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Preschool Special Education Eligibility

Children ages three through five who have a disability as defined by one of the categories listed below are eligible for preschool special education services provided through the local school system. In some local school systems preschool children may also be eligible if they meet the criteria of Developmental Delay. In Maryland, the categories of disability include:

  • Autism
  • Deafness
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Developmental Delay (ages 3 to 7)
  • Emotional Disability
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment, including blindness

The first step in determining eligibility for preschool special education and related services is a referral made to the local school system Child Find office. Once a referral is made, parental consent is needed before any assessments are conducted. Following completion of assessments in all areas of suspected disability, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team is convened. Parents are essential members of the IEP team and should be included as active partners in all stages of the eligibility determination process. During the IEP team meeting, the results of assessments are reviewed as part of a comprehensive evaluation process, where the child’s strengths as well as challenges are discussed, and eligibility under one of the established disability categories is determined.

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