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University of St. Francis logo · College of Education · Regional Educational Academy for Leadership

Development and Characteristics of Individuals with Disabilities
EEND and MEDU-640

  • Template 2015
  • Section TMPL
  • 3 Credits
  • 07/22/2015 to 07/22/2115
  • Modified 07/19/2020

Mission Statement

As a Catholic university rooted in the liberal arts, we are a welcoming community of learners challenged by Franciscan values and charism, engaged in a continuous pursuit of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice, and ever mindful of a tradition that emphasizes reverence for creation, compassion and peacemaking. We strive for academic excellence in all programs, preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership. 

Contact Information

Instructor: Add First Name Add Last Name

  • Email: Add email address
  • Phone: Add phone number
Please note that time references reflected in the syllabus and course are based upon Central Time.

Office Hours

  • Monday, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Virtual via Canvas

  • Wednesday, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Add Room Here if Applicable

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

By Request/Appointment


The emphasis of this course is on understanding the characteristics and origin of disabilities as well as designing and assessing materials to meet the individual educational needs of individuals with mild to severe disabilities. This course provides specific understanding of characteristics and development of students with disabilities and their implications on teaching and learning; when teaching students with documented disabilities specified in IDEA (1997): Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), Emotional Disturbance (ED), Intellectual Disabilities (ID), Other Health Impairment(OHI); Autism(ASD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Orthopedic impairments,  Sensory Impairments and other low-incidence disabilities (34 CFR, Section 300.7). The course will also stress on characteristics that are non-categorical in nature and are observed across the disability areas, which are helpful in choosing and designing interventions. Characteristics of students who are English Language Learners (ESL) and those who are ESL and have exceptional needs will be examined. Writing of Individual Education Plans (IEP) will be emphasized.


College of Education Mission

The mission of the College of Education is to prepare competent and caring educators who understand students, serve the community and develop professionally to become ethical decision-makers and leaders.

Understanding Students

Candidates will understand how individuals with disabilities grow, develop, and learn and provide learning opportunities that support the intellectual, social, and personal development of all individuals with disabilities.

Serving the Community

Candidates will understand how to communicate the origins and impact of mild, moderate & severe disabilities and causal factors to educators, parents, and other professionals in the community.

Finding Our Professional Selves

Candidates will be reflective practitioners who continually evaluate how choices and actions affect students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community and actively seek opportunities to grow professionally.


Access to standards referenced in this section can be found HERE

By the conclusion of the course, each participant will be able to do the following:

Outcome 1: Students will compare and contrast differential characteristics of individuals with disabilities across the range, including levels of severity and multiple disabilities and their influence on development, behavior and learning.IPT1,2,6; NB-1,2; CEC-1,3


  • 1a. Identify and understand the criteria/characteristics for all 13 disability areas defined in IDEA 2004. IPT1.A,1.B,1.G,2.A; CEC1.1,3.1,3.2; LBS 1
  • 1b. Describe the philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education. IPT1.A,1.D,2.B,2.C
  • 1d. Identify and explain medical conditions affecting individuals with disabilities and the effects of various medications on their educational, cognitive, physical, sensory, social, and emotional behaviors.IPT1.D, 1.L, 2.E
  • 1e. Recognize the impact on learning for students with language disorders, processing deficits, cognitive disorders, behavioral/emotional/social disorders, physical disabilities and health impairments and the implications for teachers, parents, and employers as appropriate. IPT4.A,4.B,4.D,4.L,6.A,6.C,6.F; CEC-1.2

Outcome 2: Students will identify the cognitive process associated with various kinds of learning and how these processes can be stimulated and developed. IPT1,2,3,5; NB 2,3; CEC 2, 3, 5


  • 2a. Discuss the central concepts and methods of inquiry and structure of individuals with disabilities NB-2,3
  • 2b. Utilize and plan exceptional, functional or transitional programs for students with disabilities. IPT 3.B,8.5,7.H,7.N
  • 2c. Apply the UDL method of lesson planning and development so that all students are included. CEC 2.2,3.1,3.2,3.3,5.1,5.2,5.3
  • 2d. Describe and discuss instructional strategies that are based on individual learner characteristics.CEC-2.1,2.2,3.1,3.3

Outcome 3: Students will identify and diagnose the similarities and differences among the cognitive, physical, sensory, cultural, social and emotional development and needs of individuals with and without disabilities. IPT 1, 2, 4, 5; NB 1, 2, 3; CEC 3


  • 3a. Describe the issues in definition and identification procedures for individuals with disabilities.IPT-1.G,3.E; CEC 3
  • 3b. Apply using person-first terminology while referring to students with disabilities.NB1,2,3,
  • 3c. Identify the basic functions of the body’s systems in relation to common medical conditions and health impairments.
  • 3d. Recognize the effects of dysfunctional behavior on learning and the differences between behavioral and emotional disorders. IPT 1.D,1.G,4.D,9.H

