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Definition of Terms | Boston Neuropsychological Services
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Definition of Terms


Disability Determination

Disability shall mean one or more of the following impairments:

(a) Autism - A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction. The term shall have the meaning given it in federal law at 34 CFR §300.8(c)(1).


(b) Developmental Delay - The learning capacity of a young child (3–9 years old) is significantly limited, impaired, or delayed and is exhibited by difficulties in one or more of the following areas: receptive and/or expressive language; cognitive abilities; physical functioning; social, emotional, or adaptive functioning; and/or self-help skills.


(c) Intellectual Impairment - The permanent capacity for performing cognitive tasks, functions, or problem solving is significantly limited or impaired and is exhibited by more than one of the following: a slower rate of learning; disorganized patterns of learning; difficulty with adaptive behavior; and/or difficulty understanding abstract concepts. Such term shall include students with mental retardation.


(d) Sensory Impairment - The term shall include the following:

  1. Hearing Impairment or Deaf - The capacity to hear, with amplification, is limited, impaired, or absent and results in one or more of the following: reduced performance in hearing acuity tasks; difficulty with oral communication; and/or difficulty in understanding auditorally-presented information in the education environment. The term includes students who are deaf and students who are hard-of-hearing.
  2. Vision Impairment or Blind - The capacity to see, after correction, is limited, impaired, or absent and results in one or more of the following: reduced performance in visual acuity tasks; difficulty with written communication; and/or difficulty with understanding information presented visually in the education environment. The term includes students who are blind and students with limited vision.
  3. Deafblind - Concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs.

(e) Neurological Impairment - The capacity of the nervous system is limited or impaired with difficulties exhibited in one or more of the following areas: the use of memory, the control and use of cognitive functioning, sensory and motor skills, speech, language, organizational skills, information processing, affect, social skills, or basic life functions. The term includes students who have received a traumatic brain injury.


(f) Emotional Impairment - As defined under federal law at 34 CFR §300.8(c)(4), the student exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance: 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 and teachers; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. The determination of disability shall not be made solely because the student's behavior violates the school's discipline code, because the student is involved with a state court or social service agency, or because the student is socially maladjusted, unless the Team determines that the student has a serious emotional disturbance.


(g) Communication Impairment - The capacity to use expressive and/or receptive language is significantly limited, impaired, or delayed and is exhibited by difficulties in one or more of the following areas: speech, such as articulation and/or voice; conveying, understanding, or using spoken, written, or symbolic language. The term may include a student with impaired articulation, stuttering, language impairment, or voice impairment if such impairment adversely affects the student's educational performance.


(h) Physical Impairment - The physical capacity to move, coordinate actions, or perform physical activities is significantly limited, impaired, or delayed and is exhibited by difficulties in one or more of the following areas: physical and motor tasks; independent movement; performing basic life functions. The term shall include severe orthopedic impairments or impairments caused by congenital anomaly, cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures, if such impairment adversely affects a student's educational performance.


(i) Health Impairment - A chronic or acute health problem such that the physiological capacity to function is significantly limited or impaired and results in one or more of the following: limited strength, vitality, or alertness including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli resulting in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment. The term shall include health impairments due to asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit with hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia, if such health impairment adversely affects a student's educational performance.


(j) Specific Learning Disability - The term means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. Use of the term shall meet all federal requirements given in federal law at 34 CFR §§300.8(c)(10) and 300.309.


Private Evaluation

A private evaluation is an evaluation by a professional not working for your child’s school.


As a parent, you have complete control over a private evaluation. You can choose which type of testing to have done. You can also choose the person who does the testing. The evaluation can be comprehensive or just focused on a single issue.

Medical Necessity

Medical Necessity New Directions defines “Medical Necessity” or “Medically Necessary” as health care services rendered by a provider exercising prudent clinical judgment, which are:


A. Consistent with:

  1. The evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, treatment or alleviation of symptoms of an illness, disease or injury defined by the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
  2. Generally accepted standards of medical practice, as defined by credible scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed medical literature, which are generally recognized by the appropriate medical community, Physician Specialty Society recommendations and other relevant factors


B. Clinically appropriate and designed to meet the individualized needs of the patient with regard to type, frequency, extent, site and duration of services


C. Considered effective to improve symptoms associated with the patient’s illness, disease, injury or deficits in functioning


D. Provided at the least restrictive and most clinically appropriate service or level of care to safely, effectively, and efficiently meet the needs of the patient


E. Required for reasons other than the convenience of the patient, family/support system, physician or other health care provider


F. Not a substitute for non-treatment services addressing environmental factors


G. Not more costly than an alternative service or services, which are at least as likely to prod


Chapter 766

Chapter 766 is the Massachusetts law which guarantees the rights of all young people with special needs (age 3-22) to an educational program best suited to their needs. Team evaluations and Annual Reviews are conducted to develop an ongoing individual education plan that ensures an appropriate education.

