National Center for Learning Disabilities

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General LD Info

What is and isn’t a learning disability (LD)? LD is more than a “difference” or “difficulty” with learning—it’s a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. LD will vary in how it impacts each individual child, adolescent and adult. Understanding the basic facts will enable you to help yourself, your child, or someone you know to be a well-informed and effective advocate.

What Are Disabilities - What is Learning Disability?


General LD Info


The State of Learning Disabilities

“Stigma, underachievement and misunderstanding of LD continue to be stubborn barriers for parents and children to overcome. The data in this 2014 report reveal that, left unaddressed, as many as 60 million individuals risk being left behind, burdened by low self-esteem, subjected to low expectations, and diminished in their ability to pursue their dreams.”

– James H. Wendorf, NCLD Executive Director

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Learning Disabilities: What They Are, and Are Not

What Are Learning Disabilities - What Are Learning Disorders Even though some three million school-age children are classified as having specific learning disabilities (LD), this category of special need is often widely misunderstood. Surveys of both parents and educators confirm that many people mistakenly link LD with mental retardation and disorders of mental health and believe that, left alone, children are likely to outgrow LD over time.

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Learning Disabilities Explained (Again!)

education-disabilities-girl-at-computerIt happened again, this time on a train! A stalled train during my rush hour escape from the city redirected a flood of commuters onto the platform where I board my usual train in a relaxed and unhurried manner. The doors opened, a flurry of jockeying and shuffling toward open seats ensued, and I opened my briefcase to begin my regular routine of catching up on journal reading. Not 30 seconds passed before the passenger to my side, glancing over at my lap, announced in full voice that he had a learning disability.

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The Neurobiology of Learning Disabilities

Learning about Learning Disabilities - What Are Learning Disorders The specific learning disabilities (LD) category, dating back to its origin in the early 1960s, was built on the assumption that central nervous system dysfunction was the underlying cause of why these individuals struggled to achieve at levels commensurate with their peers. More than three decades of testing and classifying, teaching and implementing programs of related services and support has left us with a definition of LD that includes:

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Checking Up on Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities in Children - Evaluation for Learning

We’ve Come a Long Way...and We’re Not There Yet!

In the early 1960s, the term “learning disabilities” was coined to describe a group of children who, despite normal intelligence, were having significant problems with learning. The difficulties experienced by these children were unexplained and unexpected, and could not be attributed to other conditions such as mental retardation, impairments of hearing or vision, motor disorders and medical conditions. In 1969, the federal government recognized “specific learning disabilities” as a category within special education, and in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was authorized. More than 30 years later, the field of special education (as well as general education and the public at large) is struggling to understand what learning disabilities are all about!

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Index and Summaries of NJCLD Reports

Index and Summaries - NJCLD Reports

Archived Index and Summaries of NJCLD Reports 2001-Present

  • Adolescent Literacy and Older Students with Learning Disabilities (2008)
    This report describes the adolescent literacy problem (grades 4 to 12), its consequences, and contributing factors. Guiding principles for assessment, instruction and professional development, as well as recommendations for short-term and future consideration, are addressed.

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Learning Disabilities: Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know (audio)

about learning disabilities–students with disabilitiesIn this podcast, Dr. Sheldon Horowitz answers three common questions about learning disabilities (LD):

  • Can you get a child’s learning disability to go away?
  • How do you deal with someone—a child, parent, or teacher—who denies that anything is wrong, that the learning disability doesn’t exist?
  • How does brain structure and function relate to learning disabilities?

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Learning Disabilities: Sorting Fact From Fiction

About Disabilities - Causes of Disabilities icon_podcastsThe following is a transcription of the podcast, “Learning Disabilities: Sorting Fact from Fiction (audio).”

In this podcast, Dr. Sheldon Horowitz answers questions about some of the myths and facts connected to learning disabilities (LD). He also talks about key qualities shared by successful individuals. And, learn how parents and educators can help students with LD to stay motivated and positive.

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The History of Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities History | Evolution of LD Terms, PerceptionDo you ever wonder what it was like to raise—or teach—a child with a learning disability (LD) 20, 30 or even 50 years ago? Or perhaps you were you a child who struggled in school “back in the day” and only later learned that your difficulty had a name. Below is a snapshot of how our understanding of, and advocacy for, those with LD has evolved in the United States over the past 50 years. Learn about the major developments in neuroscience, special education, public awareness and the power of parents as advocates with the timeline below. As you review it, consider how far the LD field has come—and imagine how much more progress we can make.

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Learning Disabilities: Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know

About Learning Disabilities - Disabilities in School icon_podcastsThe following is a transcription of the podcast, “Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know about Learning Disabilities (audio).”

In this podcast, Dr. Sheldon Horowitz answers three common questions about learning disabilities (LD):

  • How can you get a child’s learning disability to go away?
  • How do you deal with someone—a child, parent, or teacher—who denies that anything is wrong, that the learning disability doesn’t exist?
  • How does brain structure and function relate to learning disabilities?

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Learning “Disabilities:” No Shame In the Name

Learning Disabilities Stigma - Facts about Learning DisabilitiesLet’s get a few things on the table right up front. There is no shame in having a learning disability (LD). Learning disabilities are not the result of laziness or inadequate instruction. They are not the same as hearing or vision impairments and are not a mild form of intellectual disability (formerly known as mental retardation). Learning disabilities do not go away and are not the same as learning “differences.”  And learning “preferences” are a universal phenomenon—not unique to any one group of individuals—and do not contribute meaningfully to the issue of LD.

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How Does LD Affect Learning a Second Language?

Foreign Language Learning | Students with LD Learning a Second LanguageFor anyone, learning a second or foreign language can be both exciting and terrifying. It’s exciting because it gives us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another culture, but terrifying because everything is new and we often don’t know where to begin. While the prospect of learning a second language is daunting, this may be especially true for someone coping with a learning disability (LD). As a linguist and a language teacher, having taught at both the high school and university level, I’ve had more than one student ask, “How does a learning disability impact language learning?” To start to answer this question, let’s look at some of the research linking LD and language learning, as well as some strategies and options for your child.

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Take the LD Pop Culture Challenge

LD Pop Culture Challenge
Learning disabilities (LD) can be part of a “recipe for success,” not a “prescription for failure.” Case in point: The countless successful individuals with LDs like dyslexia and related issues like ADHD. If you, your child, or your students have LD, you’re in good company. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite celebrities with LD—from movie stars to inventors, sports legends to world leaders, these individuals are some of the best and the brightest in their fields, and LD is an important piece of each of their stories. Get inspired by their journeys and take our pop culture challenge to find out just how savvy you are when it comes to celebrities with LD. View Survey

Learning “Disabilities:” Putting the “D” in Context

About Learning Disabilities

The World We Used to Live In

During the past few thousands of years, society has evolved in ways that are not always friendly to individuals who are in some ways “different” than their peers. Who got labeled as having disorders or disabilities has always been a consequence of a given society’s expectations for how well each person fit in, contributed to the community, achieved some level of independence, and enjoyed success and happiness. Society today is no different, but in many ways, it can be less tolerant, more demanding, and yes, confusing.

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Two Minutes in Your Child’s Shoes

Ever wonder what your child with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia or other learning and attention issues faces on a daily basis? The slideshow below will take you through some tasks that, on the surface, look easy to do (even fun!), but are they very types of tasks that some people with LD find maddening. Scanning a visual array of letters and numbers and searching for the one that is different should be a breeze. And looking past the actual letters and numbers, calling upon vocabulary knowledge and memory skills to decipher jumbled sentences is a snap for most skilled readers. But for individuals who have dyslexia and others who struggle with attention issues, these types of activities are anything but fun—they take much longer to do and demand great effort.

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