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Learning Disabilities (reviewed August 1999)
Please provide an overview
of learning disabilities.
The term "learning disability" describes a neurobiological disorder in which a
person's brain works or is structured differently. These differences interfere with
a person's ability to think and remember. Learning disabilities can affect a
person's ability to speak, listen, read, write, spell, reason, recall, organize
information, and do mathematics.
Because learning disabilities cannot be seen, they often go undetected.
Recognizing a learning disability is even more difficult because the severity and
A learning disability can't be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong issue. With the right
support and intervention, however, children with learning disabilities can
succeed in school and go on to successful, often distinguished careers later in
life. Parents can help children with learning disabilities achieve such success by
encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understanding the
educational system, working with professionals and learning about strategies for
dealing with specific difficulties.
Facts About Learning Disabilities
- Fifteen percent of the U.S. population, or one in seven Americans, has
some type of learning disability, according to the National Institutes of
- Difficulty with basic reading and language skills are the most common
learning disabilities. As many as 80% of students with learning disabilities
have reading problems.
- Learning disabilities often run in families.
- Learning disabilities should not be confused with other disabilities such as
mental retardation, autism, deafness, blindness, and behavioral disorders.
None of these conditions are learning disabilities. In addition, they should
not be confused with lack of educational opportunities like frequent
changes of schools or attendance problems. Also, children who are
learning English do not necessarily have a learning disability.
Attention disorders, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD) and learning disabilities often occur at the same time, but the
two disorders are not the same. (From the Coordinated Campaign for Learning
Disabilities, funded by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.)
The federal government defines learning disabilities in Public
Law 94-142, as amended by Public Law 101-76 (Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]):
"Specific learning disability means a disorder in one
or more of the basic psychological processes involved in
understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may
manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak,
read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term
includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury,
minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
The term does not include children who have problems that are
primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities,
or mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or of
environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage."
Although the definition in federal law governs the identification
of and services to children with learning disabilities (LD),
there are variations between states and among school systems. In
an attempt to clarify the identification, some states specify an
intelligence range. Others add a concept of a discrepancy between
potential and achievement, sometimes quantifying the discrepancy
using test scores. These slightly different "yardsticks" are
indicative of a lack of clear consensus about exactly what
learning disabilities are. (From ERIC EC Digest E516, Learning Disabilities.)
Following are links to ERIC digests, minibibliographies, frequently asked questions (FAQs), related Internet resources, and Internet discussion groups,
as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the
You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:
The full text of citations beginning with an ED number (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:
- In microfiche collections worldwide; to find your nearest ERIC Resource Collection, point your web browser to: http://ericae.net/derc.htm.
- For a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS): http://edrs.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1.800.443.ERIC.
(no longer available)
The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:
- The originating journal
- Through interlibrary loan services at your local college or public library
- From article reproduction services such as
ERIC Search Terms Used
Identification of Learning
Bateman, Barbara D.
Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal,
v5 n2 p95-99 Aug 1994
Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE
(080); NON-CLASSROOM MATERIAL(055)
three-stage identification process is recommended for students
suspected of having learning
disabilities. This process examines discrepancy, causality, and
the need for special education,
and it complies with legal requirements.
*Compliance (Legal); *Disability
Identification; Elementary Secondary Education; Etiology;
Evaluation Methods; *Learning
Disabilities; Models; Student Evaluation; *Student Needs
Identifiers: *Discrepancy Model
Learning Disabilities: Best Practices
Bender, William N., Ed.
1993; 334p. ISBN: 1-56372-058-2
Butterworth Heinemann, 80 Montvale Ave., Stoneham, MA 02180
($45). Document Not
Available from EDRS. Document Type: BOOK (010); COLLECTION
Source: U.S.; Georgia
Target Audience: Practitioners
is written to assist the reader in understanding current thinking
in the field of learning disabilities
(LD), as well as current practices in that field. Part I
describes the characteristics typically
associated with LD, and includes the following chapters:
"Neurological Basis of Learning
Disabilities" (Richard M. Marshall and George W. Hynd);
"Cognitive Abilities" (H. Lee
Swanson); and "Social/Behavioral Characteristics" (Terry M.
McLeod). Part II describes the
measurement of various characteristics of LD in the following
chapters: "Assessment and
Identification Practices" (Sherri Strawser); "Informal Assessment
in the Classroom" (Lisa E.
