Major Changes in IEP Diagnosis and Classification for Children with Disabilities Proposed by National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET)

By Dr. Roger Pierangelo and Dr. George Giuliani

Executive Directors of the National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET.org)

The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) is proposing major changes to the existing system in which children with disabilities are diagnosed and classified on IEPs Individual Educational Programs).  This new system will provide all professionals working in the field of special education, college students preparing to work with children with special needs, administrators, college professors, parents, and students with disabilities the information necessary to adequately determine the most comprehensive, detailed, and precise diagnoses of disabilities or disorders seen in infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents, particularly in the educational environment.

Rationale for these major changes to existing IEPs

Up to now, the sole responsibility for interpreting the specific disabilities associated with the classifications under Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 was at the discretion of the district committee responsible for classification and placement. However, simple word definitions are open to interpretation and potentially significant subjectivity. Since many of the specific disorders contained under an IDEA category are not provided, there was a very strong need to objectify this process. The system being proposed by NASET provides specific descriptions of the areas of concern, as well as the levels to which the disability (or disabilities) adversely affects the academic performance of their child.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and the NASET Coding System and Guide

Under IDEA, every child who is classified as “child with a disability” in special education receives an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting in accordance with certain requirements of law and regulations. These requirements and the entire IEP process are discussed in this section.

The purpose of the IEP is to provide an individualized document that will guide the programming for the student with a disability and will allow the team to determine if the student is really making progress (Stephens, 2006)

The IEP meeting serves as a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel, and enables them, as equal participants, to make joint, informed decisions regarding—

  • the child’s needs and appropriate goals;
  • the extent to which the child will be involved in the general curriculum and participate in the regular education environment and State and district-wide assessments; and
  • the services needed to support that involvement and participation, and to achieve agreed-upon goals.

The IEP is developed by a team whose members meet, review the assessment information available about a child, and design an educational program to address a child's educational needs that result from his or her disability.  According to IDEA, a child's IEP must be reviewed at least once a year and thereafter at what is referred to as an Annual Review Meeting to determine whether the annual goals are being achieved and must be revised as appropriate [Section 300.343(c)].

On a child’s IEP, the actual IDEA classification of the child is noted. For example, on a child’s IEP it could state that the classification is: Specific Learning Disability; or Emotional Disturbance; or Speech and Language Impairment, or Autism, etc. Unfortunately, all too often teachers, parents, professionals and students themselves had little or no idea of what specific type or types of disability the child has with respect to his or her classification on the IEP.

For example, a child with a reading disability (Dyslexia), math learning disability (Dyscalculia), writing disability (Dysgraphia) and the child with a visual processing disorder might all be classified as students with Specific Learning Disabilities. In these students’ IEP’s, the diagnoses would be Specific Learning Disabilities not the specific types. So, nowhere on the IEP would it state “the child has a specific learning disability in reading (dyslexia); or the child has a specific learning disability in mathematics (dyscalculia). It would just be a general classification of “Specific Learning Disability.” Furthermore, for numerous types of disabilities, there are “subtypes.” For example, there are over 10 different types of dyslexia. Which one(s) does this child have? On the IEP, there would be no statement of that whatsoever. A teacher reading these students’ IEP’s would have no clear idea of an exact diagnosis, let alone the specific subtypes that would facilitate the educational direction best suited for these children.

Using IDEA as the frame of reference, the categories chosen for the new NASET proposed IEP system are all defined under this Federal Law [Section 300.7(a)(1)]. The disorders discussed in the NASET proposed IEP system represent the various types and subtypes under each of these disability categories that may apply to children with disabilities ages birth through 21 years of age. Now, utilizing the NASET proposed coding system, students will now have five levels of diagnoses stated on their IEP’s. Ultimately, this aids professionals in establishing appropriate remediation, accommodations, and teaching techniques for each child with a disability. This new IEP system proposed by NASET in conjunction with Wiley Publishers involves a new coding system outlined as NASET Coding System and Guide.

The Importance of the NASET Coding System

In schools today, after a comprehensive assessment is completed for a child with a suspected there is no common and agreed upon diagnostic manual book that all professionals turn to when deciding whether the child meets the criteria for a specific disability as defined by IDEA. This goes against all common sense, as there should be some standard and guide by which educators make decisions regarding the educational decisions for a child.

