Specific Learning Disabilities

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  • Good overview of classroom accommodations: A child who qualifies for Special Education services in the public schools may also qualify for accommodations in regular classrooms in which he or she is mainstreamed.

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Adults with Learning Disabilities

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Advocacy Information


  • Parent advocacy for the pre-school child: Being an advocate means knowing how to ensure that your child gets the help he or she needs to be successful. For children who experience learning difficulties, it's never too early to start looking for ways to help them succeed in learning.
  • Advocacy rights and laws: This site contains accurate, up-to-date information about special education law and advocacy for children with disabilities.
  • Special education advocacy services: local, state, and international sites for special education advocacy
  • The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center:assists the families of children with disabilities through education, information and training.
  • The PACER Center project provides a central source for families of children and young adults with disabilities to obtain support, advocacy, and information about the health care system.

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Assessment of Learning Disabilities

  • Identification and Assessment of Learning Disabilities: Formal assessment documentation is an essential requirement within NSW universities to identify and verify a student’s Learning Disability. Formal assessment documentation may be :
  • Assessing Your Child's Learning Difficulty or Learning Disability: If you or your child's professional sees that your child may have trouble learning, you should probably pursue a learning disabilities assessment. First, have the child's hearing and vision tested. Perhaps they just need a hearing aid or a pair of glasses. If hearing and vision are fine, then the child should receive a learning disabilities (LD) evaluation.
  • Suggested Questions to Ask about assessment: questions for parents to ask before an assessment is initiated for a suspected learning disability.
  • Intelligence Tests Used in Assessment for Learning Disabilities: The WISC-III/WISC IV section of your child's LD assessment will include the following information:
  • Assessment for Adults with LD: Among adults who have not graduated from high school there may be an unusually high rate of undiagnosed learning disabilities and/or ADHD.  Adult students, professionals and other professionals who work with adults should consider the possibility that learning disabilities and/or ADHD may underlie the difficulties faced in school, employment and everyday social relationships.
  • Issues in Learning Disabilities: Assessment and Diagnosis: The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) believes that inappropriate diagnostic practices and procedures have contributed to misclassification of individuals and questionable incidence rates of learning disabilities. Such practices and procedures result in erroneously including individuals whose learning and behavioral problems are not attributable to learning disabilities and excluding individuals whose deficits are manifestations of specific learning disabilities.
  • Diagnosis of LD: Many professionals are involved in the diagnosis of LD.  They include psychologists, educational specialists, and other professionals who work in specialized fields such as speech and language. This table explains the role of some of the professionals who provide services.
  • Adults with Learning Disabilities and Assessment: A comprehensive assessment by a member of the College of Psychologists is required to diagnose a learning disability. This process should involve an interview and a series of different types of tests, which may take several hours and require more than one appointment.

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Assistive Technology

  • New developments in technology and practical insights into the promise and realities of making technology work for people with learning disabilities - Technology can open doors and break down barriers for children, youth and adults with learning disabilities. Whether in the classroom or workplace, technology can provide a vital difference.
  • What Happens When Assistive Technology Doesn’t Work? The Need For An Integrated Approach - When the student-technology match has not worked, what key questions should be asked?
  • Technology: Some common questions answered - Answers to common questions regarding the use of technology in schools to aid instruction of students with learning disabilities.
  • Tools for living with Learning Disabilities - According to the National Institutes of Health, one in seven children has a learning disability. Most children with learning disabilities (80%) have difficulty with language skills, including reading, writing and spelling. Even though these children are as smart as their peers, they need additional time and tools to help them read, write and spell.
  • Considering Your Child's Need for Assistive Technology - The 1997 revision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) included many new requirements for school districts. One of those new requirements is the group of "special factors" which each IEP team must consider. Assistive technology is one of those special factors. The requirement states simply, "…the IEP Team shall…consider whether the child requires assistive technology devices and services."
  • Assistive Technology Assessment: More Than the Device - Assessing an individual for assistive technology (AT) use is an important part of the reauthorization of IDEA (1997) and an essential support in the path to greater independence and integration into society. Unfortunately, AT devices are frequently abandoned for many reasons. Sometimes AT selection is based on a mismatch between the individual's desires and/or needs. Sometimes the individual outgrows the capabilities of the device.
  • Assistive Tech and Inclusion and Transition - When considering assistive technology needs, the number, complexity, and jargon-laden language of numerous important questions, for which answers must be sought before an appropriate system of tools can be selected, can hinder effective collaboration and decision-making. The SETT Framework aids in gathering, organizing, and analyzing data which can be used to make collaborative assistive technology and programming decisions.
  • Setting the Stage For Success: Building Success through Effective Selection and Use of Assistive Technology Systems - This personal reflection on the SETT Framework shares insights into the development and use of the SETT Framework. It provides considerations for using SETT as a collaborative tool by which groups of people with varying previous experience in assistive technology can effectively build consensus and align expectations in order to: 1) consider and establish an individual student's need (or lack of need) for assistive technology; 2) work toward developing a system of tools with which a student can use to address identified needs; 3) link assistive technology assessment and intervention; and, 4) align purpose, expected results and evaluation measures when choosing and using a system of assistive technology tools.
  • Tech Tools for Students with Learning Disabilities: Infusion into Inclusive Classrooms - The potential for assistive technology in general education classrooms for students with disabilities is great. Its benefits include enhancing academic achievement in written expression, reading, mathematics, and spelling; improving organization; and fostering social acceptance.