Outcome 4: Students will evaluate and apply assessment procedures. IPT 1, 3, 8; CEC 4; NB 5


  • 4a. Examine appropriate assessments and procedures for purposes of placement, and developing the appropriate modes of education. NB 5
  • 4b. Analyze the relationship between individual characteristics and instructional methods or strategies chosen
  • 4c. Describe the relationship between individual characteristics and instructional methods or strategies chosen. IPT-8.5 ; CEC-5.1
  • 4d. Select and discuss the strengths and limitations of various assessment tools.
  • 4e. Identify and discuss instructional strategies that are based on individual learner characteristics. IPT1.G,3.E; CEC 5.1,5.2,5.3

Outcome 5: Students will examine and develop a portion of an IEP.IPT 3.B,8.5,7.H,7.M,7.N; CEC-2.1,5.1,5.2,5.3,7.1,7.2,7.3; NB-3,4


  • 5a. Write a present level of Performance (PLEP), part of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) based on the individual strengths and needs
  • 5b. Use knowledge of a student’s cognitive, communication, physical, cultural, social, and emotional characteristics in planning and delivering instruction and in transition planning. Will write Goals and objectives based on the student’s needs.
  • 5c. Recommend referrals to appropriate specialists when more in-depth information about a child’s needs is required for making educational decisions.
  • 5d. Provide a functional description of individual strengths and needs, and their implications on learning.
  • 5e. Define the relationship between individual characteristics and instructional methods or strategies chosen.


Raymond, E.B., (2017).  Learners with mild disabilities: A characteristics approach (5th ed.). Pearson Education Inc.


Discussion and Reflections: Candidates will respond to weekly discussion and reflection prompts.
Course objectives: 1b,1e,2a,2b,2d,2c,3a,3b,3c,4a,4e

Reflections on Videos: Candidates will respond to assigned videos.
Course Objectives: 1b,1e,2a,2d,3a,3b,3c,4a,4b,4e

Power-point of the History of a Specific Disability: Candidates will research develop a power-point covering the history of a specific disability.
• Standards: IPT 1.A, 1.B, 1.D, 1.G, 1.L, 2.A, 2.E, 3.B,4.A, 4.B, 4.D, 4.l, 6.A, 6.C,6.F, 8.5,7.H,7.N 9.H; CEC-1.1,1.2.1, 2.2, .2,3., 3.1, 3.2,3.3, 5.1,5.2 5.3; LBS 1; NB 1,2,3
• Course objectives: 1a,1d,1e,2a,3c,2c,2d, 3b,3d

Internet Research on Disability Website and Critique: Candidates will research a website on a disability, evaluate the website resource.I
• Standards: IPT 1.A, 1.B, 1.D, 1.G, 1.L, 2.A, 2.E, 3.B,4.A, 4.B, 4.D, 4.l, 6.A, 6.C,6.F, 8.5,7.H,7.N 9.H; CEC-1.1,1.2.1, 2.2, .2,3., 3.1, 3.2,3.3, 5.1,5.2 5.3; LBS 1; NB 1,2,3
• Course objectives: 1a,1d,1e,2a,3c, 2c,2d, 3b,3d

Universal Design Lesson Plan: Candidates will develop a lesson plan using the principles of: Universal Design for Learners.
• Standards: IPT-1.A, 1.B, 1.D, 1.G, 1.L, 2.A, 2.E, 3.B,4.A, 4.B, 4.D, 4.l, 6.A, 6.C,6.F, 8.5,7.H,7.N 9.H; CEC-1.1,1.2.1, 2.2, .2,3., 3.1, 3.2,3.3, 5.1,5.2 5.3; LBS 1; NB 1,2,3
• Course objectives: 1a,1d,1e,2a,3c

Resource Guide for Assistive Technology: Candidates will develop a resource guide with at least 15 different Assistive technologies that will assist a student with disabilities in accessing general education.
• Standards: NB 2,3; CEC-2.1,2.2,3.1,3.3; NB-5; IPT- 1.G,3.E, 8.m; CEC 5.1,5.2,5.3
• Course objectives: 2b,2d,4a,4c,4d,4e

Writing a PLEP: Candidates will gather recent information/data for a student and then will write a Present Level of Performance.
• Standards: IPT 3.B ,4.A,4.B,4.D,4.L,6.A,6.C,6.F, 7.H, 7.M, 7.N 8.5; NB 2,3; CEC 1.2, 2.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3; NB 3,4
• Course objectives: 1e,2a,4c,4d,4e,5a,5c,5d,5e

Writing Goals and Objectives for an IEP: Candidates will write goals and objectives for the areas of: Reading, Math and Behavior.
• Standards: .IPT 3.B ,4.A,4.B,4.D,4.L,6.A,6.C,6.F, 7.H, 7.M, 7.N 8.5; NB 2,3; CEC 1.2, 2.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3; NB 3,4
• Course objectives: 1e,2a,4c,4d,4e,5a,5c,5d,5e


The percentages noted in the Grading Scale will be used and equated to a final grade. Scoring rubrics for discussions, assignments, and final project (if applicable) will be provided in Canvas or on limited occasions, by the instructor as a handout.



