Learning Disability Definitions

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Learning Disability Definitions

Carolyn Stacey

Introduction

This article addresses the components of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) and The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (1981) definitions of Learning Disabilities. Their similarities and differences in terms of their impact on identification and program development for students , the Canadian definition perspective as well as the inclusion of studying tips for special needs students is explored. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the American federal law that governs special education services for children from the time of birth until they graduate from high school. Revised in 2004, the Act defines Learning Disabilities as the following:

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, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations. The term included such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. This term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. (Public Law 108-446)

The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (1981) has defined Learning disabilities as the following:
Learning disabilities is a generic 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. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction. Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions, it is not the direct result of those conditions.

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From the definitions above, it can be determined that there is controversy in defining the term. As outlined in the matrix below, it is important to note the similarities and the differences of the components of the above noted definitions to ascertain the correct and appropriate usage of such a general term. Definitions Discrepancy Heterogeneity Exclusion / Extrinsic/ Inclusion Intrinsic Factors IDEA| Difference in aptitude and achievement. Severe discrepancy between IQ and achievement test scores.| Multiple domains in which the LD manifests due to one or more psychological processes involved in understanding or in using listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing,spelling and math.| Excludes individuals who have learning difficulties as the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbances, or of environmental, cultural, or economic misfortune.Includes conditions such as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia.| LD is due to intrinsic influences. Individuals who meet the first three criteria is presumed to have achievement issues due to Neurobiological factors Extrinsic factors of prenatal, postnatal and the environment may influence a LD.| NCJLD| Significant differences in achievement cannot be solely based by a quantitative score| LD is used in a general term – multiple domains which the LD manifests by significant difference in acquisition and use of listening, speaking, and reading, writing, reasoning and math skills.Intra- Inter- individual differences are noted across life span.| Excludes sensory impairments, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation and emotional disturbances Includes co-morbidity with other disorders that manifest...
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