Using Terms Like Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia

The conversation about a child’s challenges in school can be difficult, especially when there are so many terms to keep track of. This post aims to clarify that common confusion, allowing for better communication between parents and educators. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, there are 5 essential questions to ask to create a better understanding of what all these words mean, and when to use them. The term specific learning disability (SLD) is specific to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and refers to children who have a disability in reading, writing, or math. Consequently, the terms dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia fall under the overarching category of SLD because they are specific disorders for reading, writing, and math, respectively.

So why does it matter what terms are used? There are a plethora of reasons why describing a child’s difficulties accurately is helpful in the education process. When school psychologists and other specialized staff write their evaluations, it is advantageous to use terms like dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia because it pinpoints a child’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing for more individualized intervention. None of these terms put a child at a disadvantage for receiving benefits either, according to the law and U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, knowing the specific challenges of a child is useful for choosing the best and most effective intervention through the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Overall, elimination of the terminology barrier creates a more open space between educators and parents where they can collectively address a child’s needs, as well as the most effective ways to create a better learning experience in the classroom. The PDF file attached to this post outlines the 5 questions and gives comprehensive answers that further explain the importance of using these terms correctly.