Mental health professionals are provided with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), medical professionals have a variety of manuals that provide specific information on all types of medical conditions that they can use as references sources, and lawyers have their reference guides as well.

The Educator’s Diagnostic Manual of Disabilities and Disorders (EDM) represents the very first diagnostic manual created specifically for the field of special education that provides definitions, symptoms, characteristics, types, and subtypes for all IDEA disabilities and the numerous disorders that professionals and/or parents need to understand within educational settings.

Using the NASET Coding System and Guide

The NASET coding system and guide provides necessary guidelines, information, and examples for a variety of situations that commonly occur in education. For example, suppose that:

  • A child in a classroom has been diagnosed with a disability that a teacher, special educator or administrators knows very little or nothing about in terms of symptoms, characteristics, etc. The NASET coding system and guide can provide a quick reference to that disability and its important features.
  • A special education professional is speaking with a parent of a child who has a certain disorder listed on his/her IEP and he/she needs some immediate reference material. The NASET coding system and guide will provide the specific type and possible subtype of the disorder which will then make it easier to gather more detailed information.
  • A parent of a child diagnosed with a certain disorder needs further information or a list of organizations by disability category. The NASET coding system and guide provides lists of organizations for every IDEA category.
  • A special education professional is attending a Child Study Team Meeting for a child with a specific disability and/or disorder and needs to present information specific to it. The NASET coding system and guide provides the information for the respective disability and disorder.
  • A child study team determines that a student meets the criteria for a disability as defined by IDEA. Although the team knows that the student has a disability, it is unsure of the specific type of disability (e.g., they know the student has a speech and language impairment but is it a phonological processing disorder, articulation disorder, speech fluency problem, etc). The NASET coding system and guide provides the team with numerous types of disorders under IDEA from which to choose in order to make the most specific and detailed diagnosis for the student.

The NASET Multilevel Coding System-Overview

The broad categories of IDEA classifications have consistently left a serious void in a complete and thorough understanding of a child’s overall problem. The specific details of a child’s disability on a child’s IEP is very limited (potentially nonexistent) with respect to the specific disorder, type, subtype and the degree to which the disability adversely affects the child’s educational performance. Parents, teachers and schools are often left with a general label that fails to provide any understanding or guidance into the true nature of child’s specific disability.

After speaking to thousands of graduate students, teachers, special educators, and administrators, it became clear that there was a need for a more specific and comprehensive coding system to fill this void in understanding disabilities.

The present classification system used in IEP development was considered the most problematic issue when trying to establish specific academic, social, management, and physical goals for a child with a disability. The single broad disability category (e.g., only stating the child has “specific learning disability) significantly limits the ability to find the correct remediation, modifications, accommodations, assistive technology, and management solutions for any child receiving special education services.

In response to this concern, the NASET coding system and guide was developed to provide all professionals in the field of special education with a very clear 5-level disability coding system. This multi-level coding system will provide professionals with the ability to:

  • Determine the specific IDEA Classification - Level I
  • Determine the Specific Disorder/s for this classification - Level II
  • Identify the Specific Type/s of disorders - Level III
  • Determine the Specific subtype(s) of the disorder - Level IV
  • Determine the degree to which the disability adversely affects the child’s educational performance - Level V


 

Level I - IDEA Disability Classifications

Level I categories will always represent one of the 13 IDEA Disabilities. Level I categories can be easily be identified by the capitalized two-letter or three letter abbreviation for the IDEA Disability as indicated in Table 1.1 (For a more detailed definition of IDEA’s definition of “a child with a disability”, refer to Section 1 of NASET coding system and guide).

 [TABLE 1.1]

Level I NASET Coding System Identification Codes

            Level I Disability Category                 Level I NASET Code

  1. Autism                                                                                  AU
  2. Deaf-Blindness                                                                 DB
  3. Developmental Delay (ages 39)                             DD
  4. Emotional Disturbance                                                 ED
  5. Hearing Impairment                                                      HI
  6. Specific Learning Disabilities                                    LD
  7. Intellectual Disabilities                                                 ID
  8. Multiple Disabilities                                                     MD
  9. Orthopedic Impairment                                                OI
  10. Other Health Impaired                                               OHI
  11. Speech and Language Impairment                           SL
  12. Traumatic Brain Injury                                               TBI
  13. Visual Impairment                                                          VI

--------------------------------------------------

                                            ** EI

**Note Early Intervention - While EI is not a specific IDEA disability category has been included in the NASET coding system and guide to represent an infant or toddler birth through 36 months of age        

In most cases, only one disability category will be listed under Level I. For example:                                                                                                        

Student # 1

                                                                          NASET Code

Level I: Specific Learning Disability                      LD

Student # 2

                                                                          NASET Code

Level I-Traumatic Brain Injury                                TBI

Student # 3

                                                                              NASET Code

Level I-Speech and Language Impairment             SL

Student # 4

                                                                              NASET Code

Level I-Other Health Impairment                           OHI

Note: In the case of a child classified with Multiple Disabilities, you need to be specific by listing the two or more individual IDEA disability categories as follows:

Student #5

                                                                           NASET Code

Level I-Multiple Disabilities                                        MD

            Level IA-Intellectual Disability                        ID

            Level IB-Hearing Impairment                          HI 


 

Level II - Specific Disorders

Once you have determined the Level I IDEA Disability for a child, you need to determine whether there is a specific disorder associated with this IDEA disability. A disorder can be defined as a general disturbance in mental, physical, or psychological functioning (Hardman, Drew & Egan, 2005).

Level II coding represents specific “Disorders” of a Level I IDEA Disability. A Level II disorder is normally diagnosed either through a comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment or by outside medical, psychological or other professionals.

Level II disorders can easily be identified as a whole number (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) followed by .00 after that whole number (1.00, 2.00, 3.00, etc.)

Examples of Level I IDEA Disabilities and Level II Disorders

Student # 1

Suppose Student #1 was classified with a specific learning disability (LD).  The specific areas of difficulties were associated with reading.  This is known as dyslexia.  Dyslexia in NASET Coding System and Guide is coded in the chapter on Specific Learning Disabilities (Chapter 1) as follows:           

                                                                      NASET Code

Level I- Specific Learning Disabilities            LD

Level II- Dyslexia                                              LD 4.00

Student # 2

Suppose Student #2 was classified with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The TBI was due to a penetrating skull fracture (e.g., gunshot wound).  A Penetrating Skull Fracture in NASET coding system and guide is coded in the chapter on Traumatic Brain Injury chapter (Chapter 12) as follows:

                                                                   NASET Code

Level I-Traumatic Brain Injury                        TBI

Level II-Penetrating Skull Fracture                TBI 7.00

Student # 3

Suppose Student #3 was classified with a speech and language impairment. The specific speech deficits were in articulation. An articulation disorder in NASET coding system and guide is coded in the chapter on Speech and Language Impairments (Chapter 2) as follows:

                                                                      NASET Code

Level I-Speech and Language Impairment       SL

Level II-Articulation Disorder                             SL 2.00

Student # 4

Suppose Student #4 was classified with an Other Health Impairment (OHI). This resulted from the child being diagnosed with cancer by an outside medical specialist (an oncologist). In NASET Coding System and Guide, Cancers of Childhood is coded in the chapter on Other Health Impairments (Chapter 5) as follows:

                                                                      NASET Code

Level I-Other Health Impairment                     OHI

Level II-Cancers of Childhood                         OHI 11.00

However, in the case of Multiple Disabilities each category must be coded separately as follows:

Student # 5

Suppose Student #5 was classified with Multiple Disabilities. This resulted from the child having two documented IDEA disabilities at the same time. This student has both intellectual disability and a hearing impairment. The intellectual disability was due to a chromosomal abnormality.  The hearing impairment is a conductive hearing loss.  In this situation, the student would have the following NASET coding:                                                               

                                                                         NASET Coding

Level I-Multiple Disabilities                                    MD

Level I(a) Intellectual Disability                              ID

Level II-Intellectual Disability due to -

Chromosomal Abnormalities                                ID 1.00

Level I(b)-Hearing Impairment                                HI

Level II-Conductive Hearing Loss                          HI 2.00

[TABLE 2]  What to Do When a Student

Has More Than One Level II Disorders

In some cases, more than one Level II disorder may be present so each will need to be identified: For example       