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Audio/Video Tapes

  • Audio tapes from Audio-Digest - Clinical lectures, presented by experts at the nation's preeminent teaching institutions, that will help you provide better care for patients.
  • Large selection of audio tapes - From the ADD Clinic
  • Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic - Learning Ally is a national nonprofit organization that provides recorded and computerized textbooks at all academic levels to people who cannot effectively read standard print because of a visual impairment, learning disability, or physical disability.
  • Transition videos - By now, most well-developed library video collections offer materials on learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders in children and grown-ups, but how many items do we have for college-age young adults? In this engaging tape, eight college students with specific learning disabilities and/or ADD discuss their transitions from high school to postsecondary learning environments.

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Causes of Learning Disabilities

  • Cigarette smoking during pregnancy and LD - Although the percentage of smoking in the general population is declining, the rate of this is slowest among women of childbearing age. The recent National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported that among women of reproductive age, approximately one-third smoke cigarettes on a regular basis.
  • Causes of LD - Mental health professionals stress that since no one knows what causes learning disabilities, it doesn't help parents to look backward to search for possible reasons. There are too many possibilities to pin down the cause of the disability with certainty. It is far more important for the family to move forward in finding ways to get the right help.
  • What Causes Learning Disabilities?- In the literature on learning disabilities, it is generally assumed that learning disabilities are caused by a neurological dysfunction. This theory has so far, however, been unable to produce any tangible practical results.
  • Causes of Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia - Genetic and Biological - Are Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia Related to Differences in the Brain? Is dyslexia a genetic disease, inherited from the parents? Answer: Learning disabilities tend to run in families...
  • What are the causes of learning disabilities?- Are Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia Related to Differences in the Brain? Is dyslexia a genetic disease, inherited from the parents?
  • General Information - LD is a disorder that affects people's ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways: as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self control, or attention.
  • Environmental Causes - This report is the result of a 1997 Graduate Student Research Project conducted through the Special Education Department at the University of South Florida.   The project involved extensive research of published peer reviewed medical journal articles which have shown environmental and chemical exposure factors can cause damage to the delicate brain growth processes in the unborn child during pregnancy, thereby demonstrating potential to cause Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity and other child behavior anomalies.

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Characteristics of Learning Disabilities

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Classifications/Types of Learning Disabilities

General Information

  • Overview of types - Learning disabilities can show up in several ways—as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, co-ordination, self-control or attention.
  • Basic list of terms - There are many kinds of learning disabilites and the jargon can get confusing.  These are some common terms and their definitions.

Auditory Processing

  • Auditory processing disorders in detail - There are several different ways the brain processes auditory information. If there is a weakness in a particular kind of auditory processing, it may be observed through specific types of behavior.
  • Living and working with CAPD - The easiest, quickest way to communicate is simply to say something and then deal with the other person's reply, right? Right, unless your listener has a CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder), then your remark might come through with certain words drowned out by other noises, or with some words sounding like different words or as meaningless strings of verbiage. You might begin to suspect this when the other person's expression doesn't register understanding, or if he,"answers the wrong question," or he asks you for additional information which most people would have been able to infer from what you just said.
  • Central Auditory Processing Disorders CAPD's - Beneath the academic, emotional, and social facade of learning disabilities lies a mild neurologic dysfunction, and it is not unusual for an LD person to have subtle hearing problems. The hearing impairment is rarely a loss of acuity in the ear itself, once the common ear infections of early childhood have been corrected medically or outgrown, but instead is usually located in the neural pathways of the brain which link the ear with the highest intellectual centers (the central auditory nervous system).
  • Suggestions for Successful Management of Students with Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD): Tips for the Teacher - The student with a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) will respond in a variety of ways to changes within their environment and instructional program. Management suggestions identified for a student with a CAPD should be based on the student’s individual profile of auditory processing strengths and weaknesses.
  • Signs and symptoms of apraxia - Apraxia of speech is a motor-speech programming disorder resulting in difficulty executing and/or coordinating (sequencing) the oral-motor movements necessary to produce and combine speech sounds (phonemes) to form syllables, words, phrases and sentences on voluntary (rather than only reflexive) control.  Many children are able to hear words, and are able to understand what they mean, but they can’t change what they hear into the fine-motor skill of combining consonants and vowels to form words.
  • Auditory Processing Disorder in Children: What Does It Mean? - Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a complex problem. The term is used by many people, in very different ways. There is research underway to help understand this disorder. There also is research to investigate therapies that will help individuals who may have an auditory processing disorder. As you will read, it will take a team of experienced professionals to diagnose and treat a true APD.


