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Learning Programs for Adults with LD: Where to Start

Depending on where you live and the availability of resources in your area, you may be able to find a program that teaches reading, writing, math, or job skills. It can be difficult to determine where to begin your search for adult learning programs, so we’ve compiled a guide to help you find the resources you need. 

The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS)

LINCS is a national leadership initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) to expand evidence-based practice in the field of adult education. LINCS connects adult learners to free, high-quality resources related to education, job and life skills. Resources accessed through the site can help adult learners improve their reading, writing, math, science, and English skills; build job skills; acquire an understanding of American government and history to obtain citizenship; and find a nearby adult education, computer training, or postsecondary education or training program. 


National Literacy Directory

The National Literacy Directory has helped connect more than 50,000 potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers since 2010.

The National Literacy Directory provides listings for Early Childhood, Family Literacy, High School Equivalency/Adult Basic Education, English Language Learning, and Citizenship Classes. To find a National Literacy program near you, you can search for listings in your community and narrow your search for more specific results.


Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) provides leadership and resources to assist states and other agencies in providing vocational rehabilitation and other services to individuals with disabilities to maximize their employment, independence, and integration into the community and the competitive labor market.

RSA is a component of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) within the U.S. Department of Education. The mission of OSERS is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation.


The Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE)

COABE is organized to advance national and international adult education and literacy opportunities for all persons. One of the main purposes of COABE is to promote adult education and literacy programs, including Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Family Literacy, Skills Development, Workforce Development, and other state, federal, and private programs. Their site allows you to search for COABE programs near you, and also includes a webinar resource library. 


Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on job accommodations and disability employment issues. Serving customers across the United States and around the world for more than 35 years, JAN provides free one-on-one practical guidance and technical assistance on job accommodation solutions, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities.


Reach out to Your LDA State Affiliate

LDA’s state affiliates offer various services for individuals with learning disabilities and their families. State and local activities may include support groups, meetings, resource libraries, advocacy assistance, newsletters, webinars, and networking opportunities. You can also reach out to your state affiliate if you’re having difficulty finding an adult learning program in your area. Please note that all of our state affiliates are made up of volunteers, so please allow time for a response. Find your state affiliate here.

You can also learn more about the different approaches that may be used in adult literacy reading programs which have proven to be effective for adults with learning disabilities. 

Improving Memory for Adults with LD

Although memory issues are not a specific learning disability, struggling to remember things can be common for individuals with learning disabilities or ADHD. 

In adults, memory issues can contribute to forgetting work deadlines, losing things, or not remembering names or birthdays. 

There are several strategies and assistive technology tools that you can use to help you remember things. 

Know your Strengths

Use your strengths when you need to remember something. If you struggle with reading or writing, use a recording device to collect the information you need, and listen to it later. If you’re a visual person, use a map, chart, checklist, or graphic organizer to remember tasks. 

“Learn how you organize information in your head and how you organize it on paper. I bullet point everything. I use a lot of different colors when I’m highlighting, and it all means different things, but when I look at a page I see immediately what I’m supposed to know. There are certain things that I’ve been able to use over the years that have been incredibly helpful.  Learn whatever techniques are good for you.  You may need to go through a handful of different ones to figure that out but I do think they can be incredibly helpful.”

-Dr. Collin Diedrich, scientist and President of LDA Pennsylvania, “The Strengths of Individuals with Learning Disabilities,” The LDA Podcast 

Write it Out

Writing, rather than typing, can actually help you to better retain the information you’re recording. Studies have shown that students handwriting notes remember knowledge better than students who typed their notes. This could be because writing involves the orthographic loop. 

The orthographic loop can be thought of as the mind’s eye, where the mind’s working memory stores letters and graphemes, and connects to the sequential hand movements needed to form the letters. 

“The orthographic loop involves  the sequential finger and hand movements for writing. Keyboarding does not…I can type every word I hear, but I don’t have to be paying attention to do it. I might have to go back and then rethink the whole thing.  If I’m writing, I know I don’t have time to write every word. I actually have to think about what I’m hearing and decide what’s most important.”

