Eligibility for Services for Persons with Specific Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt

Eligibility for Services for Persons with Specific Learning Disabilities

PREAMBLE

ACLD recognizes that twenty years have passed since the condition or Specific Learning Disabilities was defined in federal legislation as a handicap. Today, there are still serious questions concerning Specific Learning Disabilities. These include etiology, incidence, diagnostic and identification procedures, eligibility criteria for services and continuation of services, and types and intensity of services.

ACLD's position is that Specific Learning Disabilities is a lifelong handicapping condition and once validly diagnosed, the existence of this handicap need not be questioned again. While the manifestations of the condition may change over time, the inherent condition persists. Reassessment is needed to monitor progress and develop appropriate plans but is unnecessary to verify whether an individual has Specific Learning Disabilities.

ACLD believes that both the individual and the family have a right to know when the Specific Learning Disabilities condition is suspected or diagnosed and the right to full information from diagnostic studies even when there is no immediate need for special services.

PART I: THE SPECIFIC

LEARNING DISABILITIES CONDITION

Specific Learning Disabilities is a chronic condition of presumed neurological origin which selectively interferes with the development, integration, and/or demonstration of verbal and/or non-verbal abilities.

Specific Learning Disabilities exists as a distinct handicapping condition and varies in its manifestations and in degree of severity.

Throughout life, the condition can affect self-esteem, education, vocation, socialization, and/or daily living activities.

Specific Learning Disabilities is not synonymous with underachievement.

The Specific Learning Disabilities condition is lifelong and pervasive in nature, and can selectively interfere not only with learning in school settings, but also with the attainment or maintenance of acceptable social skills, appropriate work, good family relationships, and even the activities of daily living. Since it varies in its manifestation, the Specific Learning Disabilities condition in some persons undermines social interactions in spite of the person's high level of academic attainment.

PART II: THE DIAGNOSIS

The diagnosis of the Specific Learning Disabilities condition requires clinical judgment derived from multiple data. No specific test, battery, nor formula can substitute for clinical judgment. The professional or team making the diagnosis is responsible for the judgment. To help ensure valid diagnostic decisions, appropriately trained professionals require extensive, clinical training with this population. ACLD believes strongly that the validity of the Specific Learning Disabilities diagnosis increases when the responsibility for making the judgment is placed with clinicians who hold advanced professional degrees in generally accepted fields and who have two or more years of clinical experience with the relevant age group of the Specific Learning Disabilities population.

In the public schools the determination of the Specific Learning Disabilities condition must be made by an interdisciplinary team under the regulations for P.L. 94-142. ACLD endorses the use of interdisciplinary teams.

When an individual has a handicapping condition, she/he has a right and a need to know it. …

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