The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is pleased to provide you with information about the problems many children, youth, and adults experience with learning in particular, with learning to read.

Having difficulty with reading is by no means unusual. Millions of people in the United States have trouble reading. Some may not be able to read at all, while others have basic reading skills but might be considered "slow readers." It is useful to know that problems with reading are often accompanied by problems with writing, listening, or speaking. Each person having trouble in any or all of these areas should know that help is available.

There are many reasons why a person might have difficulty in developing reading skills. One of the most common reasons is that the person has what is known as a learning disability. Dyslexia is one such learning disability. There are also many other types of learning disabilities that can cause problems with learning to read or learning in general. These are described later in this guide.

Not all troubles with reading are caused by learning disabilities. It is important to determine what is causing the problem. Some causes other than learning disabilities are poor vision or hearing, emotional disturbance, or mental retardation. A person having trouble with reading should talk with specialists in the reading field and receive a thorough assessment. Through tests and other evaluation techniques, the nature of the reading problem can be determined. Then action can be taken to help the person overcome or learn to compensate for his or her specific problem.

This publication has been developed with two major purposes in mind. These are:

  • to describe some of the most common learning disabilities that can cause reading problems; and
  • to put you in touch with organizations that can provide you with the help you need.

The rest of this publication is organized into as follows:

  • a look at learning disabilities in children and youth;
  • suggestions for parents in how to help their school-age children learn;
  • considerations for adults with reading and learning problems, including steps that adults can take to find out if they do, indeed, have a learning disability; and
  • book and organizational resources for: parents of school-age children with learning disabilities; adults with learning disabilities; and educators or other service providers who work with individuals with reading problems and/or learning disabilities.

We hope that you will take advantage of the expertise and assistance offered by the many excellent organizations we have listed throughout this document. If you find you have need of additional information or assistance, please feel free to contact NICHCY again.

A Look at Learning Disabilities in Children and Youth

by Larry B. Silver, M.D. Reprinted with permission from the Learning Disability Association of Montgomery County, Inc., in Maryland

Children and adolescents perform poorly in school for various reasons. Some have emotional or family problems; for others, the source of trouble is the community, the school, or peers; and some are simply below average intellectually. But 10 to 20 percent have a neurologically-based disorder of the type called a learning disability. According to the definition used by the federal government, these children are of at least average intelligence (many are far above average), and their academic problems are not caused by an emotional disturbance, by social or cultural conditions, or by a primary visual, hearing, or motor disability. Instead, the reason for their learning problems seems to be that their brains are "wired" in a way slightly different from the average person's. About 20 percent of children with learning disabilities also have a related problem, attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Its symptoms include hyperactivity, distractibility, and impulsiveness. ADD or ADHD must be evaluated and treated separately from the learning disability.

Learning disabilities are lifelong conditions that may require special understanding and help throughout grade school, high school, and beyond. They are also life disabilities that have important effects outside of the classroom, interfering not only with academic work but also with children's games, daily activities, and even friendships. Therefore, help for these children means more than classroom special education.

Types of Learning Disabilities

By the late 1960s, the present model of learning disabilities was established. This model distinguishes four stages of information processing used in learning: input, integration, memory, and output. Input is the process of recording in the brain information that comes from the senses. Integration is the process of interpreting this information. Memory is its storage for later retrieval. Output of information is achieved through language or motor (muscular) activity. Learning disabilities can be classified by their effects at one or more of these stages. Each child has individual strengths and weaknesses at each stage. Input The first major type of problem at the input stage is a visual perception disability. Some students have difficulty in recognizing the position and shape of what they see. Letters may be reversed or rotated; for example, the letters d, b, p, q, and g might be confused. The child might also have difficulty distinguishing a significant form from its background. People with this disability often have reading problems. They may jump over words, read the same line twice, or skip lines. Other students have poor depth perception or poor distance judgement. They might bump into things, fall over chairs, or knock over drinks.

