Other Health Impaired: Not all disabilities fit so easily into a category. Congress has provided a catch all category, covering a number of disabilities and problems, including but not limited to ADD/ADHD, diabetes, epilepsy, acute or chronic health problems. In specific terms, the “other health impaired” category includes health or psychological disorders which are characterized by:
“Limited strength, vitality or alertness, including heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment – that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.” 34 C.F.R. § 300.7 (c)(9)(i-ii)
For years schools insisted upon attempting to serve children in the “other health impaired” category with 504 plans. Now it is clear that a child in this category may have the right to an IEP under IDEA, if the disabling disorder as a significant impact on the student’s education.
Too often schools will argue that a child in the OHI category does not qualify for an IEP, where the student makes passing grades. They make this argument because they incorrectly equate “education,” with “academic” performance. Very often children in the OHI category are very intelligent and may demonstrate at least “passing” academic success. At the same time a child with an OHI disorder may have significant social, emotional or behavioral issues. Failure to make adequate progress in these areas will qualify a student for services, even if the child is passing from grade to grade. See also Practice Note: The child must by reason of his disability require special education.
What it means for a child to "require" special education services