chapter  9
28 Pages

Linguistic and Communicative Development in Learning-Disabled Children

The central role played by oral language development in learning to read and write has been acknowledged since the onset of the learning-disabilities field (Johnson & Myklebust, 1967; Orton, 1937). In fact, the most widely accepted definition of learning disabilities describes them as "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written," that cannot be explained by sensory, intellectual, emotional, or environmental factors (U.S. Office of Education, 1977, p. 65083). Ironically, this language-based definition was formulated in 1969, when the dominant characterization of learning disabilities was that they reflected "visual-perceptual deficits." Further, this definition was in some ways "before its time," in that it was proposed in the absence of a research literature that could explicate the nature of the relations between language and learning difficulties.