A free service for families who have children with special needs
living in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties of California

Every child is a unique person with traits that make him or her special. Children with “special needs,” however, are dealing with physical, communication, or developmental disabilities.

Below are broad definitions of some specific disabilities. Remember that children are individuals and their abilities will vary even when they have a specific diagnosis.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) - a term describing a condition characterized by a short attention span. A child may experience a combination of social, emotional, and learning difficulties and/or hyperactivity.

Asthma - a condition caused by an allergy to material either in the air or that is eaten. An asthmatic episode may occur suddenly because the tubes that lead to the lungs become narrow and breathing becomes difficult.

Autism - a severe neurological disability that affects the functioning of the brain, usually appearing during the first three years of life and characterized by impaired social development and difficulty in communicating.

Cerebral Palsy - a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. "Cerebral" refers to the brain and "palsy" to muscle weakness/poor control.

Developmental Delays - a term used to describe the development of children when they are not able to perform the skills that other children of the same age are able to perform. These delays in development may occur in the one or more areas including: social, fine motor, cognitive, communication, self-help and gross motor.

Down Syndrome - one of the most common types of genetic disorders caused by an extra chromosome number 21. Children with Down Syndrome share certain characteristics including physical features and delays in intellectual development.

Hearing Impairment (HI) - a condition, permanent or fluctuating, which impairs the processing of language through hearing, even with amplification.

Language or Speech Disorder (LSD) - a term used to describe a disability in the area of speech and language.

Muscular Dystrophy - a progressive muscular disorder with its onset usually around 3-15 years old.

Other Health Impairment (OHI) - a disability resulting from chronic or acute illness (e.g., heart condition, cancer, severe asthma, seizure disorder, communicable disease, etc.)

Seizures - a sudden burst of electrical energy in the brain. There are varied types of seizures, with observable signs ranging from staring to large motor movements and temporary lapses of consciousness. Many seizures can be controlled with medications.

Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) - a disability characterized by behavior problems that prevent a child from learning or from getting along with other people; the behavior must occur for a long period of time and be severe.

Severe Orthopedic Impairment - a condition which adversely affects an infant or toddler’s development. Such orthopedic impairments include impairments caused by congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease and impairments from other causes which may affect functional movement and/or growth.

Solely Low Incidence Disability - one or a combination of low incidence disabilities which are vision impairment, severe orthopedic impairment, and hearing impairment.

Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) - a disability characterized by problems using language, remembering, concentrating, following instructions, reading, calculating, or learning through listening or looking.

Spina Bifida - an incomplete closure of the spinal column. Some effects may include hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid within the brain), weakness or paralysis of the legs, and problems with bowel and bladder control.

Vision Impairment - a visual condition which, even with correction, adversely affects the infant’s or toddler’s development.