The other major input disability is in auditory perception. Students may have difficulty understanding because they do not distinguish subtle differences in sounds. They confuse words and phrases that sound alike, for example, "blue" with "blow" or "ball" with "bell." Some children find it hard to pick out an auditory figure from its background; they may not respond to the sound of a parent's or teacher's voice, and it may seem that they are not listening or paying attention. Others process sound slowly and therefore cannot keep up with the flow of conversation, inside or outside the classroom. Suppose a parent says, "It's getting late. Go upstairs, wash your face, and get into your pajamas. Then come back down for a snack." A child with this disability might hear only the first part and stay upstairs.

Integration Integration disabilities take several forms, corresponding to the three stages of sequencing, abstraction, and organization.

A student with a sequencing disability might recount a story by starting in the middle, going to the beginning, and then proceeding to the end. The child might also reverse the order of letters in words, seeing "dog" and reading "god." Such children are often unable to use single units of a memorized sequence correctly. If asked what comes after Wednesday, they have to start counting from Sunday to get the answer. In using a dictionary, they must start with "A" each time.

The second type of integration disability involves abstraction. Students with this problem have difficulty in inferring meaning. They may read a story but not be able to generalize from it. They may confuse different meanings of the same word used in different ways. They find it difficult to understand jokes, puns, or idioms.

Once recorded, sequenced, and understood, information must be organized -- integrated into a constant flow and related to what has previously been learned. Students with an organization disability find it difficult to make bits of information cohere into concepts. They may learn a series of facts without being able to answer general questions that require the use of these facts. Their lives in and outside of the classroom reflect this disorganization.

Memory Disabilities also develop at the third stage of information processing, memory. Short-term memory retains information briefly while we attend to it or concentrate upon it. For example, most of us can retain the 10 digits of a long distance telephone number long enough to dial, but we forget it if we are interrupted. When information is repeated often enough, it enters long-term memory, where it is stored and can be retrieved later. Most memory disabilities affect short-term memory only; students with these disabilities need many more repetitions than usual to retain information. Output At the fourth stage, output, there are both language and motor disabilities. Language disabilities almost always involve what is called "demand language" rather than spontaneous language. Spontaneous language occurs when we initiate speaking -- select the subject, organize our thoughts, and find the correct words before opening our mouths. Demand language occurs when someone else creates the circumstances in which communication is required. A question is asked, and we must simultaneously organize our thoughts, find the right words, and answer. A child with a language disability may speak normally when initiating conversation but respond hesitantly in demand situations - pause, ask for the question to be repeated, give a confused answer, or fail to find the right words.

Motor disabilities are of two types: poor coordination of large muscle groups, which is called gross motor disability; and poor coordination of small muscle groups, which is called fine motor disability. Gross motor disabilities make children clumsy. They stumble, fall, and bump into things; they may have difficulty in running, climbing, riding a bicycle, buttoning shirts, or tying shoelaces. The most common type of fine motor disability is difficulty in coordinating the muscles needed for writing. Children with this problem write slowly, and their handwriting is often unreadable. They may also make spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

Detecting Learning Disabilities in Children

There are several early clues to the presence of a learning disability. In preschool children we look for failure to use language in communication by age three, or inadequate motor skills (buttoning, tying, climbing) by age five. In school-age children, we observe whether they are learning the skills appropriate to their grade. Schools and families should always consider the possibility of a learning disability before assuming that a child who has been doing poorly in school is lazy or emotionally disturbed. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law (P.L.) 105-17 - formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), P.L. 94-142 - requires public school systems to evaluate children who are at risk for a learning disability. Evaluations can also be performed by professionals in private practice, beginning with family doctors. Attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other problems should always be considered as well and evaluated by qualified professionals with expertise with these conditions. It is important to distinguish between emotional, social, and family problems that are causes and those that are consequences of academic difficulties, because they require different treatments.

The psychological assessment may include a neuropsychological or a clinical psychological evaluation. The intelligence of the child should be determined to learn whether the child is performing below potential. Discrepancies in performance between different sections of the IQ (intelligence quotient) test will help to clarify learning strengths and weaknesses. Other tests may be used to assess perception, cognition, memory, and language abilities. Current academic skills are judged by achievement tests. Both IQ and achievement tests help to clarify discrepancies between potential and actual ability. There are also specific tests that help to uncover learning disabilities. A speech pathologist, occupational therapist, or other professional may contribute further information, as can parents.

