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Children's Disability Levels

Also see: Most Common Disabilities
  A Closer Look at Children's Disabilities


Selecting this option for the disability level will significantly decrease your adoption options.
No known disabilities, or disabilities so mild that they do not affect the child's functioning in any significant way, such as wearing glasses for near sightedness, visual or hearing imparments that do not affect the child's ability to learn or communicate, or mild allergies.

Notice: Children come into the care of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) due to abuse or neglect. Therefore, families who adopt children through the agency should have an understanding or be willing to learn the dynamics of neglect and physical or sexual abuse.


Caregivers can expect the child to respond to limit-setting or other interventions.

The child can perform basic life management functions appropriate for child's age and development and can use mainstream methods of transportation and communication.

  • Child requires no equipment for daily functioning and may require average or slightly above average medical care and appointments.
  • Child may have a condition that is totally managed by medication, or a condition that is correctable or improves on its own with time.
  • The child may be developmentally delayed in physical development but has a prognosis of catching up.

The child with a Mild disability could have one or more of the following:

  • Developmental/Learning impairment that are not severe enough to require special education.
  • Emotional/Behavioral impairment such as adjustment reactions, situational depression or acting out behaviors.
  • Cognitive impairment with a mild intellectual disability in children who usually will be able to live independently as an adult, hold a job, and manage their lives with some guidance in crises. A child with a mild intellectual disability can often be in a mainstream class with resource room help or tutoring.
  • Physical/Medical conditions, such as mild cerebral palsy and treatable medical conditions such as controlled seizures, hearing or vision impairment.


Caregivers need to provide a structured supportive setting in which most activities are designed to improve the child's functioning.

Child has a relatively stable non-correctable condition that is neither progressive nor degenerative. Child can perform basic life management functions appropriate for age and development (feeding, dressing, toileting) with some assistance.

  • Child may require moderate home modifications, corrective surgery, and/or one or more weekly medical appointments.
  • Child may require some assistance with transportation and communication functions.

The child with a Moderate disability could have one or more of the following:

  • Developmental/Learning impairment such as those requiring long- term special education classes.
  • Emotional/Behavioral impairment such as conduct disorder, sexual abuse and other problems that may need long-term therapy.
  • Cognitive impairment with moderate intellectual disability in children who as an adult, may need more structure and support to care for themselves.  Moderate supports like those offered in a group home may be necessary to achieve independent living.
  • Medical/Physical conditions, such as moderate cerebral palsy, paraplegia, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, partially controlled seizures, hearing or vision impairment which affects the ability to communicate or functioning.


Caregivers may need specialized training or experience to provide therapeutic, habilitative, and medical support and interventions.

Child may require life support equipment, or has a progressive, degenerative or terminal illness.

  • Child may require significant home modifications.
  • Child may require repeated doctor or frequent hospitalizations or surgeries.
  • Child requires 2 or more medical appointments per week.
  • Child requires a parent or aide to perform basic life management functions (feeding, dressing, toileting, etc.).
  • Child may require special adaptations for transportation and/or communication.

The child with a Severe disability could have one or more of the following:

  • Developmental/Learning impairments that may cause a permanent difficulty in academic or social/emotional functioning, or occupation.
  • Emotional/Behavioral impairments such as attachment disorder that may require hospitalization or residential treatment.
  • Cognitive impairment such as severe to profound intellectual disability where conceptual and cognitive skills are very limited. Individuals with severe intellectual disability require assistance with all aspects of daily care. Verbal communication may be limited.  Long-term supportive housing will be necessary with round the clock supervision.
  • Medical/Physical conditions, such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), multiple moderate conditions or a condition that requires ongoing and constant medical attention, such as quadriplegia or cystic fibrosis.
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