A learning disability (LD) is an ongoing condition characterized by the child demonstrating significant difficulties in information and language processing that are not the result of any visual/hearing impairment, physical handicap, mental retardation, primary emotional disturbance or cultural difference. Learning disabilities are demonstrated by a significant discrepancy between average or better intellectual ability and lower academic achievement.
School psychologists are specifically trained to assess and diagnose learning disabilities. There are many different kinds of learning disabilities (e.g., a language learning disability, a nonverbal learning disability (NLD), etc.) and the school psychologist will identify the specific profile of learning strengths and weaknesses for each individual learner. They will then consult with teachers and parents to provide programming recommendations based on the specific learning profile of each individual child.
The Ministry of Education has previously published Policy/Program Memorandum No. 8describing the requirements for formally identifying a learning disability.
The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (www.ldao.ca) was given funds by the Government of Ontario to develop a new and up-to-date definition of learning disabilities (presented on the LDAO website), which was formally adopted by the LDAO Board of Directors in May 2001.
The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario has also developed a document entitled,Recommended Practices for Assessment, Diagnosis and Documentation of Learning Disabilities (Adobe Acrobat File, 197 kb), which provides guidance for professional application of the new definition of learning disabilities.
A Web Based Teaching Tool has been developed in cooperation between the Ministry of Education and the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO). This is an excellent screening and intervention tool, and is available in both English and French.
Psychological Services of the Toronto District School Board has developed a Psychological Assessment Checklist for Learning Disabilities (pdf) outlining best practice for the assessment and diagnosis of this condition.