asthmaThe following is a list medical conditions and disorders taken from Understanding Inclusion by the Children’s Forum.

This list is designed to be used with our series of articles Understanding Inclusion and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Continue reading below the links.

1. Part One – Definitions & Requirements.

2. Part Two – Common Misconceptions and Benefits.

3. Part Three – Being on the Child’s Team

List of Acronyms & Abbreviations

List of National Organizations & Resources

List of Frequently Asked Questions


Any of a variety of conditions that may be due to muscular, skeletal or neuro-muscular disorders, paralysis or loss of one or more limbs which impose physical limitations of the individual including an impaired ability to walk, stand or use one’s hands.

Cerebral Palsy – A non progressive paralysis that is caused be developmental defects in the brain or trauma at birth that results in loss of muscular control, spasms, weakness and speech problems. There are a number of forms of cerebral palsy including ataxia, athetosis, rigidity, spasticity and tremor.

Muscular Dystrophy– A familiar disease that is characterized by progressive atrophy and wasting of the muscles.

Spina Bifida – A congenital defect in the walls of the spinal cord caused by lack of union between the laminae of the vertebrae. As a result of this deficiency, the membranes of the cord are pushed through the opening forming the spina bifida tumor.


Any mental defect or characteristic resulting from a congenital abnormality, traumatic injury or disease that impairs normal intellectual functioning and prevents a person from participating normally in the activities appropriate for his particular age group.

Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) – A variety of congenital developmental disorder that is marked by sloping forehead, presence of epicanthal folds, gray or very light yellow spots at the periphery of the iris, short broad hands with a single palmer crease, a flat nose or absent bridge, low set ears and generally short physique.

Fragile X Syndrome – A condition of an x-linked mutation association with a fragile site near the tip of the long arm of the x chromosome. Most males and 30% of females with this mutation are mentally deficient. The males also develop greatly enlarged testicles after puberty.

Tuberous Sclerosis – A syndrome that is manifested by convulsive seizures, progressive mental disorder, benign sebaceous tumors on the face and tumors of the kidneys and brain with projections into the cerebral ventricles.


Baby or young child who routinely needs special medical attention.

Nasogastric (NG) Tube – A nasogastric tube is a rubber or plastic tube that passes through the nose, down the throat and esophagus (food pipe) and into the stomach. NG tubes may be used for feedings, fluids or medicines when a child cannot take these by mouth.

Multiple Oral Medications – Multiple prescription medicines taken orally by a child on a regular basis.

Ventilator Dependent – Any person who is dependent on a device used to provide assisted respiration and positive pressure breathing.


A term used when a baby or young child has not achieved new abilities within normal time range and has a pattern of behavior that is not appropriate for his age.

Birth Injuries – Physical or neurological injuries to the neonate that are caused by difficulties in the birth process.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – Birth defects in infants arising from the mother’s chronic alcoholism during the gestation period. The syndrome has a specific pattern of malformation involving a prenatal onset of growth deficiency, developmental delay, cranio-facial anomalies and limb defects.

Shaken Infant (baby) Syndrome – A condition that can occur when a baby is shaken so violently that his or her brain, spine or spinal cord is injured. Long term complications include mentally handicapped, paralysis, vision loss and possibly death.


Visually Impaired – Eye or optic nerve malfunctions which prevent affected individuals from seeing normally.

Hearing Impairments – A defect in one or more parts of the ear and its associated nerve pathways that lead from the ear to the brain which prvvents the indvidual from adequately hearing, receiving or attending to faint speech, ordinary conversational speech, loud speech or ther sounds.

Blindness – A condition in which affected individuals have central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with maximal correction or a peripheral field of vision that is so contracted that its widest diameter subtends an angle no greater than twenty degrees. These individuals are termed legally blind. Educationally blind individuals are people whose visual impairments are such that they principally read braille.

Cockayne’s Syndrome – A heredity syndrome transmitted as an autosomal recessive trait, consisting of dwarfism with retinal atrophy and deafness, associated with progeria, prognathism, mental retardation and photo-sensitivity.

Deafness – A hearing loss that is so severe at birth and in the per-lingual period (before the child is two to three years of age) that the normal spontaneous development of language is precluded.


Behavior which seriously interferes with the normal life of a person or the lives of those with whom he or she lives or works; may be caused by environmental, emotional or psychiatric factors.

Prader-Willi Syndrome – A rare, incurable and sometimes fatal disease of childhood that is characterized by short stature; lack of muscle tone, size and strength; underdeveloped or small genitals; an insatiable appetite which leads to obesity if untreated; and cognitive delays in most cases.

Tourette’s Syndrome – A neurological movement disorder which begins when the individual is age two to sixteen and characterized by rapidly repetitive muscular movements called ‘tics’ including rapid eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking, facial twitches or other torso/limb movements; and involuntary vocalizations including repeated sniffing, throat clearing, coughing, grunting, barking or shrieking.


