MN Special Education Disability Categories

Developmental Delay (DD)
The category of Developmental Delay is available to students from birth to seven years of age who have a substantial delay or disorder in development, or have an identifiable sensory, physical, mental, or social/emotional condition or impairment known to impede normal development and need special education. Students are eligible for these services if they meet criteria in two or more areas as specifically defined by the Department of Education.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism is a life-long developmental disability with onset usually in the first three years of life. It is a behaviorally defined syndrome characterized by an uneven developmental profile and disturbances in interaction, communication, and perceptional organization. Autism occurs on a continuum (or spectrum) from mild to severe. Because of the low incidence and complexity of this disability, professionals with experience and expertise in the area of autism need to be included on the team determining the disability and educational program. It is important to note that Autism  is a medical condition, and to receive a diagnosis of Autism would require the input of medical professionals. As such, schools are unable to diagnose Autism. There is a separate and unique set of criteria that differentiates between the school supports affiliated with Autism and a medical diagnosis of Autism.            

Deaf/Blind (DB)
Deaf/Blindness means medically verified visual impairment coupled with medically verified hearing impairment that, together, interferes with acquiring information or interacting in the environment. Both conditions need to be present simultaneously and must meet the criteria for both vision and hearing impairments.              

Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD)
EBD means an established pattern characterized by one or more of the following behavior clusters:

  1. Severely aggressive or impulsive behaviors.

  2. Severely withdrawn or anxious behaviors, general pervasive unhappiness, depression, or wide mood-swings.

  3. Severely disordered thought processes manifested by unusual behavior patterns, atypical communication styles, and distorted interpersonal relationships.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH)
DHH means a diminished sensitivity to sound that is expressed in terms of standard audio logical measures. A hearing impairment has the potential to affect educational, communicative, or social functioning that may result in the need for special education instruction and related services.                          

Developmental Cognitive Disability (DCD)
DCD refers to students with significantly below-average general intellectual functioning resulting in or associated with concurrent deficits in adaptive behavior that may require special education instruction and related services.

Other Health Disability (OHD)
OHD means a medically diagnosed chronic or acute health condition that may adversely affect academic functioning and result in the need for special education and related services. Examples of other health impairment include, but are not limited to, epilepsy, cancer, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Tourette's syndrome, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and cystic fibrosis. Eligibility is determined by both a medical diagnosis and an education evaluation. A medical diagnosis alone is insufficient to determine special education eligibility.

Physically Impaired (PI)
PI means a medically diagnosed chronic, physical impairment, either congenital or acquired, that may adversely affect physical or academic functioning and result in the need for special education and related services.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
SLD is when a student is functioning at an academic level significantly below grade level peers and is demonstrating a severe discrepancy between actual and expected achievement in one or more of the following areas:

  • Oral expression and listening comprehension.

  • Basic reading skills, reading fluency, and reading comprehension.

  • Written expression.

  • Mathematical calculation or mathematics reasoning.

A specific learning disability may occur with, but cannot be primarily the result of:

  • Visual, hearing or motor impairment.

  • Emotional disorders.

  • Environmental, cultural, economic influences.

  • A history of an inconsistent education program.                

Speech/Language Impairments (S/LI)
Speech/language impairments fall into four different areas.

  1. A fluency disorder means the intrusion or repetition of sounds, syllables, and words; prolongation of sounds; avoidance of words; silent blocks; or inappropriate inhalation, exhalation, or phonation patterns. These patterns also may be accompanied by facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak.

  2. A voice disorder is displayed when a student's voice interferes with communication, due to quality, progidy or health factors.

  3. An articulation disorder is the absence of or incorrect production of speech sounds that are developmentally appropriate.

  4. A language disorder means a breakdown in communication as characterized by problems in expressing needs, ideas, or information that may be accompanied by problems in understanding.                                                     

Visually Impaired (VI)
VI means a medically verified visual impairment accompanied by limitations in sight that interfere with acquiring information or interaction with the environment to the extent that special education instruction and related services may be needed.

Severely Multiple Impaired (SMI)
Students are eligible for these services if they meet criteria in two or more areas as specified by the Department of Education.

  1. Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  2. Physically Impaired

  3. Developmental Cognitive Disability: Severe-Profound Range

  4. Visually Impaired

  5. Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

  6. Autism Spectrum Disorders

    ***Please note that there are specific criteria that need to be met in order to qualify for special education.  Although medical information is important to provide to your child’s educational team, know that the criteria needed to meet educational criteria may differ from medical diagnoses.***


For further information, please see the current Minnesota criteria, which are available on the MN Department of Education website, ;  If you have concerns about your child's development in the areas listed, please contact your school's psychologist, or call the district Special Education Coordinator at 651-407-2164.

Our Mission

The mission of Wildwood Elementary School, the joyful Zephyr family dedicated to building the foundational pathway of learner agency and personal excellence, is to ensure that each student has intrinsic passion for life and learning with compassion for oneself and others, through a vital system distinguished by:

  • A culture of exploration, play, wonder, and creativity
  • An equitable learning experience for all 
  • A community that builds authentic relationships, a sense of belonging, collaboration, and trust 
  • A culture that views challenges as opportunities to persevere and grow 
  • An array of exceptional and global learning experiences that cultivate academic, social, and emotional growth
Wildwood Elementary School ISD #832
8698 75th Street North, Stillwater, MN 55082
Phone: 651.407.2100
Fax: 651.407.2125
Attendance: 651.407.2108
Our School
At Wildwood Elementary School, we honor the whole child and teach future-ready skills of inspiring curiosity, embracing change, and turning ideas into action. Our talented teachers and staff members work with students in small class sizes and nurture a culture of excellence that has become the expectation and norm. Our students learn social-emotional skills alongside academic core areas in order to gain the foundation for academic success. In addition, they have the opportunity to engage in learning with specialists in gym, art, media, music, and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) classes. Our elementary school is surrounded by green space and our students enjoy recess at our natural playground and attend classes in our outdoor classroom. We have an engaged and supportive parent community who volunteers and supports the school with academic opportunities and tools. Our District is a leader in engineering and science and we value academic areas that will spark curiosity, fuel creativity, and instill a lifelong passion for innovation in our students.