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Special Educationpicture of apple

Learning Disabilities

What are learning disabilities?
Many people have their own opinion on what it means to have a learning disability. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines learning disabilities at this:

"Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in 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 term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, or mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage." (IDEA, 2004)

Overview of IDEA

Generally speaking, having a learning disability means that a person has difficulty acquiring or understanding basic skills or academic content as a result of troubles with mental processes.

What are some signs that a student might have a learning disability?
Learning disabilities can affect a person in one or many ways. Some possible areas that might be affected are:

It is important for teachers and other educators to remember that not all learning disabilities are the same. Students might show many different signs of having a learning disability and it is important to consider all of these. It is important to thoroughly assess a child before "labeling" that child as being learning disabled.

The causes of LD are not know for sure. Doctors and other medical experts cannot always pinpoint a specific cause for an individual's learning disability.
Some possible reasons for a learning disability

For more resources and help about learning disabilities go to these links:

ISER is a nationwide directory of professionals who serve the learning disabilities and special education communities. A web site of learning disabilities for parents, teachers, and other professionals. The National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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Questions? Contact M. Needham at
Page Last Updated November 3, 2004