Treating Learning Disabilities in Children

Special education is the treatment of choice for learning disabilities in school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that school personnel, in conjunction with the child's parents, develop an individualized education program (IEP) for each student with learning disabilities who is eligible for special education. This plan is revised every year to take into account each eligible student's present skills and learning disabilities and abilities. The specific instruction students receive will vary depending upon their needs and capabilities. Some children need specific related services as well: a notetaker (for a student with a fine motor disability), word processors, laptop computers, books on tape, or extra time for tests. The IDEA requires schools to provide these special education and related services at no cost to families.

It's encouraging to know that a lot of research has been done to find out how to help students with learning disabilities succeed at school and elsewhere. For more detailed information about what types of interventions appear promising with these students, the organizations and the print resources listed at the end of this guide can be helpful.

Parents must also try to understand the nature of their children's problems. Like classroom teachers, they must build on the child's strengths while compensating for or adjusting to the child's needs without exposing them unnecessarily. A child with a visual motor disability, for example, might find it hard to load a dishwasher but could carry out the trash. The same child might have difficulty catching or throwing a ball, but no trouble swimming. Parents must think ahead about these matters to minimize their child's stress and to maximize his or her chance to experience success, make friends, and develop self-esteem. Treatment that affects only school work will not succeed, because learning disabilities are life disabilities.

It is essential to recognize learning disabilities and related problems as early as possible. Without recognition and help, children may become increasingly frustrated and distressed as they persistently fail. By the time they reach high school, they may give up. On the other hand, children whose special needs are recognized early and treated appropriately can overcome or learn to compensate for their disabilities. NICHCY thanks Dr. Larry Silver and the Learning Disability Association of Montgomery County, Inc., for permission to adapt Dr. Silver's article, which appeared in their newsletter. The Learning Disability Association of Montgomery County, Inc., is a local Maryland chapter of the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

Helping Your Child Learn

If you suspect that your child is having trouble learning to read, or trouble with learning in general, there is help available. For parents of school-age children, the first source of help should be the public school serving your area. Contact your child's school principal, express your concerns, and ask to have your child evaluated to see if he or she has a disability.

If the school thinks your child may have a disability and may need special education and related services, it must evaluate your child before providing your child with these services. This evaluation is at no cost to you.

The results of the evaluation will show whether or not your child has a problem with reading or learning and, if so, the nature of the problem. You may be told that your child has dyslexia or another type of learning disability. If the evaluation shows that your child does have a learning disability and, because of that disability, needs special education, the school is required by federal and state law to provide special education for your child - also at no cost to you or your family.

Suppose, however, that the results of the evaluation show that your child does not have a disability. In this case, there are a number of actions you can take. If you think that the school's evaluation of your child was not appropriate - for example, only one test was given or the evaluation was based solely upon observation of your child - you can ask the school system to pay for what is known as an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). There are usually guidelines for obtaining an IEE at the school's expense. Ask the school or your state's Parent Training and Information (PTI) center about the process you will need to follow to request an IEE. (Contact information for your PTI is available from NICHCY.)

Of course, you can always have your child evaluated independently and pay for the evaluation yourself. Whether the school pays for the IEE or whether you do, the results of this second evaluation must be taken into account in determining whether or not your child has a disability and needs special education.

If evaluation results still indicate that your child's problems in learning to read are not caused by a disability, your child will not be eligible for special education services through the public school. However, most schools have services available for students who are having trouble reading. Your child may be enrolled in a remedial reading program or work with a reading resource teacher to improve his or her skills. You may also wish to contact some of the organizations dealing with literacy (see Organizations).

Suppose, however, that the evaluation results show that your child does have a learning disability and is eligible to receive special education services. You and school personnel then meet to discuss the results of the evaluation and to develop what is known as an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Among other things, the IEP will describe the level at which your child is currently performing, as well as identify the specific services or instruction your child will receive to address his or her specific needs. (More information about special education and the IEP process is available by contacting NICHCY.) Classroom accommodations are also possible and can help a student compensate for his or her learning disability. Accommodations can include:

  • Taped textbooks available through Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (see the description in Resources);
  • Extended time to take tests;
  • Tutoring;
  • Use of a notetaker, for students who have trouble listening in class and taking notes;
  • Use of a scribe during test taking, for students who have trouble writing but who can express their answers verbally to the scribe, who writes down the responses;
  • Use of a reader during test taking, for students who have trouble reading test questions;
  • Tape recording of class lectures; and
  • Testing in a quiet place, for students who are easily distracted.

