Specific Learning Disability

IDEA’s Definition of “Specific Learning Disability”

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes a definition of “specific learning disability” —as follows:

Specific learning disability —  General.  Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

(ii) Disorders not included. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.  [34 CFR §300.8(c)(10)]

IDEA also lists evaluation procedures that must be used at a minimum to identify and document that a child has a specific learning disability.

What are Learning Disabilities?

Learning disability is a general term that describes specific kinds of learning problems. A learning disability can cause a person to have trouble learning and using certain skills. The skills most often affected are: reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math.

“Learning disabilities” is not the only term used to describe these difficulties. Others include:

  • dyslexia—which refers to difficulties in reading;
  • dysgraphia—which refers to difficulties in writing; and
  • dyscalculia—which refers to difficulties in math.

All of these are considered learning disabilities.

Researchers think that learning disabilities are caused by differences in how a person’s brain works and how it processes information. Children with learning disabilities are not “dumb” or “lazy.” In fact, they usually have average or above average intelligence. Their brains just process information differently.

Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials Center (AT & AEM)  assists local education agencies in providing accessible educational materials (AEM) for students with print disabilities, including students who are blind and visually impaired.


  1. Read Ohio 
  2. Dyslexia Supports
  3. Reading Tips for Families 

Last Modified: 9/11/2023 7:08:15 AM