All About Disabilities

Early Childhood

Early Childhood Special Education provides evaluation, family consultation and direct special education services to children from 3 years to 6 years, 11 months of age, with developmental delays.

Early Childhood Special Educator:
Sue Weiler
(320)274-3058  ext. 4300


Autism is the common term for a range of disabilities medically classified as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Symptoms are present from infancy, but often not recognized until age 2 or 3 when the child fails to develop appropriate language and social skills. It is a lifelong developmental disability characterized by uneven development and disturbances in interaction, communication, perceptual organization and sensory processing. Autism occurs on a continuum of mild to severe and is more common in boys than girls.

Characteristics of autism may include the following:

• Lack of awareness of feelings for others
• Does not seek comfort at times of distress
• No or impaired imitation
• Abnormal social play/impaired ability to make friendships
• No mode of communication or markedly abnormal communication
• Marked abnormalities in production of speech (volume, pitch, stress, rate, rhythm, and intonation) and form or content of speech (echoing, mechanical repetition)
• Stereotyped body movements (handflicking, twisting, spinning, headbanging)
• Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
• Marked distress over changes in trivial aspects of environment
• Unreasonable insistence on following routines in detail
• Markedly resisted range of interests and preoccupation with one narrow interest
• Sensory disturbance (evidenced by unusual responses) to various stimuli (touch, sound, light, movement, smell, taste). Responses may included overreaction, indifference, or withdrawal
• Uneven learning of skills and/or difficulty in transferring acquired skills

A brief observation in a single setting cannot present a true picture of an individual's abilities and behavior patterns. At first glance, the person with autism may appear to have mental retardation, a learning disability, or problems with hearing. However, it is important to distinguish autism from other conditions, since an accurate diagnosis can provide the basis for building an appropriate and effective education and treatment program.

It is our philosophy that autistic children need peer interaction and are able to succeed within the classroom, as do all children in a school setting. Bendix Elementary does not have a separate program for autisic children but rather integrates them into the appropriate classroom, along with a paraprofessional, with the other children and provides for their individual learning needs through the MMMI and Speech/Language Special Education programs.

Elementary Service Provider:
Maureen Bonacci
(320)274-8218  ext.1263

Emotional Behavioral Disorder (EBD)

What is EBD?

There are students in the school system that have qualified for Special Education services because they have met the state criteria for Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD). These students? behavior and/or emotional problems have been determined, through assessments, to interfere with their education and/or the education of their peers.

How can the EBD program help the student?

The EBD program can help the student by providing an Individualized Education Plan. This plan addresses the student?s current level of educational performance, behavioral and emotional needs, any related services to be provided to the student, and the extent that the student will be able to participate in the regular education programs. Early intervention and identification of students with emotional and behavioral concerns is of great benefit to the success of their future.

Elementary EBD Service Provider:
Katie Techel
(320) 274-8218  ext.1225

Learning Disabilities

A learning disabled student is a child who has been identified through the assessment process. The criteria for this program are mandated by the State of Minnesota. It includes severe discrepancy between academic performance and ability, severe class underachievement and a processing delay.

Each student is serviced based on his/her individual needs. Some students require individual or small group instruction to remediate the academic skills that their peers have already mastered. Other students in grades three and four may be serviced in a modified reading program using general education curriculum adjusted to meet their needs.

Elementary Learning Disabilities Service Provider:
Danielle Collins
(320) 274-8218 ext. 1260

Developmentally Cognitive Disorders(DCD)

The Developmentally Cognitive Disorders(DCD) program, previously referred to as Mild Mentally Impaired (MMMI) and the Moderate-Severe Mentally Impaired (MSMI) program, provides support services for students who have been identified through the referral and assessment process. These students show significant delays in the areas of personal, independent, social functioning or vocational skills along with delays in academic competencies and who show a deficit in their ability to learn.

The MMMI teacher in the areas of language arts, math and functional skills provides for individualized instruction. Paraprofessionals assist these students throughout the day to ensure their success in mainstream activities with their classmates.