                                                                                        NASET Code

Level I-Emotional Disturbance                                                  ED

Level II-Inappropriate Behavior -

or Feelings Disorder                                                                   ED 3.00

Level II-Pervasive Mood Disorder                                             ED 4.00

______________________________

                                                                                             NASET Code

Level I- Speech and Language Impairment                            SL

Level II-Speech Fluency Problems                                          SL 4.00

Level II-Expressive Language Disorders                                 SL 9.00

Level II-Receptive Language Disorders                                  SL 10.00

______________________________

                                                                                              NASET Code

Level I- Specific Learning Disabilities                                      LD

            Level II-Dyscalculia                                                        LD 2.00

            Level II-Dysgraphia                                                        LD 3.00

            Level II-Organizational Disorder                                   LD 9.00

            Level II-Visual Processing Disorder                             LD 12.00


 

Level III - Specific Types of Disorders

Once you have determined the Level I IDEA Disability for a child and the Level II Disorder, you will need to determine whether there is a specific type of disorder that needs to be identified.

Level III coding represents specific “Types of Disorders”. A Level III disorder is normally diagnosed either through a comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment or by outside medical, psychological or other professionals.

Level III disorders can easily be identified as a whole number (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) followed by anything other than .00 after that whole number (1.01, 2.12, 3.04, 7.03, etc.)

Examples of Level I Disabilities, Level II Disorders, and Level III Types of Disorders

Student # 1

Suppose Student #1 was classified with a specific learning disability (LD).  The specific areas of difficulties were associated with reading.  This is known as dyslexia. The student has a specific type of dyslexia, known as Dysphonetic Dyslexia. Dysphonetic Dyslexia in NASET Coding System and Guide is coded in the chapter on Specific Learning Disabilities (Chapter 1) as follows:

                                                                      NASET Code

Level I- Specific Learning Disabilities            LD

Level II- Dyslexia                                              LD 4.00

Level III- Dysphonetic Dyslexia                      LD 4.07

Student # 2

Suppose Student #2 was classified with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The TBI was due to a penetrating skull fracture (e.g., gunshot wound).  The Penetrating skull fracture has significantly affected the child’s communication skills. A Penetrating Skull Fracture with Communication Impairments in NASET Coding System and Guide is coded in the chapter on Traumatic Brain Injury chapter (Chapter 12) as follows:

                                                                    NASET Code

Level I-Traumatic Brain Injury                       TBI

Level II-Penetrating Skull Fracture               TBI 7.00

Level III- Penetrating Skull Fracture -                           

with Communication Impairments               TBI 7.04

                                                                                                           

Student # 3

Suppose Student #3 was classified with a speech and language impairment. The specific speech deficits were in articulation. The specific articulation problems are that the child consistently substitutes incorrect letters for the correct ones.  In NASET coding system and guide, this is known as a Substitution Articulation Disorder. Substitution Articulation Disorder in NASET coding system and guide is coded in the chapter on Speech and Language Impairments (Chapter 2) as follows:

                                                                           NASET Code

Level I-Speech and Language Impairment            SL

Level II-Articulation Disorder                                  SL 2.00

Level II-Substitution Articulation Disorder            SL 2.03

Student # 4

Suppose Student #4 was classified with an Other Health Impairment (OHI). This resulted from the child being diagnosed with cancer by an outside medical specialist (an oncologist). The specific type of cancer was Leukemia. In NASET Coding System and Guide, Leukemia is coded in the chapter on Other Health Impairments (Chapter 5) as follows:

                                                                          NASET Code

Level I-Other Health Impairment                       OHI

Level II-Cancers of Childhood                           OHI 11.00

Level III-Leukemia                                               OHI 11.02

Note: in the case of Multiple Disabilities each category must be coded separately as follows:

Student # 5

Suppose Student #5 was classified with Multiple Disabilities. This resulted from the child having two documented IDEA disabilities at the same time. This particular student has both intellectual disability and a hearing impairment.

The intellectual disability was due to a specific type of chromosomal abnormality, known as Down Syndrome. 

The specific type of conductive hearing loss for this child is Otosclerosis. 

