According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), students with learning disabilities have disorders in one or more basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations.
However, it is often difficult to distinguish between slow learners and people with LD based only on observed behaviors. A student with LD has deficits in one or two areas while performing at or above the average in other areas. The child’s potential or overall intelligence is greater than his/her poor achievement would predict. This is called the ability-achievement discrepancy. Some children even fall under both the gifted and LD categories, and are thus referred to as twice-exceptional
A diagnosis of a learning disability can only be given by trained professionals such as clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, and educational diagnosticians. Below are several articles that help give parents and teachers a better idea of what goes into making such a diagnosis and outline common LD signs and possible teaching strategies.
- Early Identification: Normal and Atypical Development
- What Are Learning Disabilities?
- Basics for Parents: Your Child’s Evaluation
- Who Can Diagnose LD and/or ADHD?
- How Do You Know If Your Child Might Have a Learning Disability?
- Does Third Grade Discrepancy Status Predict the Course of Reading Development?
The last reference raises serious questions about whether an ability-achievement discrepancy is a valid definition of reading disability. Well-replicated research has demonstrated that a core deficit for children and adults with reading disabilities is phonemic awareness (the ability to understand sounds and sound patterns in language).
Also check these sections of our site for general information about LD and effective teaching strategies: