Other Health Impairment

Other Health Impairment- I just don’t like the way it sounds. To me it seems so distant and impersonal. It isn’t descriptive of the students disability. It’s just some “other disability.” Whether I like the name or not, it does have a good purpose within special education for those students who have a medical disability and require special education services. The term Other Health Impairment or OHI gets thrown around a lot in the schools, and parents may or may be familiar with this term. OHI is one of the most diverse categories of special education that can serve students with a variety of disabilities, even though it is often associated with ADHD or ADD. Here is the federal definition of “Other Health Impairment” taken from IDEIA 2004:

“Having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickly cell anemia: and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”

A general misconception is that having a Health Impairment such as ADHD, automatically qualifies a child for Special Education Services under OHI. However, this is not the case. A student must have a health condition that is documented and it must impact educational performance. Schools determine this educational impact in different ways. I’ve seen schools use grades (not necessarily the best in my opinion). Schools sometimes use achievement testing such as the Woodcock Johnson III, or the Weschler Individual Achievement Test and compare those scores to cognitive ability. In this situation, if the student performs significantly below his cognitive ability, and it is believed to be a result of the health impairment, then he may be found eligible for special education services.

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