Chronology of Some Important Events
in the History of Learning Disabilities

John Wills Lloyd

Curry School of Education

University of Virginia

There have been several extensive treatments of the history of learning disabilities. I've identified a few of them at the end of this document. The body provides is a non-exhaustive list of some historical events that contributed to the development of the field of learning disabilities. It covers events only up to 2005. There are surely omissions, so I welcome comments; send 'em to me at JohnL at Virginia.edu.

1802

F. J. Gall associated head injuries with loss of mental abilities, related brain damage to aphasia

1825

J. B. Bouillaud postulated localization of speech function in the anterior lobes

1861

P. P. Broca postulated differing functions for hemispheres, located speech problems in left forebrain

1874

J. H. Jackson published On the Nature and Duality of the Brain and continued search for location of speech function

1877

Kussmaul, an ophthalmologist, reported about a patient with normal vision who was unable to read.

1881

C. Wernicke argued that aphasia was caused by problems in connections between auditory and speech areas (motor, conduction, sensory, and total aphasia)

1888

H. C. Bastien published A Treatise on Aphasia and Other Speech Defects, postulating that speech disorders are caused by specific damage to the brain

1905

C. Thomas published a paper called "Congenital Word-Blindness and its Treatment" in Ophthalmoscope

1906

P. P. Marie rejected Broca's localization of function

1907

M. Montessori opened a school in Rome where her method was practiced

1907

J. Hinshelwood published paper, "Four cases of congenital word--blindness occurring in the same family" in the British Medical Journal

1907

E. Seguin published Idiocy: And Its Treatment by the Physiological Method

1908

C. Wernicke published a chapter on aphasia

1917

J. Hinshelwood published Congenital Word Blindness

1921

G. Fernald and H. Keller published paper on kinesthetic method's effects on word recognition

1925

S. T. Orton published paper on word blindness

1926

H. Head published Aphasia and Kindred Disorders, argued that higher cortical function could be undisturbed while lower function was disturbed

1931

Department of Special Education was established in the U. S. office of Education

1936

M. Monroe published Children Who Cannot Read

1936

A. Gillingham and B. Stillman published Remedial Work for Reading, Writing, Spelling, and Penmanship

1936

T. G. Hegge, S. A. Kirk, and W. D. Kirk published Remedial Reading Drills

1937

S. T. Orton published Reading, Writing, and Speech Problems in Children

1939

K. Goldstein published The Organism

1939

H. Werner and A. A. Strauss published a paper on figure-ground problems

1940

S. A. Kirk published Teaching Reading to Slow Learning Children

1942

A. Strauss and H. Werner published paper on disorders of conceptual thinking

1943

G. Fernald published Remedial Techniques in Basic School Subjects

1943

A. Strauss published "Diagnosis and education of the cripple-brained, deficient child" in Journal of Exceptional Children

1947

A. Strauss and L. Lehtinen published Psychopathology and Education of the Brain--Injured Child (Volume I)

1947

Cove Schools founded in Wisconsin

1949

Orton Dyslexia Society founded

1953

C. E. Osgood published Method and Theory in Experimental Psychology

1954

H. Myklebust published Auditory Disorder in Children

1954

J. Eisenson published Examining for Aphasia

1955

A. Strauss and N. Kephart published Psychopathology and Education of the Brain--lnjured Child (Volume II)

1955

R. Flesch published Why Johnny Can't Read and What You Can Do About It

1957

K. J. deHirsch published a paper on tests for early identification of reading failure

1957

W. C. Cruickshank and colleagues published Perception and Cerebral Palsy

1958

J. Wepman published Auditory Discrimination Test

1960

N. Kephart published Slow Learner in the Classroom (revised in 1971)

1960

J. Wepman and L. V. Jones published The Language Modalities Test for Aphasia

1961

S. A Kirk and J. J. McCarthy released the field--test version of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities

1961

W. C. Cruickshank and colleagues published Teaching Method for Brain--Injured and Hyperactive Children

1961

M. Frostig and colleagues published a paper describing Developmental Test of Visual Perception

1962

S. A. Kirk and B. Bateman published "Diagnosis and Remediation of Learning Disabilities" in Exceptional Children

1962

R. B. Spalding and W. T. Spalding published The Writing Road to Reading

1962

G. N. Getman and E. R. Kane published The Physiology of Readiness: An Action Program for the Development of Perception for Children

1963

Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (ACLD) held its first conference in Chicago (circa 1988, this group changed its name to Learning Disabilities Association of America)

1963

S. A. Kirk, in a speech to ACLD (widely considered to mark the birth of the field), recommended using the term "learning disabilities"

1963

M. McGinnis published Aphasic Children

1963

Public Law 8-8164 authorizing research and training programs is passed; does not include the area of learning disabilities

1964

M. Frostig and D. Horne published The Frostig Program for the Development of Visual Perception

1965

J. Hellmuth edited first volume in Learning Disorders series (subsequent volumes published in 1966, 1968, and 1971 [B. Bateman, ed.])