In this situation, the student would have the following NASET Coding System and Guide coding:

                                                                       NASET Coding

Level I-Multiple Disabilities                                     MD

Level I(a) Intellectual Disability                               ID

Level II-Intellectual Disability due to -

Chromosomal Abnormalities                                  ID 1.00

Level III-Down Syndrome                                        ID 1.03

Level I(b)-Hearing Impairment                                HI

Level II-Conductive Hearing Loss                          HI 2.00

Level III-Otosclerosis                                              HI 2.03

[TABLE 3]

What to do When There is No Level III Type of Disorder

Various disorders in NASET coding system and guide may not have a Level III classification. In that case this should be coded as “Not Applicable”.

For example:

                                                                    NASET Coding

Level I-Autism                                                        AU

Level II-Asperger’s Syndrome                              AU 1.00

Level III                                                        Not Applicable

______________________________

                                                                     NASET Coding

Level I-Hearing Impairment                                   HI

Level II-HI 9.00-Acoustic Neuroma                        HI 9.00

Level III          Code:                                   Not Applicable

______________________________

                                                                     NASET Coding

Level I-Specific Learning Disabilities                 LD

Level II-Gerstmann’s Syndrome                          LD 6.00

Level III                                                      Not Applicable

Also, in some cases, more than one Level III disorder may be present, so each will need to be identified separately.

For example:

Suppose a student was diagnosed with various speech and language disorders. These included stuttering, expressive language phonological disorder, and receptive language syntactical disorder.  Under NASET Coding System and Guide, this would be written as follows:

                                                                              NASET Code

Level I- Speech and Language Impairment            SL

Level II-Speech Fluency Problems                          SL 4.00

Level III-Stuttering                                                     SL 4.02

Level II-Expressive Language Disorders                SL 9.00

Level III-Expressive Language -

Phonological Disorder                                             SL 9.02

Level II-Receptive Language Disorders                 SL 10.00

Level III-Receptive Language Syntatical Disorder SL 10.04

_______________________________________________

Suppose a student was diagnosed with various types of learning disabilities. These include significant specific types of difficulties in math, writing, organization, and visual processing.  Under NASET coding system and guide, this would be written as follows:

                                                                       NASET Code

Level I- Specific Learning Disabilities                 LD

Level II-Dyscalculia                                               LD 2.00

Level III- Navigation Dyscalculia                         LD 2.09

Level III- Language Dysclaculia                           LD 2.06

Level II-Dysgraphia                                               LD 3.00

Level III-Spatial Dysgraphia                                  LD 3.03

Level II-Organizational Disorder                           LD 9.00

Level III-External Disorganization Disorder         LD 9.04

Level II-Visual Processing Disorder                     LD 12.00

Level III-Visual Depth Perception -

Processing Disorder                                              LD 12.03


 

Level IV - Specific Subtypes of Disorders

Once you have determined the Level I IDEA Disability for a child, the Level II Disorder, and the Level III Type of Disorder, you will need to determine whether there is a “specific subtype of the disorder” that needs to be identified.

Level IV coding represents specific “Subtypes of Disorders”. A Level IV disorder is normally diagnosed either through a comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment or by outside medical, psychological or other professionals.

Level IV subtypes of disorders can easily be identified as an NASET Coding System and Guide Code followed by a lower-case letter (e.g., a, b, c, d, etc.)

Examples of Level IV Codes would be: 2.12a, 3.04e, 7.03b, 8.04c.  Notice the lower-case letter at the end.  This automatically tells you that it is a Level IV subtype of a disorder.

Note:  Level IV subtypes do not occur frequently in the NASET Coding System and Guide. When there is no Level IV code, simply write “Not Applicable”.

Examples of Level I Disabilities, Level II Disorders, Level III Types of Disorders and Level IV Subtypes

Student # 1

Suppose Student #1 was classified with a specific learning disability (LD).  The specific areas of difficulties were associated with reading.  This is known as dyslexia. The student has a specific type of dyslexia, known as Dysphonetic Dyslexia. In NASET Coding System and Guide, there is no specific subtype of Dysphonetic Dyslexia.  Therefore, it is coded as follows:                                                                                                    

                                                                             NASET Code

Level I- Specific Learning Disabilities                      LD

Level II- Dyslexia                                                         LD 4.00

Level III- Dysphonetic Dyslexia                                  LD 4.07

Level IV                                                             Not Applicable