  • Dyslexia: Learning Disabilities in Reading - When a person has difficulties with reading, writing, spelling and maybe even speaking, no matter how hard he or she tries, the problem could be a learning disability known as dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia: A quick look - Dyslexia is a language processing disorder that causes difficulty with reading, writing and spelling. Dyslexia is NOT a sign of poor intelligence or laziness. It is also not the result of impaired vision...
  • “Should My Child Be Evaluated for Dyslexia?” — An Excerpt from Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D- From Dr. Sally Shaywitz, one of the world’s leading experts on reading and dyslexia, Overcoming Dyslexia is a comprehensive, up-to-date, and practical book to help parents and professionals understand, identify, and overcome reading problems that plague children today.
  • Defining dyslexia - Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Frequently asked questions about dyslexia, it's prevalence, causes, and treatments
  • Common Signs of Dyslexia - The common signs of dyslexia are categorized into different age groups as noted below and at the right. Note that the characteristics listed are often associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual's age, educational level, or cognitive abilities. A qualified diagnostician should test the individual to determine if he or she is truly dyslexic.
  • Overview Videos on dyslexia - An easy way to share the latest research with parents or teachers. Great for staff development.


  • Dyscalculia: Learning disabilities in mathematics - Dyscalculia is a term referring to a wide range of life-long learning disabilities involving math. There is no single form of math disability, and difficulties vary from person to person and affect people differently in school and throughout life.
  • Dyscalculia: A quick look- What you should know about dyscalculia: Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of learning difficulties involving math skills. There is no single form of dyscalculia - difficulties can vary from person to person and can change throughout a lifetime...
  • Overview - A large list of links by category relating to dyscalculia
  • Diagnosis- Recent studies show that student achievement is strongly influenced by teacher levels of expertise. An expert teacher's students perform 40% better students of an ill-prepared teacher. Presently, the average K-8 teacher has taken only 3 or less math or math education classes in college.
  • What is dyscalculia? - Dyscalculia is of a number of different types, each involving a specific type of problem in solving mathematical tasks. It corresponds in mathematics performance to dyslexia in the area of reading. The majority of children and adults with dyscalculia have it in a pure form in which both the ability to read and the ability to understand what is read are unaffected, although about 20–30 % with dyscalculia have a mixed form of it characterized by having difficulties both with reading and with math Their often requiring a long time to carry out even simple arithmetic tasks. They count on their fingers until far into the upper grades. Difficulties of this sort are termed automatization difficulties.
  • Memorizing facts: A Multi-Sensory Solution- TO MEMORIZE FACTS: The student is to learn all dates, formulas, terms, and name spellings, etc. in the SAND TRAY ("memory box"). Student must trace the information in the sand, while verbalizing about it in rhymes, when possible, & mentally picturing it at the same time. 4 or more repetitions are required.
  • Dyscalculia Resources: Books & Manipulatives - An extensive list of books and resources related to dyscalculia
  • Math skills - Learning disabilities in the area of mathematics are explored here. Often referred to as dyscalculia, math-related learning disabilities are complex and require intervention by skillful teachers to help students achieve success.
  • Dyscalculia-Explanation from the British Dyslexia Association - The DfES defines dyscalculia as: ‘A condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures.
  • Fact sheet on Dyscalculia- Dyscalculia is a term referring to a wide range of life-long learning disabilities involving math. There is no single form of math disability, and difficulties vary from person to person and affect people differently in school and throughout life.


  • Learning disabilities and motor skills - Dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder that affects a person's development in the area of motor development. Though many challenges can persist throughout a person's life, the types of difficulties experienced can change.
  • Dyspraxia: A quick look- The term dyspraxia refers to a specific type of disorder in the area of motor skill development. It is estimated that dyspraxia affects at least 2% of the general population. Seventy percent of those affected by dyspraxia are male. Like all learning disabilities, dyspraxia is a life long condition. With the help of alternate learning methods, repeated practice of basic tasks, and in some cases occupational, physical and speech therapy, a person with dyspraxia can learn to function and succeed independently.