-Dr. Nancy Cushen-White, clinical professor at UCSF and certified instructor of the Slingerland Multisensory (Multimodal) Structured Language Approach, “Handwriting Instruction in the Digital Age,” The LDA Podcast

Use repetition

The more you repeat the information, whether it’s writing it out, saying it outloud, or listening to it, the more you’ll remember it. You can also use mnemonic devices. For example, to remember the great lakes, many people think of “HOMES” to remind them of the beginning letters of each lake (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.) Using rhyming, music, or rhythm can also help you to better retain information. 


Break the information into smaller parts, then remember the parts instead of the whole. For example, when remembering a phone number, try to remember each section before the hyphen. Once you’ve memorized the smaller series of numbers, you can put that information together to remember the full phone number. Learn more about how to chunk information here.

Associate with Images

Associate words or numbers with pictures. This imagery can help when trying to remember names, which you can learn more about here.

“I realized that I couldn’t attack any word because I couldn’t figure out any of the sounds. So what I did was I used a visual association so every vowel sound, digraph, diphthong, consonant sounds…So for example, I came across an A, and short A has an A as in apple, so I had a picture of an apple. If it was long, it had a picture of an ape. So I’d bring the sound, I’d see the apple, go bring it to the word, and that’s how I could get the sound.”

-Patty Gillespie, reading specialist, “Patty Gillespie, A Self-Taught Reader,” The LDA Podcast 

Use one Location for Important Items

If you’re constantly losing your keys, phone, wallet, or important work documents, simplify your organizational strategy by keeping all important items in one place. Or, create an assigned space for each item and make sure to put everything back in its place. If possible, create duplicates of important items. 

Assistive Technology

HEARD: The Plan B for Memory: Let's admit it, we don't have perfect memories, and for the most part that's a good thing. But there are may situations when we wish we did have perfect memory. HEARD is a practical way to have a backup of anything important you hear. When you hear something worth remembering, tap a button to preserve it for later reference. It's that simple.
Remember the Milk: Remember the Milk is an application service provider for web-based task and time management. Enter your task's properties in one line, including due date, priority, repeat, tags, and more. Attach files to your tasks, break your tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks with subtasks, and sync across all your devices!
AudioNote 2: AudioNote links the notes you take to the audio recorded when you take them. The result is a linked index of your recording that quickly provides invaluable audio context for your notes. Includes amplified audio recording, automatically adapting to room size and volume level.

2023 Board of Directors Nominations

Dear Board of Directors, State Affiliate Leaders, Professional Advisory Board, and Committee Members, 

Since 1964, LDA of America has provided support to people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers and other professionals with cutting edge information on learning disabilities, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources nationwide. These services make LDA the leading resource for information on learning disabilities. LDA’s mission is to create opportunities for success for all individuals affected by learning disabilities through support, education, and advocacy.  

LDA of America is seeking to expand its Board of Directors by bringing on a diverse group of new members from across the nation. Nominations will enhance the strengths, expertise, business acumen, and demographics of our current board of directors. New board members will join an already committed, dedicated and professional governing board. The Board of Directors is responsible for supporting the mission of LDA of America, setting policy, providing leadership and is accountable for fiscal and strategic oversight.  

  • LDA’s Nominating Committee is seeking applicants who are able to serve a 3-year term from 2023 through 2026.  Specific areas of expertise and experiences desired in nominees include:
  • A passion for the work and mission of LDA of America
  • Strategic marketing, communications and public relations experience
  • Strategic business development and risk and crisis management
  • Financial acumen, including strategic financial management skills
  • Legal expertise
  • Experience working with individual and/or institutional funders
  • Racially/ethnically, culturally, geographically, generationally and/or professionally diverse

To apply, please complete the Board of Directors Application by August 30, 2022. Applicants will be interviewed in September 2022 and notified about their application status prior to board elections in February 2023. Nominees must attend the 2023 LDA Annual International Conference. 

How Teachers Can Help Students with Learning Disabilities

A Q&A with Gregg French, special education teacher at Bullard Havens Technical High School and president of LDA Connecticut

Accommodations and Strategies

What are some accommodations and teaching strategies that can be used in a general education classroom to help students with learning disabilities? 