Monda-Amaya and Fran Reed); and "Eligibility and Placement Team
Meetings" (Harry L.
Dangel). Part III presents information on the best practices
currently employed in the treatment
and education of individuals with learning disabilities, and
includes the following chapters:
"Behavioral Interventions" (Cynthia O. Vail and Deborah J.
Strategies" (Kristin S. Scott); "Building a Pragmatic Language"
(Carol Weller); "Interventions
for Attention Problems" (Deborah J. Huntington and William N.
Bender); "Social Skills
Training: Why, Who, What and How" (Sharon Vaughn and Annette La
Greca); "Vocational and
Independent Living Skills" (Phillip J. McLaughlin and Margaret A.
Martin); and "College-Level
Instructional Interventions" (Margaret A. Martin and Phillip J.
describe a variety of social skills intervention programs and
present a sample resume for a
hypothetical LD adult. Individual chapters contain references.
Deficit Disorders; Cognitive Psychology; *Daily Living Skills;
Educational Diagnosis; *Educational Practices; Elementary
Secondary Education; Eligibility;
Etiology; Higher Education; Independent Living; *Interpersonal
Disabilities; *Metacognition; Neurology; Socialization; Special
Education; Student Evaluation;
Student Placement; Teaching Methods; Vocational Education
The LD Label. Research Report.
School Board Journal, v184
n3 p34-36 Mar 1997
Document Type: REVIEW
LITERATURE (070); JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
an overview of
problems involved in identifying and defining "learning-disabled"
students. Confusion is caused
by varying state definitions and different interpretations of
state and federal laws. Discusses the
neuroscientific approach to classifying student learning styles
and the ways in which the
learning-disabled label is sometimes abused by schools or
Intervention; *Educational Diagnosis; Elementary Secondary
Education; Federal Legislation;
*Learning Disabilities; *Learning Problems; Learning Strategies;
*Special Education; *Special
Disabilities: Lifelong Issues.
Cramer, Shirley C., Ed.; Ellis, William, Ed.
Available From: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., P.O. Box 10624,
Document Not Available from EDRS.
BOOK (010); COLLECTION (020); REVIEW LITERATURE(070)
contains papers on learning disabilities
based on presentations made at the "Summit on Learning
Disabilities: A National
Responsibility," held in September 1994. The first section
provides an overview and includes
"The State of Research" (G. Reid Lyon). The second section
focuses on education and includes:
"Preventing Early Reading Failure" (Benita A. Blachman); "Public
Policy: An Agenda for the
Future" (Edwin W. Martin); "Strategies for Implementing Policies"
(Barbara K. Keogh); "Head
Start and Young Children with Learning Disabilities" (Helen
Taylor); "Implementing Effective
Instruction" (Louisa Cook Moats); "Academic Accommodations: A
Personal View" (Shelley
Mosley Stanzel); "Education Reform: A Child-Centered Perspective"
(Waldemar Rojas); "A
Developmental Pediatric Perspective on Neurologically Based
Specific Learning Disabilities"
(Pasquale J. Accardo); "A Separate and Unequal Education for
Minorities with Learning
Disabilities" (Joseph P. Shapiro); and "Strengthening the
Profession" (Douglas Carnine). The
third section addresses labor issues and includes: "Research
Directions Leading toward
Inclusion, Diversity, and Leadership in the Global Economy" (Noel
Workers withLearning Disabilities" (Marcia B. Reback); "Center
for Excellence: Learning
Disabilitiesin the Workplace" (Gary F. Beasley); "The Four R's:
Rehabilitation, and Reasonable Accommodation" (Glenn Young);
Review and Agenda" (Susan A. Vogel); "Building Bridges" (Neil A.
Sturomski); "Dyslexia to
Pluslexia" (Delos R. Smith); "Information, Illustration, and
Inspiration" (Richard C. Strauss);
"The Emotional Toll" (Sally L. Smith); and "Employment Realities
and Priorities" (Paul L.