Resulting grade and related performance levels
Grade Range Notes
A 100 - 93%
B 92 - 85%
C 84 - 77%
F 76 - 0%


  • Candidates are required to complete assigned readings, written assignments, viewing of videos, posting of discussions, and projects on the scheduled due dates.  
  • Candidates are also expected to inform the instructor of known absence in advance and complete any work that may be required.
  • Missing/late work may be completed and submitted for credit at the discretion of the instructor.
  • Candidates are responsible to ensure that appropriate steps are taken for timely submission of all assignments.
Types of evaluations and related weights
Type Weight Topic Notes
Weekly discussions 10 points each

110 points possible

Video Reflections 10 points each

40 points possible

Internet Research on a Specific Disability 50 points
Internet Research on Disability Websites and their critique 50 points
Universal Design Lesson Plan 50 points
Resource Guide for Assistive Technology 120 points
Writing a PLEP (Present level of performance) for an IEP 50 points
Write 3 IEP goals with three corresponding objectives for the student you wrote the PLEP for 50 points
Quizzes 20 points each

260 points possible

Course Policies

Policies for the College of Education at University of St. Francis

CLICK HERE (requires active student account) for policies, including but not limited to:

  • Method of Instruction
  • Expectations of Candidates
  • Online Courses
  • Attendance Policies for Site-Based and Online Courses
  • Minimum Standards for Writing
  • Computer and Digital Information Literacy Skills

Course Evaluations | Surveys

Information gathered through course evaluations and surveys is an important part of maintaining quality and continuous improvement in courses, and it is the University’s expectation that students will thoughtfully participate in this evaluation process.

Institutional Policies

Students should use the USF portal as the first resource for guidance and support on items such as student complaints, safety, security and transportation questions, contact information for various USF departments, student support services such as counseling and academic resources. Information on these resources can be found in the For Students section of the USF portal.

A complete listing of university policies and procedures can be found in the University of St. Francis Catalog and Student Handbooks. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity requires that all academic work be wholly the product of an identified individual or individuals. Collaboration is only acceptable when it is explicitly acknowledged. Ethical conduct is the obligation of every member of the University community, and breaches of academic integrity constitute serious offenses. Since a lack of integrity hinders the student’s academic development, it cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Violations include but are not limited to: cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and denying others access to information or material. See the University of St. Francis Catalog for further clarification and information on grievance procedures.

Services and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (ADA)

The University strives to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA). A student who requires special accommodations or arrangements due to a disability should contact the Office of Disability Services. This contact preferably should occur no later than the first week of classes. Early contact before the semester starts is encouraged to allow sufficient time to provide accommodations. Extra time is needed for some types of accommodations such as sign language interpreters or special text formatting. Should a need arrive after the start of a semester; the student is encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as soon as possible. Note that accommodations are not retroactive. Each case will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

USF is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs, regardless of the course format. If you have a documented disability and need a reasonable accommodation to participate in a course, complete course requirements, or benefit from the University’s programs or services, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 815-740-3631 or [email protected] . The Office of Disability Services is in the Academic Resource Center (ARC) and is located on the second floor of the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Library in room L214. Consultations are welcome, please contact the Office of Disability Services for an appointment.

Technology Support

  1. The Department of Academic Technology (DAT) administers the learning management system Canvas. If you are experiencing any difficulty using Canvas or need technical assistance, you have several options to receive support, including:
  1. 24x7 Live Canvas Support. If you experience technical difficulties or have a question about Canvas, you can receive support 24 hours a day 7 days a week through the Canvas help menu. From the help menu, select Chat with Canvas Support for a “live” text-based click-to-chat session,
  2. select Report a Problem to send an email support request, or speak to someone directly by using the toll-free number listed under the Canvas Support Hotline.

NOTE: Responses to Canvas’ email-based Report a Problem request system will go to your USF email account, NOT your personal email.

2. Online Self-Service Help Resources. A student user guide and other resources for solving issues related to Canvas can be found at LearnItNow

3. Telephone Support from DAT. You can also phone the Department of Academic Technology for personal help at (815) 740-5080 or (866) 337-1497 (toll-free) between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Central Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

For any technical support issues that are not related to Canvas, please contact the USF Technology Support Center (TSC). You can reach them via:

Notice of Copyright

This course may contain copyrighted materials that are intended to support the learning experiences of students currently enrolled in the course. No student may retain or further disseminate any copyrighted materials, in their entirety or any portion thereof, under penalty of law.

