Perspectives on Learning Disabilities: Biological, Cognitive, Contextual

By Robert J. Sternberg; Louise Spear-Swerling | Go to book overview

5
Phonologically Based Reading Disabilities: Toward a Coherent Theory of One Kind of Learning Disability

Joseph K. Torgesen

This book shows that it is possible to have multiple, and perhaps quite divergent, perspectives on the nature of learning disabilities. Disagreement and varying perspectives on the concept of learning disabilities have been part of the field since its beginning. However, it is my view that our discussions about the nature of learning disabilities should be constrained to a much narrower range of opinion than they usually are. The starting place for these discussions should be the definition of learning disabilities that has been at the core of the field since the beginning ( Torgesen, 1991). Although achieving a consensus about a specific definition of learning disabilities has been difficult, there has never been serious disagreement among those most closely involved in the field about its central elements. These elements are reflected in the definition offered by the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, which is probably the one most widely agreed upon in the field today ( Hammill, 1990):

Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities.

____________________
The research reported in this chapter was supported by grant numbers HD23340 and HD30988 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and by grants from the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and the Donald L. Hammill Foundation.

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