The number of Oregon students being classified as having special needs requiring education accommodation is at an all-time high, the Oregon Department of Education reports. Since last year, the number of students enrolled in special education rose by about 400 to nearly 85,000 students in the state.
Among the most notable trends is the increase of the students considered special needs because of unspecified health impairments, which is typically the classification used to accommodate children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They are assigned to this category because – according to The Oregonian – ADHD diagnosis is not named under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act as a condition requiring accommodation.
About 600 more students, for a total of 11,242, were identified as “other health impaired” last year, the department said. A recent analysis of Centers for Disease Control Data done by the New York Times found that 11 percent of U.S. school children have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Only about 2 percent of Oregon students received special education services for ADHD or other health impairments.
The number of children getting special help earlier in their academic career was also on the rise, with 250 addition students being diagnosed as special needs at or before the age of four. Experts encourage early diagnoses of developmental delays because intervention delivered before a child progresses far in his or her academic career is believed to be more beneficial in the long term than help given once the student enters school.
As with the rest of the country, there’s also an increase in the number of kids with autism diagnosis entering school with 3% or 9,000 students around Oregon getting special help because they fall on the spectrum.
The largest category of special education students are those with a specific learning disability. The count of students with learning disabilities was essentially unchanged at 27,000, the state reported.
The number of students in most other categories, including emotionally disturbed (about 4,600 students), intellectually disabled (3,900) and hearing impaired (1,100), also showed very little change from the previous year.
The instances of ADHD are on the upswing around the country, with the latest numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that nearly 20% of male students nationwide having been diagnosed – a substantial increase over the last decade.