Learning Disability

Learning disabilities are defined by the Ontario Ministry of Education as follows:

Learning disability: a learning disorder evident in both academic and social situations that involves one or more of the processes necessary for the proper use of spoken language or the symbols of communication, and that is characterized by a condition that:

a) is not primarily the result of: impairment of vision, impairment of hearing, physical disability, developmental disability, primary emotional disturbance, or cultural difference;

b) results in a significant discrepancy between academic achievement and assessed intellectual ability, with deficits in one or more of the following: receptive language (listening, reading), language processing (thinking, conceptualizing, integrating), expressive language (talking, spelling, writing), mathematical computations; and

 c) may be associated with one or more conditions diagnosed as: a perceptual handicap, a brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia or developmental aphasia.

Special Education Companion (2002)

Note the emphasis on the “significant discrepancy between academic achievement and assessed intellectual ability.”  Students with Learning Disabilities have average to above-average intelligence, with a specific deficit in an academic area (this includes memory, processing, decoding, math abilty).  This contrasts with students who have a Developmental Disability or Mild Intellectual Disability – these students have much lower cognitive abilty (i.e. below average intelligence.)

Bottom line: students with Learning Disabilities have at least average cognitive ability (intelligence), they just need help in a specific area.

How to teach students with Learning Disabilities:

 Alberta Education – Government of Alberta (2002) Unlocking Potential: Key Components of Programming for Students with Learning Disabilities http://education.alberta.ca/media/511999/unlocking.pdf

Websites and Organizations for Learning Disabilities:

Canadian Dyslexia Association http://www.dyslexiaassociation.ca/

Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) http://www.ldac-acta.ca/index.php  

Learning Disability Association of Ontario (LDAO)   http://www.ldao.ca/

LD Online http://www.ldonline.org

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities http://www.nldline.com/

Putting a Canadian Face on Learning Disabilities http://www.pacfold.ca/

LD Pride Online www.ldpride.net

Classic Books and Videos about Learning Disabilities:

McCarney SB.  (2006) Pre Referral Intervention Manual (PRIM)3rd Ediion Hawthorne Publishing

This is the BIBLE of strategies for students with LD.  You need ideas for organisation – they will give you 67 different ones to try.

Richard Lavoie: How Difficult Can This Be? F.A.T. City–A Learning Disabilities Workshop DVD (1989) PBS Video

Richard Lavoie’s work is also at http://www.ricklavoie.com/videos.html

Here;s a youtube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhzh9kt8z7c  you can find clips of his videos there (illegally)


The Special Education Companion, 2002 (do you sense a theme here?)

Possibly the BEST and most under-used document in Special Education!  This document lists countless ways to help students under each Exceptionality Category.  If you look at ‘Learning Disability you have 10 pages of characterisitics of  students with LD, issues, general teaching and learning strategies, program ideas, subject-specific strategies (reading, spelling, mathematics) and assessment strategies!

Do NOT write an IEP without reading this document! Parents and Teachers should use this resource to determine appropriate accommodations, modifications, and strategies for the classroom.  Parents, please bring this to your teacher meetings to advocate for your child!

Please give comments with your favourite websites for people with Learning Disabilities – share the wealth!

Remember: This is a PERSONAL blog, not an official Ministry of Education website. This is a forum for sharing.

Please add comments and your favourite resources (and let me know if there are any dead links!) Thank you!


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Filed under How to Teach Students with Special Needs, Learning Disability

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