The term learning disabilities was only founded in 1963 by Samuel Kirk. At that time, children with LD were referred to by such terms like perceptually handicapped, brain-injured, and neurologically impaired. These children were served in classrooms for students with Intellectual and developmental disabilities or in worst cases, were not receiving any specialized services in the public schools.
The definition of a learning disability under the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) requires four areas to be met:
(1) A disorder in the processing of information involved in understanding and using language (spoken or written)
Having a learning disability means that the brain "processes" information such that certain kinds of information gets stuck or lost while traveling through the brain of the student with Learning Disabilities.
All students with a learning disability experience some processing speed issue when required to process information through their weakest cognitive skill (auditory, visual, etc.).
(2) Difficulties in learning, particularly reading, writing, mathematics, and/or spelling
Severe disabilities with learning may be categorized into these areas:
Dyslexia-Severe difficulty learning to read
Dysgraphia- Severe difficulty learning to write
Dyscalculia- Severe difficulty learning to do mathematical concepts and computation
Dysorthographia- Severe difficulty learning to spell
(3) The problem is not primarily due to other causes such as visual, hearing or motor disability.
The problem cannot be due to intellectual and developmental disabilities a.k.a. mental retardation, emotional disturbance or emotional or cultural disadvantage.
(4) Special educational services are needed to succeed in school
It is possible for a student to have a disability but not to "qualify" for special education services. When a student demonstrates the information processing difficulties associated with a learning disability but academically they are not found to have an extreme gap between IQ and ability to maintain grades. In other words, the student has maintained keeping afloat by compensating. The discrepancy model between IQ and achievement is NOT mandated by the reauthorization of IDEA but schools can still choose to use this model.
Almost 3 million children (ages 6 through 21) have some form of a learning disability and receive special education in school. Learning disabilities are the largest category in special education. In fact, approximately 50% of all children who receive special education have a learning disability with a 3:1 ratio of males to females.
The good news is that neuroscience has proved without a doubt that our brains can and do continue to change, even in structure, and create new neuropathways. So, where a diagnosis label may never disappear, your child can build new neuropathways to process around the existing processing difficulties within their brain. The best way to understand your child's learning difficulties is to asses using the Gibson Online Cognitive Assessment.
Source for data: NASET