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LDA’s 2023 Year in Review

Thanks to the generosity, dedication, and advocacy of our LDA Community we have achieved significant accomplishments in 2023, and we are excited to share some of the milestones we’ve reached together this year. 

We look forward to working with our amazing supporters, members, and donors in 2024 as we continue to strive for a more equitable society for all learners. 

Our 60th Annual Conference

We celebrated 60 years of LDA conferences at our 60th Annual International Conference in Las Vegas. LDACON60 provided 140+ sessions on a wide range of learning disability topics, including the latest research, evidence-based practices, advocacy strategies, strategies for the classroom, and much more. 

Be sure to join us for LDACON61 this February in Orlando, Florida, for another outstanding LDA conference!

The World Literacy Summit

This year, LDA was honored to be a part of the World Literacy Summit in Oxford. The World Literacy Summit brings together leaders from 85 countries with a single focus: advocating, championing, and educating on the vital importance of improving literacy levels across the globe. 

As many learning disabilities are disabilities impacting reading, LDA was eager to raise international awareness for LD. Our Education Director, Dr. Monica McHale-Small, presented on LDA’s Learning Disability Assessment Standards, and discussed comprehensive evaluation, accurate diagnosis, and effective intervention. 

Assessment Principles and Standards

In August of 2023, LDA and an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners partnered to develop new SLD Evaluation Principles and Standards in response to alarming achievement gaps between students with learning disabilities and their non-disabled peers.  

The purpose of these standards is to guide best practices for the evaluation and identification of specific learning disabilities. This research paper serves as a valuable resource for educators, psychologists, policymakers, and anyone interested in enhancing the quality of education and support for individuals with specific learning disabilities.

Documentary

To celebrate six decades of grassroots support and advocacy for individuals with learning disabilities, we’ve shared the story of the Learning Disabilities Association of America in a documentary60 Years of Learning Disabilities Advocacy: Celebrating Progress, Inspiring Change. 

The documentary features past and present LDA members who discuss the origin of LDA, and how we’re carrying on the essential work of advocating for individuals with disabilities today. 

Executive Function Seminar

In October in Pittsburgh, LDA hosted a two-day seminar on executive functioning for educators that featured Dr. George McCloskey, a professor and Director of School Psychology Research in the School of Professional and Applied Psychology of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

This interactive workshop was based on Dr. McCloskey’s 25 years of research and experience in the field, and helped participants to gain a deeper understanding of executive function deficits, and how these deficits impact the behavior and academic production of children and adolescents. 

The training also gave participants evidence-based methods to help their students improve the use of their executive functions. 

Math Forum

LDA hosted a virtual international math forum that brought together 17 experts from the fields of cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, school psychology, psychological assessment, special education, and mathematics education. 

The well-attended forum discussed the latest advances in each of these fields, and how these advances can improve our work in the classroom and beyond. The forum participants plan to continue to meet and discuss the latest research on best practices for math instruction, disabilities impacting math, and more.

Quick LDA 2023 Statistics:

Featured

LDA Publishes SLD Evaluation Principles and Standards

The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) announces the publication of a groundbreaking research paper titled “Specific Learning Disabilities Evaluation Principles and Standards.”  LDA and an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners partnered to develop new SLD Evaluation Principles and Standards in response to alarming achievement gaps between students with learning disabilities and their non-disabled peers.  

The purpose of these standards is to guide best practices for the evaluation and identification of specific learning disabilities. The standards will guide professionals in developing a comprehensive evaluation and written report that describes the nature of the specific learning disability, the area and levels of impairment, and specific considerations for practitioners to develop individualized interventions designed to meet the unique academic, linguistic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of the student. 

“The LDA SLD Evaluation Principles and Standards represent an interdisciplinary and international research-to-practice lens, to provide the LD field guidance in implementing a comprehensive whole-child approach to the SLD evaluation connected to informed individualized instruction/intervention for struggling learners,” said Dr. David Allsop, a co-author of the research paper.  

The SLD Evaluation is guided by seven foundational principles; the SLD Evaluation is 1) interdisciplinary, 2) research-informed, 3) consequently valid, 4) dynamic and iterative, 5) whole-child focused, 6) strengths-based, and 7) universally benevolent. LDA believes these principles serve as a foundation for establishing a common ethos among stakeholders with respect to the SLD evaluation and its connection to practice. 

Dr. Elsa Cardenas-Hagan, one of the authors of the research paper, stated “The LDA Assessment Standards serve as a roadmap for accurate diagnosis of learning disabilities, among all students including English learners/Emergent Bilinguals.”

This research paper serves as a valuable resource for educators, psychologists, policymakers, and anyone interested in enhancing the quality of education and support for individuals with specific learning disabilities.

Apply to Be a Guest on the LDA Podcast

We are always on the lookout for the next great LDA Podcast guest. If you know, or are that person, then please submit the form below so we can contact you with the next steps!

