Learning Disabilities (page 2)
Learning disability is a general term that describes specific kinds of learning problems. A learning disability can cause a person to have trouble learning and using certain skills. The skills most often affected are: reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math.
Almost 3 million children (ages 6 through 21) have some form of a learning disability and receive special education in school. In fact, over half of all children who receive special education have a learning disability (Twenty-fourth Annual Report to Congress, U.S. Department of Education, 2002). It's important, though, to realize that learning disabilities (LD) vary from person to person. One person with LD may not have the same kind of learning problems as another person with LD. One may have trouble with reading and writing. Another may have problems with understanding math. Still another person may have trouble in each of these areas, as well as with understanding what people are saying.
This A-Z Topics page is intended to connect you with more information about the disability. The resources we've listed here will lead you to groups with great authority on learning disabilities and and to what research is revealing about both the medical aspects of LD and effective education for the nearly 3 million students with LD. You'll also find research and practical advice on behavior management, and the latest thinking on appropriate procedures for diagnosing LD.
The list below isn't intended to be exhaustive of the resources available. It's intended to get you started on your search for information about LD.
Quick Intros to Learning Disabilities
- Want a quick overview?
Read NICHCY's 4-page fact sheet on LD.
- LD at a glance.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is an excellent source of information. Read about LD in this fact sheet, how to tell if someone has a learning disability, what causes LD, how common they are, and what can be done.
- If you're new to LD...
...then the Learning Disabilities Association of America has written this intro for you.
- The ABCs of LD.
You'll find LD Online a rich source of info. Start here for a quick intro.
- Definitions and overviews.
SchwabLearning will give you LD fast facts, an overview, and definitions.
The diagnosis of learning disabilities is often a sticky issue. Of particular concern are the various methods used to test children suspected of having a learning disability and the differing eligibility criteria that states apply to decide whether or not a child qualifies for special education and related services. A lot rides on those decisions. Depending on the diagnostic process used, the resulting picture may vary as to the child's abilities and difficulties. And based upon the picture that emerges of the child, decisions are made about the education and special assistance that the child will receive (or not) and the resources that the state will commit to provide the child with special education (or not).
- What's the primary approach to diagnosing LD? An overview of the discrepancy approach.
Fletcher, J.M., Francis, D.J., Shaywitz, S.E., Lyon, G.R., Foorman, B.R., Stuebing, K.K., Shaywitz, B.A. (1998, Fall). Intelligent testing and the discrepancy model for children with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 13(4), 186-203.
This article isn't available online, but it's worthwhile pursuing at a library, resource room, or from the publisher itself. It reviews the historical basis and rationale for identifying children as learning disabled on the basis of a discrepancy between scores on measures of intelligence and achievement. In addition, to a historical perspective, recent studies that address the validity of classifications of children with learning disabilities (LD) according to the presence or absence of discrepancies between IQ and achievement are reviewed. Throughout this article, the role of IQ testing in the designation of children as learning disabled for research and public policy is addressed. The authors conclude that IQ tests have limited utility for the identification of children with LD. Alternative approaches to classification that incorporate the idea of a discrepancy between aptitude and achievement are discussed. (ERIC: Authors)
- What else is possible? Alternate approaches.
Torgesen, J.K., &Wagner, R.K. (1998, Fall). Alternative diagnostic approaches for specific developmental reading disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 13(4), 220-232.
Research on reading disabilities conducted within the last two decades provides evidence in support of new approaches to the diagnoses of reading disabilities in children and adults. This article summarizes recently acquired information about a specific set of linguistic-cognitive markers for reading disabilities, and it also describes efforts to develop measures of these markers in the areas of phonological awareness, rapid automatic naming, and verbal short-term memory. In addition, implications of this new information for the diagnosis of reading disabilities are considered. (ERIC: Authors)
- The official policy of the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Office of Disability Policy, Educational Testing Service. (1999, June). Policy statement for documentation of a learning disability in adolescents and adults (Rev.). Princeton, NJ: Author. (Available online at: www.ets.org. Enter in the search box at the top right "documenting learning disabilities." The document should be among the top 10 search results.)
This document provides individuals, schools, professional diagnosticians, and service providers with a common understanding and knowledge base of those components of documentation that are necessary to validate a learning disability and the need for reasonable accommodations for candidates seeking to register with various Educational Testing Service testing programs.
- What the states use: The situation in 2003
Ahearn, E.M. (2003, August). Specific learning disability: Current approaches to identification and proposals for change. Alexandria, VA: Project FORUM. Available for purchase online at: http://www.nasdse.org/publications.cfm
The purpose of this report is to provide a succinct summary of the major issues in SLD identification and outline some proposals for change. Starting with a review of current requirements in federal law, the document goes on to discuss several SLD identification approaches and the way they have been used, current state practices in SLD identification, and alternative approaches that are being proposed by reseachers and stakeholder organizations. It ends with a discussion of the challenges to reaching consensus on any change in the identification procedure for specific learning disabilities.
- Where to go from here? Recommendations from the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). (2004). Keep kids learning: A new model to identify students with learning disabilities before they fail. Available online at: http://www.ncld.org/publications-a-more/parent-advocacy-guides
- And last but not least...the Center's that looking into it all.
The National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD) has been funded by OSEP to address the complex issues surrounding the proper identification of students with learning disabilities who need special education services. Specifically, the Center is analyzing existing methods of identifying students with learning disabilities. It is also studying state and local policies to determine factors that explain the differences in the number and characteristics of students identified with learning disabilities from state to state, from district to district within a state, and even from school to school within a district. On NRCLD's Web site, you can access the results of these efforts, including:
- Reschly, D.J., Hosp, J.L., & Schmied, C.M. (2003, August). And miles to go...State SLD requirements and authoritative recommendations. Nashville, TN: National Research Center on Learning Disabilities. This paper focuses on the major events leading to the widespread rejection of the discrepancy criterion and an analysis of current state SLD requirements in relation to proposed changes in SLD classification criteria. Possibilities for and barriers to change are addressed in this analysis. Available online at: http://nrcld.org/html/research/states/index.html
- Responsiveness-to-intervention symposium. (2003, December). NRCLD hosted a two-day symposium focusing on responsiveness-to-intervention (RTI) issues. (RTI refers to individual, comprehensive student-centered assessment models that focus on applying a problem-solving framework to identify and address a student's difficulties. For an overview of RTI's core concepts, visit: http://nrcld.org/html/research/rti/concepts.html.) The speakers, discussants, and participants assembled represented the wide diversity of individuals with a vested interest in LD determination issues. Sessions were organized around critical questions ranging from "How should screening for secondary intervention occur?" to "What are alternative models to LD identification other than RTI?" To access the papers presented during the symposium, PowerPoint presentations used by the presenters, and video of the symposium sessions, when available, visit: http://www.nrcld.org/symposium2003
Reprinted with the permission of the National Dissemination Center.
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