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Learning Difficulties and Disabilities

What is a Specific Learning Disability?

Specific Learning Disabilities

The term "Specific Learning Disability" has a number of definitions, but a standard adopted by many, including U.S. Legislation, is:

"Specific learning disability" means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect abilty to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.  The term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.  The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbances, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

A "deficit performance standard" has been widely adopted to more precisely quantify Child Learning Disabilities, and to qualify students for federal special education funds and services.  Deficit performance standard is a model that measures a student's general IQ score, and tests their academic performance using a variety of achievement tests.  If the actual achievement level is 2 or more years behind expected level (based on the IQ score), a specific learning disability is presumed to be present and the cause of the deficit.

These definitions and their application as described often may lead to vague and arbitrary classification of a student as LD (Learning Disabled).  The classification alone does little or nothing to guide treatment or uncover the real cause of the learning struggle.

DyslexiaDevelopmental Dyslexia is a condition or learning disability which causes difficulty with reading & writing.
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