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by Pat Lillie, LDA President

Come one, come all to the 55th Annual International Conference of the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, February 21- 24, 2018.  Yes, we will be celebrating the 55th Anniversary of LDA during the conference and on behalf of the members of the Board of Directors, it is my pleasure to invite you and all who are involved and interested in the field of learning disabilities to join us at the conference: individuals with learning disabilities, their families, and the legions of professionals and volunteers who work in the field of learning disabilities and related disorders.

Fifty-five years ago, through the advocacy efforts of the pioneers (founders) of LDA, Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) was recognized as a disorder in the area of learning. Students with learning disabilities were given recognition, an individualized education program (IEP) and protection under federal legislation, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

With the passage of time, LDA has continued to work on policy concerns. The LDA Board of Directors and the LDA Public Policy Committee will sponsor a pre-conference Symposium:  “Results Driven Accountability: Is RTI Producing the Promised Results? Has it changed the Construct of Specific Learning Disabilities?”  More information about the Symposium is contained in the pre-conference booklet soon to be mailed to the membership and available on the LDA Website,

LDA has always been known as the “go-to” organization for the latest information on Specific Learning Disabilities; an umbrella term that includes a spectrum of disorders and symptoms, such as dyslexia (reading), dyscalculia (math), dysgraphia (written language), issues with short and long term memory, non-verbal learning disabilities, visual motor learning disabilities, auditory processing and language processing disabilities and related disabilities such as ADHD and executive function.  All of these subjects and more will be covered in depth at the conference.  Since the last LDA conference, several federal and state policy changes have come about in the fields of education and special education, so please note there will be sessions addressing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and sessions about Section 504 and IDEA – all of which will bring you up to date.

Fifty-five years ago, students identified with learning disabilities were taught by teachers who were special educators and very few children with SLD spent much time in the general education classroom. Now, general education teachers have students from a wide array of special education categories spending most of the day in their classrooms. The LDA Symposium and LDA Conference have much to offer both general education and special education teachers and provide an opportunity to learn from some of the most distinguished and well known experts in education.

Conference planning is a year-round effort and I thank our exceptional Conference Committee for working tirelessly to organize this outstanding event. Ann Kornblet, Chair, and B.J. Wiemer, Assistant Chair, along with committee members, and LDA’s national office staff under the leadership of Executive Director Mary-Clare Reynolds, will be ready to greet you and look forward to answering any questions you may have during the conference.

The conference is designed to provide information and to shine light on the positive characteristics and attributes of each individual diagnosed with a specific learning disability. Continuing in that tradition, you will find Co-Chairs Jennifer Harkins and Lori Parks, and members of the Program Committee, who have selected an outstanding array of sessions and workshops addressing the most up-to-date pertinent topics in both special and general education. Changes and challenges in state and federal public policies affecting children and adults with specific learning disabilities and ADHD will also be addressed in keynotes and sessions throughout the conference.

There will be topics of special interest to parents and sessions that will include information on executive function, college planning, behavior, life skills, the identification of learning disabilities, and the process of working together with school personnel. Children with LD grow up to be adults with LD, and these adults are always an important part of the Conference. A strand specific to adults is again being offered.

Please join us by bringing your family, friends, and co-workers to the 2018 LDA Conference in Atlanta for a time to learn and discover how to advocate, collaborate, and create new opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities.

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