1965

Division of Handicapped Children and Youth (DHCY) is formed in U. S. Office of Education (S. A. Kirk is closely involved in this development)

1966

K J. deHirsch and colleagues published Predicting Reading Failure

1966

U. S. Public Health Service Task Force I on "Minimal Brain Dysfunction, Terminology and Identification" is completed (project directed by S. D. Clements)

1967

Bureau of Education for the Handicapped (BEH) is organized and replaces DHCY within the U.S. Office of Education

1967

R. Barsch published Achieving Perceptual--Motor Efficiency: A Space-oriented Approach to Learning

1967

D. Johnson and H. Myklebust published Learning Disabilities: Educational Principles and Practices

1968

National Advisory Committee on Handicapped Children (NACHC) proposed definition of specific learning disabilities

1968

H. Myklebust edited first volume of Progress in Learning Disabilities series (subsequent volumes published in 1971, 1975, 1978, 1983)

1968

Division for Children with Learning Disabilities (DCLD) is organized within Council for Exceptional Children

1968

Journal of Learning Disabilities began publication

1968

S. A. Kirk, J. J. McCarthy, and W. D. Kirk published the revised edition of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities

1969

Children with Specific Learning Disabilities Act is included in Public Law 91-230 (Title VI, Part G)

1969

U. S. Public Health Service Task Force II ("Educational, Medical and Health Related Services") and Task Force m ("Central Processing Dysfunction") are completed

1971

S. A. Kirk and W. A. Kirk published Psycholinguistic Learning Disabilities: Diagnosis and Remediation

1971

Leadership Training Institute in Learning Disabilities began operation at the University of Arizona

1973

Public Law 93-112 (Rehabilitation Act with especially important sections 503 and 504) is passed

1973

D. P. Hallahan and W. C. Cruickshank published Psychoeducational Foundations of Learning Disabilities

1975

Public Law 94-142 is passed (includes reaming disabilities essentially as defined by NACHC in 1968)

1975

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) is formed

1977

International Association for Research in learning Disabilities (IARLD) founded

1977

Learning disabilities research institutes established at Teacher's College of Columbia, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Kansas,University of Minnesota, and University of Virginia; funded by U.S. Department of Education

1978

Learning Disability Quarterly began publication

1982

Council for Learning Disabilities seceded from Council for Exceptional Children (effective 1983)

1982

Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) formed within Council for Exceptional Children

1983

Public Law 98--199 reaffirmed federal commitment to education of handicapped pupils (including preschool and post--secondary aged students)

1983

Exceptional Education Quarterly published summaries of research activities of the five research institutes on learning disabilities

1984

Office of Special Education Programs of the U. S. Department of Education convened a task force to consider problems in identification of learning disabilities

1986

Division for Learning Disabilities began publication of Learning Disabilities Research and Learning Disability Focus

1987

U.S. Interagency Committee on Learning Disabilities and the Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities sponsor the National Conference on Learning Disabilities

1989

LDAA began publication of Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal

1989

National Institutes of Health funded multidisciplinary research centers at Yale University and Johns Hopkins University

1990

National Institutes of Health funded a third multidisciplinary research center at University of Colorado

1991

Learning Disabilities Research and Learning Disability Focus were combined into one publication called Learning Disabilities Research and Practice

1994

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funds research centers on reading problems at Florida State University and University of Houston

1996

Consortium of LD groups initiated an advertising program promoting awareness of LD, Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities

1997

IDEA reauthorized

2002

U.S. Department of Education Convenes "LD Summit"

2004

IDEA reauthorized; concept of "response to intervention" introduced into eligibility of students with learning disabilities.

Some sources:

Hallahan, D. P., & Mercer, C. R. (2002). Learning disabilities: Historical perspectives. In R. Bradley, L. Danielson, & D. P. Hallahan (Eds.), Identification of learning disabilities: Research to practice (pp. 1-67). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Weiderholt, J. L. (1974). Historical perspectives on the education of the learning disabled. In L. Mann & D. A. Sabatino (Eds.), The second review of special education (pp. 103-152). Philadelphia: JSE Press.