The suggestions presented in the remainder of this article focus upon what parents can do to help a child with a learning disability learn and function within the home.

Learn more about learning disabilities. Information on learning disabilities (LD) can help you understand that your child does not learn in the same way as other people do. Find out as much as you can about the problems your child has with learning, what types of learning tasks will be hard for your child, what sources of help are available, and what you can do to make life and learning easier for your child. You can find the information you need by reading many of the publications listed at the end of this document, or by contacting the national organizations that are listed.

Become an unobtrusive detective. Look for clues that can tell you how your child learns best. Does he or she learn best through looking, listening, or touching? What is your child's weakest approach to learning? Also pay attention to your child's interests, talents, and skills. All this information can be of great help in motivating and fostering your child's learning.

Teach through your child's areas of strength. For example, he or she may have great difficulty reading information but readily understand when listening. Take advantage of that strength. Rather than force reading, which will present your child with a "failure" situation, let your child learn new information by listening to a book on tape or watching a video.

Respect and challenge your child's natural intelligence. He or she may have trouble reading or writing, but that doesn't mean learning can't take place in many other ways. Most children with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence that can be engaged and challenged through using a multi-sensory approach. Taste, touch, seeing, hearing, and moving are valuable ways of gathering information.

Remember that mistakes don't equal failure. Your child may have the tendency to see his or her mistakes as huge failures. You can model, through good-humored acceptance of your own mistakes, that mistakes can be useful. They can lead to new solutions. They are not the end of the world. When your child sees you taking this approach to mistakes - your own and the mistakes of others - he or she can learn to view his or her mistakes in the same light.

Recognize that there may be some things your child won't be able to do or will have lifelong trouble doing. Help your child to understand that this doesn't mean he or she is a failure. After all, everyone has something they can't do. Capitalize on the things your child can do.

Be aware that struggling with your child over reading, writing, and homework can draw you into an adversarial position with your child. The two of you will end up angry and frustrated with each other, which sends the message to your child that, yet again, he or she has failed. You can contribute positively to your child's schooling by participating actively in the development of your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) and by sharing with the school the special insights about your child that only you as a parent have.

Use television creatively. Television, or videos, can be a good medium for learning. If the child is helped to use it properly, it is not a waste of time. For example, your child can learn to focus, sustain attention, listen carefully, increase vocabulary, and see how the parts fit together to make a whole. You can augment learning by asking questions about what was seen. What happened first? Then what happened? How did the story end? Such questions encourage learning of sequence, an area that causes trouble for many children with learning disabilities. Be patient, though. Because your child does not see or interpret the world in the same way you do, progress may be slow.

Make sure books are at your child's reading level. Most children with learning disabilities will be reading below grade level. To experience success at reading, then, it's important that they have books to read that are on their reading level (rather than their age level). Foster reading by finding books on topics of interest to your child or by reading to him. Also let your child choose his or her own books to read.

Encourage your child to develop his or her special talent. What is your child good at? What does he or she especially enjoy? Encouraging your child to pursue areas of talent lets him or her experience success and discover a place to shine.

Adults with Reading or Learning Problems

Adults who have trouble reading or learning usually have had these problems since they were children. Their problems may stem from having a learning disability that went undetected or untreated as a child. If an adult has a learning disability, he or she will experience many of the difficulties described in Dr. Larry Silver's article about learning disabilities in children. The difference for adults who have learning problems is that they no longer spend their day in school and cannot turn to the public school system for evaluation and special instruction. They may not know why they have trouble learning, and don't know where to go to find out.

Help is available. It's important, however, to know what is causing the adult's problem with reading or learning. Knowing the reason makes it possible for the individual to get the kind of help he or she needs. The problem may arise because the person has a learning disability. If so, then the person needs to work with instructors who know about learning disabilities. He or she needs to receive instruction designed for individuals with learning disabilities. But not all reading or learning problems are caused by learning disabilities. Perhaps as a child the person did not get enough basic instruction to build the foundation that leads to skilled reading and learning. Becoming involved in a literacy program might meet this person's needs.

