Helmer Myklebust

Helmer R. Myklebust, one of the pioneering figures in Learning Disabilities, died 26 February 2008. Predicated on his work on differentiating among speech disorders, Professor Myklebust emphasized the language-based aspects of Learning Disabilities. He theorized that there were different types of Learning Disabilities and that these types required different treatments. Throughout his career, Professor Myklebust promoted empirical study of language disorders and Learning Disabilities.

Professor Myklebust came to the study of Learning Disabilities after extensive work in hearing and speech disorders. In the 1940s he studied deafness and in the 1950s he focused on aphasia. In 1967, with his collaborator Doris Johnson, Professor Myklebust published one of the first books focused on Learning Disabilities: Learning Disabilities: Educational Principles and Remedial Approaches and later he edited a series of volumes presenting research and theory about Learning Disabilities under the title Progress in Learning Disabilities.

Professor Myklebust sought to differentiate among different variants of Learning Disabilities. He thought that Learning Disabilities could be separated into disorders of auditory language (generalized auditory disorders, auditory receptive disorders, and auditory expressive disorders), disorders of written language (auditory dyslexia, visual dyslexia, and written expression), disorders of arithmetic, and disorders of a non-verbal type. Professor Myklebust proposed that the problems children experienced were a consequence of difficulties in “interneurosensory learning.”

Professor Myklebust, who was born 2 august 1910 in Lester (IA, US), was among a small group of educators and psychologists who generally credited with founding the study of Learning Disabilities. Along with Samuel Kirk, William Cruickshank, Marianne Frostig, Newell Kephart, and perhaps a few others, Myklebust pursued the recognition of the difficulties experienced by these children and their families.

He received a bachelors degree from Augustana College, a masters degrees from Gallaudet College and Temple University, and a doctoral degree from Rutgers University. He taught and conducted research at several institutions, including Northern Illinois University; Northwestern University, where he spent most of his career and where he founded the Children’s Hearing and Aphasia Clinic; University of Illinois, Chicago. Memorial services were held 8 March.

Johnson, D. J., & Myklebust, H. (1967). Learning disabilities: Educational principles and remedial approaches. NY: Grune & Stratton.

Myklebust, H. (1954). Auditory disorders in children: A manual for differential diagnosis. NY: Grune & Stratton.

Myklebust, H. (Ed.). (1968-1975). Progress in learning disabilities (vols. 1-5). NY: Grune & Stratton.

I am late in publishing this note; thanks to Hal McGrady for alerting me to the death of this giant figure in the history or LD.

6 Responses to “Helmer Myklebust”

  • Philip Boudreau,PhD

    It is with great sadness that I came across your posting. As an undergraduate in Deaf Education at Northern Illinois University in the early 70’s, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. “Myk”. I was fortunate enough to have him invite me to be a student reaserch assistant in his Child Study lab at NIU. I have always consider him a mentor who provided me an opportunity to to learn more than what the undergraduate curriculums teach. He extended an invitation to me to follow him to University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) which I turned down so I could pursue my teaching career. He was a pioneer, a visionary, and a mentor.

  • I belong to an association of families and professionals dealing with NONVERBAL LEARNING DISORDERS (NVLD or in Spanish/French: TANV).

    I was sorry to learn these news from your blog.

    I am currently interested in learning from the very beginnings of this learning disability and I would be interested in contacting any person who can helpme to learn a little bit more about Dr Mycklebust and his books or nay other reference for our research in NON VERBAL LEARNING DISORDERS.


    Gemma Arsequell PhD
    VicePresident of Espai TANV

  • I am also saddened to hear this news. Some time ago I visited his close co-worker Dr. Doris Johnson at Northwestern, but it must have been before his passing, since I am sure she would have mentioned it otherwise.

    I am indebted to Dr. Myklebust for my entire frame of reference when it comes to learning problems, and have counted myself fortunate to have had the benefit of his philosophical influence upon my training.

    He was a pioneer, one whom I hope who will eventually receive the recognition he richly deserves. He really gave himself for the betterment of others.

    John Berglund

  • A well researched site, I’ll link to it from my site thanks

  • Kudos from one braniac to another. 🙂

  • Thanks to folks for posting remembrances.

    Early, sorry, but I removed your advertisement.

    Nevada, hunh?

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