  • Dysgraphia: Learning disabilities in writing - Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper.
  • Dysgraphia: A quick look - Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects written expression. It makes the act of writing difficult. Individuals with dysgraphia can have difficulty organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.
  • Dysgraphia information page - Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder characterized by writing disabilities. Specifically, the disorder causes a person's writing to be distorted or incorrect. In children, the disorder generally emerges when they are first introduced to writing.
  • Dysgraphia — Learning Disabilities in Writing - Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Because writing requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills, saying a student has dysgraphia is not sufficient. A student with disorders in written expression will benefit from specific accommodations in the learning environment, as well as additional practice learning the skills required to be an accomplished writer.
  • Dysgraphia: Causes and Treatment - Dysgraphia, handwriting disability, may exist in isolation but more commonly occurs with other learning difficulties, like dyslexia, aphasia, dyscalculia, and attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity.
  • Writing strategies for "dysgraphic" students  Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Handwriting Problems and/or Dysgraphia - Many students struggle to produce neat, expressive written work, whether or not they have accompanying physical or cognitive difficulties. They may learn much less from an assignment because they must focus on writing mechanics instead of content. After spending more time on an assignment than their peers, these students understand the material less.
  • Strategies for Dealing with Dysgraphia - A common teaching technique is to have the students write information to reinforce the material. For example, spelling programs often encourage students to write each spelling word five times or 20 times.
  • Explanation - Students with dysgraphia often have sequencing problems. Studies indicate that what usually appears to be a perceptual problem (reversing letters/numbers, writing words backwards, writing letters out of order, and very sloppy handwriting) usually seems to be directly related to sequential/rational information processing. These students often have difficulty with the sequence of letters and words as they write. As a result, the student either needs to slow down in order to write accurately, or experiences extreme difficulty with the "mechanics" of writing (spelling, punctuation, etc.).
  • Diagnosis and Intervention Strategies for Disorders of Written Language - The term dysgraphia has customarily been used to refer to a disorder of written language expression in childhood as opposed to a disorder of written language acquired in adulthood. Written language disorders have also been referred to as "developmental output failures."
  • The 90 Minute Dysgraphia Evaluation - (The examiner would use one test from the different categories.) 1 - INTELLIGENCE MEASURES: Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children; Cognitive Assessment System; Differential Ability Scales; Woodcock-Johnson III 2 - CONSTRUCTIONAL DYSGRAPHIA: ...


  • Five Guidelines for Learning to Spell and Six Ways to Practice Spelling - Practice makes permanent. Did somebody tell you practice made perfect? That's only if you're practicing it right. Each time you spell a word wrong, you're 'practicing' the wrong spelling. So, if you're not sure how to spell the word, find out, *then* practice that spelling. Keep an ongoing notebook of words, so you've got your own personal dictionary and you can see your progress. Start small, though!!!
  • The Strategic Spelling Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities: The Results of Two Studies - This study reports the results of two experiments which focused on the use of spelling strategies by students with learning disabilities and the relative effectiveness of two different approaches for teaching spelling. In experiment 1, qualitative research method was employed with four elementary students with learning disabilities to document the spelling strategies used during an structured interview, a formal spelling test and an informal writing activity.

Nonverbal learning disabilities

Visual Processing Disorders

  • Visual processing disorders: Challenges and strategies by age group - Basics you should know about visual processing disorders: Visual processing disorders are also known as visual perceptual processing disorders They affect how the brain perceives and processes what the eye sees...
  • Visual processing disorders in detail - There are lots of ways the brain processes visual information. Weaknesses in a particular kind of visual processing can often be seen in specific difficulties with practical, everyday tasks.  This is an explanation of each of the types of visual processing.

