Scott L. Crouse, Ph.D.
Certified School Psychologist
Welcome to the LDinfo Web Site
This site is dedicated to the advancement of practical knowledge and understanding about the often mysterious world of Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Concerns. The key word here is 'practical'!!
Learning disabilities are often complex and confusing issues, not only for the students involved but also for their parents and teachers. Part of this confusion comes about because the term learning disability has different meanings within and outside of the public school environment. Outside of school terms such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia (or dyscalcula), central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), nonverbal learning disability (NLD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD, or ADHD) are often considered subgroups within the broader general classification of learning disabilities and therefore may lead parents to believe that their child is eligible for special education services. Unfortunately, while such diagnoses outside of the school may suggest rather significant issues which would likely impact education, they often do not take into consideration the actual criteria necessary to determine special education eligibility. As a result it is quite possible for a student with any of those diagnoses (and more) to not be found eligible within the category of specific learning disabilities or any other area of special education.
Parents need to understand that special education services are intended to enable the most significantly handicapped students to receive an appropriate education. As such, public schools have rather strict criteria (determined by each State) for identifying special education eligibility. In the specific learning disability (SLD) area, the criteria typically involves some measure of underachievement (either through a severe discrepancy formula or response to intervention - RTI). In addition, because it is widely accepted that a true learning disability is caused by some form of brain-based information processing weakness, many States also require documentation of an information processing deficit.
On this LDinfo Web Site you can find out about any of the following topics (and more):
Learning dissabilities - What is a learning disability (LD or SLD)?
Dyslexia: Dyslexia is a reading disability or reading disorder
Dysgraphia Dysgraphia is a writing disability or disorder
Dyscalculia Dyscalculia is a math disability or disorder
What is an attention deficit disorder (ADD, AD/HD, ADHD)?
Gifted LD: Can a student be gifted and LD?
Emotional/Behavioral issues and LD: Do LD students experience behavior problems or depression?
Section 504: What is a Section 504 plan?
What is special education?
What is processing?
What is a severe discrepancy?
What is a nonverbal learning disability (nonverbal LD or NLD)?
What is a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)?
What is IDEA?
What is a Learning disability? (from chapter 1 of 'Uncovering the Mysteries of your Learning Disability')
Definition: A learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding and using language spoken or written which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, spell, or do mathematical calculations.
Wow, is that ever confusing?!!! What does it mean?
Well, that's the legal definition. There are really 2 parts to a learning disability.
First, having a learning disability means that your brain 'processes' information differently than most other students. Certain kinds of information get stuck or lost while traveling through your brain.
Second, having a learning disability causes a 'discrepancy' between your ability and your achievement. This means that you are a lot smarter than you perform in school. You might be just as smart as someone sitting next to you in class, but your grades in certain areas aren't as good. This isn't because you are dumb, lazy, or anything else bad. You just learn differently.
It's kind of like a baseball player who has the 'ability' to hit home runs but is given a broken bat to use. He doesn't have the chance to prove how great he really is.
An LD student often has trouble proving how smart he or she is.
Explain more about information processing.
Information processing refers to how your brain:
Takes in information,
Uses this information,
Stores the information in memory,
Retrieves the information from memory, and
Expresses the information
Learning disabled students struggle with certain kinds of learning because their brains have difficulty 'processing' certain kinds of information. It is like when you go on a car trip and get stuck in road construction. It takes you a lot longer to get where you are going. Its the same with information going through your brain.
Information gets 'bogged down' in certain areas of an LD brain. When information gets bogged down, it is much more difficult to learn.
Different kinds of information travel through different parts of the brain. That's why some information is learned quickly and easily while other information is much more difficult.
What learning areas are affected?
A learning disability can affect:
Why do LD students get 'Special Education' help?
Each State has rules about who can receive special education services. Because these services are very expensive you have to 'qualify' according to the rules of the State.
For special education services you have to prove that your learning difficulty is caused by the way your brain processes information. You also have to prove that your processing difficulty causes a 'severe discrepancy' between what you should be able to learn (how smart you are) and how much you have learned (your achievement). You are given special tests to find out if you qualify for special education services.
NOTE: It is possible for a student to 'technically' have a learning disability but not to 'qualify' for special education services. This happens when a student demonstrates the information processing difficulties associated with a learning disability but his or her academic skills are not found to be 'severely discrepant' from their ability. This may indicate that the student has learned how to 'compensate for' or 'cope' with his/her learning disability at least to some extent.
Are all students with learning disabilities alike?
No. But many students with learning disabilities experience very similar processing and learning difficulties. And all learning disabled students get frustrated in school.
Do LD students ever 'get over' their learning disabilities?
A true learning disability never goes away. But, with understanding and effort you can learn to use your many strengths to 'compensate' for your weaker processing skills. You may also be able to strengthen your weak processing skills so that your learning difficulties are not so severe. Many people with learning disabilities are highly creative and 'gifted' in many ways. Even many famous and very successful people have learning disabilities.
Is a learning disability the same as Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is simply a fancy word for a disorder that involves reading. Other similar terms include Dysgraphia (writing disorder) and Dyscalculia (math disorder).
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