At New America, Janie Tankard Carnock and Elena Silva have a report titled "English Learners with Disabilities: Shining a Light on Dual-Identified Students."
Most notably, school systems over- and under-identify students based on the type of disability. For instance, the most common category for all students with IEPs is specific learning disability (SLD), which covers 34 percent of students who qualify for special education services. Speech/language impairment is second at 19 percent.SLD is defined under IDEA as “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language that is spoken or written, that maymanifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.” The category includes a range of “perceptual disabilities,” including dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.
National research indicates that the categories of SLD and hearing impairment have higher proportions of students also identified as ELs [English Learners], while other disability categories such as autism and emotional disability have lower proportions of students who are also identified as ELs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, "Among ELs with disabilities, nearly 50 percent had a specific learning disability, compared to nearly 38 percent of students with disabilities who are not ELs. Similarly, 21 percent of ELs with a disability, compared to 17 percent of non-ELs with a disability, were identified as having a speech or language impairment."
For dual-identified students, one of the biggest questions revolves around whether to integrate home language supports. Similar to debates in EL education, some educators fear that using the home language will confuse students and delay progress. However, in an academic review of over 60 studies spanning 30 years, no research supported this conclusion. Rather, compared to English-only approaches, researchers found that interventions that used both home language and English result in similar or even greater rates of growth in English abilities. In New York, leaders have acted aggressively in light of this research base, promoting bilingual education for all children—including ELs with disabilities—and launching the nation’s first dual language program for students with autism.
Janie Tankard Carnock, From Blueprint To Building: Lifting the Torch for Multilingual Students in New York State (Washington, DC: New America, November 2016); and Michael Vaughn, “Angelica Infante-Green on Creating the Nation’s First Dual Language Program for Children With Autism,” Education Post, January 11, 2017