The first step, then, is to find out if the learning problems are caused by the presence of a learning disability. A thorough assessment can give clues as to whether or not a learning disability exists and can pinpoint areas of strength and difficulty. An overview of the diagnostic process is given next. This overview is adapted from the HEATH Resource Center's publication called National Resources for Adults with Learning Disabilities.

Adults with Learning Disabilities: Assessing the Problem

Adapted with permission from the HEATH Resource Center. When adults suspect they may have a learning disability, they often begin a search for solutions. They may have difficulty in locating resources to diagnose the disability. For many individuals, obtaining a diagnosis can involve locating one or more professionals to select, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. Why is Diagnostic Testing Necessary? These tests are needed because:

  • Obtaining accurate diagnostics is the first step in overcoming the effects of a learning disability.
  • Learning with a learning disability requires different learning strategies.

What is the Diagnostic Process for Adults? The diagnostic process for adults with learning disabilities is different from diagnosis and testing for children. While diagnosis for children and youth is tied to the education process, diagnosis for adults is more directly related to problems in employment, life situations, and education. An adult will need to find a diagnostician experienced in working with adults and who is oriented to adult school- and work-related learning needs. The assessment process will include a diagnosis and an evaluation to decide on possible choices for treatment.

The diagnosis identifies the type of specific learning disability by showing strengths and weaknesses in the way an individual learns and uses information. Both informal and formal activities are used in this process. For example, information may be collected about the person's life and academic history and why there is a need for testing. More formal activities would include measuring learning/work style, such as visual memory or memory for numbers.

An evaluation can then be offered, suggesting ways to overcome some of the effects of the disability. This may include strengthening skills by working with someone who takes into account the way the individual learns best.

Until recently, it was not widely recognized that learning disabilities have influenced the lives of adults, especially those whose conditions were not diagnosed during school years. It is now clear that adults should be evaluated in a manner related to their age, experience, and career objectives.

How Do You Find Someone to Perform the Testing? You may be wondering how to find a professional qualified to conduct adult assessments. Several local agencies can either perform the tests or refer you to diagnosticians for adults within the community. Agencies to contact for information include:

  • The public school system - ask about Adult Education programs conducted through the school system and the availability of testing;
  • Adult Literacy Programs or Literacy Councils - these may be listed in your local telephone book. If not, call the national literacy organizations listed below and ask what programs are available in your community;
  • Learning Disability Association in your area, often listed in the telephone book with the name of the city or county first;
  • Counseling or Study Skills Centers at a local community college;
  • Guidance Counselors in high school;
  • International Dyslexia Association (see description below);
  • Special Education Programs at a local public school or university; and
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Agency in your state or county.

These organizations or individuals may also be able to put you in touch with an educational therapist or learning specialist in private practice who can perform and interpret the tests you need.

Questions to Ask Evaluators

  • Have you tested many adults with learning disabilities?
  • What is the cost of the testing? What does this cost cover?
  • Can insurance cover the costs? Are there other funding sources? Can a payment program be worked out?
  • How long does the testing take?
  • Will there be a written report of the assessment? Will I be able to meet with you to discuss the results?
  • Will our discussion give me information regarding why I am having trouble with my school, job, or life at home?
  • Will you also give me ideas on how to improve (remediate) my areas of disability and how to get around (compensate for) my disabilities?
  • Will the report make recommendations about where to go for immediate help?
  • If there are additional questions, are you available for more consultation? If so, what are the charges?