Gerber). The next section highlights justice issues and
includes: "Shaping Public Policy" (Judith
E. Heumann); "The Justice System" (Carolyn R. Eggleston); "Review
of Research on Learning
Disabilities and Juvenile Delinquency" (Dorothy Crawford); "The
Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990: Effects on Students with Learning Disabilities"
(John L. Wodatch); "The Link
between Learning Disabilities and Behavior" (G. Emerson
Dickman); "Reducing School Failure
and Preventing Criminal Behavior" (Thomas P. McGee); "Academic
Performance and Its
Relationship to Delinquency" (Eugene Maguin and Rolf Loeber); and
"Learning Disabilities in
Perspective" (Mark J. Griffin). The fifth section focuses on
health and human services and
includes: "Learning Disabilities as a Public Health Concern"
(Duane Alexander); "Unlocking
Learning Disabilities: The Neurological Basis" (Sally E. Shaywitz
and Bennett A. Shaywitz);
"Advocacy" (Patricia Glatz); "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder" (Jack M. Fletcher and
Bennett A. Shaywitz); and "Research Implications for Health and
Human Services" (Melinda
Parrill). The last section includes the paper "Looking to the
Future" (Shirley C. Cramer). (Each
paper contains references.)
Descriptors: Adults; Advocacy;
Attention Deficit Disorders;
Behavior Problems; *Delinquency; Educational Innovation;
*Educational Strategies; Elementary
Secondary Education; *Employment; Equal Education; *Etiology;
Inclusive Schools; Juvenile
Justice; Laws; *Learning Disabilities; Preschool Education;
*Public Policy; Reading Difficulties;
Research Needs; Teacher Education Programs Identifiers:
Americans withDisabilities Act
1990; Project Head Start; Reasonable Accommodation
A Sociocultural Perspective on Learning and Learning
K.; And Others
Learning Disabilities Research and Practice,
v12 n2 p107-113 Spr 1997
Document Type: REVIEW LITERATURE
Discusses the use of a sociocultural
perspective on learning and learning
disabilities for understanding learning problems within
culturally diverse groups. Reviews
assumptions about ethnicity and culture (supposed homogeneity
within cultures) and describes
ways to distinguish ethnicity and culture. Discusses
implications for assessment, identification,
Descriptors: Cultural Awareness; *Cultural
Influences; Disability Identification; *Diversity (Student);
Elementary Secondary Education;
Ethnic Groups; *Ethnicity; Instructional Improvement; *Learning
Progress and Promise in
Research in Learning
Lyon, G. Reid; And Others
Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary
Journal, v8 n1 p1-6 Win 1997
Document Type: JOURNAL
ARTICLE (080); PROJECT DESCRIPTION (141)
Describes the five
research centers that make up the collaborative research network
of the National Institute of
Child Health and Human Development. Highlights the teams and
focus of the centers, and
identifies the findings of the centers and issues that need to be
Agency Cooperation; Elementary Secondary Education; *Etiology;
Research; Federal Programs; *Learning Disabilities; *Research
Directors; *Research Needs;
*Research Projects Identifiers: National Institute ChildHealth
of Mental Health (DHHS), Rockville, MD. Sep 1993
Report No: NIH-93-3611
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
(070); NON-CLASSROOM MATERIAL(055)
Geographic Source: U.S.;
This booklet uses hypothetical case
examples to illustrate the
definition, causal theories, and specific types of learning
disabilities (LD). The cognitive and
language performance of students with LD is compared to standard
and common approaches to the identification and education of
children with LD are outlined.
Research supporting or refuting the effectiveness of various
medications and diets is summarized
and general suggestions are provided for families attempting to
cope with the stress of raising a
child with LD. The outlook for the future is explored in a
discussion considering whether
learning disabilities can be outgrown or cured, a description of
services available to adults with
LD, and a summary of research being sponsored by the National
Institute of Mental Health. The
pamphlet concludes with a list of print resources and support
groups relating to LD.
Descriptors: Clinical Diagnosis; *Coping; *Disability
Identification; Drug Therapy; Educational
Diagnosis; Elementary Secondary Education; *Etiology;
*Intervention; *Learning Disabilities;
Special Education; Symptoms (Individual Disorders)
Have We Learned and Where Are We Headed?
O'Shea, Dorothy J.,
Ed.; O'Shea, Lawrence
Journal of Learning Disabilities, v30 n4 p376-77
Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Introduces a series of
articles discussing what has been learned about collaboration
between regular and special
education, school reform as it relates to past knowledge, and
future endeavors regarding students
with learning disabilities. Summaries of each of the nine
articles in the series are included.
