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Educators & Students with Learning Disabilities: LD Basics

Useful for elementary and secondary administrators, librarians, classroom teachers, and parents and students with Learning Disabilities

Disabilities Addressed in this Guide

LDs Addressed in this Guide

         A learning disability affects the way students of average to above average intelligence receive, process, and express information. Learning the basic skills of reading, writing, and math is made more difficult by these neurologically based processing disorders. This guide provides information on dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, nonverbal learning disorders, and auditory and visual processing disorders, as well as related disorders, such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and dyspraxia.

         Students with learning disabilities, or “learning differences", are sometimes thought of as lazy, immature, and intentionally disruptive.  They are none of these! They know they have difficulty understanding the world the way those around them do. They often have developed their own coping strategies to help functioning, such as being the class clown, or trying to "disappear into the woodwork." This is often a child that "everyone knows" is smart, if not brilliant in many ways. 

        Once parents realize something is not quite right and decide to have the child fully evaluated to find reasons for below-level work or inappropriate behavior, the family and school can begin to take the steps necessary for the child to learn strategies for decoding the world.

         As teachers, administrators, and librarians, the more we know about these disorders the better prepared we are to teach these students differently, since they are "wired" differently!       

Taking the First Step

Taking the First Step: A Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities.


The State of Learning Disabilties

From the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Provides the authoritative national and state-by-state snapshot of learning disabilities (LD) in the United States, and their impact on the ability of students and adults to achieve educational success and employment. This publication also clarifies what a learning disability is and explains the common misperceptions associated with LD.(2011) Download 32-page booklet.

LD Definitions

Learning Disabilities cannot be cured or fixed. They are a life-long condition, but with the correct diagnosis, support, and intervention, children with LDs can succeed in school and in life.

LD Definitions

"A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. The disability may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations.

Every individual with a learning disability is unique and shows a different combination and degree of difficulties. A common characteristic among people with learning differences is uneven areas of ability, "a weakness within a sea of strengths." For instance, a child with dyslexia who struggles with reading, writing, and spelling may be very capable in math and science."

LDA: Learning Disabilities: Sign, Symptoms, and Strategies

From the Federal IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: 

Regulations Part 300/A/300.8/C/10

(10) Specific learning disability.

(i) General. 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,  that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think. speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

(ii) Disorders not included. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Coudl This Be Teh Sercet To Sussecc?

Read the article "Could this be teh sercet to sussecc?" by Chris Warren, in American Way (July 1, 2008), about how dyslexia might be an asset in the business world.

Subject Guide

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Professor Amrita Madray
Room 203, 2nd Floor

Swirbul Library, Garden City, New York 11530
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Facts about LD

Facts About LDs
  • There are no blood tests or medical procedures that can diagnose learning disabilities. You do not outgrow them, they are life-long, and there are no medications to treat them.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, eight to ten percent of American children under 18 years of age have some type of learning disability. 
  • Difficulty with basic reading and language skills are the most common learning difference. As many as 80% of students with learning disabilities have reading problems.
  • Learning disabilities often run in families.
  • From Dr Sheldon Horowitz and "the best we have is carefully designed instructional strategies and a system for trying things out and making adjustments over time based on good performance data. In other words, carefully targeted, well-delivered, high-quality, research-based, individualized and differentiated instruction."
  • The presumption should be that all children can learn.
  • AD/HD is not a learning disorder, but does occur in about one-third of people with LD.
  • Learning disabilities should not be confused with disabilities such as mental retardation, deafness, blindness, and behavioral disorders. In addition, learning disabilities should not be attributed to lack of educational opportunities, English-language learners, frequent changes of schools, or attendance problems.


What is Dyslexia? Stephen J. Cannell

Charles Schwab's Letter to the Editor, WSJ

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