I spent a lot of my teaching career focusing on differentiation of instruction, and how beneficial that is to not only students with IEPs and 504s, but students who are below grade level or at risk, and for students that are primarily non-English language speakers. So differentiating instruction is beneficial for many different types of students that we encounter in our classrooms. 

What is differentiation of instruction?

Differentiation of instruction is a teaching model that looks at explicitly teaching content in different ways. One of the strategies that I find very much used in my school is the gradual release of responsibility. I see a lot of teachers modeling new concepts and skills, and then teachers provide guided practice where students, once a teacher feels that they’ve modeled enough, have the students walk the teacher through how to complete a task, or do an assignment. And then based on the guided practice and working together, talking it out, the teacher can get a sense of, ‘okay, I feel that this group of students can do it independently, go for it. Maybe this group of students need to be a little bit more supported with more guided practice or with modeling.’ 

I’ve seen teachers do rotating stations where there’s a specific task at each station for an allotted time. And it might have a vocabulary visual station, a hands-on station, and a conference with the teacher, so you’re kind of using a wide variety of different approaches to delivery of instruction, teaching and learning. 

A lot of teachers I know use project-based learning, and giving students a choice on how they want to create a project is great. 

Use students’ strengths to demonstrate and apply a specific skill. I’ve seen teachers who use a lot of assistive technology, speech to text, and audio books. I’ve worked with students in looking at different software to create projects, virtually and digitally. I think COVID virtual learning allowed teachers to experiment with more digital programs and software that can be beneficial to students with LD or without a disability. 

Teaching strategies for students with LD: 

Modeling: Model new concepts and skills. Then have the student walk the teacher through how to complete the task

Provide choice: For project-based learning, give students a choice on how they want to create a project. 

Stations: Hold rotating stations with specific tasks. You can include a vocabulary visual station, a hands on station, and a conference with the teacher. 

Use Assistive Technology: Speech to text, audiobooks, and other software can help students create projects. 

Visual aids: Use graphic organizer to break down large assignments, or highlight vocabulary terms.

A lot of those accommodations that we look for in implementing the IEP can be beneficial for students who are not receiving special education services. Being a visual learner is something that I think each person enjoys, so using graphic organizers to break down large reading or writing assignments can be helpful for  a student who’s learning English for the first time, or students that just need that visual support. 

Highlighting vocabulary terms and pre-teaching content specific vocabulary can be beneficial to many diverse learners, not just specifically students with learning disabilities. 

I make the point to tell teachers that an accommodation you might see in an IEP can become a class-wide accommodation if you feel it benefits all of your students, because I think that’s just part of good teaching. 

Partnering with Special Education Teachers

How can general education teachers and special education teachers partner to benefit students with LD? 

I really think that one of the most crucial pieces to supporting any student with a disability is the collaboration between the special education teacher and the general education teacher, because there may be a point where co-teaching needs to be embedded in the delivery of instruction, and so making sure that teachers have the opportunity to collaborate, and co-plan, co-teach and co-assess, and come up with a model that fits the classroom. 

Working on building positive relationships between both teachers is very crucial, that line of communication needs to be consistent and clear. And both need to understand the roles in supporting the student. 

It shouldn’t be me versus them, it should be us working together to support the needs of the student. And so in the classroom, whenever I push in, I always let the teacher lead the classroom. With the delivery of instruction, I will float around and support all students. And I think that’s really key. 

Students who have IEPs and a learning disability don’t want to be picked out in the crowd and have an adult hovering over them. I see my role in the classroom as supporting all the students, so I build relationships with all the students. I’ll spend time working with students that aren’t on my caseload, because I know that kids on my caseload are working independently and are perfectly fine. 

So the classroom kind of sees me as a co-teacher that’s there for everyone. I don’t hover over a particular student, and that classroom climate and environment is positive. They see myself and the general education teacher as partners, as a resource to ask for help. I never would turn away a student asking for help. 

I think it’s also important that the co-teachers use common language and are on the same page of knowing that, ‘Yes, I have five or six students in your classroom that have IEPs that are on my caseload that I’m supporting, but I’m also supporting the entire class’ 

Advocating for Students

If a teacher has a student with LD and they feel like their needs aren’t being met, how can they advocate?

