Multiple Disabilities

A relatively new trend in special education is to identify an increasing number of students with severe and multiple disabilities (SMD). That is, these students have two or more disabilities, often a combination of physical and mental challenges. (Deaf-blindness generally does not fall under the category of multiple disabilities, however.) Such students can have combination of conditions like mental retardation and blindness or mental retardation and a mobility problem. They are not limited to such combinations, however, but have a wide range of characteristics depending on how severe the disabilities are and the combination in which they manifest themselves. Certain combinations of such medical issues can create specific educational needs that cannot be met in a general education classroom or even a special education program that focuses solely on one impairment.

In addition, because of advances in medical technology, more children are surviving severe injuries and other grave medical situations that can also result in multiple disabilities. As students, these children often need medical equipment in the classroom as well as physical assistance. Many such students are aided by a dedicated classroom assistant, especially when they are a part of a general education classroom. They are also regularly part of classrooms lead by teachers with special education degrees.

Last Updated: 05/07/2014

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