Specific Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are generally identified when an individual’s achievement, as measured on individually administered standardized tests, is substantially below that expected given the person’s chronological age, measured intelligence, and age-appropriate education.  Learning disabilities affect an individual’s ability to store, effectively process, and/or transmit information to others.  Students with hidden disabilities like LD make up one of CDS/SNAP’s largest populations.

Students with learning disabilities may exhibit characteristics such as

  • difficulty in reading, writing, spelling, and/or using numerical concepts
  • poor handwriting
  • challenges with memorization
  • disorganization
  • trouble understanding or following directions

Suggested classroom strategies

  • Provide a syllabus with clear explanations of tasks and specific due dates.
  • Identify your textbooks early so students have time to order them in alternate format as needed.
  • Remind students of deadlines.
  • Provide students with a rubric for assignments/projects.
  • When possible start each lecture with an oral or written summary or outline of material to be covered.
  • Provide assignment information in written and oral format.
  • For large projects or long papers help the student breakdown the task into component parts. Set deadlines for each part.
  • Provide prompt, explicit feedback, both in written and oral format.
  • Vary the class format; alternate lecture with presentations and class discussion.
  • If someone does not understand a concept, try explaining it in a different way.
  • Structure opportunities for students to apply concepts and information.
  • Practice flexibility in requiring students to read out loud or perform calculations at the board.
  • Be open to suggestions from the students about how to best accommodate their needs.

Possible recommended academic accommodations

  • Extended time for tests
  • Use of texts in alternate format (books in audio or electronic format)
  • Use of the word processor
  • Use of a basic, 4 function calculator
  • Use of a reader for exams
  • Use of a scribe for exams
  • Ability to audio record lectures
  • Ability to use laptop or tablet in class to take notes

For more information