Historical Timeline: Learning Disabilities

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Social Studies

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Historical Timeline: Learning Disabilities

Cruickshank, Myklebust, Johnson and Kirk began the work aorund making recommendations for classroom modofications as well as classroom based interventions to address learning needs.In 1962 a formal defintion of minimal brain dysfunction syndrome was developed.In 1966, a defintion of learning disability was published by the United States Office of Education.In 1969 the Children with Specific Learning Disabilities Act passed in Congress.

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The reauthorization of IDEA in 2004 presented some changes in how leraning disabilities were identified.

Pierre Paul Broca posited that the inability to speak was rooted in the left hemispeher of the brain and did impact other language functions.Carl Wenicke published work detailing patients whose speech was unaffected, but whose sentences lacked meaning. This doscovery led to the discovery of Wernicke's area.

Samuel Orton conducted clinical studies to test the hyp[othesis that reading deficits were a function of a delay or failure of the left cerebral hemispher. His work was highly influential in the field of reading disabilities

Historical Timeline: Learning Disabilties

early 1800s

1860s and 70s

late 1800s and early 1900s






Franz Joseph Gall noted that some of his patients (brain injured soldiers) couldn't speak as a result of brain damage, but could produce thoughts in writing forming the basis for a definition of learning disabilities that included inconsistent patterns of strengths and weaknesses.

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More cases of unexpected cognitive and linguistic differences within the context of normal intelligence emerged- aprtcualrly cases detailing an inability to read despite the presence of normal intellectual capacity.

PL 94-142 included the defintion of a learning disability: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, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, or mental retardation, or emotional disturbance or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Alfred Strauss and Heinz Werner, instudying children with behavioral difficulties, coined the term minimal brain injury which was the foundation of a defintion of learning disability.


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