Any of a number of conditions that interfere with the individual’s ability to produce audible utterances to such a degree that the resultant sounds do not serve satisfactorily as the basic tool for oral expression. Speech disabilities fall into several categories; articulation problems in which speech sounds are omitted, replaced by substitute sounds or distorted; voice problems in which pitch, loudness or quality of voice are affected; and stuttering.

Articulation Disorders – Same as above.

Echolalia – An automatic repetition of sounds, words and phrases, including responding to questions by repeating the ending of the question rather than processing and answering it.

Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate – A congenital fissure in the upper lip an/or the roof of the mouth which forms a communicating passageway between the mouth and nasal cavities This condition may lead to articulation and voice problems.


Seizures are characterized by uncontrolled movements of the muscles of the body or change in alertness or behavior. They are caused by certain abnormalities in the brain. In the normal brain, there is organized electrical activity which is always present. A seizure happens when bursts of unorganized electrical impulses interfere with the normal brain electrical activity A burst is the sudden appearance of electrical impulses. The different types of seizures are caused by different kinds of electrical bursts or by electrical bursts in different parts of the brain.

Tonic-clonic (also know ans Grand mall ) seizures are the most common type of seizure. First the child goes through the tonic phases with loss of consciousness, stiffening of the body, drooling, heavy breathing and at times loss of bladder and bowel control. This is followed by the clonic phase during which the muscles change from rigid to relaxed. The seizure is often followed by a post-ictal state which is a period of sleepiness or confusion.

Absence (Petit mal) – These seizures often involve very brief periods of staring as if the child is daydreaming. Often the child will have no change in muscle tone. For example, if standing the child does not fall. There will be a momentary loss of consciousness and the child will not know what happened during the brief time of the seizure.

Infantile (Infantile Myoclonic) – This seizure occurs during the first two years of life and usually before one year of age. During infantile seizures, children may demonstrate different signs of seizure activity, such as brief nodding of the head or flexing the head and arms many times during the day.

Partial – simple (focal) – This seizure my involve any part of the body. The term simple means that generally there is no loss of consciousness.

Complex (psychomotor) – These seizures are similar to the simple partial seizures in that only a part of the body is involved.. The term complex means that there is the additional component of mental confusion, behavioral symptoms and loss of consciousness. These seizures are often followed by a period of confusion.


Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity/Attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity.

A disorder in which developmentally inappropriate inattention and impassivity are exhibited. There are two subtypes: Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity. Some characteristics are: not staying on task, difficulty organizing and completing work, inability to stay with activities for periods of time appropriate for the child’s age and failure to follow through on parental requests. Symptoms may vary with situation and time, (i.e. home, school, groups and one-on-one interactions).


A lifelong developmental disability which affects communication and behavior and which usually appears before age three. It is characterized by a lack of meaningful speech or inappropriate speech; withdrawn, anti-social and/or affection-less behavior; a fascination with objects rather than with people; prolonged odd body movements; a hypersensitivity to stimuli; stereotypic and compulsive behavior; and a failure to initiate or relate to people.


An inherited disease that affects the pancreas, respiratory system and sweat glands which usually begins in infancy and is characterized by chronic respiratory infection, pancreatic insufficiency and heat intolerance. Prognosis is not good as there is no cure, but antibiotics and new treatments have prolonged the life of many patients.


A disorder in which the pancreas produces too little insulin with the result that the body is unable to adequately metabolize sugar. Principal symptoms are elevated blood sugar, sugar in the urine, excessive urine production and increased food intake. Complications of diabetes, if left untreated, include low resistance to infections leading to a susceptibility to gangrene, cardiovascular and kidney disorders, disturbances in the electrolyte balance and eye disorders, some of which may lead to blindness.


A condition in which the individual has an acquired hypersensitivity to substances that normally do not cause a reaction. Manifestations most commonly involve the respiratory tract or skin and include eczema, hives, nasal discharge and inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane.


A disorder of the bronchial system that is characterized by labored breathing accompanied by wheezing that is caused by a  a spasm of the bronchial tubes or by swelling of the mucous membrane. Recurrence and severity of attacks are influenced by secondary factors: mental or physical fatigue, exposure to fumes, endocrine changes at various periods in life and emotional situations.


Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited blood disorder that turns normal, round blood cells int o misshaped cells that look like sickles or crescent moons. These sickled cells can get stuck in blood vessels, blocking blood flow and causing pain as well as damage to organs, muscles and bones. There are several types of sickle cell disease.

Back to Part One – Definitions & Requirements

Back to Part Two – Misconceptions & Benefits

Back to Part Three – Being on the Child’s Team

List of Acronyms & Abbreviations

National Organizations & Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

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