Learning Disability Law and Legal Definition

Learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations. Children with learning disability will find it difficult to learn in a conventional classroom environment. Learning disability is not limited to children that are adopted. It can be commonly found in other children as well.

A learning disability can be one or more impairments that a child may have in such areas as reading, mathematics and/or written expression skills, which interfere with the expected academic performance of the child in school, or in other daily activities that require those skills. Children with learning disabilities may be of average or above average intelligence, but experience difficulty in learning, differentiating, processing, storing and/or otherwise maximizing their use of information.

The following is an example of a federal regulation on Learning Disability:

45 CFR 1308.14. Eligibility criteria: Learning disabilities.

(a) A child is classified as having a learning disability who has a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak or, for preschool age children, acquire the precursor skills for reading, writing, spelling or doing mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, and aphasia.

(b) An evaluation team may recommend that a child be classified as having a learning disability if:

(1) The child does not achieve commensurate with his or her age and ability levels in one or more of the areas listed in (a) above when provided with appropriate learning experiences for the age and ability; or

(2) The child has a severe discrepancy between achievement of developmental milestones and intellectual ability in one or more of these areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-mathematics; or

(3) The child shows deficits in such abilities as memory, perceptual and perceptual-motor skills, thinking, language and non-verbal activities which are not due to visual, motor, hearing or emotional disabilities, mental retardation, cultural or language factors, or lack of experiences which would help develop these skills.

(c) This definition for learning disabilities applies to four and five year old children in Head Start. It may be used at a program's discretion for children younger than four or when a three year old child is referred with a professional diagnosis of learning disability. But because of the difficulty of diagnosing learning disabilities for three year olds, when Head Start is responsible for the evaluation it is not a requirement to use this category for three year olds.