Term of Art: Specific Language Disability

“specific language disability (SLD): A severe problem with some aspect of listening, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling, while skills in the other areas are age-appropriate. It is also called specific language learning disability.

The problems vary in focus and intensity, ranging from mild to severe. Some have severe problems with listening and reading (or receptive language) while others struggle with writing (expressive language); Other problems that often appear together with a specific learning disability include mild to severe organization problems and difficulty with directions.

Specific language disability may be a disorder of the left hemisphere of the brain, or a dominant right hemisphere.

Treatment Options and Outlook While there is no cure, the disability can be managed using educational methods and unconventional learning techniques. A multisensory approach is extremely important in teaching these students, making sure the person must hear, say, see, write, and use movement and feeling. For the reader with a specific language disability, this varied approach ensure that information will move from short- to long-term memory. This approach is called the VAKT (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Tactile) method.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

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