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Classroom Management

  • General Information on classroom management - With hard work and the proper help, children with LD can learn more easily and successfully. For school-aged children (including preschoolers), special education and related services are important sources of help. School staff work with the child's parents to develop an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. This document describes the child's unique needs. It also describes the special education services that will be provided to meet those needs. These services are provided at no cost to the child or family.
  • Making Modifications in the Classroom - A collection of checklists to use when modifying materials, classroom environment and student demands. Additionally, you will find checklists of strategies to try when dealing with inappropriate behavior, focusing student attention and more!
  • Adjustments in Classroom Management - One child with a learning disability and/or an attention deficit disorder can keep a classroom in constant uproar if nothing is done to counteract his trouble with attention, organization, time, and social acceptance. In these areas, the youngster does not have the ability to control and change his own behavior. Teachers have to deal with these problems by adjusting his environment. Careful classroom management can prevent the LD/ADD student from becoming a strongly disruptive influence.
  • Research on Classroom Ecologies: Implications for Inclusion of Children with Learning Disabilities - Speece & Keogh review studies identifying a revised picture of American education and a changing focus for the study of the needs of children with learning disabilities. In this picture the child no longer passively learns. Learning is more complicated than having a teacher tell a child what must be learned to earn a grade. Children are presented as active participants in the process of learning.  The role of schools is to foster the acquisition of knowledge.
  • What Are the "Early Warning Signs"of Learning Disabilities? - Playing with friends is a daily ritual for most children. But kids with learning disabilities are often isolated and rejected. Their problems making and keeping friends are compounded by their poor social skills. The challenges confronting learning disabled children in their lives both in and out of the classroom are examined in this video program designed for both teachers and parents.
  • Reading checklist - From About.com
  • Learning Disabilities and Psychological Problems — An Overview - Children with learning disabilities (LD) often have problems that go far beyond those experienced in reading, writing, math, memory, or organization. For many, strong feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, or shame can lead to psychological difficulties such as anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem, as well as behavioral problems such as substance abuse or juvenile delinquency.
  • Use of mnemonic devices with LD - Many students with disabilities and those at risk for educational failure exhibit problems with remembering materials covered in school. Suggestions for helping these students improve memory for school content are described in this article. In particular, mnemonic instruction is described and examples are provided of how it can be used to increase school learning and memory of students with learning difficulties.
  • Social Competence and the Child with Learning Disabilities - Since the inception of the field of learning disabilities in the l960s, helping professionals have concentrated their resources and energies in the remediation and improvement of academic skills. Countless hours of classroom time have been devoted to the children's mastery of the skills related to language arts, mathematics and science. Finally, in the mid-l980s the field began to recognize the critical importance of social skills in the development and ultimate success of individuals with learning disabilities.
  • The Teacher's Role in Developing Social Skills - Playing with friends is a daily ritual for most children. But kids with learning disabilities are often isolated and rejected. Their problems making and keeping friends are compounded by their poor social skills. The challenges confronting learning disabled children in their lives both in and out of the classroom are examined in this video program designed for both teachers and parents.
  • "Do's & Don'ts" for Fostering Social Competence - Excerpted from the Teacher's Guide Last One Picked ... First One Picked On  Learning Disabilities and Social Skills with Richard Lavoie, 1994.
  • Memory strategies - Strategies are an important part of our learning experience. This is because our brains are selective and tend to remember information that forms a memorable pattern. Strategies encourage purposeful learning and help us organize information into a pattern.
  • Personal essays on first-hand experiences with the challenges of learning disabilities - My father would gather the four of us around his overstuffed chair and read us Clement Moore's classic "Twas the Night Before Christmas" poem from a battered old book held together with electrical tape. Pages were torn and missing and I am sure that he was forced to recall much of it from memory. Certainly thousands of American families followed an identical ritual, but to us it was uniquely ours.
  • Differentiating instruction - Large student loads, limited time periods, and curricular mandates make it challenging to adjust instruction for the unique needs of today’s diverse learners. In the secondary levels, we factor in 160 morphing humans going through puberty with all its accompanying confusion, inconsistency, and high energy; we are overwhelmed.
  • Schema based word problem solving instruction - This exploratory study extends the research on schema-based strategy instruction by investigating its effects on the mathematical problem solving of 4 middle school students with learning disabilities who were low-performing in mathematics. A multiple-probe-across-participants design included baseline, treatment, generalization, and maintenance.
  • Inclusion and LD: a professional’s guide - This teacher's guide is based on the proceedings of a symposium convened to explore classroom ecologies and their effects on students with learning disabilities, Research on Classroom Ecologies: Implications for Inclusion of Children with Learning Disabilities October 28-30, 1994 Bandera, Texas.
  • Watering up the curriculum for adolescents with LD - Six basic principles associated with making knowledge construction more meaningful and robust are examined, and examples of specific instructional techniques particularly appropriate for use in inclusive classroom settings are provided. These techniques focus on teaching big ideas, promoting elaboration, relating to real-world contexts, and integrating thinking skills and strategies into the curriculum.
  • Teaching note taking - There are several methods for taking notes, including outlining and the use of graphic organizers. However, a two-column format is the best method for students in grades three to eight, and high school students who are have difficulty taking notes. With this method, a line is drawn down each page of paper, leaving one third of the page on the left and two thirds on the right. Main ideas are noted in the left column and details in the right.
  • Features of good learning strategies - Some strategies are effective and efficient, and others are not. Those that are both effective and efficient share characteristics that fall into three categories: content features, design features, and usefulness features.

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Definitions of Learning Disabilities

  • Child Development Institute- Learning disabilities are present in at least 10 percent of the population. By following the links on this page you will discover many interesting facts about learning disabilities as well as uncover some of the myths.  You will also be provided with  practical solutions to help children and adolescents with learning disabilities greatly improve their academic achievement as well as their self-esteem.
  • Helpguide - True learning disabilities are due to anomalies in brain structure or function, which can be inherited. Toxins in utero or in a person’s early environment can also cause learning disabilities.
  • Schwab Learning - You wonder why different professionals come to different conclusions about whether or not your child has a learning disability (LD). Why did the private assessment results say that your child has LD, but the public school disagreed?
  • National Mental Health Association - Parents are often worried and disappointed when their child has problems learning in school. There are many reasons for failure in school; a common one is a specific learning disability. A child with a learning disability is usually bright and initially tries very hard to follow instructions, concentrate, and “be good” at home and in school.

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Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities

  • Child Development Institute: Learning disabilities are present in at least 10 percent of the population. By following the links on this page you will discover many interesting facts about learning disabilities as well as uncover some of the myths.  You will also be provided with  practical solutions to help children and adolescents with learning disabilities greatly improve their academic achievement as well as their self-esteem. 
  • Helpguide
  • National Mental Health Association

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Frequently Asked Questions

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History of the Field

  • Historical overview - One-hundred years ago Morgan (1896) speculated that the inability of a bright 14-year-old boy to read was caused by defective development of the left angular gyrus, a condition he called congenital world blindness.  Attention to behavioral and achievement problems of children were heightened in the aftermath of influenza that swept North America and Europe between 1917 and 1920...