Resources for Families

Anderson, W., Chitwood, S., & Hayden, D. (1997). Negotiating the special education maze: A guide for parents and teachers (3rd ed.). Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House. (Available from Woodbine House, 1-800-843-7323,

Armstrong, T. (2000). In their own way: Discovering and encouraging your child's multiple intelligences. East Rutherford, NJ: Putman. (Available from Penguin USA, 1-800-788-6262,

Cronin, E.M. (1997). Helping your dyslexic child: A guide to improving your child's reading, writing, spelling, comprehension, and self-esteem. Rocklin, CA: Prima. (Available from Prima Publishing,1-800-726-0600,

Fisher, G., & Cummings, R. (2002). The survival guide for teenagers with LD (learning differences) (revised and updated ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit. (Available from Free Spirit Publishing, 1-866-703-7322,

Foss, J. (2002). Nonverbal learning disability: How To recognize it and minimize its fffects (ERIC EC Digest #E619). Available online at:

Fowler, M.C. (2002). Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. NICHCY Briefing Paper, 1-20. (Available online at, or at 1-800-695-0285.)

Hall, S., & Moats, L.C. (1998). Straight talk about reading: How parents can make a difference during the early years. New York: McGraw Hill/Contemporary. (Available from McGraw-Hill, 1-877-833-5524,

Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of America offers free guides and brochures online, at:

National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) offers a wide range of fact sheets online, at:

Porterfield, K.M. (1999). Straight talk about learning disabilities. New York: Facts on File. (Available from Facts on File, 1-800-322-8755,

Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level. New York: Knopf.

Silver, L. (1998). The misunderstood child: Understanding and coping with your child's learning disabilities (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Times Books. (To find a local or online bookseller go to:

Smith, C., & Strick, L.W. (1999). Learning disabilities from A to Z: A parent's complete guide to learning disabilities from preschool to adulthood. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. (To find a local or online bookseller go to:

Smith, S. (1995). No easy answers (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: Bantam.

Weinstein, L., & Siever, D. (2003). Reading David: A mother and son's journey through the labyrinth of dyslexia. New York: Penguin. (Available from Penguin USA, 1-800-788-6262,

Resources for Adults

American Council on Education. (1998). GED accommodations for disabilities. Available online at:

Hayes, M.L. (1993). You don't outgrow it: Living with learning disabilities. Novato, CA: Academic Therapy. (Available from Academic Therapy, 1-800-422-7249,

International Dyslexia Association offers several fact sheets and other resources for adults. Visit at:

Kerka, Sandra (1998). Adults with learning disabilities (ERIC Digest No. 189). Available online at:

LDOnline offers extensive information and publications for adults with learning disabilities, available at:

Learning Disabilities of America offers several information sheets for adults with learning disabilities, including Adult Literacy, Parenting Issues for Adults with LD, Self-Advocacy in the Workplace, and Postsecondary Educational Options. Find these at:

LINCS is the literacy community's gateway to the world of adult education and literacy resources on the Internet. Visit LINCS and explore its resources at:

Roffman, A.J. (2000). Meeting the challenge of learning disabilities in adulthood. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes. (Available from Paul H. Brookes, 1-800-638-3775,

Ross-Kidder, K. (2002). The GED and students with LD and/or ADHD. Available online at:

Resources for Educators

Currie, P.S., & Wadlington, E.M. (2000). The source for learning disabilities. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems. (Order online at or via 1-800-776-4332.)

Gerber, P. (1998). Characteristics of adults with specific learning disabilities. Available online at:

Harwell, J.M. (2002). Complete learning disabilities handbook: Ready-to-use strategies and activities for teaching students with learning disabilities (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass. (Available online at or via 1-877-762-2974.)

Harwell, J.M. (2003, August). Ready-to-use tools & materials for remediating specific learning disabilties (Complete Learning Disabilities Resource Library, Volume II). Jossey-Bass. (Available online at or via 1-877-762-2974.)

Lyle, M. (1998). The LD teacher's IEP companion: Goals, strategies, and activities for LD students. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems. (See contact information above.)

Mather, N., & Goldstein, S. (2001). Learning disabilities and challenging behaviors: A guide to intervention and classroom management. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes. (Order online at or via 1-800-638-3775.)

Mercer, C.D., & Mercer, A.R. (2005). Teaching students with learning problems (7th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall College. (Available online at, or 1-800-282-0693.)

Minskoff, E., & Allsopp, D. (2003). Academic success strategies for adolescents with learning disabilities and ADHD. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes. (Order online at or via 1-800-638-3775.)

