IDEA (2004) Definition of Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
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. 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 Section 300.8 (c)(10)]
Eight Academic Domains of SLD:
- Oral Expression
- Listening Comprehension
- Written Expression
- Basic Reading Skills
- Reading Fluency Skills
- Reading Comprehension
- Mathematics Calculation
- Mathematics Problem Solving
CSDE Working Definition of SLD/Dyslexia*
Dyslexia is included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) as a specific learning disability (SLD). Dyslexia impacts reading, specifically decoding and accurate and/or fluent word recognition and spelling. Dyslexia is neurobiological in origin and is unexpected and/or inconsistent with a student’s other abilities often despite the provision of appropriate instruction. Dyslexia results from a significant deficit in phonological processing (i.e., a persistent difficulty in the awareness of and ability to manipulate the individual sounds of spoken language).
Typically, students with dyslexia have strengths in areas such as reasoning, critical thinking, concept formation, problem solving, vocabulary, listening comprehension, and social communication (e.g., conversation). Early identification and appropriate instruction targeting the underlying phonological processing deficits that characterize dyslexia may minimize its educational impact.
- Dyslexia is not primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disability; an intellectual disability; emotional disturbance; a lack of appropriate instruction; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; or limited English proficiency.
- Early identification of the characteristics of dyslexia is critical, leading to focused, evidence-based interventions, accommodations, self-awareness, self-empowerment, and school and life success.
- Without targeted, systematic and explicit instruction/interventions along with accommodations (e.g., accessible educational materials in content area subjects), students with dyslexia may have:
- reduced reading experiences that may impact the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge,
- difficulty with written expression, and/or
- difficulty learning a second language.
- Students with dyslexia may demonstrate additional behavioral and/or emotional reactions to their difficulty with learning to read.
*This working definition was developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) with input from an external stakeholder workgroup and was based on a review of applicable literature, the IDEA, and current definitions in use by other states, organizations and legislation.
Professional Learning Opportunities
- CSDE/SERC Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) / Dyslexia Initiative
- CSDE/SERC SLD/Dyslexia FREE Online Modules and Courses
- Increasing Awareness of SLD/Dyslexia: Implications for Connecticut Educators (2 hour Archived Webinar_March 12, 2015)
- Using Literacy Screening Data to Support Students with Reading Difficulties (2 hour Archived Webinar_January 10, 2017)
- Remediating and Accommodating Students with SLD/Dyslexia at the Secondary Level (2 hour Archived Webinar_March 22, 2017)
- Identifying Students with SLD/Dyslexia: An Online Course (6.5 hour Self-Paced Online Course)
- It’s Never Too Late: How to Motivate and Teach Older Struggling Readers with SLD/Dyslexia (2¼hour Online Learning Module)
- Case Study Review of a Student with SLD/Dyslexia (2 hour Online Learning Module)
- SLD/Dyslexia: Connecting Research to Practice in Connecticut (12 hour Online Course)
- Identifying Students who are Gifted and Talented and have Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) or SLD/Dyslexia (1 hour Online Module)
- Distinguishing Between Typically Developing English Learners (ELs) and Students with Reading Difficulties (2 hour Online Module)
- CSDE/SERC Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)/Dyslexia Webinar Series (3-part webinar series presented as three separate online courses available on the Schoology Learning Management Series)
- CSDE/SERC Structured Literacy Program Training Series
- CSDE/RESC Alliance Structured Literacy Series: Systematic Teaching of Basic Literacy Skills (Four-Day Workshop)