Elementary DCD Service Provider:
Maureen Bonacci
(320) 274-8218  ext. 1263

Speech and Language

Communication is perhaps the most important skill your child will acquire. Communication skills permit children to make sense of their world, to express themselves, and to learn. Because these skills are central to success in school, early identification of a problem is crucial. Once a child with a communication disorder is identified, the appropriate treatment and parent involvement will make for a more successful school experience.

Educational Speech-Language Pathologists are professionals who serve students with communication disorders. They have specialized training in speech-language pathology and are licensed by the Minnesota State Board of Education. Educational speech-language pathologists identify, evaluate, and treat communication disorders. They work with teachers and parents in meeting the needs of identified students and provide intervention through individual, group, classroom, or consultative service models.

Communication Disorders are identified by observation, skills checklists, developmental history, and formal evaluation measures. They can result from a number of factors such as birth defects, developmental delays, acquired trauma/disease, genetic predisposition, or accompanying another physical, mental, or learning disability. Communication difficulties are defined by four disorder categories:

• Language - difficulty in understanding or using language and may include problems with understanding/identifying word meanings, understanding/giving directions, answering/asking questions, or understanding/using correct grammar, as well as the inability to use appropriate social language or convey ideas to others with sufficient explanation.

• Articulation - difficulties with the way sounds are formed or strung together and usually characterized by substituting one sound for another, omitting a sound, or distorting a sound.

• Voice - inappropriate pitch (too high, too low, never changing or interrupted breaks), loudness (too loud or not loud enough), or quality (harsh, hoarse, breathy, or nasal).

• Fluency - an interruption in the rhythm of speech characterized by hesitations, repetitions or prolongations of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases.

Communication Disorders Are Of Concern When:

• Language - a child's language is different from same age peers, difficulty is shown in understanding conversation or directions, verbal expression interferes with social interactions, when language development affects academic learning or active participation in school.

• Articulation - a child is 9 years of age with sound errors, developmental sound errors affect speech intelligibility and social development or academic learning.

• Voice - a chronic voice concern interferes with speech intelligibility and vocal quality.

• Fluency - normal disfluency is exaggerated by the type of problem, severity, or number of occurrences, resulting in frustration and ineffective communication.

Communication Skills Can Be Supported By Parents When:

1. Talking about things you do as a family
2. Talking about places you go
3. Answering and asking questions about experiences and stories
4. Listening to your child and encouraging their expression of ideas
5. Reading and talking about books
6. Telling stories together using books or photos/pictures
7. Playing educational games with your child
8. Playing word games together
9. Pretending with your child to develop creative thought
10. Praising your child

Elementary Educational Speech-Language Pathologists are available to consult with parents or teachers. If you have a concern about your child's communication development, feel free to discuss it with your classroom teacher and/or contact one of the Educational Speech-Language Pathologists below.

Elementary Speech and Language Service Providers:
Cindy Jensen
320-274-8218  ext. 1238

Marcia Froehling
320-274-8218  ext. 1237

Traumatic Brain Injury

The brain may be injured when the head is hit with sufficient force. This may result in temporary or permanent cognitive physical, behavioral and/or emotional changes. The most common cause of brain injuries is motor vehicle accident. Falls, bike accidents, sports injuries, assaults and child abuse also cause brain injuries. Tumors, stroke, encephalitis, excessive alcohol and drug use or ingestion of toxic substances also may cause a brain injury.

Eligibility for special education under the traumatic brain injury criteria and the initial Individual Educational Plan are based on the information summarized in the assessment plan. This plan includes hospital assessment and observations of the student back in school. Team members understand the unique characteristics of traumatic brain injury and how the individual has been affected.

Elementary Service Provider:
Danielle Collins
(320) 274-8218 ext. 1260

Physically Impaired (PI)

Physically Impaired means a broad range of medically diagnosed chronic or acute health conditions that may adversely affect academic functioning and result in the need for special education instruction and related services. The decision that a specific health condition qualifies as other health impaired will be determined by the impact of the condition on academic functioning rather that by the diagnostic label given the condition.

Additional Catagories:

• B/VI - Blind and vision impairment
• Hearing Impaired