Glossary of LD Terms

This glossary is a compilation of terms and definitions of some of the most common terms, adapted from a number of sources.

Accommodation: modifications in the curriculum or learning environment so that students with learning disabilities can demonstrate the true level of the learning without compromising academic standards.


Achievement Test: a test that measure what a person has already learned at school.


Advocacy: speaking or acting on behalf of a person or group in order to promote their rights and needs.


Aptitude Test: a test that measures a person’s capacity or talent for learning a skill.


Assessment: a battery of psychological tests to determine the presence of a learning disability(s).


Assistive Technology: tools that allow a person to complete tasks with greater ease and effectiveness (e.g. word processor, tape recorder, spell checker, calculator).


Audiologist: a professional who assesses hearing and provides services for auditory training.


Auditory Discrimination: the ability to hear the differences and similarities among and between sounds.


Auditory Memory: the process of remembering what is heard.


Auditory Perception: ability to receive, organize and interpret sensory data received through the ears.


Behavioural Modification: a technique of changing human behaviour by manipulating the environment to reinforce a desired response thereby bringing about the desired change in behaviour.


Brain Injury: an impairment of the brain either before, during or after birth.


Central Nervous System: refers to the brain and spinal cord.


Cognitive Ability: a person’s ability to think and reason fluidly.


Decoding: being able to understand the meaning of something through listening or reading.


Discrepancy: is the difference between an individual’s potential ability and actual level of achievement.


Dyscalculia: Problems with basic math skills; trouble calculating.


Dysnomia: Difficulty remembering names of recalling specific words; word finding problems.


Dyslexia: A language based learning disability. In addition to reading problems, dyslexia can also involve difficulty with writing, spelling, listening, and speaking.


Dyspraxia: Difficulty performing and sequencing fine motor movements, such as buttoning a shirt.


Educational Psychologist: a professional who administers and interprets psychological and educational tests.


Educational Therapist: a professional who runs and develops programs for behavioural and learning problems.


Encoding: the ability to translate ideas into words or symbols.


Evaluation: the process of gathering information about an individual.


Individual Education Plan (IEP) also know as IPP: a child-centered plan drawn up by the school with the input from classroom and resource teachers, guidance counsellors, school psychologist, parents, social worker and sometimes even the child, which outlines in detail (how/what/who) the child’s education plans. It should be revisited and adjusted at least every year.


Inclusion: the integration of students with disabilities into a regular classroom with peers in order to receive the same education.


Intelligence Quotient (IQ): a composite of verbal and performance based tests that indicate general cognitive ability. Average range of intelligence, which includes 84 per cent of the population, is 85 to 115.


Learning Disability: a dysfunction in the central nervous system that interferes with the brain’s ability to take in, process and retrieve information in individuals with potentially average, average, and above average intelligence and may affect such areas as attention, coordination, memory, math, reading, spelling, social competence and writing.


Occupational Therapist: an individual who helps improve motor and sensory function in order to perform daily tasks.


Phonological Awareness: a person’s ability to recognize units of sound in their language.


Phonology: the study of sound production from written and oral language.


Psychiatrist: a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of behavioural and emotional disorders.


Remediation: the process in which specialized instruction is given in order to strengthen specific areas of need such as reading, writing, etc.


Resource Program: a program that supports learning through the use of specialized instruments outside the regular classroom, usually on a one on one setting.


Self-advocacy: speaking out for one’s personal needs and rights.


Self-concept: a person’s view of their strengths and areas of need.


Speech pathologist: a speech-language professional who helps with speech and/or language difficulties.


Tests: Examples are IQ test-Weschsler Intelligence Scale; academic-Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, The Wide Range Achievement Test-3, Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement-Revised, etc to determine a person’s intelligence, academic, social, and behavioural strengths or areas of need.