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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Specific learning disability (Sec. 300.8(c)(10))

Comment: One commenter recommended changing the definition of specific learning disability to refer to a child's response to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the procedures for evaluating children with disabilities, consistent with Sec. 300.307(a). A few commenters recommended aligning the definition of specific learning disability with the requirements for determining eligibility in Sec. 300.309.

One commenter recommended using the word "disability," instead of "disorder," and referring to specific learning disabilities as a "disability in one or more of the basic psychological processes." A few commenters stated that the terms "developmental aphasia" and "minimal brain dysfunction" are antiquated and should be removed from the definition. A few commenters questioned using "imperfect ability" in the definition because it implies that a child with minor problems in listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or calculating math could be determined to have a specific learning disability.

Discussion: The definition of specific learning disability is consistent with the procedures for evaluating and determining the eligibility of children suspected of having a specific learning disability in Sec. Sec. 300.307 through 300.311. We do not believe it is necessary to repeat these procedures in the definition of specific learning disability.

Section 602(30) of the Act refers to a "disorder" in one or more of the basic psychological processes and not to a "disability" in one or more of the basic psychological processes. We believe it would be inconsistent with the Act to change "disorder" to "disability," as recommended by one commenter. We do not believe that the terms "developmental aphasia" and "minimal brain dysfunction" should be removed from the definition. Although the terms may not be as commonly used as "specific learning disability," the terms continue to be used and we see no harm in retaining them in the definition. We do not agree that the phrase "imperfect ability" implies that a child has a minor problem and, therefore, decline to change this phrase in the definition of specific learning disability.

Changes: None.

Comment: We received several requests to revise the definition of specific learning disability to include specific disabilities or disorders that are often associated with specific learning disabilities, including Aspergers syndrome, FAS, auditory processing disorders, and nonverbal learning disabilities.

Discussion: Children with many types of disabilities or disorders may also have a specific learning disability. It is not practical or feasible to include all the different disabilities that are often associated with a specific learning disability. Therefore, we decline to add these specific disorders or disabilities to the definition of specific learning disability.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters suggested clarifying the word "cultural" in Sec. 300.8(c)(10)(ii) to clarify that cultural disadvantage or language cannot be the basis for determining that a child has a disability.

Discussion: We believe the term "cultural" is generally understood and do not see a need for further clarification. We also do not believe that it is necessary to clarify that language cannot be the basis for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability. Section 300.306(b)(1)(iii), consistent with section 614(b)(5)(C) of the Act, clearly states that limited English proficiency cannot be the basis for determining a child to be a child with a disability under any of the disability categories in Sec. 300.8.

Changes: None.