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Students with Disabilities

In 1998–1999, 6 million children (ages 0 to 21), or about 13% of public school children, were enrolled in special education programs. Slowly increasing numbers and proportions of children are being served in programs for the disabled. During the 1990–1991 school year, 11% of students were served in these programs compared with 13% in 1998–1999. Some of the rise since 1990–1991 may be attributed to the increasing proportion of children identified as learning disabled, which rose from 5% of enrollment to 6% of enrollment in 1998–1999.

 Percent of all students served by
federally supported programs for students with disabilities1
Type of disability1976–19771980–19811990–19911995–19961999–20002000–20012001–2002
All disabilities8.32%10.14%11.55%12.43%13.21%13.34%13.34%
Specific learning disabilities1.803.585.175.756.046.025.97
Speech or language impairments2.942.862.392.282.302.302.27
Mental retardation2.172.031.301.
Emotional disturbance0.640.850.950.981.001.001.00
Hearing impairments0.
Orthopedic impairments0.
Other health impairments0.320.240.130.300.540.620.71
Visual impairments0.
Multiple disabilities0.
Developmental delay0.040.060.09
Autism and traumatic brain injury0.
Preschool disabled3(4)(4)0.951.
NOTE: Because of rounding, details may not add to totals. (—) = not available.
1. Based on the enrollment in public schools, kindergarten through 12th grade, including a relatively small number of prekindergarten students. Includes students ages 3 to 21.
2. Less than .05%.
3. Includes preschool children ages 3 to 5.
4. Included in count by specific disability.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; National Center for Education Statistics. From Digest of Education Statistics 2003.

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