The Children We Serve: The Demographic Characteristics of Elementary and Middle School Students with Disabilities and Their Households

This document describes the demographic characteristics of students with disabilities and their households nationally. It provides information on age, racial/ethnic background, household composition, income, and benefit program participation.


Students with disabilities made up 11% of all students between the ages of 6 and 13.

Out of the 12 different primary disabilities classifications, three-fourths were classified as having either learning disabilities or speech/language impairments as their primary disability.

Representation of racial/ethnic groups among students receiving special education differed in some ways from the general population of students. Although white students were approximately the same percentage of both groups, African American students were somewhat over-represented among students with disabilities. Hispanic students were somewhat under-represented among students with disabilities relative to the general population. The differences in the two populations of elementary- and middle-school-age students are consistent with patterns found in infants and toddlers as well as high-school-age students.

It was found that there is a higher rate of poverty among the households of students with disabilities, relative to the general population. Further, despite the fact that parents were equally likely to be employed, households of students with disabilities were much more likely to have low and very low incomes.



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Last Updated 05/03