Students with Low-Incidence, Severe & Multiple Disabilities

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  • 0:04 Low-Incidence Disabilities
  • 0:47 Special Concerns
  • 1:23 Severe Disabilities
  • 2:34 Students w/ Multiple…
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Students with low-incidence, severe, or multiple disabilities have unique needs. This lesson will discuss some specifics regarding these three classifications of disabilities.

Low-Incidence Disabilities

How often do you see someone who is visually or hearing impaired? How about someone with intellectual impairment or developmental delay? Most of us rarely see people with these types of disabilities, which are referred to as low-incidence (LI) disabilities.

Low-incidence disabilities got their name because they occur in only about 1% of American students and account for only one-fifth of overall disabilities among students. Compare this to high-incidence (HI) disabilities, such as learning disabilities, which are present in about 10% of American students. Both classifications of disabilities can be present at birth or can occur at some point in development due to illness, environmental toxins, or injury.

Special Concerns

Students with LI disabilities are usually identified as disabled very early in life. This early intervention helps to increase chances for success in education. LI students usually require special education and are much less likely to successfully complete school, with less than half graduating from high school. They may struggle socially and behaviorally as well. This can negatively affect personal relationships and employment throughout the lifespan.

LI students may have severe disabilities and multiple disabilities. Let's take a closer look at what those designations mean.

Severe Disabilities

Janie is a third grade student who cannot care for herself due to limited physical mobility and impaired intellectual functioning. She struggles to learn and retain new information, so she requires intensive one-on-one care and instruction in the classroom. She also requires extensive care and support outside of the classroom from parents and caregivers.

Janie is a student with LI disabilities. She also has both severe and multiple disabilities. Severe disabilities are those that profoundly impact or prevent normal mental and/or physical functioning.

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