Student # 2

Suppose Student #2 was classified with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The TBI was due to a penetrating skull fracture (e.g., gunshot wound).  The Penetrating skull fracture has significantly affected the child’s communication skills. In NASET Coding System and Guide, there is no specific subtype of A Penetrating Skull Fracture with Communication Impairments.  Therefore, it is coded as follows:

                                                                                NASET Code

Level I-Traumatic Brain Injury                                      TBI

Level II-Penetrating Skull Fracture                              TBI 7.00

Level III- Penetrating Skull Fracture -  

with Communication Impairments                               TBI 7.04

Level IV                                                                Not Applicable

Student # 3

Suppose Student #3 was classified with a speech and language impairment. The specific speech deficits were in articulation. The specific articulation problems are that the child consistently substitutes incorrect letters for the correct ones.  In NASET Coding System and Guide, this is known as a Substitution Articulation Disorder. In NASET Coding System and Guide, there is no specific subtype of Substitution Articulation Disorder.  Therefore, it is coded as follows:                                                                                                                      

                                                                                 NASET Code

Level I-Speech and Language Impairment                   SL

Level II-Articulation Disorder                                         SL 2.00

Level II-Substitution Articulation Disorder                   SL 2.03

Level IV                                                                Not Applicable

Student # 4

Suppose Student #4 was classified with an Other Health Impairment (OHI). This resulted from the child being diagnosed with cancer by an outside medical specialist (an oncologist). The specific type of cancer was Leukemia. The specific type of Leukemia is known as Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  In NASET Coding System and Guide, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is coded in the chapter on Other Health Impairments (Chapter 5) as follows:

                                                                                     NASET Code

Level I-Other Health Impairment                                    OHI

Level II-Cancers of Childhood                                        OHI 11.00

Level III-Leukemia                                                            OHI 11.02

Level IV-Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia                         OHI 11.02c

Note: in the case of Multiple Disabilities each category must be coded separately as follows:

Student # 5

Suppose Student #5 was classified with Multiple Disabilities. This resulted from the child having two documented IDEA disabilities at the same time. This particular student has both intellectual disability and a hearing impairment.

The intellectual disability was due to a specific type of chromosomal abnormality, known as Down Syndrome. The Level IV specific subtype of Down Syndrome is known as “Down Syndrome due to Trisomy 21”.

The specific type of conductive hearing loss for this child is Otosclerosis.  The specific Level IV subtype of Otosclerosis is known as “Classic Otosclerosis”.

In this situation, the student would have the following NASET Coding System and Guide coding:

                                                              NASET Coding

Level I-Multiple Disabilities                      MD

Level I(a) Intellectual Disability                ID

Level II-Intellectual Disability due to -

Chromosomal Abnormalities                   ID 1.00

Level III-Down Syndrome                         ID 1.03

Down Syndrome due to Trisomy 21        ID 1.03c

Level I(b)-Hearing Impairment                 HI

Level II- Conductive Hearing Loss          HI 2.00

Level III-Otosclerosis                                HI 2.03

Level III-Classic Otosclerosis                  HI 2.03a


 

Level V - The Degree to Which the Disability Adversely Affects the Child’s Educational Performance

Level V is the degree to which the child’s disability adversely affects his/her educational performance. This decision should be made by the IEP Team (also referred to as an Eligibility Committee or Committee on Special Education, etc.)

The determination of Level V by the IEP Team should be the result of several factors:

  • The IEP Team’s decision should be based on the results of the multidisciplinary assessment, teacher interviews, professional input, parent interviews, informal assessments, observations, and all other appropriate information.
  • In order to determine the specific Level of Severity- Level V for a specific student, the IEP Team should examine the extent to which the child requires modifications.
  • In order to determine the specific Level of Severity- Level V for a specific student, the IEP Team should examine the frequency, intensity, and duration of the recommended related services.
  • In order to determine the specific Level of Severity- Level V for a specific student, the IEP Team should examine the extent to which the child requires assistive technology.
  • In order to determine the specific Level of Severity- Level V for a specific student, the IEP Team should examine the extent to which the child requires classroom accommodations.
  • In order to determine the specific Level of Severity- Level V for a specific student, the IEP Team should prior records, patterns of performance, and overall educational history.
  • In order to determine the specific Level of Severity- Level V for a specific student, the IEP Team should consider the “least restrictive environment” options that are being discussed by the Team for the child.