American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990

Is the nation's first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.


This law was written to establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.

Effective Progress

Progress effectively in the general education program shall mean to make documented growth in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, including social/emotional development, within the general education program, with or without accommodations, according to chronological age and developmental expectations, the individual educational potential of the student, and the learning standards set forth in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the curriculum of the district. The general education program includes preschool and early childhood programs offered by the district, academic and non-academic offerings of the district, and vocational programs and activities.


Eligibility Qualifications

Eligibility for Special Education. Students determined eligible for special education services must meet all three of the following criteria: The student must have a disability or disabilities. The student's disability/disabilities adversely affect educational performance.


Extended Evaluations
An extended evaluation should be used when evaluation information is inconclusive and should not be used to deny programs or services determined necessary by the Team. If the Team has determined eligibility and some necessary objectives and services, then the Team should write a partial IEP and, with parent acceptance, immediately implement the partial IEP while the extended evaluation is occurring.


Related Services

Related services means transportation, and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services (including speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, social work services, school nurse services designed to enable a child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education as described in the individualized education program of the child, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services, except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only) as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes early identification and assessment of disabling conditions in children. 

Development of the IEP

Developing the IEP involves two main things:


  • the IEP meeting(s), where you, your child (at times), and school staff members together decide on an educational program for your son or daughter; and
  • the IEP document, which puts the decisions from that meeting in writing.


Among other things, this document lists the services and supports your child will receive.


The entire IEP process is a way for you and the school to talk about your child’s needs and to create a plan to meet those needs. Let’s look at the process, starting with the IEP meeting.


The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.

Placement Determination 

At the Team meeting, after the IEP has been developed, the Team shall consider the identified needs of the student, the types of services required, and whether such services may be provided in a general education classroom with supplementary aids and/or services or in a separate classroom or school. The Team shall consider all aspects of the student's proposed special education program as specified in the student's IEP and determine the appropriate placement to provide the services. The Team shall determine if the student shall be served in an in-district placement or an out-of-district placement and shall determine the specific placement according to the following requirements:

(a) The decision regarding placement shall be based on the IEP, including the types of related services that are to be provided to the student, the type of settings in which those services are to be provided, the types of service providers, and the location at which the services are to be provided.


(b) The placement selected by the Team shall be the least restrictive environment consistent with the needs of the student. In selecting the least restrictive environment, consideration must be given to any potential harmful effect on the student or on the quality of services that the student needs.


(c) Least restrictive environment (LRE). The school district shall ensure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who do not have disabilities, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of students with special needs from the general education program occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.


(d) In-district placement. The placement decision made by the Team shall indicate the specific program setting in which services will be provided. The Team shall first consider in-district settings such as a general education classroom, a resource setting, a separate classroom, a work setting, a vocational school program, and/or another type of setting identified by the Team as appropriate and able to provide the services on the IEP in a natural or less restrictive environment. If an in-district setting is able to deliver the services on the IEP, the Team shall identify such placement and include such determination with the proposed IEP.


  1. The school district shall determine specific instructional personnel and shall work jointly with the Team to arrange the specific classroom or school, in order to implement the placement decision and to assure that services begin promptly when parental consent to the IEP and placement has been received.
  2. The school district shall not delay implementation of the IEP due to lack of classroom space or personnel, shall provide as many of the services on the accepted IEP as possible and shall immediately inform the parent in writing of any delayed services, reasons for delay, actions that the school district is taking to address the lack of space or personnel and shall offer alternative methods to meet the goals on the accepted IEP. Upon agreement of a parent, the school district shall implement alternative methods immediately until the lack of space or personnel issues are resolved.

Initial Evaluation

The initial evaluation of a child is required by IDEA before any special education and related services can be provided to that child. The purposes of conducting this evaluation are straightforward: To see if the child is a “child with a disability,” as defined by IDEA.

3-Year Reevaluation

Annual reviews and three-year reevaluations. The school district shall review the IEPs and the progress of each eligible student at least annually. Additionally, every three years, or sooner if necessary, the school district shall, with parental consent, conduct a full three-year reevaluation consistent with the requirements of federal law.

Office Locations

  • Needham Office

    687 Highland Avenue Needham, MA 02494, 2nd Floor