I think that goes back to the collaboration piece. When a special education teacher is not present in a classroom with a group of students who  have a learning disability, and the general education teacher may be struggling with reaching those students or teaching a specific lesson, that’s where collaboration and communication need to come into play. 

Having that open line of communication, where the general education teacher is comfortable to say, ‘Hey, I did this lesson today, it didn’t work out for the students, what can I do differently next time?’ Or,  ‘Can you come in and maybe I’ll reteach those students and you work with the other group of students and then we’ll kind of do a split classroom.’ 

No teacher should feel that their hands are tied. And again, I think that goes to building positive relationships, communication, collaboration, and making sure that the special education teacher is also there to support the teacher. Because ultimately, the general education teacher spends the most time with their students. 

Advice for General Education Teachers

Do you have any other advice for general education teachers who have students with learning disabilities in their class? 

For teachers that find they have a large group of students primarily with LD, the number one thing is to reflect on your teaching practices. Because oftentimes, a lot of students with LD need things taught in a specific way that’s really broken down, through scaffolding or chunking, and usually need a lot of visual supports. 

So if you really implement differentiation of instruction, you build strong relationships with those students, you refer to those IEPs, you’re an active collaborative member of the IEP team, and have a partnership with the special education teacher, you’re pretty much meeting all the needs and requirements of effectively teaching students with a learning disability. 

And also understand that a learning disability should not be the focus. We want to focus more on the abilities and the strengths of the students. Oftentimes teachers will say, ‘Well, they have a reading disability, I’m never going to catch them up to reading at grade level.’ Well, maybe that’s not the goal, maybe the goal is to focus on what their strengths are, and using those to teach those areas of difficulty. And so it’s flipping the equation, in not so much focusing on the dyslexia, the LD, the ADHD, but focusing on what the student is capable of. 

And that’s something to speak to on a personal level. I was diagnosed with a reading comprehension disability as well as a math disability in the fourth grade. And I received special education services throughout elementary school, throughout middle school, and up until junior year of high school. And I remember what it was like, being a student who receives services and had a co-teacher in the classroom, and feeling the stigma of having an IEP, having someone follow you and try to help you. And so my other word of advice would be it’s okay to let the students be independent, because in the end, special education shouldn’t be a life sentence. 

And that’s something I always try to tell parents too. I don’t think it is talked about enough, but special education is there to support the student as much as is needed and appropriately. But if a student does find strategies that are effective and is compensating for those areas of difficulty, and they’re doing well academically and socially, students can be exited from special education. 

A student with a learning disability will have it their whole life, but can find strategies to really address the difficulties that they’re having academically in school, and we shouldn’t look at them any differently than any other student. And so I think really understanding where the student is and where they’re coming from and building that relationship is crucial.

Listen to the full interview with Gregg French on The LDA Podcast: An Educator’s Guide to Helping Students with LD, Part Two

An IEP Meeting Guide for Educators

With Gregg French, special education teacher at Bullard Havens Technical High School and president of LDA Connecticut

Preparing for an IEP Meeting

For a first time teacher, whether they’re special education teachers or general education teachers, an IEP meeting can be very stressful. There’s a lot of planning that goes into the before, during, and after. And this is where a lot of the legal guidelines come into play with developing the IEP with annual meetings, and the trainings that happen every three years for determining if a student continues to be eligible for receiving special education services. 

One of the things I learned early on in my training to become a special education teacher is when you go into an IEP meeting, always use a checklist. And I had a great professor that really ingrained in me the importance of being organized when it came to these meetings, and she gave us a template of a checklist of every step of what to do for an IEP meeting. And I would tailor that checklist depending on what type of meeting it was. But it allowed me to go through and say, ‘Okay, before the meeting takes place, here’s what I need to go through and be prepared for.’ That checklist allowed me to go through and check off as I went through the meeting, then afterwards, it created my meeting minutes in the IEP, which I really just cut and pasted. 