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Medical Issues/Medication

  • What You Can Do About Learning Disabilities - Having a learning disability doesn't mean you can't learn. But you'll need some help and you'll need to work extra hard. If you have a learning disability, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia (serious trouble with math), remember that you are not slow or dumb...
  • Is there any treatment? - The most common treatment for learning disabilities is special education. Specially trained educators may perform a diagnostic educational evaluation assessing the child's academic and intellectual potential and level of academic performance.
  • Researchers Identify Potential Treatment for Learning Disability in Neurofibromatosis - Researchers studying learning disabilities associated with neurofibromatosis type 1, or NF1, have traced the problem to excessive activity of a crucial signaling molecule and have successfully reversed the disabilities in mice by giving them an experimental drug. The findings provide hope that these learning problems may one day be treatable in humans.
  • The treatment of LD- The goal of the medical professional involved in the care of a child with learning disabilities is to attempt to identify which areas of the brain are dysfunctional and to suggest a specific educational intervention based on that knowledge. The prevailing view of the biologic correlates of reading disabilities is that it is a phonolinguistic problem.

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  • Federal Agencies - A list of federal agencies involved with learning disabilities.
  • National Organizations - A consolidated list of national organizations, with contact info.
  • Division for Learning Disabilities - The Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) works to improve services, research and legislation for individuals with learning disabilities. Members receive Learning Disabilities Research and Practice and Current Practice Alerts.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America - Today, LDA is the largest non-profit volunteer organization advocating for individuals with learning disabilities and has over 200 state and local affiliates in 42 states and Puerto Rico. LDA's international membership of over 40,000 includes members from 27 countries around the world.
  • Academy for Educational Development - Founded in 1961, AED is an independent, nonprofit organization committed to solving critical social problems and building the capacity of individuals, communities, and institutions to become more self-sufficient. AED works in all the major areas of human development, with a focus on improving education, health, and economic opportunities for the least advantaged in the United States and developing countries throughout the world.
  • The International Dyslexia Association - The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with dyslexia, their families and the communities that support them. IDA is the oldest learning disabilities organization in the nation -- founded in 1949 in memory of Dr. Samuel T. Orton, a distinguished neurologist.
  • Council for Learning Disabilities - The Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) is an international organization that promotes effective teaching and research.  CLD is composed of professionals who represent diverse disciplines and who are committed to enhance the education and lifespan development of individuals with learning disabilities.  CLD establishes standards of excellence and promotes innovative strategies for research and practice through interdisciplinary collegiality, collaboration, and advocacy.
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities - NCLD’s services include raising public awareness and understanding, national information and referral, educational programs, and legislative advocacy.
  • National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities - Founded in 1975, the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) is a national committee of representatives of organizations committed to the education and welfare of individuals with learning disabilities. Over 350,000 individuals constitute the membership of the organizations represented by the NJCLD.

Organizations Offering Publications

  • Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) - These resources have been chosen because they provide reliable information and are relevant for teachers of students with learning disabilities. Check here often for new information.
  • Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) - The purpose of TeachingLD is to provide trustworthy and up-to-date resources about teaching students with learning disabilities.
  • International Dyslexia Association - You can find publications on the IDA site.
  • LDOnline - First Person offers personal essays on first-hand experiences with the challenges of learning disabilities. Essays authored by teachers, parents and students offer advice and insight to living with learning disabilities.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) - Individuals in every profession will encounter people with learning disabilities in their work. Understanding the characteristics of learning disabilities (LD) and associated conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is essential in order to provide effective services and assistance to these individuals.
  • Get Ready to Read - Get Ready to Read! (GRTR!) is a national program to build the early literacy skills of preschool children.

Find an LD Group in Your State

Several of the national groups listed above have chapters throughout the United States. You can often find out where your state chapter is located by visiting online. And, often, the state chapter can put you in touch with local chapters. We've provided the names and links below of organizations that offer this type of info, support, and connection.

  • Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) - State and local affiliates offer a variety of services that can make a difference in the lives of individuals with learning disabilities and their families. State and local activities may include: support groups, regular informational meetings, resource libraries, advocacy assistance, newsletters, annual conferences and opportunities to network with other parents, teachers, professionals and adults.
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities - Your resources are just a click away. Choose your state on the map to find organizations in your area.

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Overview and General Information

  • LD Basics- Learning disabilities (LD) are neurological disorders that can make it difficult to acquire certain academic and social skills. Whether you’re a parent, educator, or an adult with LD, learning about LD will help you support your child’s or your own success in learning and life.
  • General Information from NMHA - Parents are often worried and disappointed when their child has problems learning in school. There are many reasons for failure in school; a common one is a specific learning disability.
  • LD at a glance - A learning disability (LD) is a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. The term learning disability is used to describe the seeming unexplained difficulty a person of at least average intelligence has in acquiring basic academic skills. These skills are essential for success at school and work, and for coping with life in general. LD is not a single disorder. It is a term that refers to a group of disorders.
  • Overview from the LDAA - If you're new to LD then the Learning Disabilities Association of America has written this intro for you.
  • The ABCs of learning disabilities - You'll find LD Online a rich source of info. Start here for a quick intro.
  • LD Online takes a deeper look - LD OnLine is the official Web site of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities. The link above leads you its "LD in Depth" page, where you can select the topic you want to go deeper into---adult issues, behavior, giftedness, the IEP, parenting...it's up to you. There's lots of detail here.
  • NCLD's Resource Locator - Discover thousands of national, state, or local resources listings that can be organized by keyword and state.

  • The authoritative specialist on dyslexia - The International Dyslexia Association's name speaks for itself.

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Parent Information

  • Tips for Parents - Learn about LD. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and your child. See the list of resources and organizations at the end of this publication.
  • Mealtimes - Many parents have trouble finding a meal where all family members can sit down together. But it's an important time for helping your child feel a part of the family, practicing language skills, and learning appropriate behavior.
  • The Process of Discovery: Finding Out Why Your Child is Struggling - The intensity and range of feelings that parents of struggling children experience creates a wide spectrum of emotions. One of these emotions, grief, looks a little different now. For what exactly is the parent grieving?
  • Ten Tips for Negotiating the Best Education for Your Child - Most parents whose children reach school age envision sending their children off to school in their new shoes and backpacks and waving as the bus pulls away. This role in their child's school experience would involve packing lunches, driving on field trips, bringing in cupcakes and helping with home work. But for many parents this dream quickly evaporates when they realize their child is struggling, not excelling, in school.
  • A Learning Disability Is Only One Part of a Child - When a child is born, it is usually a time of joy for the whole family. How new parents respond to this new little person is influenced by many factors. Some of these revolve around how comfortable parents are in taking care of the child, whether the child was wanted, and whether the child is welcomed into an intact family.
  • Helping Young Children with Learning Disabilities at Home - Understanding a child's needs takes time because needs change with age and with expectations at home, in social settings, and in school. New and unexpected problems may arise as they do with all children. However, youngsters with special needs often require more understanding and support, not only from parents and teachers but also from siblings.
  • Helping Your Child with Organization and Study Skills - Students with learning disabilities need direct, systematic instruction to develop these skills. Learning disabilities related to reading, spelling, and writing skills; concrete or abstract organization skills; short- or long-term memory; or attention controls affect certain students' ability to self-design and independently apply study strategies. These students can learn study skills, but they need specific instruction and sufficient practice to do so.
  • Tips for Developing Organizational Skills in Children - Developing good organizational skills is a key ingredient for success in school and in life. Although some people by nature are more organized than others, anyone can put routines and systems in place to help a child become more organized. The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities has compiled a list of strategies that parents can use to help their child develop good organizational skills.
  • Tips for choosing a tutor - Tip #1: It is essential that a student with learning disabilities work with a tutor who has been trained to use the appropriate multisensory techniques. Be sure to ask about training, experience, and references...

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  • General Information - As many as 1 out of every 5 people in the United States has a learning disability.

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Research in Learning Disabilities

  • Summarizing LD research - Lyon R. (1997). Report on learning disabilities research. Adapted from testimony given by Dr. Reid Lyon before the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 10, 1997.  At the time of this testimony, Dr. Lyon was the Acting Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch, at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH). His testimony begins with a summary of what we know about how children learn to read, including understanding how sounds are connected to print, how reading fluency develops, and how meaning is constructed from print, as well as other factors that influence learning to read. Next, an overview is provided on why so many children are having difficulty learning to read (deficits in phoneme awareness and developing the alphabetic principle, deficits in acquiring reading comprehension strategies and applying them to the reading of text, deficits in developing and maintaining the motivation to learn to read, limitations in effectively preparing professionals). The testimony also includes a summary of what we can do help children learn to read.

What have we learned from the last two decades of LD research?

Two Decades of Research in Learning Disabilities: Reading Comprehension, Expressive Writing, Problem Solving, Self-Concept. Keys to Successful Learning: A National Summit on Research in Learning Disabilities. (1999). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 430 365).  This document presents four brief papers that review and synthesize the research on intervention with students who have learning disabilities (LD). The papers are:

Instructionally, what works with students with LD?

Improving Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities: The Results of Three Research Syntheses. Keys to Successful Learning: A National Summit on Research in Learning Disabilities. (1999). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 430 367).  This booklet presents three brief papers that summarize three meta-analytic research syntheses of instruction for students with learning disabilities. The papers are:

  • Intervention Research for Students with Learning Disabilities- (H. Lee Swanson). Findings that resulted from a review of 272 studies are grouped into those on most effective forms of instruction; subject areas most affected by different instructional strategies; and other factors that influence achievement.
  • The Effect of Instructional Grouping Format on the Reading Outcomes of Students with Disabilities - (Batya Elbaum, Sharon Vaughn, Marie Hughes, Sally Watson Moody, and Jeanne Shay Schumm). This analysis of 20 studies presents conclusions on results of students tutoring each other; effects of small group instruction; the outcomes of multiple grouping formats; and effects of length of time during which alternative formats are implemented
  • Effective Instruction for Learning Disabled or At-Risk English-Language Learners? - (Russell Gersten, Scott Baker, Susan Unok Marks, and Sylvia B. Smith). Recommendations address components of an effective English-language development program, the value of adapted forms of the instructional approaches identified in the effective teaching research with this population, and effective ways to merge content area instruction with English-language development instruction.
  • The Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) model, the Strategic Instruction Model (SIM), and high school students - Bremer, C.D., Clapper, A.T., & Kachgal, M.M. (2000). Never too late: Approaches to reading instruction for secondary students with disabilities. Research to Practice Brief: Improving Secondary Education and Transition Services through Research. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 466 913).  This research brief discusses two reading instruction models for teaching secondary school students with disabilities. The first, Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR), is designed specifically for students with learning disabilities and students who are at risk of reading failure. This strategy adapts reciprocal reading and incorporates cooperative learning. CSR utilizes four strategies: preview, click and clunk (students identify parts of a passage that are hard to understand, then using four "fix-up" strategies, get the gist and wrap up. Students are also taught to use the following cooperative group roles: leader, clunk expert, gist expert, announcer, and encourager. The second strategy, Strategic Instruction Model (SIM), consists of a package of components for use by students with learning disabilities, as well as instructional tools for use by professionals. The reading strategies portion of SIM includes: paraphrasing, self-questioning, visual imagery, and word identification. The Content Enhancement Routines in SIM help professionals manage and present the content of their classes in ways that help all students learn. A concept anchoring table is presented. The article closes with a description of other approaches and suggestions for selecting and implementing the appropriate model. (Contains 19 references.) (ERIC: CR).
  • Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR): Improving Secondary Students’ Reading Comprehension Skills - by Christine D. Bremer, Sharon Vaughn, Ann T. Clapper, and Ae-Hwa Kim.
  • Help students learn to strategically process what they read - Although students with learning disabilities may have the ability to process information, they do so with great inefficiency. It is not atypical for students with learning disabilities to be unaware of basic strategies that good readers use as a matter of course, such as re-reading passages they don't understand.
  • Current Practice Alerts - A library of alerts about research in learning disabilities. The Alerts series is a joint initiative sponsored by two divisions of the Council for Exceptional Children-the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) and the Division for Research (DR). Alerts provide timely and informed judgments regarding professional practices in the field. Based on the adequacy of the current knowledge base and practice experience, each Alert makes a recommendation of “Go For It” (practices for which there is solid research evidence of effectiveness), or “Use Caution” (practices for which the research evidence is incomplete, mixed, or negative).


  • What about Home?- Check out LDA's materials for parents.  Parents are often baffled by the problems presented by a child with learning disabilities. Often this “invisible disability” does not become obvious until a child reaches school age. Even then, difficulties may be subtle.
  • Homework toolkits for parents- How to help with homework, tutoring, and how to communicate effectively with school teachers.
  • Assistive technology and learning disabilities- Find out what assistive technology may help your child with learning disabilities.
  • Enhancing self-concept: What works - Elbaum, B., & Vaughn, S. (2003, March/April). For which students with learning disabilities are self-concept interventions effective? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36(2), 101-08. (Note: This article is drawn from the same work that resulted in an article noted in the Two Decades of Research document listed under "LD Research" above). This meta-analysis looked at outcomes of school-based interventions aimed at enhancing the self-concept of students with learning disabilities, specifically effect sizes in relation to students' self-concepts prior to the intervention. Results indicated that only students with documented low self-concept benefited significantly from intervention. For these students effect sizes were quite large. (Contains references.) (ERIC: Author/DB)
  • For students: Being your own advocate- CLD (National Center for Learning Disabilities) pairs its two parent guides (noted above) with one called "Being Your Own Advocate." This introductory guide is designed to help teens and adults with learning disabilities become familiar with the rights and responsibilities they have in school, college and the workplace. Scroll down the page linked above until you see "LD Advocacy." You'll find the links to the guide there.

Ongoing Sources of Research Info

  • Current Practice Alerts - Click the link above, and you'll access a library of previous alerts about research in learning disabilities. The Alerts series is a joint initiative sponsored by two divisions of the Council for Exceptional Children-the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) and the Division for Research (DR). Alerts provide timely and informed judgments regarding professional practices in the field. Based on the adequacy of the current knowledge base and practice experience, each Alert makes a recommendation of “Go For It” (practices for which there is solid research evidence of effectiveness), or “Use Caution” (practices for which the research evidence is incomplete, mixed, or negative).
  • Journal of Special EducationThe Journal of Special Education is a research journal in the field of special education for individuals with disabilities ranging from mild to severe. Quarterly. A publication of Pro-Ed, 8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, TX 78757-6897. Telephone: (800) 897-3202; (512) 451-3246.
  • Learning Disabilities - A Multidisciplinary Journal - Publication of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, 4156 Library Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15234. Twice yearly. Ph. (412) 341-1515.
  • Learning Disabilities Research & Practice- The Learning Disabilities Research & Practice journal presents current research in the field of learning disabilities and disseminates information important to practitioners in the field. Members of the Division for Learning Disabilities (a special interest division of the Council for Exceptional Children) receive the Journal series as part of their membership.
  • Reading & Writing Quarterly - Overcoming Learning Difficulties- This journal provides critical information to improve instruction for regular and special education students who have difficulty learning to read and write for university-based instructors and researchers, learning consultants, school psychologists, and professionals. Quarterly. Published by Taylor & Francis, Inc., 325 Chestnut Street, Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106.
  • Research Roundup -- LD News Archives of features articles.




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