Learning Disabilities

Diverse group of 6 teen students studying around a table

Learning disabilities (LDs) are actually a group of disorders, not a single disorder. They affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, respond to, and communicate information.

Some individuals, despite having an average or above average level of intelligence, have real difficulty acquiring basic academic skills. These skills include those needed for successful reading, writing, listening, speaking and/or math. These difficulties might be the result of a learning disability.

How is a learning disability identified?

Michigan has established a rule for eligibility under the label of learning disability, and has also has published a more detailed explanation of the Criteria for Determining the Existence of a Specific Learning Disability.

  • Each school district must determine which process, or combination of processes, it will use to determine SLD eligibility and ensure that the education community and parents are informed of the district’s processes.

What are different types of learning disabilities?

Reading (often called dyslexia)

Writing (often called dysgraphia)

Math (often called dyscalculia)

Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (referred to as NLD or NVLD)

What is executive function?

“Executive Function” is a term used to describe a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with present action. We use executive function when we perform such activities as planning, organizing, strategizing and paying attention to and remembering details

Does my child have to first fail in school before he/she gets help?

A student does not have to fail to be eligible for special education. When a student is doing okay, the school might be hesitant to evaluate but academics aren’t the only thing to consider. Any child with a suspected disability must be given comprehensive evaluation.

What is Response to Intervention?

RTI is an early intervention strategy within general education and is also one way to identify students who need special education services. RTI cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation

Is there some technology that can help my child?

Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA. Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.

Where can I find support?

Families can find support through


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