For special education teachers, I would say communicate with all stakeholders who are invited to the IEP meeting, and I say that because I’ve been in many IEP meetings where the team comes in with decisions already made, but not every stakeholder was involved in that decision making. Oftentimes, it’s to the parent, ‘Okay, the team discussed this, the team wants to do this, do we have your approval?’ And as a parent, that can be a very overwhelming encounter, and sometimes threatening because you weren’t prepared for what the team is delivering. 

So when you’re developing an IEP, prior to an IEP meeting, or preparing for an IEP meeting, make sure that you have an agenda and a checklist to go through. Everyone can see that agenda before the meeting and be prepared for it, and have an open line of communication for all stakeholders invited. 

General education teachers often ask what they should bring to the meeting, or how to prepare. I always say to bring any type of assessments that show student progress. Bring any online reading or math programs, or do a printout of the month of their progress using the IEP program, or include any work samples that relate to the goals and objectives in the IEP, like if they have a graphic organizer and they did really well using it. Get prepared with the reports that will be beneficial to speak to.

What general education teachers should bring to an IEP meeting. Assessments: Bring any type of assessment that shows student progress. 

Progress reports: If you use online reading or math programs, get a printout of their progress

Input: Bring ideas of what should be changed in the IEP and what should remain

Work samples: Include any work samples that relate to the goals and objectives in the IEP

The Role of a General Education Teacher in an IEP meeting

The general education teacher is the main eyes in the classroom, they spend the most time with the students, they’re assessing their work and grading it, and they’re familiar with it. So that role is important, they have the most observations on the student, they can identify the strengths and the areas of difficulty. 

When we look at the present level of performance, general education teachers can give a good report on what changes have occurred based on the previous IEP, and what should be changed. 

And I always tell general education teachers that it’s okay to talk privately with a student with their IEP to ask the student what they think. Oftentimes the teachers are implementing the accommodations and modifications in their classroom and when it comes to the annual review I always ask if they think the student has any accommodations in IEP that you feel they haven’t used, or if they think there’s something that should be added. 

And a lot of times the teachers are good about saying, ‘Well, I noticed the student is provided with preferential seating up close to the board. Recently, they’ve been sitting more in the center of the room, and they seem to be more on task. So I think that’s an accommodation that I think can be removed from the IEP.’  So, the general education teachers have a lot more to say about specific parts of the IEP than they even know they do. 

And have a conversation with the students, and see what they think. Because you have a relationship with the student that is different from a special education teacher’s relationship. And it provides both you and the student time to reflect on the IEP, which I also think is very important.

Listen to the full interview with Gregg French, “An Educator’s Guide to Helping Students with LD, Part 2.” Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts

2022 S2P Summer Equity Series

This series has already passed, but you can register to receive the recordings of one, two, or all three webinars.

Join us for our 2022 S2P Summer Equity Series! The LD Institute is proud to present these three webinars, which feature important topics for speech-language pathologists, psychologists, and other professionals.

Each webinar is approximately 90 minutes. These webinars will be recorded, and can be viewed at a later date. Sign up for one webinar, or the full series! Members receive a discounted rate.

Oral language and reading acquisition: Considerations for Black dialect speakers

​For many children, learning to read is the process of learning to understand their spoken language in a written form. The relationship between oral language skills and reading skills is well documented. But what happens when there is a disconnect between a child’s ​oral language system and the language​of reading? This webinar will discuss ​oral language as the foundation for reading and the added complexity of learning to read for Black dialect speakers and how not understanding this complexity contributes to illiteracy and inequity.


Dr. Ryan Lee-James is an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist and published author with expertise in language development, language disorders, and literacy in the context of linguistic differences and socioeconomic disadvantage and believes that eventually, all children will be liberated through language and literacy. In her current role as the Director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School, Dr. Lee-James is responsible for working collaboratively with community-based organizations and key stakeholders to impact language and literacy achievement for our all children, especially those who have been disenfranchised by inequitable systems. Before joining the team at the Atlanta Speech School, Dr. Lee-James had the privilege of training and mentoring graduate level speech-language pathologists as a member of the Communication Sciences and Disorders faculty at Adelphi University in New York. Dr. Lee-James serves on numerous boards and committees for local and national entities. 

