OHI for BiPolar (BP) vs Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)


New Member
I posted before wanting to get my daughter classified under OHI for her Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and was told that since Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a DSM diagnosis it would have to be ED. However in articles, links from this site it is stated that BiPolar (BP) should be labeled as OHI and not ED.

quote"Bipolar disorder is clearly a disability, as defined by OHI, that demonstrates “having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that result in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment.”

My daughter has problems with staying on task, completing tasks, unable to produce written work at times, expresses when she can't do work that it makes her very tired, is bothered by noises of other children when trying to concentrate and then at times has to tap in class(in which she has her funny money taken away)

So why would she NOT be classifed as OHI by one poster on this board? I also have read in the new law that they do not put bipolar into OHI as it is well known this is an organic brain disorder so it is a health impairment. If you go by that logic that is in a comment of the new IDEA then wouldn't Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) be in this category also? Also when it gives examples of OHI conditions like ADHD it clearly says these are EXAMPLES and the list is not exhaustive.

We go over her evaluation this Friday, got notice last Friday by phone, on Tuesday by mail. If anyone can comment give support soon I would appreciate it so we do not go in blind. I have no idea if they will refuse to give her an IEP or try to put her under ED. The psychologist stated she would have to have limited vitality ect.... I don't think a 504 would help her at all. She needs one on one when she does her reading response journal as she does not or is unable to do at school and her grade was lowered by 2 grades for not doing this and the teacher is too busy for one on one with her. She is now not completing work, work that is completed over the weekend she did not turn in since she did not think it was completed good enough. We are in this neverending circle of not getting communication, school resistance, not wanting to read and she was a very good reader and loved reading. Now the school says she is a lower reading level that she has been the last 2years(transferred schools) she is unhappy about what reading group she is in and the reading response journal. Last year on her standardized testing, IOWAS she scored 96% across the board.

She has been to the office for defiance when she was pushed to do something and she shut down, she has gone into the bathroom for 30 minutes when the teacher insisted on seeing her personal writing.


Active Member
Wincha, when my son's anxiety issues became severe enough that we needed to up the level of services we had to go in and change the label from speech/language to something else to justify what needed to be in place for him. The school psyc told me the most likely labels were ED or Autism. The Autism consultant told me no way on either of those, OHI because the Autism wasn't strong enough and that the anxiety was primary. Three different options all from people who I respected to know their stuff.

Has the school given you handouts on what criteria they are using when assigning the labels? The school psychiatric did that for me in advance--I checked them out thoroughly and they were in line with IDEA. When I went through those checklists as stated on those forms ED was by far closest to his situation (he indeed did have other issues--including stamina-- but those all became problematic once the anxiety flared up. When the anxiety was absent he had plenty of stamina, could finish homework, did handwriting tasks without stress, etc.) But I had several reasons why I didn't want him to have an ED label. One was the stigma attached, and I do follow Martie's reasoning now. The other was that my son's issues *all* were common to Autism only his case was not severe enough to warrant a medical diagnosis of Autism. Our district has done a lot of Autism training and I understood that label would greatly help the staff working with him understand what was at the root of his behaviors and struggles.

I decided to make a push for the Autism label before going into the meeting, however I did so knowing that my son fell short of meeting that criteria on that handout. That handout was peppered with terms like "marked" and clearly pointed to kids with full blown cases of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and not milder kids on the fence like mine or kids who had made significant progress through interventions. What happened in the end is that I explained my reasoning for wanting the Autism label (walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, only not as loud) and every staff member at that table helped find even one example of his behaviors at school so we could justify it. Basically the whole IEP team knowingly stretched the criteria and did what was best for my son in our district's situation and not necessarily what was right to the letter of the law.

What I'm trying to get at is that there is federal law, there is information online which can be found to justify almost anything, there are the opinions/interpretations of professionals, and there are times when parents seek to stretch or force the interpretation to meet a particular situation such as happened with my son. Martie and Sheila are very knowledgable and have given you a lot of information on OHI vs ED and why OHI wouldn't appear to probably fit. You may opt to take a different approach like I did when going into the IEP meeting and that's your perogative. You might find a line of reasoning that works for the team like I did. Just don't go in there expecting a slam dunk when your argument for that particular label isn't typical--from an outsider looking in it looks more like forcing it to meet a particular situation instead of a clear fit for the criteria.


A debate about eligibility category can go on indefinately. If it means the difference between eligibility (getting an IEP) and DNQ (does not qualify -- no IEP), I'd have to put the category on the back burner and fight that battle another day.

Just so you know, no matter what the qualifying category/label the USDOE states that IDEA 2004 says, "Services must meet the child’s needs and cannot be determined by the child’s eligibility category." This is not new to the regs. https://web.archive.org/web/2008051...0/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/pdf/06-6656.pdf