About Pinellas Kids

Children With Special Needs

Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Every year, under the federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), millions of children with disabilities receive special services designed to meet their unique needs. For school-aged children and youth (aged 3-21), special education and related services are provided through the school system. These services can be very important in helping children and youth with disabilities develop, learn and succeed in school and other settings (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY), 2009).

Students with Special Learning Needs (Exceptionalities)

Students with disabilities or special learning needs in Florida – called exceptionalities by the Florida Department of Education – include children with speech or language impairment, emotional/behavioral disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory impairment, developmental disabilities and gifted children. 

NOTE: students who have been designated as having more than one exceptionality are only counted once using their primary exceptionality.

Pinellas County Students with Exceptionalities

The number of Pinellas County public school students with disabilities has consistently declined since the 2003 school year (see chart 1). In addition, the percentage of the entire student membership designated as having disabilities also declined, falling from 18.2% in 2003 to 14.2% in 2009 (see chart 2). In the fall of 2009 there were 14,631 students delineated as having disabilities and 5,727 students defined as gifted in Pinellas County.

Number of Students with Exceptionalities - Pinellas

Percent of Student Membership with Exceptionalities

Pinellas County Students by Type of Exceptionality

Students with communications disorders comprise the largest group of exceptionalities in Florida, with Pinellas County having a lower percentage of students with communication disorders than the state. However, the percentage of Pinellas County students classified as having emotional disorders is almost double that of the state (see chart 3). 

The disability categories included for each exceptionality are as follows:

  • Communication - speech impaired, language impaired, specific learning disabled.
  • Emotional - emotional/behavioral disability
  • Intellectual – intellectual disability
  • Physical - orthopedically impaired, traumatic brain injured
  • Developmental – autism spectrum disorder, developmentally delayed
  • Sensory - deaf or hard of hearing, visually Impaired, duel sensory impaired
  • Other – Other health impaired, hospital/homebound, established conditions 

Exceptionalities by Type - Comparative

Read More About It:

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

Social Security Administration – Benefits for Children with Disabilities

The Effect of Special Education Vouchers on Public School Achievement: Evidence From Florida’s McKay Scholarship Programs

Data Accountability Center – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Data

Funded Agencies:

Other Resources:

Pinellas Indicators has ZIP Code data on disabilities: http://www.pinellasindicators.org/pdf/Disabilities_2000.pdf

The Effect of Special Education Vouchers on Public School Achievement: Evidence From Florida’s McKay Scholarship Programs:  http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/cr_52.pdf