Important Point:  Ultimately the IEP team’s decision on Level V should answer the question based upon the above standards: “To what degree does the child’s disability adversely affect his/her educational performance?”

The Terms Used for Level V Coding are as follows:

Mild Adverse Affect: This suggests that the child’s disability has a mild adverse effect on his or her educational performance.

Moderate Adverse Affect: This suggests that the child’s disability has a moderate adverse effect on his or her educational performance.

Severe Adverse Affect: This suggests that the child’s disability has a severe adverse effect on his or her educational performance.

Examples of Level I Disabilities, Level II Disorders, Level III Types of Disorders, Level IV Subtypes, and Level V Degree to Which the Disability Adversely Affects the Child’s Educational Performance

Student # 1

Suppose Student #1 was classified with a specific learning disability (LD).  The specific areas of difficulties were associated with reading.  This is known as dyslexia. The student has a specific type of dyslexia, known as Dysphonetic Dyslexia. In NASET Coding System and Guide, there is no specific subtype of Dysphonetic Dyslexia.  The IEP Team has determined that the disability has a “Moderate” adverse effect on educational performance. Therefore, it is coded as follows:

                                                                      NASET Code

Level I- Specific Learning Disabilities             LD

Level II- Dyslexia                                                LD 4.00

Level III- Dysphonetic Dyslexia                        LD 4.07

Level IV                                                     Not Applicable

Level V                                                               Moderate

Student # 2

Suppose Student #2 was classified with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The TBI was due to a penetrating skull fracture (e.g., gun shot wound).  The Penetrating skull fracture has significantly affected the child’s communication skills. In NASET Coding System and Guide, there is no specific subtype of A Penetrating Skull Fracture with Communication Impairments.  The IEP Team has determined that the disability has a “Severe” adverse effect on educational performance Therefore, it is coded as follows:

                                                                       NASET Code

Level I-Traumatic Brain Injury                           TBI

Level II-Penetrating Skull Fracture                   TBI 7.00

Level III- Penetrating Skull Fracture -                 

with Communication Impairments                    TBI 7.04

Level IV                                                      Not Applicable

Level V                                                                    Severe                                                                                    

Student # 3

Suppose Student #3 was classified with a speech and language impairment. The specific speech deficits were in articulation. The specific articulation problems are that the child consistently substitutes incorrect letters for the correct ones.  In NASET Coding System and Guide, this is known as a Substitution Articulation Disorder. In NASET Coding System and Guide, there is no specific subtype of Substitution Articulation Disorder.  The IEP Team has determined that the disability has a “Mild” adverse effect on educational performance. Therefore, it is coded as follows:

                                                                                                           

                                                                                 NASET Code

Level I-Speech and Language Impairment                    SL

Level II-Articulation Disorder                                         SL 2.00

Level II-Substitution Articulation Disorder                   SL 2.03

Level IV                                                                Not Applicable

Level V                                                                                  Mild

Student # 4

Suppose Student #4 was classified with an Other Health Impairment (OHI). This resulted from the child being diagnosed with cancer by an outside medical specialist (an oncologist). The specific type of cancer was Leukemia. The specific type of Leukemia is known as Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  The IEP Team has determined that the disability has a “Severe” adverse effect on educational performance. Therefore, it is coded as follows:

                                                                               NASET Code

Level I-Other Health Impairment                             OHI

Level II-Cancers of Childhood                                 OHI 11.00

Level III-Leukemia                                                     OHI 11.02

Level IV-Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia                  OHI 11.02c

Level V                                                                             Severe

Note: in the case of Multiple Disabilities each category must be coded separately as follows:

Student # 5

Suppose Student #5 was classified with Multiple Disabilities. This resulted from the child having two documented IDEA disabilities at the same time. This student has both intellectual disability and a hearing impairment.

The intellectual disability was due to a specific type of chromosomal abnormality, known as Down Syndrome. The Level IV specific subtype of Down Syndrome is known as “Down Syndrome due to Trisomy 21”. The IEP Team has determined that the Intellectual Disability has a “Severe” adverse effect on educational performance. 

