chapter  1
52 Pages

Learning Disabilities

This legislation-with its categorical definition of learning disabilities and its authorization of programs of research, training, and model centers-provides a convenient take-off point for a consideration of a large group of educationally handicapped children who over the years have been characterized by a protean set of labels, numbers, symptoms, etiologies, and treatments. It was, of course, part of a federal legislative program that addressed the needs of broader classifications of children and, like the subsequent Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, which further impacted programs for the learning disabled, can be seen as the result of various social and historical forces that during these past few decades have reshaped the way our society and our schools perceive and react to the educationally handicapped child. Concerning themselves primarily with mental retardation, Sarason and Doris (1979) and Doris (1982) have

attempted to show how parent groups, professionals, and civil rights advocates reacting to the ferment in the larger society were instrumental in bringing about this change through legislation, court challenges, and progress in professional theory and practice. Movements for nonexclusionary schooling, mainstreaming, and deinstitutionalization were all part of the interlocking mix of transformation.