Severe Multiple Impairments

Students with multiple impairments have more than one disability in cognitive, physical and/or functional abilities. They typically require intensive intervention and supports for activities of daily living.

Multiple disabilities means a student has more than one serious disability which may affect mobility, behavior, emotion or sensory abilities. Some characteristic challenges of individuals with severe multiple impairments are:

  • Limited communication or speech impairment
  • Problems with physical mobility
  • Cognitive impairments

What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP?

This disability category includes students with a combination of physical and cognitive conditions which affects the student’s ability to learn and access the academic and social opportunities in school. The more severe the disabilities, the greater the effect on the student and the greater the need for extensive, ongoing support and services. It is important to remember that abilities can vary widely from student to student.

The services each student needs is determined by the Individualized Education Program of which the parent  is a vital part. The IEP is a process that results in a document, the IEP, which guides the student’s education. This means parents and educators work together to make an educational plan that provides supports, services, accommodations and modifications that fit the individual student with severe multiple impairments

Areas to address in the IEP might include these related services:

  • Physical therapy (PT), which helps the child develop stronger muscles such as those in the legs and trunk. Through PT, the child works on skills such as walking, sitting, and keeping his or her balance.
  • Occupational therapy (OT), which helps the child develop fine motor skills such as dressing, feeding, writing, and other daily living tasks.
  • Speech-language pathology (S/L), Problems with speech and communication can be helped through speech therapy, which helps the child develop his or her communication skills.
  • Sensory impairments in hearing and vision may be present and require support and assistance.

A variety of medical problems may accompany severe disabilities. Examples include seizures, sensory loss, hydrocephalus, and scoliosis. These conditions should be considered when establishing school services. A multi-disciplinary team consisting of the student’s parents, educational specialists, and medical specialists in the areas in which the individual demonstrates problems should work together to plan and coordinate necessary services.”

Is there some technology that can help my student learn?

Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA. Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.

Where can I find support and more information?




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