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Eligibility Criteria & Services Provided

A child is eligible for special education services if they meet the criteria of any of the following (click on the "+" to find a short description of each area):

Cognitive disability means:

Significantly sub-average intellectual functioning that exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior (personal independence and social functioning) and adversely affects educational performance.

A child with a cognitive disability may require more time to learn a task, show lower academic achievement than classmates in all academic areas, mature more slowly, and/or behave less maturely than his/her peers.

Services Provided

Click here for a link to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website page regarding the Federal Definitions and Criteria for Cognitive Disabilities.

Hearing impairment including deafness:

Significant impairment

  • With or without amplification
  • Permanent or chronically fluctuating

Significantly adversely affects educational performance including:

  • Academic performance
  • Speech perception and production
  • Language and communications skills

Students with hearing impairment experience hearing losses that range from mild to profound. Hearing aids can help the student with a conductive hearing loss (a problem with the volume), but do not necessarily restore normal hearing. Depending on the onset and severity of the impairment, the student’s language and speech may be negatively affected. Reading, writing, sentence structure, and word order may also be difficult to master. Because of communication difficulties, social interactions with peers may also be an area of concern.

Services Provided

About our program:

There are sixteen deaf or hard of hearing students in our district, one teacher of the deaf, and three educational interpreters.  There is a Hearing Impaired resource room at the elementary school and the middle school.  We offer a Total Communication program, with students’ communication modes ranging from oral to Pigeon Signed English depending on the needs of the individual student.

Sign Language Interpreters include Elizabeth Wroblewski, Brenda Miota, Dana Rumlow, and Stacey Rice.

Click here for a link to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website page regarding resources for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.


Speech and language impairment means an impairment of

  • Speech and sound production, voice, fluency
  • Language that significantly affects educational performance or social, emotional, or vocational performance

A child with a speech & language impairment has a communication disorder that adversely affects educational performance or social, emotional, or vocational development. Difficulties may take the form of stuttering, articulation problems, fluency problems, language delays, or voice impairments. A child with a speech & language impairment may mispronounce syllables or whole words; have inappropriate pitch, loudness, or voice quality; have an abnormal rate of speech; and/or have difficulty or delay in acquiring and using language at any age.

Services Provided

Program Eligibility:

School-based speech-language programming is available for any child, ages 3-21, who demonstrates a speech and language delay or disorder that is determined to be educationally handicapping for that child.  Parents, teachers, and physicians may refer a child for a speech and language evaluation.

A speech-language evaluation typically assesses articulation skills (use of speech sounds), receptive language  (understanding of language), expressive language (use of language), voice (pitch, loudness, and quality), and fluency (the rate and rhythm of speaking).  A hearing screening may also be conducted.

Parents should never wait to get help for their child if they suspect a problem.  Parents and family members know more about their child than anyone.

The speech-language pathologists in the Sheboygan Falls School District provide services for children at the elementary, middle, and high school, as well as St. Mary’s School.  Intervention may include individual, small group, and/or consultative services.  The staff works closely with the early childhood, cognitive disabilities, and learning disabilities staff as well as the Resource Language Arts Program.

Early intervention for speech-language problems increases the chances for improvement and may prevent potential difficulties with behavior, reading, learning, and social interaction.

To refer a child for a speech- language evaluation, please contact Emilie Dahm, Special Education Director, at 467-7894 or at her e-mail address.

Click here for a link to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website page regarding Speech and Language Impairment Resources.


Visual impairment means even after correction a child’s visual functioning significantly adversely affects his or her educational performance.

The area of visual impairments covers a wide range of visual disabilities, including blindness, partial sight, and visual defects (i.e., astigmatism). You may see a child with a visual impairment rub his/her eyes or squint while trying to focus; have difficulty reading or lose his/her place while reading; hold paper and books either too close or too far away; complain of pain in eyes or head, or of dizziness or nausea; reverse letters, get letters confused, or use poor spacing when writing. He/she may require written materials be adapted (large print, Braille, etc.).

Services Provided

Click here for a link to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website page regarding resources for Visually Impaired students.

In order for a student to be identified as EBD there are 4 key concepts to be addressed: (1) the student exhibits social, emotional or behavioral functioning that so departs from generally accepted, age appropriate ethnic or cultural norms that it adversely affects a child’s academic progress, social relationships, personal adjustment, classroom adjustment, self-care or vocational skills; (2) the behaviors are severe, chronic, and frequent, occur at school and at least 1 other setting, and the student exhibits at least 1 of 8 characteristics or patterns of behavior indicative of EBD; (3) the IEP team used a variety of sources of information including observations and has reviewed prior, documented interventions; and, (4) the IEP team did not identify or refuse to identify a student as EBD solely on the basis of another disability, social maladjustment, adjudicated delinquency, dropout, chemically dependency, cultural deprivation, familial instability, suspected child abuse, socio-economic circumstances, or medical or psychiatric diagnostic statements.

The student must meet all of the following three criteria:

  • Severe, chronic and frequent
  • Occurs in school and at least one other setting
  • Displays one or more of the 8 characteristics:
  1. Inability to develop or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships;
  2. Inappropriate affective or behavior response to a normal situation;
  3. Pervasive unhappiness, depression or anxiety;
  4. Physical symptoms, pains or fears associated with personal or school problems;
  5. Inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors;
  6. Extreme withdrawal from social interaction;
  7. Extreme aggressiveness for a long period of time;
  8. Other inappropriate behaviors that are so different from children of similar age, ability, educational experiences and opportunities that the child or other children in a regular or special education program are negatively affected.