Academic Support Services

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) located in Room L214 in the Library (815-740-5060) offers various types of academic services.  Online and distance learning students can contact ARC for appropriate resources.  ARC serves students who need tutoring in many areas of study including writing and math.  Library services include a number of online services and full text databases.  Call the Library at 815-740-5041 for additional information.  If you need academic-related resources or assistance, please contact the Academic Resource Center.


The syllabus for this course is an outline of the requirements for this course. 

  • Dates, projects, and activities may be changed or altered as needed. 
  • Due dates will be reflected in Canvas (with limited exception in instances where Canvas may not be used for a specific course section). 
  • The purpose of projects and assignments are 1) to allow candidates the opportunity to apply theory and synthesize course material, 2) to facilitate the assessment of individual student progress towards desired outcomes, and 3) to help the instructor determine whether adjustments are needed to ensure that course outcomes are met.
Course calendar and related activities
When Topic Notes
Module 1
Perspectives on Disability, Issues in Assessments & Identification, and Issues in Instruction & Placement
  • Please introduce yourselves
  • Read pages 1-72 in text book & all guided notes
  • Watch video: The Asylum
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Write reflection on video
  • Take quizzes:
    • Quiz - Ch 1a: Perspectives on Disabilities
    • Quiz - Ch 1b: Historical Perspectives and Context
    • Quiz - Ch 2: Issues in Assessment and Identification
    • Quiz - Ch 3a: Issues in Curriculum and Instruction
    • Quiz - Ch 3b: Issues in Placement
Module 2
Who are the Learners with Mild Disabilities, Learners with Learning Disabilities, Learners with Emotional or Behavioral Disabilities?
  • Read pages 73- 136 in text book and all files and guided notes
  • Explore the UDL website, and develop a basic lesson plan (see example in module)
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Internet Research on a Specific Disability
  • Internet Research on Disability Websites and their critique
  • Take quizzes:
    • Quiz - Ch.4: Learners Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    • Quiz - Ch 5: Learners with Learning Disabilities
    • Quiz - Ch 6: Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Module 3
Learners with ADD/ADHD, Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Read pages 137-187 in text book and all files and guided notes
  • Watch l videos: Misunderstood Minds
  • Write reflections on videos
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Quiz - Ch 7: Learners with OHI
Module 4
What are the Learners with Mild Disabilities Like? Cognitive and Perceptual Characteristics, Language Characteristics Activities
  • Read pages 175-207 in text book and all files and guided notes
  • View videos assigned
  • Write reflections on videos: F.A.T City
  • Resource Guide for Assistive Technology
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Quiz – CH 9:
Module 5
Language Characteristics
  • Read pages 208-235 in text book, and all files and guided notes
  • View PowerPoint on “What is Language”
  • View assigned video: I Have Tourette’s, it doesn’t have me
  • Respond to Video question
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Quiz - Ch 10: Language Characteristics
Module 6
Academic Learning Characteristics, and Social Emotional Characteristics
  • Read pages 236-293 in text book, and all file and guided notes.
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Quiz - Ch 11: Academic Learning Characteristics
  • Write a PLEP (Present level of Performance)
Module 7
Policy Statements
  • Read all pages, files and guided notes
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Write IEP goals and objectives
  • Quiz - Ch 12: Social -Emotional Characteristics
Module 8
Wrap Up
  • Read all files and guided notes
  • Respond to weekly discussions
  • Watch video: Animal School
  • ISBE LBS1 study guide
  • Share classmates’ power-points and critiques

Additional Items

Course References

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV (4th ed.). Washington, D.C: Author.

American with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213 (1990).

Blackbourn, J.M., Patton, J.R., & Trainor, A. (2004). Exceptional individuals in focus (7th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Gargiulo, R., & Kligo, J. (2005). Young children with special needs. New York: Thomson Delmar Learning.

Howell, K.W., & Nolet, V. (2000). Curriculum-based evaluation: Teaching and decision making (3rd Ed.).Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, 20 U.S.C. § 1415 et seq. (1997). Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. (2004).

Kameenui, E.J., & Carnine, D.W. (1998). Effective teaching strategies that accommodate diverse learners. Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lewis, R.B., Doorlag, D.H. (2003). Teaching special students in general education classrooms (6th Ed.). New Jersey: New Jersey: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Mercer, C.D., & Pullen, P.C. (2005). Students with learning disabilities (6th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Mercer, C.D., & Mercer, A.R. (2005). Teaching students with learning problems (7th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Olson, J.L., & Platt, J.M. (2000). Teaching children and adolescents with special needs (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Raymond, E. B. (2009). Learners with Mild Disabilities: A Characteristics Approach 3rd Ed.). Pearson Education Inc.