National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center. (1999). Bridges to practice: A research-based guide for literacy practitioners serving adults with learning disabilities [Training package and a video]. Washington, DC: Author. Available online at: [Training updated for 2005]

Shaw, S.F., Scott, S., & McGuire, J.M. (2001, November). Teaching college students with learning disabilities (ERIC EC Digest #E618) (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED459548). Available online at:

Strichart, S.S., Iannuzi, P., & Magrum II, C.T. (2001). Teaching study skills and strategies to students with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, or special needs (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. (Order online at:

Winebrenner, S. (n.d.). Teaching kids with learning difficulties in the regular classroom: Strategies and techniques every teacher can use to challenge and motivate struggling students. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Press. (Order online at or via 1-800-735-7323.)


National Information Centers and Government and State Agencies

Division of Adult Education and Literacy Office of Vocational and Adult Education U.S. Department of Education 4090 MES 400 Maryland Avenue S.W. Washington, DC 20202-7240 Telephone: (202) 205-5451 E-mail: Web:

Resource Useful To: Adults; Educators (working with adults)

This division within the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the Department of Education can provide the adult education community with resources in adult education, including putting adults in contact with the Office of Adult Education within their state. Fact sheets, bibliographies, directories, and other publications are available for adults who have special learning needs.

HEATH Resource Center (National Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities) The George Washington University 2121 K Street N.W., Suite 220 Washington, DC 20037 (202) 973-0904; (800) 544-3284 (V/TTY) E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Parents (of young LD adults); Adults HEATH is a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities. Among other activities and publications, HEATH offers information on how and where adults with learning disabilities can get training after high school. The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) 4646 40th Street N.W. Washington, DC 20016 Telephone: (202) 362-0700, extension 200 E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Educators (of adults with limited English proficiency) CAELA is the only national information center focusing on the language and literacy education of adults and out-of-school youth learning English. A wide range of resources are available, including facts and statistics about adult ESL, FAQs, books and major publications, an ESL e-discussion list, and resource compilations, including Learning Disabilities and ESL. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) P.O. Box 1492 Washington, DC 20013-1492 Telephone: (800) 695-0285; (202) 884-8200 (V/TTY) E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Parents; Educators NICHCY can provide parents with information about special education and the rights children and youth with disabilities have under the law. NICHCY can also provide parents and others with a State Resource Sheet, useful for identifying resources within their state. A Publications Catalog is available upon request, and all publications are available free of charge on NICHCY's Web site.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Library of Congress 1291 Taylor Street N.W. Washington, DC 20011 Telephone: (800) 424-8567; (202) 707-5100 (202) 707-0744 (TTY) E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Parents; Adults Many individuals with learning disabilities may be able to borrow "talking books" (books on tape) from NLS, but they must first establish their eligibility for the program. Call or write NLS and ask for an application form for reading disabilities and Talking Books and Reading Disabilities, a fact sheet outlining the eligibility requirements for persons with learning disabilities. Once eligibility is established, the person can borrow, on tape, many of the same books that public libraries make available in print. State Department of Education Consult your local telephone directory for the office in your state. Resource Useful To: Adults; Educators The State Department of Education in each state should have a department concerned with adult education or literacy. This office can usually refer callers to adult education or literacy programs within their community. Technical assistance, information, and referral may be available to educators working with school-age children with learning disabilities or with adults with literacy concerns. Vocational Rehabilitation Office Consult your local telephone directory for the office in your area, or visit: Resource Useful To: Adults Through the Vocational Rehabilitation system, adults with learning disabilities may be able to get information and referral. Services may also be available, such as literacy and job training.

National Learning Disabilities Organizations

Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) P.O. Box 4014 Leesburg, VA 20177 Telephone: (571) 258-1010 Web: Resource Useful To: Educators The Council for Learning Disabilities provides services to professionals who work with individuals with learning disabilities. Members include educators, diagnosticians, psychologists, physicians, optometrists, and speech, occupational, and physical therapists. All members receive the Learning Disability Quarterly, as well as Intervention in School and Clinic, a teacher-oriented magazine. Division for Learning Disabilities Council for Exceptional Children 1110 N. Glebe Road, Suite 300 Arlington, VA 22201-5704 Telephone: (888) 232-7733; (800) 224-6830 (866) 915-5000 (V/TTY) E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Educators The Division for Learning Disabilities is one of the many special organizations within the Council for Exceptional Children. DLD offers the TeachingLD Web site, which provides information and resources to those teaching students with LD. DLD also publishes its own journal (Learning Disabilities Research and Practice) and newsletter. Teachers and other service providers can contact DLD about learning disabilities, publications, and membership.

