we work with have a wide variety of disabilities, including, but not limited to:

ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder that affects how you pay attention, sit still, and control your behavior.

Autism

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. 

Blind/Visually Impaired

A visual impairment describes vision loss, resulting in either impaired vision or a complete lack of sight.  Visual impairments may be categorized as partially-sighted, low vision, legally blind or completely blind.

Chronic Health/Medical

A condition that is medical in nature and currently impacts at least one major life activity, including learning. Often the impact of a medical disability is unpredictable and can change depending upon external stressors. Treatments for medical conditions are often more disabling than the condition itself.

These conditions include but are not limited to:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Cancer 
  • Crohn's Disease 
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Hearing (or auditory) disabilities are usually defined by a decreased ability or total inability to hear (deafness).

Individuals who are hard of hearing, or don’t hear well, and individuals who are unable to hear, or are deaf, would typically be considered to have a hearing disability. Hearing impairment or loss can be congenital, can happen over time, can occur later in life, can be the result of injury or aging, can be in one ear or both, can be temporary or permanent, or can be caused by any number of factors.

Learning Disability

Learning disabilities affect how a person learns to read, write, speak, and do math. They are caused by differences in the brain, most often in how it functions but also sometimes in its structure. These differences affect the way the brain processes information.

Some common learning disabilities are:
  • Dyslexia
    • People with dyslexia have problems with reading words accurately, with ease and may have a hard time spelling, understanding sentences, and recognizing words they already know.
  • Dysgraphia
    • People with dysgraphia have problems with their handwriting. They may have trouble forming letters, writing within a defined space, and writing down their thoughts.
  • Dyscalculia
    • People with this math learning disability may have difficulty understanding arithmetic concepts and doing addition, multiplication, and measuring.
  • Apraxia of Speech
    • People with this disorder have trouble saying what they want to say. It is sometimes called verbal apraxia.
  • Central Auditory Processing Disorder
    • People with this condition have trouble understanding and remembering language-related tasks. They have difficulty explaining things, understanding jokes, and following directions.

Physical/Mobility

A mobility impairment is a broad category that includes any condition that makes it difficult for the student to move about and use upper and/or lower limbs.

Psychological

Mental or behavioral patterns that may cause significant impairment or distress in several aspects of a student's life, such as school, relationships, career, etc. These conditions include but are not limited to:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • PTSD 

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury is an acquired injury to the brain. Brain injuries are complex, the effects of which are often unique and can change over time. Resulting damage may occur in any category of brain function - cognitive, physical, sensory, even psychosocial abilities.