Decoding the Individual Education Program for Special Education in NYC

Special education programs are designed for children who have a tendency toward developmental delay. The developmental delay may be referred to the late development of the child’s mental, physical, and/or emotional characteristic. A delay in some children’s scholastic, cognitive or physical skills can put them behind their peers. These children have special requirements that cannot be met with the traditional classrooms or teaching systems. Special education programs adapt content and transform teaching methodology according to each child’s needs.

The Individual Education Program (IEP) is a special education program devised by the Department of Education NYC as a method of imparting special education to children who have the following development disorders. The Individuals with Disabilities Act classifies the disabilities that require special education in NYC under thirteen sections which are as follows -

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a developmental disability that hampers the communication (in terms of both, verbal and non-verbal) and social interaction abilities of the child. Its symptoms are usually evident before the child reaches the age of three. Typical identifying characteristics of this disorder include resistance to changes in daily routines and environment, repetitive activities or repetitive movements, and unusual reactions to sensory stimuli.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A child may need special education after acquiring a TBI injury to the brain. Such an injury is caused due to external physical forces. TBI may result in a partial or complete lack of functional ability, and/or psychological impairment. This disability applies in injuries that result in disrupting one or more of these abilities — psychological behavior; reasoning; cognition; physical functions; abstract thinking; language; judgment; memory; attention; speech; problem-solving; and information processing.

Visual Impairment

The spectrum of visual impairment includes all types of visual disabilities, be it blindness or partial sight.

Hearing Impairment

The inability of a child to hear which is acute enough to impact the processing of the linguistic information with (or without) amplification.

Speech or Language Impairment

Speech impairments refer to communicative disorders which include language/voice impairments or impaired articulation and stuttering.

Orthopedic Impairment

Orthopedic impairments include disabilities caused by congenital anomalies, diseases, as well as impairments caused by reasons such as Cerebral Palsy.

Intellectual Disability

A child with an intellectual disability will show below average performance of basic intelligence along with defects in adaptive behavior which takes place during the child’s initial developmental period.


This is a hearing-visual impairment that occurs naturally in some children.

Developmental Delay

The term is designated for children that suffer a delay in one or more of these aspects (from birth to nine years of age) — socio-emotional development, physical development, communication, cognitive development and behavioral development.

Emotional Disturbances

Emotional disturbances that require the child to be subjected to special education show one or more of the below-mentioned characteristics for a long time-period, to such a degree that it affects the child’s scholarly performance –

• Learning inability that cannot be explained by sensory, intellectual or health factors

• Inappropriate or odd behavior/feelings under normal circumstances

• An inability to maintain and/or build interpersonal relationships with educators or peers

• A tendency to develop fears with regard to school or personal problems

• A general persistent mood of unhappiness; depression.

Specific Learning Disability

These include a range of disabilities that causes hindrance in the child’s ability to think, listen, write, read, spell and/or solve math problems. Thereby, requiring some form of special education. Specific learning disabilities include conditions like dyslexia, perceptual disabilities, minimal brain dysfunction, brain injury, and developmental aphasia.

Multiple Disabilities

Children that suffer from multiple disabilities, such as blindness along with intellectual disability or orthopedic impairments along with speech impairments.

Other Health Impairments

These include limitations in alertness or strength. These impairments are mostly due to acute or chronic health problems such as ADD/ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome and epilepsy.

The IEP approach to special education places the child in the least restrictive environment. This kind of environment enables children that require special education to sit and learn among their (non-disabled) peers for the most part of the day. After the child receives a yearlong special education, an IEP meeting (or an Annual Review) is organized to track the child’s progress.