Subtypes of Learning Disabilities: Theoretical Perspectives and Research

Subtypes of Learning Disabilities: Theoretical Perspectives and Research

Subtypes of Learning Disabilities: Theoretical Perspectives and Research

Subtypes of Learning Disabilities: Theoretical Perspectives and Research


Although experts agree that various types of learning disabilities do exist, few attempts have been made to classify learning disabled children into subtypes. The editors of this collection feel that the lack of subcategorization has frustrated previous research efforts to obtain a generalizable body of knowledge in the field. To meet this critical need for definitive information, this book presents basic reviews and theoretical approaches used to subtype learning disabled children -- ranging from a behavior genetics approach to a dimensional approach. It also demonstrates actual research methods utilizing theoretical approaches.


The field of Learning Disabilities has changed dramatically over the last 20 years and this volume hopefully reflects these changes and will help lead the way to new advances as we near the 21st century.

The term specific learning disabilities was first used in the United States in 1963 to describe a variety of disorders related to language, reading, and social communication that could not be attributed to sensory handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental disadvantage (Kirk, 1963). The advent of the term "learning disabilities" (LD) reflected the realization by scientists, educators, and parents that some children presented an exceptional pattern of development that did not fit existing categories, but the term "learning disability" also reflected a general lack of consensus about its principal manifestations and etiology. Consequently with these considerations in mind, the current Federal definition as articulated in Public Law (PL) 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, includes a wide range of conditions that are generally associated with neurological factors and establishes eligibility for special education services by the exclusion of other handicaps.

"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 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 disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. (U.S. Office of Education, August 23, 1977)

The past decade has witnessed phenomenal growth in the field of learning disabilities, to the point where it now represents approximately 40% of the handicapped students receiving special education nationally. According to a 1984 report to Congress by the Office of Special Education programs, the . . .

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