Rules for Contributions

This list is not without constraints.
(1) I shall not allow unsigned comments to stay in the list; if you’re going to contribute your ideas to the canon, you’ll have to own up to them. Just register for an account using the “login” under the heading “meta” in the sidebar; you can maintain anonymity by pointing the link in comments to a Web site. Please be assured that, although I shall know your e-mail address, I shan’t use your e-mail address except for direct communication between you and me.
(2) Please do not drop a list of references into one comment. Instead, please provide an individual reference and a commentary about it.
(3) Please provide references that are accurate and complete. In deference to the main readership of this site (that would be I), please present references in the style described by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Identifying a canon of literature in a discipline such as special education and disabilities, let alone in a sub-discipline such as Learning Disabilities (LD), is a daunting task that has often, in my experience, been pursued but rarely completed. Part of the problem is that in an area of study such as LD, there are many different currents of thought and the confluences of those currents sometimes result in whirlpools. The entire endeavor of developing a consensual reading list is lost over battles among interest groups.

Some who want to deconstruct LD discount certain more-scientific sources. Among those who advocate political-social views are people who emphasize economic over social-conscience features of LD. Some who emphasize bio-physical aspects ignore behavioral-educational literature. Among those who daily address the educational problems of individuals with LD are folks who give little or no credence to the socio-political and bio-physical aspects of LD. I could continue with these characterizations (and, yes, I have my own biases), but doing so would not help to identify a consensus about what a person who considers herself informed about LD should have read and considered in light of other similar readings.

This document provides my start toward a canon. I describe it as a start, because I am deliberately leaving it open to the public. Readers of whatever bias are welcome to drop comments on this page in which they advocate for inclusion of sources that they champion. Although I respect contemporary literature, I begin it with some historical references.

The purpose of this page is to generate a discussion about the foundational ideas, as represented in relatively permanent resources, that underlie Learning Disabilities. What books, articles, speeches, videos, and other media that directly discuss LD should be the basis of our understanding of LD? After reading the ground rules shown in the shaded box at the top of this entry, please add your suggestions.


2 Responses to “Canon for LD”


  • Kirk, S. A., & Bateman, B. 1962. Diagnosis and remediation of learning disabilities. Exceptional Children 29(2), 72-78.

    I like this one for a variety of reasons. Of course, Bateman advised me during my doctoral studies, so that’s a starter. But also, note that this article predated the supposed “coining of the phrase ‘LD'” that is routinely noted in histories of LD as having happened at least a year later at the formation of the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities in Chicago (IL, US) in 1963. Beyond this somewhat-picky point, it’s important because it really does mark an important time in the history of LD.

  • Brown, E.K., 2008, Learning Disabilities: Understanding the Problem, Managing the Challenges. Langdon Street Press, 195 pages.

    This is my own personal take on learning disabilities, and I think that it takes the emphasis from defining what learning disabilities are to placing emphasis on what causes them and designing interventions to prevent them. The literature suggests that the majority of the problems occur as a lack of development resulting from environmental trauma after birth.

    It is my intent to inform parents of the types of environmental trauma that they can prevent or remediate. An academic discussion of learning disabilities is a moot issue that I have avoided since completing my doctorate.

    Academicians discuss the problem while parents and children suffer because of a lack of information. I would suggest that more academicians place emphasis on helping parents understand the problem and master the challenges.

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