An emotional behavioral disability means social, emotional, or behavioral functioning that is significantly different from generally accepted, age appropriate classroom behavior. This behavior must occur in school and other environments and adversely affect a child’s academic progress, social relationships, personal adjustment, classroom adjustment, self-care or vocational skills. Some examples of behaviors that you might observe include attention-getting behavior, problems getting along with others, poor impulse control, minimal social interaction skills, depression, excessive shyness, aggressiveness, poor attendance, tantrums, and poor self-control. While all children may display these behaviors at one time or another, it is the frequency, severity, and duration of the behaviors that sets these children apart from their peers.

Services Provided

Click here for a link to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website page regarding the Federal Definitions and Criteria for Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities.

Orthopedic Impairment means a severe physical impairment that has a negative effect on a child’s education. A child with an orthopedic impairment was either born with or acquired the condition. It includes impairments caused by a congenital (inherited) condition (clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (polio, TB, arthritis), and impairment from other causes (cerebral palsy, spina bifida, fractures and burns which cause contractures. A student with an orthopedic impairment may experience difficulty with gross and fine motor skills and fatigue.

Services Provided

Erin Higgins, Occupational Therapy Assistant

  • 920-467-7820 (5151)
  • email

Kelly Dirkse, Physical Therapist

  • 920-467-7820 (5219)
  • email

Occupational and Physical Therapy Services in the school system focus on enabling students to participate their  educational program to their greatest potential despite any limitations that may exist due to cognitive, physical, sensory or emotional challenges. Since the main goal of the school system is to educate children, Occupational and Physical Therapists strive to provide services in their natural environment, the classroom setting. When such services are not appropriate in the classroom and established as a need, services are provided in small groups, on individual basis or by consultation.

Other services OT’s and PT’s perform include procuring equipment, adapting, modifying equipment and materials and addressing accessibility issues in the school environment.  Specific areas Occupational and Physical Therapists address  include:

  • Mobility
  • Strength
  • Gross  motor skill development
  • Fine motor skill development
  • Handwriting intervention
  • Visual perceptual skills>
  • Self care skill development
  • Sensory motor integration
  • Assistive technology

Therapy Resources

Resources for Parents of Handicapped Individuals

Autism is:

  • A developmental disability significantly affecting a child’s social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Generally evident before age 3

Other characteristics:

  • Engagement in repetitive activities
  • Stereotyped movements
  • Resistance to environmental change or change in daily routine
  • Unusual responses to sensory experiences

Children with autism may display a wide range of intensity in some of the following areas: speech and communication, sensory deficits, tantrums,  self-stimulation, inappropriate social behavior, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, inappropriate play or unconventional use of toys, and inappropriate emotions. Autism may be identified through educational testing in the school setting. In this case, it is not a medical diagnosis, but rather the identification of an impairment.

A traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force that results in total or partial loss of functioning in one or more of the areas of cognition; speech and language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; communication; judgment; problem solving; sensory; perceptual and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and executive functions (organizing, evaluating and carrying out goal-directed activities).

Traumatic brain injury involves either closed or open head injuries but does not apply to injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. In addition, students may fatigue easily, have seizures/headaches, frustrate easily, have hearing and/or vision problems, become easily confused, and/or show mood swings and have social skill problems.

Other health impairments means having limited strength, vitality or   alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems, which adversely   affects educational performance. Most children served by special   education for health problems usually have those problems over long   periods of time and don’t tend to get better. Some of the most common   include epilepsy, heart conditions, TB, leukemia, diabetes, cancer, and   lead poisoning. When students with whom you work have specific health   impairments, it is best to ask questions about the impairment and your   responsibilities to the student. Specific additional training may be   necessary.


Specific learning disability means a SEVERE learning problem due to a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in;

  • Acquiring, organizing or expressing information
  • Manifests itself in school as an impaired ability to listen, reason, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations, despite appropriate instruction in the general education curriculum.

A child with a specific learning disability has average to above-average intelligence, but is not achieving up to grade level in spite of appropriate instruction in the regular education curriculum. Usually, this poor achievement does not show up in all academic areas, but rather in one or two, such as reading, writing, math, or memory. A child with a learning disability is not unable to learn, but rather learns things in a different way and/or at a different pace. He/she may have difficulty taking in (watching, listening), processing (understanding), storing (short or long-term memory) and/or producing (writing, explaining) information. This student may also have difficulty with organization, problem solving, social skills, and self-esteem.

Change in SLD Evaluation Procedures

Services Provided

Click here for a link to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website page regarding the Federal Definitions and Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities.

SDD means children, ages 3,4,and 5 years of age or below compulsory school attendance age, who are experiencing significant delays in the areas of physical, cognition, communication, social-emotional or adaptive development.

Services Provided

Sheboygan Falls Early Childhood Program serves children ages 3-6 who have developmental delays in communication, physical, social and/or cognitive development. Program activities include movement exploration, art, science, cooking, language, stories, large/small muscle control activities, play with friends, and self care independence.

Click here for a link to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Early Childhood website.