Children’s Disability Levels


Caregivers can expect the child to respond to limit-setting or other interventions. The child can perform basic life management functions appropriate for child’s age and development and can use mainstream methods of transportation and communication.

  • Child requires no equipment for daily functioning and may require average or slightly above average medical care and appointments.
  • Child may have a condition that is totally managed by medication, or a condition that is correctable or improves on its own with time.
  • The child may be developmentally delayed in physical development but has a prognosis of catching up.

The child with a Mild disability could have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Developmental/Learning conditions that are not severe enough to require special education.
  • Emotional conditions such as adjustment reactions, situational depression or acting out behaviors.
  • Mental conditions with mild mental retardation in children who usually will be able to live independently as an adult, hold a job, and manage their lives with some guidance in crises. A child with mild mental retardation can often be in a mainstream class with resource room help or tutoring.
  • Physical/Medical conditions, such as mild cerebral palsy and treatable medical conditions such as controlled seizures, hearing or vision impairment.


Caregivers need to provide a structured supportive setting in which most activities are designed to improve the child’s functioning. Child has a relatively stable non-correctable condition that is neither progressive nor degenerative. Child can perform basic life management functions appropriate for age and development (feeding, dressing, toileting) with some assistance.

  • Child may require moderate home modifications, corrective surgery, and/or one or more weekly medical appointments.
  • Child may require some assistance with transportation and communication functions.

The child with a Moderate disability could have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Developmental/Learning conditions such as those requiring long- term special education classes.
  • Emotional conditions such as conduct disorder, sexual abuse and other problems that may need long-term therapy.
  • Mental conditions with moderate mental retardation in children who as an adult, may achieve partial self-support in a sheltered work place, but will always need supervision and will need to live in a group home or family setting.
  • Medical/Physical conditions, such as moderate cerebral palsy, paraplegia, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, partially controlled seizures, blindness or deafness.


Caregivers may need specialized training or experience to provide therapeutic, habilitative, and medical support and interventions. Child may require life support equipment, or has a progressive, degenerative or terminal illness.

  • Child may require significant home modifications.
  • Child may require repeated doctor or frequent hospitalizations or surgeries.
  • Child requires 2 or more medical appointments per week.
  • Child requires a parent or aide to perform basic life management functions (feeding, dressing, toileting, etc.).
  • Child may require special adaptations for transportation and/or communication.

The child with a Severe disability could have one or more of the following conditions:

  • Developmental/Learning conditions that may cause a permanent difficulty in academic or social/emotional functioning, or occupation.
  • Emotional conditions such as attachment disorder that may require hospitalization or residential treatment.
  • Mental conditions such as severe to profound retardation with an IQ less than 25. Individuals with severe mental retardation may be able to partially contribute to self-care, but will be unable to work and will need ongoing supervision and help with daily routines.
  • Medical/Physical conditions, such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), multiple moderate conditions or a condition that requires ongoing and constant medical attention, such as quadriplegia or cystic fibrosis.