Multiple Disabilities

 Multiple disabilities

Multiple disabilities means concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.

A child with multiple disabilities has more than one condition covered by IDEA. Having multiple issues creates educational needs that can’t be met in a program for any one condition.


Presentation accommodations allow a student to:

  • Listen to audio recordings instead of reading text
  • Learn content from audiobooks, movies, videos and digital media instead of reading print versions
  • Work with fewer items per page or line and/or materials in a larger print size
  • Have a designated reader
  • Hear instructions orally
  • Record a lesson, instead of taking notes
  • Have another student share class notes with him
  • Be given an outline of a lesson
  • Use visual presentations of verbal material, such as word webs and visual organizers
  • Be given a written list of instructions

Response accommodations allow a student to:

  • Give responses in a form (oral or written) that’s easier for him
  • Dictate answers to a scribe
  • Capture responses on an audio recorder
  • Use a spelling dictionary or electronic spell-checker
  • Use a word processor to type notes or give responses in class
  • Use a calculator or table of “math facts”

Setting accommodations allow a student to:

  • Work or take a test in a different setting, such as a quiet room with few distractions
  • Sit where he learns best (for example, near the teacher)
  • Use special lighting or acoustics
  • Take a test in small group setting
  • Use sensory tools such as an exercise band that can be looped around a chair’s legs (so fidgety kids can kick it and quietly get their energy out)

Timing accommodations allow a student to:

  • Take more time to complete a task or a test
  • Have extra time to process oral information and directions
  • Take frequent breaks, such as after completing a task

Scheduling accommodations allow a student to:

  • Take more time to complete a project
  • Take a test in several timed sessions or over several days
  • Take sections of a test in a different order
  • Take a test at a specific time of day

Organization skills accommodations allow a student to:

  • Use an alarm to help with time management
  • Mark texts with a highlighter
  • Have help coordinating assignments in a book or planner
  • Receive study skills instruction

Assignment modifications allow a student to:

  • Complete fewer or different homework problems than peers
  • Write shorter papers
  • Answer fewer or different test questions
  • Create alternate projects or assignments

Curriculum modifications allow a student to:

  • Learn different material (such as continuing to work on multiplication while classmates move on to fractions)
  • Get graded or assessed using a different standard than the one for classmates
  • Be excused from particular projects


  • Chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Premature birth.
  • Difficulties after birth.
  • Poor development of the brain or spinal cord.
  • Infections.
  • Genetic disorders.
  • Injuries from accidents (1)