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.