Other Health Impairment

Other Health Impairment

"Other Health Impairment" (OHI) is a term used in the context of special education to refer to a broad category of disabilities that affect a student's health but do not fall under other specific categories such as intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, or physical disabilities. OHI is defined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that governs special education services in the United States.

other health impairment IEP goals
The IDEA defines OHI as a condition that adversely affects a child’s educational performance and is characterized by limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment due to chronic or acute health problems.

Some common examples of conditions that may qualify as OHI include:

other health impairment disability


adhd other health impairment

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ohi diabetes


ohi epilepsy


ohi heart condition

Heart condition

ohi hemophilia


examples of other health impairment

Lead poisoning

ohi leukemia


ohi and blood cells

Sickle cell anemia

ohi tiredness

Tourette's Syndrome

As IDEA’s definition of OHI makes clear, a health impairment affects a student’s educational performance. In fact, for a child to qualify for special education services in the public schools, the OHI must affect the child’s educational performance. When a child is found to be eligible for special education, he or she will also be eligible to receive related services in school—which can be very valuable and relevant to the child’s needs. Related services are provided as required to enable children with disabilities to benefit from their special education. Two in particular come to mind for children who have an OHI. Medical services, which are provided for diagnostic and evaluative purposes only. These services are provided by a licensed physician to determine a child’s medically related disability that results in the child’s need for special education and related services. School health services and school nurse services, which are defined by IDEA. These health services are designed to enable a child with a disability to receive FAPE as described in the child’s IEP. School nurse services are services provided by a qualified school nurse. School health services are services that may be provided by either a qualified school nurse or other qualified person. What was previously called “school health services” in IDEA was expanded in its 2004 reauthorization to distinguish between services that are provided by a qualified nurse and those that may be provided by other qualified individuals. States and local school districts often have guidelines that address school health services and school nurse services. These may include providing such health-related support as:
  • Special feedings
  • Clean intermittent catheterization
  • Suctioning
  • Management of a tracheostomy
  • Administering and/or dispensing medications
  • Planning for the safety of a child in school
  • Ensuring that care is given while at school and at school functions to prevent injury (e.g., changing a child’s position frequently to prevent pressure sores)
  • Chronic disease management
  • Conducting and/or promoting education and skills training for all (including the child) who serve as caregivers in the school setting.
Determining what related services a child needs is the responsibility of the child’s IEP team or ARD committee. Key information for decision makers will be available from the evaluation process, since a child must be assessed in all areas related to his or her suspected disability. The IEP team must look carefully at the evaluation results, which show the child’s areas of strength and need, and decide upon which related services are appropriate for the child. The school must then provide these services as part of the child’s education program.