New Jersey Special Education Classifications
Under New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6A, Chapter 14, students
between the ages of 3 and 21 are eligible for special education and
related services if they meet the criteria for one or more of fourteen
recognized disabilities. Eligibility is determined collaboratively by the
IEP team, who can recommend classification only if the student’s
academic deficiencies are not the result of “a lack of instruction in
reading, including the essential components of reading instruction, or
math or due to limited English proficiency” (NJAC 6A:14-3.5(b)).
What follows is a list of the fourteen NJ eligibility classifications, along
with a “plain English” description of each one. If you want to read
exactly what the law says about each one, click the link above to read
the law online, or download the NJ Special Ed Code at the bottom of
this page (PDF). You can also contact your or your child’s case
manager to ask for a NJ Special Education Code booklet.
It is important to note that the following descriptions are for special
services eligibility ONLY, and do not necessarily reflect medical
diagnostic criteria.
Auditorily Impaired: Corresponds to “auditorily handicapped” in
federal eligibility legislation. Students with this disability can not hear
within normal limits due to:
 Physical impairment
 One of the two following conditions
o Deafness – complete inability to hear
o Hearing impairment – Can be a permanent or fluctuating
inability to hear
Regardless of the cause, the impairment adversely affects academic
Autistic: Students with the “Autistic” classification have a pervasive
developmental disability that may impact their ability to interact socially
and communicate, both verbally and nonverbally. These students are
often resistant to changes in environment and routine, and find
comfort in repetition.
Cognitively Impaired: Students with this classification have
significantly below average levels of cognitive functioning along with
deficits in adaptive functioning (basic life skills). According to NJ law,
there are three levels of cognitive impairment:
 Mild – These students are considered comparatively high
 Moderate – These students require life skill training, but should
be able to function with minimal supervision after training.
 Severe – These students are unable to care for themselves, and
require caregiver supervision for even their most basic needs
Communication Impaired: These students have language disorders
that are not a result of an auditory impairment. Testing for this
impairment involves the addition of a speech-language therapist to the
evaluation team. Students with CI may also be eligible for additional
speech & language services.
Emotionally Disturbed: These students’ educational performance is
adversely affected by one or more of the following:
 An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual,
sensory, or health factors
 An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal
relationships with peers/teachers
 Inappropriate behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances
 A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
 A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated
with personal or school problems
Multiply Disabled: Students have two or more disabling conditions,
the combination of which cannot be accommodated for in a program
designed solely to address one of the impairments.
Deaf/blindness: Simultaneous hearing and visual impairments which
cause such severe communication, developmental, and/or educational
problems that programs strictly for the deaf or for the blind cannot
accommodate the student’s needs.
Orthopedically Impaired: Student has a severe malformation,
malfunction, or loss of bone, muscle, or tissue that adversely affects
educational performance (medical documentation is required).
Other Health Impaired: A medical assessment is required for this
classification. Students with the OHI classification are characterized by
having limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute
health problems. This/these condition/s adversely affect the student’s
educational performance.
Preschool Child with a Disability: For children between the ages of
three and five who experience developmental delay (33% delay in one
area or 25% delay in two or more areas) in one or more of the
following areas:
 Physical (gross/fine motor; sensory)
 Cognitive
 Communication
 Social/emotional
 Adaptive
Social Maladjustment: Students exhibit a consistent inability to
conform school behavior standards. This behavior is seriously
disruptive to the education of the student and/or other students, and is
not due to the conditions described under Emotionally Disturbed.
Specific Learning Disability (SLD): A disorder in one or more of the
basic psychological processes involved in language skills that
manifests in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write,
spell, or perform mathematical calculations.
Specific learning disabilities may be determined by finding a severe
discrepancy between current achievement and intellectual ability in:
 basic reading skills
 reading comprehension
 oral expression
 listening comprehension
 mathematical calculation
 mathematical problem solving
 written expression
 reading fluency
SLDs may also be identified by utilizing a response to scientifically
based interventions. SLDs are not the results of visual, hearing, or
motor disabilities, general cognitive deficits, emotional disturbance or
environment, or cultural or economic disadvantage.
Traumatic Brain Injury: An acquired injury to the brain caused by
external force/insult to the brain, resulting in full or partial functional
disability or psychosocial impairment.
Visually Impaired: A visual impairment (partial or total) that adversely
impacts a student’s educational performance. An assessment by a
specialist is required.
Download the New Jersey Administrative Code, Title 6A, Chapter 14

New Jersey Special Education Classifications