Dr. Lakeisha Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Science and Disorders program at Florida State University and a certified speech-language pathologist. She is also the director of The Village, the community outreach and engagement division of the Florida Center for Reading Research. Her primary research interests include language, literacy, dialect, and executive function development in African American children. Dr. Johnson believes in building and leveraging research-practice partnerships to ensure children from vulnerable and underserved populations obtain strong language and literacy skills. She has a passion for diverse children’s books and runs a website, Maya’s Book Nook, to help caregivers and educators use these books to promote language and literacy foundations.

Evaluation of Specific Learning Disabilities in English Learners: Visualizing normal ability via Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of cognitive abilities domain-level analysis

The presentation will introduce a new method of determining the impact of cultural and linguistic factors on domain-level cognitive performance thru using Excel-based histograms to form visual representations of expected performance within the context of normal ability. Participants will learn how use the “Visual Normal Ability Profile” to provide a more systematic and evidence-based method for addressing test score validity while using a graph format that is familiar to practitioners.  The process assists in the identification of specific learning disabilities while retaining an inherent focus on fairness and equality while ensuring validity to prevent potential bias in evaluation of English Learners and diverse populations. 

Participants will:

1. Explain how cultural and linguistic factors affect test performance across various domains of cognitive ability. 

2. Assess the validity of measured test scores at the broad ability level for English learners relative to cultural and linguistic factors. 

3. Compare expected versus obtained test score results to effectively identify Specific Learning Disabilities in English learners in a nondiscriminatory manner. 


Dr. Ortiz is Professor of Psychology and former Director of the School Psychology Program at St. John’s University, Queens, New York. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California and completed postdoctoral training in Bilingual School Psychology at San Diego State University where he also obtained certification as a school psychologist. In addition, he has served as Visiting Professor and Research Fellow at Nagoya University in Japan and was recently elected Vice President for Professional Affairs of Division 16 of APA beginning Jan. 2003. Dr. Ortiz trains and consults nationally and internationally on topics ranging from nondiscriminatory assessment to contemporary evaluation of learning disabilities. He combines practical and research based experience with specialized education and training in working with culturally and linguistically diverse children and parents. Dr. Ortiz is bilingual (Spanish) and bicultural (Puerto Rican).

Larry Pristo, Ph.D. is a school certified and board licensed psychologist providing services in Arizona since 1977.  He currently is the director of a contract agency that has provided a variety of special education support services to over 50 school districts in the state, and supervises interns in Phoenix at the Washington School District, the largest elementary district in the State.  Dr. Pristo is the co-author of the District’s specific learning disabilities (SLD) identification model and developed a local format to assist in SLD determination, presenting the information at a number of school districts and universities throughout Arizona.

Over his career, Dr. Pristo has worked within the Department of Corrections, the County Jail, health maintenance, an alcohol recovery program, one-on-one therapeutic settings, and provided in-services statewide through the Department of Education. As a school psychologist, he has been in numerous schools with high rates of bilingual, diverse, or refugee students.  Dr. Pristo is a long-standing advocate for the appropriate assessment and interpretation of evaluation results for diverse populations.

Equity through Literacy: What School Psychologists Need to Know about the Science of Reading

Literate citizens are essential for a functioning democracy. However, reading failure is a persistent problem across the United States. In schools primarily serving low income and culturally and linguistically diverse learners, there is a well-documented literacy crisis. No matter if the role of the psychologist is to design evidenced-based interventions and progress monitoring plans or to evaluate to determine special education eligibility, it is critical for all school psychologists to understand what the research tells us about evidenced-based instruction, intervention and assessment. This webinar will overview the science of reading instruction and the role of the school psychologist in promoting social justice by working to ensure all students achieve literacy.


Michelle Storie, Ph.D. is a New York state licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist, and is the Director of the Psychoeducational Teaching Laboratory at Syracuse University.  Michelle has formerly served as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Counseling and Psychological Services Department at SUNY Oswego and has taught  courses in educational psychology and learning disabilities at Syracuse University.  Michelle’s research interests include development of prosocial skills, the impact of health and wellness programs on academic achievement, and effective transition from high school to college.  She presents locally and nationally on these topics, as well as learning disabilities and psychoeducational assessment.  