The specific type of conductive hearing loss for this child is Otosclerosis.  The specific Level IV subtype of Otosclerosis is known as “Classic Otosclerosis”. The IEP Team has determined that the Classic Otosclerosis has a “Moderate” adverse effect on educational performance. In this situation, the student would have the following NASET Coding System and Guide coding:

                                                              NASET Coding

Level I-Multiple Disabilities                         MD

Level I(a) Intellectual Disability                   ID

Level II-Intellectual Disability due to -

Chromosomal Abnormalities                       ID 1.00

Level III-Down Syndrome                             ID 1.03

Level IV-Down Syndrome due to -

Trisomy 21                                                      ID 1.03c

Level V                                                            Severe

Level I(b)-Hearing Impairment                      HI

Level II- Conductive Hearing Loss               HI 2.00

Level III-Otosclerosis                                     HI 2.03

Level IV-Classic Otosclerosis                       HI 2.03a

Level V                                                          Moderate


NASET Coding System & Guide and IEP Development

The goals of the NASET Coding System and Guide are to provide:

  • a standard of IDEA diagnosis for children in special education throughout the country
  • a comprehensive and descriptive diagnosis of a child’s disabilities
  • an indication of how the specific disabilities and disorders adversely affected a child’s educational performance
  • a thorough, comprehensive, and specific diagnostic profile
  • teachers with a better understanding of the areas in need of remediation or attention
  • parents with a better understanding of their child’s disabilities and
  • specific and helpful information for students, schools, committees, and parents to allow for a more comprehensive, practical, and realistic Individual Education Program (IEP)

As previously mentioned, up to this point all children under IDEA are classified on one level. This general level, which reflects one of the 13 IDEA classifications, actually tells the reader of the IEP very little about the specific conditions that resulted in this classification.

What we have found over the years, is that when parents are asked what type of disability their child has, most can only repeat this one level. For example, if further questioned about the specific type of learning disability, speech and language impairment etc. the same parents will have no idea that the child has “dyslexia” or “dyscalculia” or “Cluttering”, etc. With an NASET Coding System and Guide diagnosis included on their child’s IEP, there will be no problem in knowing the disorders, specific types of disorders, and subtypes of disorders.  They will also have a greater awareness of how it all adversely affects their child’s educational performance.

We feel that examples of IEP’s with the NASET Coding System and Guide diagnoses will provide a clearer idea of the tremendous advantages of the NASET Coding System and Guide over the present form used in schools for children with disabilities. However, we are only presenting the portion of an IEP that would pertain to the NASET Coding System and Guide diagnosis. The remaining sections of an IEP are not the subject of this book.

The format that an NASET Coding System and Guide coded IEP can take is up to the discretion of the district, agency, or school.

The rest of this section provides you with five different scenarios of students whose IEP’s have been coded using the NASET Coding System and Guide. 

We have also provided you with two different NASET Coding System and Guide IEP formats for each of the five scenarios to show the flexibility and comprehensive nature of this coding system.


IEP EXHIBITS List 

IEP Exhibits 

1. Exhibit  - Learning Disabilities- IEP Format WITHOUT Explanations of the NASET Coding System and Guide Codes - CLICK HERE

2. Exhibit  - Learning Disabilities - IEP Format WITH Explanations of the NASET Coding System and Guide Codes - CLICK HERE

3.  Exhibit  - Emotional Disturbance -  IEP Format WITHOUT Explanations of the NASET Coding System and Guide Codes - CLICK HERE

4.  Exhibit  - Emotional Disturbance - IEP Format WITH Explanations of the NASET Coding System and Guide Codes - CLICK HERE

5.  Exhibit  - Orthopedic Impairment -  IEP Format WITHOUT Explanations of the NASET Coding System and Guide Codes - CLICK HERE

6.  Exhibit  - Orthopedic Impairment -  IEP Format WITH Explanations of the NASET Coding System and Guide Codes - CLICK HERE

Conclusion

In conclusion, the NASET Coding System and Guide coding system allows for standardization, flexibility, depth of diagnosis, and practicality regardless of the IEP form chosen. The use of the NASET Coding System and Guide coding system will now allow students who move from district to district or state to state to maintain the same level of services based on a standardized diagnosis.


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