Specific Learning Disabilities

  • Exceptional Student Education services are provided in all district schools for students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD). Specific Learning Disabilities may affect the way a student receives, processes, or expresses information. A learning disability can cause a person to have difficulty learning and using certain skills. The skills most often affected are reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math. There often appears to be a gap between the individual‘s cognitive abilities and actual achievement. 

    • Individuals with SLD generally have average or above average intelligence, yet they often do not achieve at the same academic level as their peers. Weaker academic achievement, particularly in reading, written language, and math, is perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of SLD.  Significant deficits often exist in memory, metacognition, and social skills as well. 

    • Students who have a learning disability in reading have difficulties decoding or recognizing words (e.g., letter/sound omissions, insertions, substitutions, reversals) or comprehending them (e.g., recalling or discerning basic facts, main ideas, sequences, or themes). They also may lose their places while reading or may read in a choppy manner.

    • During early childhood, children with reading disabilities, such as dyslexia, have difficulties learning spoken language. Dyslexia is often mistaken for a visually based problem when in fact, it is characterized by deficits in the phonological processing component of language. Later, this can result in problems with accurate and fluent word recognition, difficulties decoding and spelling words and, consequently, children with dyslexia are likely to experience comprehension problems. A reading disability affects every aspect of an individual's life, from the early years of school when children learn to read, to later years when students are expected to read in order to learn specific content, and into the community, home, and workplace where every person needs to acquire and understand written information. 

    • Difficulties in written language can occur in handwriting, spelling, sentence structure, vocabulary usage, volume of information produced, and organization of written ideas.  Many students with learning disabilities in reading also have difficulty writing, since both areas are language-based. 

    • Poor math achievement may appear in difficulties differentiating numbers and copying shapes, recalling math facts, writing numbers legibly or in small spaces, and relating math terms to meaning. Other weak areas may include abstract reasoning and metacognition, including identifying, using, and monitoring the use of algorithms to solve math problems. 

    • Some students with learning disabilities have weaknesses in working memory. They have difficulty processing information so that it can be stored in long-term memory. Difficulties in working memory can lead to difficulties in long-term memory when a person needs to search for and retrieve knowledge.

    • Many individuals with learning disabilities have difficulty with metacognition, the awareness of how one thinks and the monitoring of one’s thinking.  They have difficulty learning effective cognitive strategies for acquiring, processing, storing, and demonstrating understanding of information. 

    • Students with learning disabilities may also exhibit social or behavioral challenges, such as inability to predict consequences for behaviors, misinterpreting social cues, and adaptation difficulties in varying social situations.  Coupled with academic weaknesses, this experience can lead to lowered self-perceptions of competence or worth. Some students with learning disabilities may have difficulty sitting at a desk for long periods to attend to tasks and may develop social or behavioral problems in response to their frustration with learning tasks. 

    • Most students with SLD receive the majority of their education in a general education classroom or a resource class. Support in the general education classroom can exist in the form of a special educator co-teaching with or serving as a consultant to the general educator. The Individual Educational Plan (IEP) team determines the intensity of the special education services a student with learning disabilities will receive based on the student’s individual needs.


    District Contact
    Dr. Heather McElroy
    (239) 377-0106
    Email: mcelrohe@collierschools.com


    Information & Resources
    Specific Learning Disabilities - Visit the related Florida State Board of Education Rule. Open the Word document to read the Rule. 

    Dyslexia Frequently Asked Questions

    Learning Disabilities - PDF

    Center for Parent Information and Resources
    Florida Standards and Access Points  
    National Center for Learning Disabilities
    National Association of African American Children with Learning Disabilities
    Background Information - click