State of Wisconsin Eligibility Criteria for Children with Disability

Significant Developmental Delay

  1. Significant devel-opmental delay means children, ages 3, 4 and 5 years of age or be-low compulsory school attendance age, who are experiencing sig nificant delays in the areas of physical, cognition, communication, social–emotional or adaptive development.
  2. All other suspected handicapping conditions, including cognitive disability, orthopedic impairment, visually handicapped, hearing handicapped, learning disability, speech and lan-guage handicapped, emotional disturbance, autism, traumatic brain injury, or other health impairment shall be considered before identifying a child’s primary handicapping condition as significant developmental delay.
  3. A child may be identified as having the handicapping condition of significant developmental delay when delays in development significantly challenge the child in two or more of the following five major life activities:
    1. Physical activity in gross motor skills, such as the ability to move around and interact with the environment with appropriate coordination, balance and strength; or fine motor skills, such as manually controlling and manipulating objects such as toys, drawing utensils, and other useful objects in the environment.
    2. Cognitive activity, such as the ability to acquire, use and retrieve information as demonstrated by the level of imitation, discrimination, representation, classification, sequencing, and problem– solving skills often observed in a child’s play.
    3. Communication activity in expressive language, such as the production of age–appropriate content, form and use of language; or receptive language, such as listening, receiving and understanding language.
    4. Emotional activity such as the ability to feel and express emotions, and develop a positive sense of oneself; or social activity, such as interacting with people, developing friendships with peers, and sustaining bonds with family members and other significant adults.
    5. Adaptive activity, such as caring for his or her own needs and acquiring independence in age–appropriate eating, toileting, dressing and hygiene tasks.
  4. Documentation of significant developmental delays under subd. 3 and their detrimental effect upon the child’s daily life shall be based upon qualitative and quantitative measures including all of the following:
    1. A developmental and basic health history, including results from vision and hearing screenings and other pertinent informa-tion from parents and, if applicable, other caregivers or service providers.
    2. Observation of the child in his or her daily living environment such as the child’s home, with a parent or caregiver, or an early education or care setting which includes peers who are typically developing. If observation in these settings is not possible, observation in an alternative setting is permitted.
    3. Results from norm–referenced instruments shall be used to document significant delays of at least one and one–half standard deviations below the mean in 2 or more of the developmental areas which correspond to the major life activities. If it is clearly not appropriate to use norm–referenced instruments, other instruments, such as criterion referenced measures, shall be used to document the significant delays.


Copies of all appropriate eligibility criteria are to be provided by the case manager to all IEP team members at the IEP meeting.

For further inquiries regarding special education, please contact Nissan Bar Lev, Director of Special Education CESA #7, telephone (920) 849-9384, or check the CESA #7 special education web site at:

508 Bobby Approved
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