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Meet Our Members: Meet Lisa Rogers!

Tell us about yourself!

I am a single mom of 3 and a grandparent of 3. I have worked in Special Education for the past 25 years. I have taught adjunct for 10 years in developmental reading and writing courses as well. I believe teaching is my calling. Daily, I strive to answer that call at work. I’m a Baylor Bear fan and currently live in Waco, TX. I enjoy reading novels with a fun book club. I also enjoy attending conferences and presenting at them as well. In my spare time, you can find me in my flower beds and in my yard working hard. I enjoy church with my family and playing fun games. I love to have fun and make people laugh. I am completing two books currently: So You Wanna Teach? and the ABCs of Teaching. 

What’s a fun fact about you?

I currently serve as the Texas Association for Alternative Education President. I have been actively involved in alternative education and the organization for the past two decades. 

Why did you become a member of LDA?

I love to stay busy and abreast of the current trends and challenges in education. I feel that being a special needs specialist helps me to advocate for special needs learners in my district as well as support their families. I want to take an active role in all that I do in education. I believe wholeheartedly that we have to actively work together to bring about positive change in education for all learners, but especially special needs learners. We should never leave one child behind. 

Meet our Members: Meet Pam Cusick!

Tell us about yourself!

I’m a research professional with expertise in research study design, implementation, and analysis. My background in public health communications and research, coupled with a passion for patient advocacy, were a great match with the Rare Patient Voice (RPV) mission and vision, and I’ve been with the company for almost eight years. I’m dedicated to helping people to share their opinions and experiences with decision-makers, which can have a major impact on others living with their disease as well as those down the road. It’s always a treat to meet people at in-person events and hear their stories of taking part in healthcare research. As Senior Vice President of RPV, I work on the company’s continued growth and success, with a focus on client services and business development, and oversight of patient outreach, panel management, and marketing. I’m also a wife, mom, daughter, and friend, and I really enjoy mentoring other women in the research community.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’m a superfan of the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz. In fact, several years ago I dressed as Dorothy for Halloween, while RPV President Wes Michael went as the Scarecrow!

Why did you become a member of LDA?

I became a member of LDA for both personal and professional reasons. One of my two sons lives with hearing loss and learning disabilities, so I know very well about the challenges he has faced, which has spurred me to advocacy. This includes raising awareness of the issues people living with learning disabilities face, such as neurodiversity and accommodations in the workplace (which I presented on at this year’s LDA conference). Wearing my RPV hat, it’s important to spread the word about how we connect people with opportunities to take part in paid research studies. We welcome all members of the learning disabilities community to sign up with us at: https://rarepatientvoice.com/for-patients/patient-and-caregiver-sign-up/

Meet Our Members: Meet Elizabeth Hamblet!

Elizabeth Hamblet is the author of 7 Steps to College Success: A Pathway For Students with Disabilities, and is a college learning disabilities specialist. Elizabeth is an LDA member to support research and advocacy for individuals with learning disabilities. 

Learn more about Elizabeth in the video below!

Nominate an Adult with LD for our Harrison Sylvester Award!

This prestigious award honors and recognizes an adult with learning disabilities who has shown a strong dedication and commitment to advancing the issues of adults with learning disabilities.

Harrison Sylvester was a strong voice in the field of learning disabilities, and it is LDA’s wish to thank, in his name, an adult with learning disabilities who is carrying on this work today.

To nominate someone for the 2024 Harrison Sylvester Award, simply fill out the form below, include a brief description of how learning disabilities have affected their life, and include a one-page description of the work the individual has done. The nominee for this award must be a person with learning disabilities who has shown a significant commitment and dedication to adults with learning disabilities.

The deadline to submit is December 13th, 2023. The winner will receive their award at our 61st Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida in February.

Nominate an Outstanding Educator for our Sam Kirk Award!

Each year LDA of America selects an outstanding educator to receive the Sam Kirk Educator of the Year Award. This is an opportunity to give educators a well-deserved “thank you” and lets them know that they are greatly valued for their contributions to individuals with learning disabilities. The award is designed so that exceptional educators can be honored at the local, state and national levels.

Nominate someone today! The deadline to nominate is December 13th, 2023. The winner will receive their award at our 61st Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. 

Meet Our Members: Meet Jennifer Strong!

Tell us about yourself!

I’m Jennifer Strong, born and raised in a quaint Alaskan fishing village. Despite my Alaskan roots, my parents originally came from California. My upbringing was deeply rooted in a family of medical professionals, offering me a firsthand glimpse into the world of caregiving. Witnessing my father’s exceptional dedication to serving others left a lasting impression.

My academic journey began at the University of the Pacific, where I laid the foundation for my future pursuits. Currently, I am actively pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology, specializing in Public Policy and Law, with a deep commitment to advancing the field of School Psychology. Today, I am the proud owner of Cognitive Diagnostic Associates. Our primary focus is conducting psychoeducational assessments for students and offering unwavering support to families navigating the complexities of the IEP process.

