ERIC Identifier: ED291204
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and
Gifted Children Reston VA.
Learning Disabilities. ERIC Digest #407. Revised.
Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, defines
learning disabilities (LD) as 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 ability to listen, think,
speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations."
The definition further states that LD includes perceptual handicaps, brain
injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
According to the law, LD does not include learning problems that are primarily
the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; mental retardation, or
environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Also required is a severe discrepancy between the child's potential (as
measured by IQ) and his or her current status (as measured by achievement
It is unfortunate that in practice the LD child may be a student who does not
fit into any other category but still has problems learning to read, spell,
write, solve arithmetic problems, or function in school. This often makes LD a
"dumping ground" for students who need remedial education.
HOW MANY STUDENTS HAVE LEARNING DISABILITIES?
A wide range of prevalence estimates have appeared in the
literature--anywhere from 1% to 30% of the general population-- perhaps
reflecting the variations in definitions. The most widely agreed upon range is
2% to 3%.
WHAT ARE SOME TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENTS WHO HAVE LEARNING
Students who are learning disabled may exhibit a wide range of traits,
including poor reading comprehension, spoken language, writing, and reasoning
ability. Hyperactivity, inattention, and perceptual coordination problems may
also be associated with LD, but are not examples of LD. Other traits that may be
present include a variety of symptoms of brain dysfunction, including uneven and
unpredictable test performance, perceptual impairments, motor disorders, and
emotional characteristics such as impulsiveness, low tolerance for frustration,
The major types of LD may be broken into disorders in four areas:
--Spoken language: Delays, disorders, and deviations in listening and
speaking. --Written language: Difficulties with reading, writing, and spelling.
--Arithmetic: Difficulty in performing arithmetic functions or in comprehending
basic concepts. --Reasoning: Difficulty in organizing and integrating thoughts.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF LEARNING DISABILITIES?
Although there exist many teaching programs designed especially for LD
children, Reynolds and Birch (1982) have suggested that the instruction required
by most children who are called LD, educable mentally retarded, emotionally
disturbed, or behavior disordered is not readily distinguishable. A team
approach is advocated to provide for their education in the mainstream setting.
Myers and Hammill (1982) underlined the importance for resource or special
class teachers to match instructional systems in use in the regular classroom.
Such an approach allows for discovering ways to modify the system for particular
students as well as preparng them to return to the regular program.
REFERENCES FOR PARENTS
Erickson, R.R., and E.L. Erickson. CHILDREN WITH READING PROBLEMS: A
GUIDEBOOK FOR PARENTS. 1977. (Learning Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 1326, Holmes
Beach, FL 33509)
Rogers, F.K. PARENTING THE DIFFICULT CHILD. 1979. (Chilton Book Co., Radnor,
Schoonover, R.J. HANDBOOK FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES.
(Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc., Danville, IL 61832)
Stevens, S.H. THE LEARNING DISABLED CHILD: WAYS THAT PARENTS CAN HELP. 1980.
(John F. Blair Publisher, 1406 Plaza Dr., S.W., Winston-Salem, NC 27103)
Taylor, J.F. THE HYPERACTIVE CHILD AND THE FAMILY: THE COMPLETE WHAT-TO-DO
HANDBOOK. 1980. (Everest House, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036)
Gearheart, B.R. LEARNING DISABILITIES: EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES. 1981. (C.V.
Mosby Co., 11830 Westline Industrial Dr., St. Louis, MO 63141)
Johnson, S.W., and R.L. Morasky. LEARNING DISABILITIES. l980. (Allyn and
Bacon, Inc., Longwood Division, Link Dr., Rockleigh, NJ 07647)
Lerner, J. LEARNING DISABILITIES. THEORIES, DIAGNOSIS, AND TEACHING
STRATEGIES. 1981. (Houghton, Mifflin Co., One Beacon St., Boston, MA 02107)
Mercer, C.D. CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES. 1979.
(Charles E. Merrill Publishing Co., 1300 Alum Creek Dr., Columbus, OH 43216)
Myers, P.I., and D.D. Hammill. LEARNING DISABILITIES. BASIC CONCEPTS,
ASSESSMENT PRACTICES, AND INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES. 1982. (Pro-Ed, 5341
Industrial Oaks Blvd., Austin, TX 78735)
Osman, B.B. NO ONE TO PLAY WITH: THE SOCIAL SIDE OF LEARNING DISABILITIES.
1982. (Random House, Inc., 201 E. Fiftieth St., New York, NY 10022)
Reynolds, M.C., and J.W. Birch. TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN IN ALL
AMERICA'S SCHOOLS. 1982. (The Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association
Dr., Reston, VA 22091)
Zigmond, N., J. Sansone, S.E. Miller, K.A. Donahoe, and R. Kohnke. TEACHING
LEARNING DISABLED STUDENTS AT THE SECONDARY SCHOOL LEVEL. 1986. (The Council for
Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Dr., Reston VA 22091)
Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities 4156 Library
Road Pittsburgh, PA 15234 412/341-1525
Association of LD Adults P.O. Box 9722 Friendship Station Washington, DC
Orton Dyslexia Society 724 York Road Baltimore MD 21204 301/296-0232
Publication: BULLETIN OF THE ORTON SOCIETY
FOR MORE INFORMATION
COMPUTER SEARCH REPRINTS from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) are
annotated bibliographies from the ERIC and Exceptional Child Education Resources
databases. Among REPRINT titles are the following:
#507 "Learning Disabled Adolescents: Programs, Curriculum, Teaching Methods"
#525 "Learning Disabled Elementary School Students: Programs, Curriculum Guides,
Teaching Methods" #546 "Learning Disabilities: Definitions, Assessment, and
REPRINTS are available from Publication Sales, The Council for Exceptional
Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston VA 22091-1589
CEC CUSTOM COMPUTER SEARCHES can provide a bibliography with abstracts in a
special interest area related to the education of learning disabled students.
DIVISION PUBLICATIONS such as THE DLD TIMES, a newsletter of The Division for
Learning Disabilities is available through membership in CEC's LD division. For
information, contact CEC Department of Member and Unit Services, 1920
Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091-1589.
LEARNING DISABILITY FOCUS (twice yearly) and LEARNING DISABILITIES RESEARCH
(twice yearly). For subscription information, contact CEC, Department of Member
and Unit Services, 1920 Association Drive, Reston VA 22091-1589.