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Teachers of students with medical conditions learn to get creative with lesson plans and accommodations. Let’s take a look at how teachers help their students with other health impairments.

Other Health Impairments

Other health impairment (OHI) is a disability category listed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law allows students with medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to receive accommodations and special education services. This is significant because many students with these and other conditions experience extreme fatigue, poor endurance, and trouble paying attention in class.Students with OHIs may also miss class more frequently than their peers due to hospital stays or doctor appointments. These symptoms may affect a student’s ability to interact with their peers, complete assignments, follow teacher directions, and perform well on tests.

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As a result, teachers and parents work together on an Individualized Education Plan to address each individual and their challenges.


Let’s look at a few examples of students with OHIs and how their teachers have helped them keep up in school. Keep in mind that every student is unique, and not every strategy listed here will be effective for all children. Hopefully, this section will provide a list of possible ideas that may make a difference in your classroom.


Matthew has ADHD, a disorder that makes it difficult for him to pay attention, complete assignments, and control his behavior. He is frequently off-task, out of his seat, talking out of turn, and fidgeting in his desk.

After data collection and observation, his teacher tries the following accommodations:

  • Posts pictures of classroom rules and routines
  • Provides regularly scheduled breaks
  • Gives step-by-step directions verbally and in writing

These techniques help remind Matthew of the teacher’s expectations. They also give him the breaks and explicit instructions he needs to function at his best in the classroom.


Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that is usually treated with medication. Generally, parents will provide specific details from a physician that pertain to their child’s warning signs and treatment.

Priscilla, is a fifth grade student with epilepsy. Her teachers and parents have communicated in-depth about her challenges and needs. Here are a few accommodations they came up with to make Priscilla’s school day more manageable:

  • Allowing for flexibility in shortening or modifying certain assignments
  • Providing a quiet area for Priscilla to rest, if needed
  • Adjusting the lighting in the classroom to reduce the risk of seizures

Priscilla’s teacher will take extra precautions and have the fluorescent lighting removed from the classroom to help prevent the possibility of a seizure.

By providing a quiet area, the teacher makes it possible for Priscilla to manage her own health and take a break when she needs it. Taking away some of the extra math problems and shortening her requirements for book reports allows Priscilla to demonstrate what she knows without feeling overloaded.

Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome is characterized by sudden vocal outbursts or body movements that are beyond an individual’s control. Sam, a ninth grade student with Tourette syndrome, uncontrollably repeats words, blinks rapidly, and twitches his neck. This unique condition requires Sam’s teachers and parents to get creative about accommodations in the classroom. They consider:

  • Providing a permanent hall pass for Sam to take a break as needed
  • Allowing Sam to take tests in a quiet environment with extended time
  • Educating Sam’s peers to prevent teasing and harassment

Lesson Summary

Other health impairment (OHI) is a category of disabilities that includes chronic health conditions like diabetes and hearth disease.

Students with these, or other health impairments that affect their performance in school, are protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).Teachers and parents can work together to create an effective IEP that includes services and accommodations to help students reach their potential. A few well-known disorders include ADHD, epilepsy, and Tourette syndrome. Accommodations like frequent breaks, modified assignments, and designated quiet areas may be helpful for students with these disorders.

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