Descriptors: *Educational Change; *Educational Innovation;
Elementary Secondary Education;
Inclusive Schools; *Learning Disabilities; *Regular and Special
Montessori Life, v9 n3 p26-30 Sum 1997
Document Type: NON-CLASSROOM MATERIAL (055); REVIEW
JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
Examines major characteristics of
learning disabilities and the
significance of Montessori principles as they may be applied in
the education of children with
learning disabilities. Addresses disorders of gross and fine
motor coordination, language,
attention, and perception. Describes exercises in practical life
skills, sensory education, and
Descriptors: Disabilities; Early
Childhood Education; *High Risk
Students; Individualized Instruction; *Language Skills; *Learning
Method; Motor Development; *Psychomotor Skills; Student Centered
Learning Disabilities: The
Syndrome and a Case Study.
Rourke, Byron P.; And Others
Journal of School
Psychology, v28 n4 p361-85 Win 1990
JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); GENERAL REPORT (140)
syndrome of nonverbal
learning disabilities (NLD) and model developed to encompass its
Includes history of development of syndrome, types of children in
whom its principal features
are manifest, hypothesized neurological bases of syndrome, and
test of its developmental
dimensions. Provides case study and discusses general
developmental and treatment
implications of NLD.
Descriptors: Adolescents; Case
Studies; Child Development;
Children; Foreign Countries; *Learning Disabilities;
*Neuropsychology; *Nonverbal Ability; Symptoms (Individual
Operationalizing a Definition
Shaw, Stan F.; And Others
Learning Disabilities, v28 n9
p586-97 Nov 1995
(080); POSITION PAPER (120)
Past, present, and future
concerns regarding the definition
of learning disabilities (LD) are documented. Research on
efforts to clarify the LD label is
discussed, including the questionable utility of the discrepancy
model. An approach is presented
for operationalizing the definition of LD of the National Joint
Committee on Learning
Descriptors: Classification; *Definitions;
Disability Identification; Educational
Diagnosis; Elementary Secondary Education; Evaluation Criteria;
*Labeling (of Persons);
*Learning Disabilities; *Symptoms (Individual Disorders); *Theory
Identifiers: Discrepancy Formulas
Learning Disabilities, An
Understanding and Definition.
Willard, Clifton D.
EDRS Price -
MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Document Type: POSITION PAPER
Source: U.S.; Tennessee
A counselor with a dyslexic-like
disability shares three
conclusions concerning this type of disability. First,
difficulties with reading, math, writing,
heard language, and nonverbal language are not the disability but
the symptom of the disability.
Second, these disabilities are dynamic in nature and therefore
the symptoms fluctuate somewhere
between minimal and severe from one minute to the next or from
one day to the next. Third, the
choices the individual with the disability makes and the choices
that are made for that individual
by others will determine how disabled that person is by the
disability. Dyslexic-like symptoms
are thought to occur when one or more of the language process
systems is out of sync (timing)
with the other processes in the system. An example is given
showing how the normally
automatic reading process becomes a five-step manual process for
the individual with a
dyslexic-like disability. Conclusions that involve compensating
through wise choices and the
use of technology are discussed.
*Dyslexia; Elementary Secondary Education; Individual
Characteristics; *Learning Disabilities;
Perception; Perceptual Impairments; Personal Autonomy; *Symptoms
Learning Disabilities: Organizations and
Circular, No. 97-01. Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
National Library Service for the
Blind and Physically Handicapped. 1997
28p.; EDRS Price -
Document Type: BIBLIOGRAPHY (131)
Source: U.S.; District
circular describes sources of
information for persons with learning disabilities, their
families, and professionals. Section 1 is
an annotated, alphabetical listing of 29 organizations, including
research institutions, referral agencies, and advocacy groups.
These organizations provide
information on parenting, education, transition from high school
to work or higher education,
employment, independent living skills, and legal advocacy.
Section 2 is a selective bibliography
of 59 print and nonprint materials dealing with learning
disabilities. Topics include information
for parents, education, legislation, and adaptive technologies.
Section 3 describes six federal
laws concerning education and employment of persons with learning
disabilities. Section 4 lists
state agencies that administer rehabilitation programs for
persons with learning disabilities.
Descriptors: Educational Legislation; Elementary Secondary
Education; Federal Legislation;
Higher Education; *Information Sources; *Learning Disabilities;
*Organizations (Groups); Public Agencies; Rehabilitation
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