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Special Education Services

Specific Learning Disabilities


The Illinois State Board of Education is committed to the understanding of the learning process and the identification of teaching strategies and styles necessary to help all students succeed. To this end, an effort is first made to meet the needs of all students in the general education setting.  In this setting, as barriers arise, schools and educators are expected to implement strategies that address student needs under the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework.  In some instances, due to a disability that adversely affects the students’ education, there is a need for more targeted interventions under special education services. To best respond to these students’ individual needs, the IEP team needs to clarify the nature and extent of the "Specific Learning Disabilities" that need to be addressed.

Learning disabilities (LD) are neurological disorders that can make it difficult to acquire certain academic and social skills. Whether you are a parent, educator, or an adult with a learning disability, learning about this disability will help you support your child’s or your own success in learning and life.

  • Information-processing disorders are learning disorders related to a person’s ability to use the information that they take in through their senses – seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. These problems are not related to an inability to see or hear. Instead, the conditions affect the way the brain recognizes, responds to, retrieves, and stores sensory information.
  • Language-related learning disabilities are problems that interfere with age-appropriate communication, including speaking, listening, reading, spelling, and writing.

    For more information on learning disabilities, go to the National Center for Learning Disabilities at http://www.ncld.org/.

Language and Math Difficulties

  • Reading Disability:  For most children with learning disabilities receiving special education services, the primary area of difficulty is reading.  People with reading disabilities often have problems recognizing words that they already know.  They may also be poor spellers and may have problems with decoding skills.  Other symptoms may include trouble with handwriting and problems understanding what they read. A reading and language-based learning disability may be commonly called Dyslexia. For more information and additional resources regarding dyslexia, visit http://eida.org/
  • Writing Disability: If your student has trouble with spelling, handwriting, and putting thoughts on paper, it may be due to a learning disability. Writing requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Among the disabilities that affect writing are Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia.
  • Math Disability: Two major areas of weakness can contribute to math learning disabilities: Visual-spatial difficulties, which result in a person having trouble processing what the eye sees, and/or language processing difficulties, which result in a person having trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears. Dyscalculia is a learning disability related to math. Those with dyscalculia may have difficulty understanding math concepts and solving even simple math problems.

    It is important to reiterate that, although the identification of the above conditions constitutes a disability, it does not automatically mean that the student is eligible for special education services. An evaluation is necessary to determine if the disability adversely affects the student’s education.

    It is critical that school districts and faculty seek opportunities to know how these conditions can be identified as early as possible, how these disabilities affect their students’ performance, and what interventions have shown by research to be the most effective.