The motivation behind starting this business stemmed from a profound need within our educational system. Additionally, my own children faced challenges within the public schools, underscoring the need for more comprehensive support. We are genuinely excited to make a difference and extend our assistance to communities in need. Furthermore, we take immense pride in our membership with the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

What’s a fun fact about you?

One fascinating aspect of my life relates to my hometown, Seldovia, Alaska, a quaint village nestled amidst the wilderness with a mere 300 residents. In our remote corner of the world, we had a distinct feature: nine payphones scattered across town. Seldovia’s isolation meant that reaching our community required either a flight or a boat journey, making our mode of communication truly unique.

During my carefree days playing outside with friends, there were moments when I needed my father to pick me up. To conserve our precious dimes, we devised an ingenious Morse code-like system for communication by pressing the payphone buttons. You see, my father couldn’t hear me until a dime was inserted. A single click conveyed “no,” while two clicks meant “yes.” My dad would diligently work his way through all nine payphones, systematically asking, “Are you at the airport? Are you at the post office? Are you at the city dock?” until he pinpointed my location. Once I signaled “yes,” he’d swiftly come to collect me.

This unique childhood experience nurtured my capacity to think creatively, akin to what School Psychologists term “Fluid reasoning abilities.” It instilled in me the ability to adapt and critically assess situations. Now, it’s time to “payphone” it forward and give back to the community that saved me countless dimes. I eagerly look forward to supporting not only my local community, including Learning Disabilities Association of America but also the cherished Alaskan community of my youth, a place I am incredibly proud to call home.

Why did you become a member of LDA?

I joined LDA with the goal of fostering a sense of community and raising awareness about special education, learning disabilities, and the vital support available to those in need. Through our platform on the website, we aim to unite people and highlight the diverse array of resources within the realm of special education. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to build a supportive community and connect families with this incredible organization.

Our company’s core mission revolves around this commitment, firmly believing that every individual deserves equitable support and access to the resources they require.

Meet our Members: Meet Mitch Beres!

Meet our Members, Meet Mitch Beres

Tell us about yourself!

I am a retired business executive and am currently the President of the Learning Disabilities Association of Virginia. I went to college at SUNY Cortland NY and received my Masters from the NY Institute of Technology. I am married and have three children.  The younger two have learning disabilities. Thus, my experience and any expertise are that of a parent.

Why did you become an LDA Member?

When my two younger children were in grammar school, we started to notice certain difficulties in learning. The school provided a little insight but no real answers. My wife, who studied journalism, is an avid researcher. There really is not anything she will not investigate. In her endeavors she learned about and joined LDA and began to utilize them for knowledge, ideas, recommendations and essentially how to manage our way through this process. 

LDA provided an immense amount of information that we utilized.  My wife’s efforts, along with LDA’s information helped to set the course we would follow, leaving no stone unturned. As a result, the two younger children were able to graduate from Hofstra University. As a result, in a way of giving back, I am now a volunteer and President of LDA of Virginia.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I love to cook.  I first learned to do basic cooking as a teenager.  My mother worked and she would have us start dinner as she came home from work. This developed into doing the cooking for my roommates in junior and senior year in college. Overtime I developed a joy for cooking and loved trying new and different dishes. This has grown into trying all different national cuisines. My wife is the perfect partner. As noted above, she is an avid researcher and would even read a cookbook. She finds many different opportunities across the spectrum; we discuss it and then I give it a whirl. We love the variety and as luck would have it our children have also developed quite the palate.

Meet our Members: Meet Dr. Lisa Rutner!

Tell us about yourself!

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Educational Studies in 2009, which was 30 years after I graduated from high school. I earned my master’s degree in 2013 in Special Education and my Ed.D. in 2018, also in Special Education. The reason why I share this is because I want others to know it is never too late to follow your dreams. 

What’s a fun fact about you?

The best vacation I ever took was a three-week motorcycle trip from Florida to Nova Scotia. Yes, I owned a motorcycle and drove it the entire trip. We had no hotel reservations but a destination of Nova Scotia. Having no set plans and the open roads provided us with the best way to travel. We entered Canada through upstate NY. We rode into Ontario, Montreal, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. We rode on ferries and through a lot of mountains.

Why did you become a member of LDA?

As a child, I struggled with undiagnosed learning disabilities (that still haunt me today). At the time, there were little to no resources, and my parents were told that there was nothing wrong with me, that I was just lazy. At the time, nobody discovered my processing deficits and lack of decoding knowledge, which made reading extremely challenging. Since returning to college and earning my degrees, I learned that I do have a learning disability. I have learned how to overcompensate for my learning disabilities. It is my desire to help others learn how to overcome their learning disabilities and reach their full potential.