Students raising their hands in a classroom

Red Flags to Consider for Possible Referral

There may often be red flags that indicate that a child may need a referral for special education services.  View the list of possible red flags.

Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Under the current categories of disabilities included under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA ’04), ADHD is not considered a separate “disability condition.” However, if the disorder adversely affects the student’s educational performance, eligibility for special education under existing categories may be appropriate.  Some students with ADD/ADHD may exhibit symptoms which qualify them in one of the following disability categories for special education:

Other Health Impairment

A child with ADD or ADHD may be considered to have a disability under Other Health Impairment if:

  • ADHD is a chronic or acute health condition (more than three weeks duration)
  • A child has heightened alertness or vitality because of the ADHD
  • ADHD adversely affects educational performance

Specific Learning Disability

A child may be considered to have a specific learning disability when a disorder exists in one or more of the psychological processes needed to understand and use language, written or spoken that causes difficulty in:

  • Listening
  • Thinking
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Mathematical Calculations

Emotional Disability

A diagnosis of Emotional Disability for a child with ADD/ADHD may be considered when the child has:

  • An inability to learn
  • An inability to build or maintain relationships
  • Inappropriate behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances
  • Pervasive unhappiness or depression
  • Physical symptoms associated with personal or school problems

Repeated Suspensions

A student who has been disciplined or suspended repeatedly for behavior problems may have an underlying disability causing these behaviors.  A complete educational and behavioral evaluation may help identify the necessary supports needed for success.

Lead Poisoning

Children who are exposed to lead may experience lead poisoning.  Lead poisoning can have serious effects on the nervous system and can result in mental, emotional and or physical impairment in children.  To learn more about the educational implications of lead poisoning as well as signs and symptoms, and ways to prevent lead poisoning, visit the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s website at  or call (860) 509-7299.  Follow the link to view the Lead Poisoning Fact Sheet, published by the Minnesota Low Incidence funds, Region 10 Physical Health Disabilities Network and School Nurse Organization of Minnesota (SNOM).

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