Dr. Whittaker is an experienced school psychologist, educator, relationship builder, and administrator with a proven record of excellence in the areas of special education and student services, assessment, developing academic and social-emotional programs, and fostering strong relationships with students, parents, and the community.  His career began as a special education teacher, where he taught dually diagnosed students. Dr. Whittaker served as a school psychologist for over ten years before moving into a variety of district leadership roles Dr. Whittaker grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Cheyney University. Dr. Whittaker earned his Master’s degree as well as his Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Immaculata University. Dr. Whittaker’s dissertation focused on the underrepresentation of African-American students in gifted education and he is passionate about addressing the educational achievement gap within the public school system, diversity-equity- and inclusion, assisting parents and families navigate the special education process, and gifted education.

Monica McHale-Small is the Director of Education for the Learning Disabilities Association of America and an Adjunct Associate Professor of School Psychology at Temple University. Monica retired from public education after twenty-seven years of service in Pennsylvania as a school psychologist and in a variety of district leadership roles including, most recently, district superintendent. She earned her doctorate and masters’ degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. Dr. McHale-Small has long advocated bringing sound research into practice in public schools. She advocates for responsible inclusion and equity for historically underserved students including racially, culturally and linguistically diverse students and students with disabilities. While superintendent of Saucon Valley School District, she co-founded the Greater Lehigh Valley Consortium for Equity and Excellence for the purpose of facilitating training and conversation among school district leaders focused on educational equity. She currently consults with the ACLU of PA on School to Prison Pipeline issues. She serves as past president of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, and has previously served on boards of the International Dyslexia Association, the Pennsylvania Branch of IDA, and the National Association of Pupil Services Administrators. 

Register for our 2022 S2P Summer Equity Series!

Planning Interventions for Students with Oral & Written Language Learning Needs

A webinar with Dr. Nickola Wolf Nelson

Planning Interventions for Students with Orla & Written Language Learning Needs

Join us for this webinar live on May 17th, at 11am EST, or watch the recording, which will be distributed to all registrants.

Meeting the needs of students with specific learning disabilities involving oral and written skills requires a firm grasp of how sound/word knowledge and sentence/discourse (plus vocabulary) knowledge interact as two separate but essential dimensions of language ability.

The Simple View of Reading (SVR), combining word-decoding and language comprehension, offers a way to understand how oral and written language abilities interact, with implications for explaining these relationships to parents and teachers.

Without basic language comprehension skills for spoken language, students may read aloud with a degree of competency, yet not understand what they are reading and be unable to answer language comprehension questions on a test (often called specific comprehension deficit, although it may affect language expression in parallel fashion). Without age-level reading decoding skills, on the other hand, students may comprehend grade level discourse when it is spoken or read aloud to them, but not when they are trying to read themselves (often called dyslexia). Or they may have oral and written language learning deficits with varying combinations of these skills (called OWL-LD by Virgina Berninger).

In this session, participants will learn to use a quadrant model based on the SVR, and apply it to information from case examples for students assessed with the Student Language Scale (SLS; Nelson, Howes, & Anderson, 2018), Test of Integrated Language and Literacy Skills (TILLS; Nelson, Plante, Helm-Estabrooks, & Hotz, 2016), and curriculum-based language assessment (Nelson, 1989) to show how to combine information from these varied sources to plan efficient and effective interventions for students with diverse but connected language and literacy learning needs.

This webinar is FREE to LDA Members, and $30 for nonmembers.

Dr. Nickola Wolf Nelson Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BCS-CL

Dr. Nickola (Nicki) Nelson is Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University who currently lives in Wichita, KS, with her husband, Steve Nave. Nelson has conducted research and published widely about language and literacy development and disorders, writing process approaches to language assessment and intervention, and curriculum-based collaborative language assessment and intervention. Nelson is first author of the Student Language Scale (SLS; Nelson, Howes, & Anderson, 2018) and Test of Integrated Language and Literacy Skills (TILLS; Nelson, Plante, Helm-Estabrooks, & Hotz, 2016), both of which will be discussed in this presentation. Her honors include Fellow of ASHA and the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities, Honors of the ASHA, and the Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Career Award from the ASHFoundation. She currently serves on the Child Language Committee of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics.