Glossary

Glossary of LD, Learning Disability, Learning Programs.

Learning Disabilities: Glossary of Some Important Terms ELI’s proven therapeutic program will significantly correct most learning disabilities. Therapy can work.

Accommodations. Techniques and materials that allow individuals with LD to complete school or work tasks with greater ease and effectiveness. Examples include spellcheckers, tape recorders, and expanded time for completing assignments.

Assistive Technology. Equipment that enhances the ability of students and employees to be more efficient and successful. For individuals with LD, computer grammar checkers, an overhead projector used by a teacher, or the audiovisual information delivered through a CD-ROM would be typical examples.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). A severe difficulty in focusing and maintaining attention. Often leads to learning and behavior problems at home, school, and work. Also called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Brain Imaging Techniques. Recently developed, noninvasive techniques for studying the activity of living brains. Includes brain electrical activity mapping (BEAM), computerized axial tomography (CAT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Brain Injury. The physical damage to brain tissue or structure that occurs before, during, or after birth that is verified by EEG, MRI, CAT, or a similar examination, rather than by observation of performance. When caused by an accident, the damage may be called Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Collaboration. A program model in which the LD teacher demonstrates for or team teaches with the general classroom teacher to help a student with LD be successful in a regular classroom.

Developmental Aphasia. A severe language disorder that is presumed to be due to brain injury rather than because of a developmental delay in the normal acquisition of language.

Direct Instruction. An instructional approach to academic subjects that emphasizes the use of carefully sequenced steps that include demonstration, modeling, guided practice, and independent application.

Dyscalculia. A severe difficulty in understanding and using symbols or functions needed for success in mathematics. Dyscalculia (or math disability) is a specific learning disability involving innate difficulty in learning or comprehending simple mathematics. It is akin to dyslexia and includes difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, learning math facts, and a number of other related symptoms (although there is no exact form of the disability). Math disabilities can also occur as the result of some types of brain injury, in which case the proper term is acalculia, to distinguish it from dyscalculia which is of innate, genetic or developmental origin.

Dysgraphia. A severe difficulty in producing handwriting that is legible and written at an age-appropriate speed. Dysgraphia is a deficiency in the ability to write, primarily in terms of handwriting, but perhaps also in terms of coherence. It occurs regardless of the ability to read and is not due to intellectual impairment. People with dysgraphia usually can write on some level, and often lack other fine motor skills and may be cross dominant, finding tasks such as tying shoes difficult. It often does not affect all fine motor skills. They can also lack basic grammar and spelling skills (for example, having difficulties with the letters p, q, b, and d), and often will write the wrong word when trying to formulate thoughts (on paper). In childhood, the disorder generally emerges when the child is first introduced to writing. The child may make inappropriately sized and spaced letters, or write wrong or misspelled words despite thorough instruction. Children with the disorder may have other learning disabilities, but they usually have no social or other academic problems. Cases of dysgraphia in adults generally occur after some neurological trauma. Dysgraphia may also be diagnosed in a person with Tourette syndrome, ADHD, learning disability or an autism spectrum disorder such as Asperger syndrome.

Dyslexia. A severe difficulty in understanding or using one or more areas of language, including listening, speaking, reading, writing, and spelling. Dyslexia is a broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person’s fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read and spell and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, and/or rapid naming. Dyslexia is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from other causes, such as a non-neurological deficiency with vision or hearing, or from poor or inadequate reading instruction. It is believed that dyslexia can affect between 5 to 10 percent of a given population although there have been no studies to indicate an accurate percentage.

Dysnomia. A marked difficulty in remembering names or recalling words needed for oral or written language. Dysnomia is a difficulty retrieving the correct words, names, or numbers from memory. Dysnomia is a learning disability present from childhood which can affect speech, writing, and/or math. Word recall problems are classified as dysnomia when they are severe enough to interfere with learning or with daily life. Doctors use neuropsychological and speech-language pathology tests to diagnose the condition.

Dyspraxia. A severe difficulty in performing drawing, writing, buttoning, and other tasks requiring fine motor skill, or in sequencing the necessary movements.

Learned Helplessness. A tendency to be a passive learner who depends on others for decisions and guidance. In individuals with LD, continued struggle and failure can heighten this lack of self-confidence.

Learning Modalities. Approaches to assessment or instruction stressing the auditory, visual, or tactile avenues for learning that are dependent upon the individual.

Learning Strategy Approaches. Instructional approaches that focus on efficient ways to learn, rather than on curriculum. Includes specific techniques for organizing, actively interacting with material, memorizing, and monitoring any content or subject.

Learning Styles. Approaches to assessment or instruction emphasizing the variations in temperament, attitude, and preferred manner of tackling a task. Typically considered are styles along the active/passive, reflective/impulsive, or verbal/spatial dimensions.

Locus of Control. The tendency to attribute success and difficulties either to internal factors such as effort or to external factors such as chance. Individuals with learning disabilities tend to blame failure on themselves and achievement on luck, leading to frustration and passivity.

Metacognitive Learning. Instructional approaches emphasizing awareness of the cognitive processes that facilitate one’s own learning and its application to academic and work assignments. Typical metacognitive techniques include systematic rehearsal of steps or conscious selection among strategies for completing a task.

Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MBD). A medical and psychological term originally used to refer to the learning difficulties that seemed to result from identified or presumed damage to the brain. Reflects a medical, rather than educational or vocational orientation.

Multi-sensory Learning. An instructional approach that combines auditory, visual, and tactile elements into a learning task. Tracing sandpaper numbers while saying a number fact aloud would be a multi-sensory learning activity.

Neuropsychological Examination. A series of tasks that allow observation of performance that is presumed to be related to the intactness of brain function.

Nonverbal Learning Disorder is a combination of  learning, academic, social and emotional issues. Most children with learning disabilities do not have significant problems with normal social and emotional development. Some children may have the academic difficulties associated with NVLD but do quite well socially and emotionally. A valid diagnosis of NVLD includes a combination of learning, academic, social and emotional issues as described in this article. Additionally, because the pattern of academic strengths and weaknesses may not show up early in life, and difficulties with social relations are not always apparent in the very young, it is often difficult to make a diagnosis of NVLD until a child is in middle-to-late elementary school.

Perceptual Handicap. Difficulty in accurately processing, organizing, and discriminating among visual, auditory, or tactile information. A person with a perceptual handicap may say that “cap/cup” sound the same or that “b” and “d” look the same. However, glasses or hearing aids do not necessarily indicate a perceptual handicap.

Pre-referral Process. A procedure in which special and regular teachers develop trial strategies to help a student showing difficulty in learning remain in the regular classroom.

Resource Program. A program model in which a student with LD is in a regular classroom for most of each day, but also receives regularly scheduled individual services in a specialized LD resource classroom.

Self-Advocacy. The development of specific skills and understandings that enable children and adults to explain their specific learning disabilities to others and cope positively with the attitudes of peers, parents, teachers, and employers.

Specific Language Disability (SLD). A severe difficulty in some aspect of listening, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling, while skills in the other areas are age-appropriate. Also called Specific Language Learning Disability (SLLD).

Specific Learning Disability (SLD). The official term used in federal legislation to refer to difficulty in certain areas of learning, rather than in all areas of learning. Synonymous with learning disabilities.

Subtype Research. A recently developed research method that seeks to identify characteristics that are common to specific groups within the larger population of individuals identified as having learning disabilities.

Transition. Commonly used to refer to the change from secondary school to postsecondary programs, work, and independent living typical of young adults. Also used to describe other periods of major change such as from early childhood to school or from more specialized to mainstreamed settings.

Note: The content of this digest was developed by Dr. Jean Lokerson, DLD President, 1991-92; Associate Professor, LD Program, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA. This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. RI88062007. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or the Department of Education.         ERIC Digest #E517. Author: Lokerson, Jean Council for Exceptional Children, Reston, Va.; ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children, Reston, Va. THIS DIGEST WAS CREATED BY ERIC, THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ERIC, CONTACT ACCESS ERIC 1-800-LET-ERIC    ED352780 92