International Dyslexia Association (formerly the Orton Dyslexia Society) 8600 LaSalle Road Chester Building, Suite 382 Baltimore, MD 21286-2044 Telephone: (800) 222-3123; (410) 296-0232 E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Parents; Adults (with dyslexia); Educators The International Dyslexia Association (formerly known as the Orton Dyslexia Society) is the only national nonprofit organization solely concerned with dyslexia. Extensive information about dyslexia is available online at the Web address above, including Spanish and audio versions. The Web site also provides contact information for the state branches of IDA.

Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) 4156 Library Road Pittsburgh, PA 15234 (412) 341-1515 Publications available in Spanish E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Parents; Adults; Educators The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) has nearly 300 state and local chapters. The national office has a resource center of hundreds of publications for sale and many fact sheets available online. Visit LDA's Web site (or call LDA) to find the LDA chapter closest to you. National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) 381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1401 New York, NY 10016 (212) 545-7510; 1(888) 575-7373 Web: Web: Resource Useful To: Parents; Educators The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is a national, not-for-profit organization whose Web sites are extremely rich in resources. Visit and find InfoZone, which will connect you to resources in your state and online fact sheets and other educational materials about learning disabilities. You'll also find ìLiving with LD,î which offers two sections, one for teens and another for adults who have LD. ìLD Advocateî will keep you up to date on legislative affairs and connect you with your legislators. Through its sister Web site,, NCLD offers tailored information about reading for parents, educators, advocates, and health care professionals. Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) The Anne T. Macdonald Center 20 Roszel Road Princeton, NJ 08540 Telephone: (800) 803-7201 E-mail: Web: Resource Useful To: Individuals with learning disabilities who cannot read standard print material Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) is a nonprofit service organization that provides educational and professional books in accessible media to people with print disabilities. RFB&D's library contains more than 93,000 titles in a broad variety of subjects, from literature and history to math and the sciences, at all academic levels, from kindergarten through post-graduate and professional.

RFB&D's services are available to persons with a verified visual, physical, or specific learning disability that substantially limits reading. To become a member of RFB&D, you must complete an application for service (which contains a "disability verification" and "certification") and include a one-time nominal registration fee. An application form is available from RFB&D's Customer Services Department and on-line.

National Literacy Organizations

ProLiteracy Worldwide 1320 Jamesville Avenue Syracuse, NY 13210 Telephone: (315) 422-9121; (888) 528-2224 E-mail: Web: Web: Resource Useful To: Adults; Educators ProLiteracy Worldwide represents the merger of the world's two largest adult volunteer literacy organizations - Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc. ProLiteracy America, the U.S. division of ProLiteracy Worldwide, has approximately 1,200 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Visit ProLiteracy's Web site to locate a program near you, or contact them by phone or email. The publishing arm of ProLiteracy is New Readers Press, offers resources and reading materials for adults and older teens at basic literacy through GED levels; adults and older teens with learning disabilities; and ESL students. Proceeds from the sale of New Readers Press materials support literacy programs in the United States and worldwide. Contact NRP at: 1-866-894-2100. America's Literacy Directory and National Literacy Hotline National Institute for Literacy 1775 I Street, NW, Suite 730 Washington, DC 20006-2401 Telephone: (800) 228-8813; (202)233-2025; (877) 576-7734 (TTY) Web: Web: Resource Useful To: Adults

America's Literacy Directory (ALD) is an online searchable database that refers potential learners and volunteers to literacy programs in their areas. To view a list of programs on the Internet, users simply enter a zip code at The directory provides detailed information about types of services, class times, program fees, and directions to the programs in their neighborhood. Information in the ALD is also available by calling the national literacy hotline at the numbers listed above for voice and TTY. English- and Spanish-speaking operators are available to assist callers.