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Learning Disabilities

What Is a Learning DisabilityA New Term For An Old Problem

In the 1920s in the United States, many teachers and parents noted that some children, in spite of average or above average intelligence, could not learn to read and write. One scientist gave the problem an interesting, if complicated, name. He called it strephosymbolia!

Naming the problem did not solve it, but it did get more people talking about it and searching for a way to help those who had trouble reading and writing. People began to use the more easily understood term “learning disability,” or LD. Finally parents and teachers turned to the federal government and asked for help.

As a result, Congress passed Public Law 94–142 in 1975. This law said that all children with disabilities had the right to public education. Public Law 94–142 first defined the term “learning disabled,” and the law has been amended, or added to, several times. It is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.

Since 1975, as the term “learning disability” has come into use by educators and parents around the world, its meaning has broadened. This term has come to include a group of conditions that cause serious problems in listening, speaking, reading, writing, math, and reasoning.

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