Individuals with LD generally have average or above average intelligence, yet they often do not achieve at the same academic level as their peers. Weaker academic achievement, particularly in reading, written language, and math, is perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of LD. Significant deficits often exist in memory, metacognition, and social skills as well.
Individuals who have LD in reading have difficulties decoding or recognizing words (e.g., letter/sound omissions, insertions, substitutions, reversals) or comprehending them (e.g., recalling or discerning basic facts, main ideas, sequences, or themes). They also may lose their places while reading or reading in a choppy manner.
Another term used for reading disabilities is dyslexia. Dyslexia is best understood as a type of reading disability. During early childhood, children with dyslexia have difficulties learning spoken language. Later they have trouble decoding and spelling words and, consequently, are likely to experience comprehension problems also. A reading disability affects every aspect of an individual's life, from the early years of school when children learn to read, to later years when students are expected to read in order to learn specific content, and into the community, home, and workplace where every person needs to acquire and understand written information.
For students with LD, problems in written language can occur in handwriting, spelling, sentence structure, vocabulary usage, volume of information produced, and organization of written ideas. Many students with LD in reading also have difficulty writing, since both areas are language-based.
Poor math achievement may appear in difficulties differentiating numbers and copying shapes, recalling math facts, writing numbers legibly or in small spaces, and relating math terms to meaning. Other weak areas may include abstract reasoning and metacognition, including identifying, using, and monitoring the use of algorithms to solve math problems.
Reprinted with the permission of the Council for Exceptional Children. © 2006-2007 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). All rights reserved.
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