Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Learning Disorders

Learning Disorders

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Macmillan Encyclopedia of Families, Marriages, and Intimate Relationships


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Book Chapter



Specific learning disorders (SLDs) affect an estimated 5 to 15 percent of school-age children (APA 2018), and these disorders can have a significant impact on an individual’s functioning beyond classroom performance. SLDs can impact one’s social skills, peer relationships, family functioning, and socioemotional functioning. The APA’s fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2013) delineates several criteria for the diagnosis of an SLD. First, an individual experiences difficulties with learning and using academic skills in at least one of the following areas: (1) reading; (2) understanding the meaning of what is read; (3) spelling; (4) written expression; (5) mastering number sense, number facts, or calculation; or (6) mathematical reasoning. Second, the affected academic skills are substantially less competent than expected for the individual’s age, and the deficits cause significant interference in academic functioning, occupational performance, or activities of daily living. Males are nearly twice as likely as females to be diagnosed with an SLD, at a ratio of nine to five (Cortiella and Horowitz 2014).

Skills deficits due to an SLD must be confirmed through individually administered academic and cognitive measures or a documented history of impaired learning if the individual is seventeen years of age or older. The difficulties must emerge during the school-age years but may not fully manifest until the daily demands exceed the individual's capabilities. Finally, these deficits cannot be explained by an intellectual disability, visual or auditory deficits, lack of proficiency in the language of instruction, or a psychological or neurological disorder. Should an individual meet the criteria for an SLD, it must be specified whether the impairment lies in the area of reading, written expression, or mathematics.

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Farmington Hills, Michigan


Editors: James J. Ponzetti Jr., Maureen Blankemeyer, Sean M. Horan, Heidi Lyons, Aya Shigeto. Two-volume set.

Learning Disorders
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