Learning Disabilities

learning disabilities, in education, any of various disorders involved in understanding or using spoken or written language, including difficulties in listening, thinking, talking, reading, writing, spelling, or arithmetic. They may affect people of average or above-average intelligence. Learning disabilities include conditions referred to as perceptual handicaps, minimal brain dysfunction (MBD), dyslexia, developmental aphasia, and attentional deficit disorder (ADD); they do not include learning problems due to physical handicaps (e.g., impaired sight or hearing, or orthopedic disabilities), mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or cultural or environmental disadvantage. Techniques for remediation are highly individualized, including the simultaneous use of several senses (sight, hearing, touch), slow-paced instruction, and repetitive exercises to help make perceptual distinctions. Students are also assisted in compensating for their disabilities; for example, one with a writing disability may use a tape recorder for taking notes or answering essay questions. Behavior often associated with learning disabilities includes hyperactivity (hyperkinesis), short attention span, and impulsiveness. School programs for learning-disabled students range from a modified or supplemental program in regular classes to placement in a special school, depending upon the severity of the disability. The field of learning disabilities is considered to have emerged as a separate discipline in 1947 with the publication of the book Psychopathology and Education of the Brain-Injured Child by neuropsychiatrist Alfred A. Strauss and Laura E. Lehtinen. The need to help students with these disabilities was first recognized on the federal level in 1958, when Congress appropriated $1 million to train teachers for the mentally retarded. Famous people considered to have had a learning disability include Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, and Nelson Rockefeller.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Handbook of Learning Disabilities
Karen R. Harris; H. Lee Swanson; Steve Graham.
Guilford Press, 2003
Identification of Learning Disabilities: Research to Practice
Renée Bradley; Louis Danielson; Daniel P. Hallahan.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002
Learning Disabilities: Theoretical and Research Issues
H. Lee Swanson; Barbara Keogh.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990
Perspectives on Learning Disabilities: Biological, Cognitive, Contextual
Robert J. Sternberg; Louise Spear-Swerling.
Westview Press, 1999
The Nature of Learning Disabilities: Critical Elements of Diagnosis and Classification
Kenneth A. Kavale; Steven R. Forness.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
Facing Learning Disabilities in the Adult Years
Joan Shapiro; Rebecca Rich.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Parenting Children with Learning Disabilities
Jane Utley Adelizzi; Diane B. Goss.
Bergin and Garvey, 2001
Our Labeled Children: What Every Parent and Teacher Needs to Know about Learning Disabilities
Elena L. Grigorenko; Robert J. Sternberg.
Perseus, 2000
Working with People with Learning Disabilities: Theory and Practice
David Thomas; Honor Woods.
Jessica Kingsley, 2007
Successful Educators: A Practical Guide for Understanding Children's Learning Problems and Mental Health Issues
Nathan Naparstek.
Bergin & Garvey, 2002
Moderate Learning Difficulties and the Future of Inclusion
Brahm Norwich; Narcie Kelly.
RoutledgeFalmer, 2004
Research on Classroom Ecologies: Implications for Inclusion of Children with Learning Disabilities
Deborah L. Speece; Barbara K. Keogh.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996
Inclusive Education: A Global Agenda
Sip Jan Pijl; Cor J. W. Meijer; Seamus Hegarty.
Routledge, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Inclusion of Pupils with Learning Disabilities in General Education Settings"
Speaking, Reading, and Writing in Children with Language Learning Disabilities: New Paradigms in Research and Practice
Katharine G. Butler; Elaine R. Silliman.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002
Nameless: Understanding Learning Disability
Dietmut Niedecken.
Brunner-Routledge, 2003
Developmental Perspectives on Children with High-Incidence Disabilities
Ronald Gallimore; Lucinda P. Bernheimer; Donald L. MacMillan; Deborah L. Speece; Sharon Vaughn.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "The Self-Concept and Friendships of Students with Learning Disabilities: A Developmental Perspective" begins on p. 81
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