Sunday, March 05, 2006

Definition of learning disabilities: Delay vs disorder debate

A good friend and WJ III coauthor (please note that I'm mentioning this as a potential conflict of interest disclosure), Nancy Mather, together with Noel Gregg, just published a response article to Dombrowski, Kamphaus and Reynold's (2004) article on a proposed definition of learning disabilities. The two articles, in a simplified sense, present an LD = delay vs. disorder debate. I'm not going to take sides, but instead, have provided the references and abstracts for both articles and have also provided URL links to both.

Read, think, react, debate, etc..............

Mather, N. Gregg, N. (2006). Specific Learning Disabilities: Clarifying, Not Eliminating, a Construct. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 37(1), 99–106

  • Over the past decades, both researchers and practitioners in the field of specific learning disabilities (LD) have grappled over an appropriate definition as well as the subsequent operational diagnostic criteria. In a recent article in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, S. C. Dombrowski, R. W. Kamphaus, and C. R. Reynolds (2004) proposed a new set of suggested diagnostic criteria that challenges many of the traditional beliefs about these disorders. This article provides a critique of their proposed criteria as well as an alternative approach for LD identification that is more aligned with current understanding of the etiology and characteristics of these disorders. (click here to read/view)

Dombrowski, S. C., Kamphaus, R. W., Reynolds, C. R. (2004). After the demise of the discrepancy: Proposed learning disabilities diagnostic criteria. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 364–372.

  • Pending legislation and positions taken by the U.S. Department of Education may radically alter current learning disabilities (LD) definitions and diagnostic approaches. Proposals include eliminating a discrepancy model and incorporating a more comprehensive approach to LD assessment but one based on more subjective clinical judgment. Although this effort to change is laudable, it does not address the residual problems that will continue to plague the field: the lack of specificity of the construct of LD and the inconsistent and idiosyncratic approach to diagnosis taken by practitioners and researchers across and within states. This article proposes a new LD classification model that transcends educational and psychiatric systems of diagnosis, calls for a uniform and national diagnostic system, and suggests renaming the disorder (e.g., developmental learning delay). (click here to read/view)

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1 comment:

Brett said...

I've been thinking a bit about the nature of learning disabilities lately, mostly from the perspective of the parent of an autistic teenager. It seems to me that perhaps it is not so much that our kids have learning disabilities as our education system has a "teaching disability."

By that I mean that our system is set up to accomodate only those who learn in a specific way, and is unable to adjust to those students that don't learn that way. Instead of trying to figure our why our kids can't learn in that environment, perhaps our resources could be better spent figuring out how to develop an education system that can adjust to the differences of students and tap the vast potential of those students?