The LD@school Team has collected a number of terms that are in use across the LD@school website and that may be frequently encountered by educators when working with students with learning disabilities. The LD@school glossary has been created to help clarify the meanings of the identified terms. Terms are sorted alphabetically and links to sources used in creating the definitions are included in brackets directly following the definitions, where appropriate. If you have any feedback about any of the existing terms, or if you have suggestions for additional terms which you feel should be included, please click here to contact us at


AODA – the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) developed mandatory accessibility standards that help to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for Ontarians with disabilities in areas that include: customer service, information and communications, built environments, employment, and transportation. Click here to visit the Ministry of Community & Social Services website and learn more about AODA.

Accommodation(s) – special teaching and assessment strategies, supports, and/or individualized equipment (including technology) that are required to enable a student to learn and demonstrate learning. Click here to visit the LD@school website and access the article on Accommodations, Modifications and Alternative Skill Areas for Students with Learning Disabilities [LDs].

Action research – a form of investigation designed for use by teachers to attempt to solve problems and improve professional practices in their own classrooms. It involves systematic observations and data collection which can be then used by the practitioner-researcher in reflection, decision-making and the development of more effective classroom strategies (Parsons, Rick D., and Kimberlee S. Brown. Teacher as Reflective Practitioner and Action Researcher. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2002.)

Adaptive technology - refers to adaptations of existing technologies or tools, for use by people with disabilities such as those who have limitations in vision, hearing, speech or mobility (e.g. screen magnifiers, adapted keyboards, etc.) The adaptive equipment allows students to access the curriculum and/or alternative skill areas.

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder) - is a neurological disorder characterized by a pattern of behaviour, present in multiple settings (e.g., school and home), which can result in performance issues in social, educational, or work settings. Symptoms are divided into two main categories of (1) inattention and (2) hyperactivity and impulsivity, which include behav­iours like failure to pay close attention to details, difficulty organizing tasks and activities, excessive talk­ing, fidgeting, or an inability to remain seated in appropriate situations (DSM-5). ADHD is not a learning disability, but often co-occurs with LDs and can have a significant impact on learning (

Alternative skill areas – are based on expectations developed to help students acquire knowledge and skills that are not represented in the Ontario curriculum. Some students with LDs may require alternative programming in areas such as speech remediation, social skills, orientation/mobility training, etc. (

Assessment as learning – is a process of designing and supporting metacognition for students. Assessment as learning focuses on the role of the student as the critical connector between assessment and learning. When students are active, engaged, and critical assessors, they make sense of information, relate it to prior knowledge, and use it for new learning. This is the regulatory process in metacognition. It occurs when students monitor their own learning and use the feedback from this monitoring to make adjustments, adaptations, and even major changes in what they understand. It requires that teachers help students develop, practise, and become comfortable with reflection, and with a critical analysis of their own learning (Learning for All, 2013, p.27).

Assessment for learning – is designed to give teachers information to modify and differentiate teaching and learning activities. It acknowledges that individual students learn in idiosyncratic ways, but it also recognizes that there are predictable patterns and pathways that many students follow. It requires careful design on the part of teachers so that they use the resulting information not only to determine what students know, but also to gain insights into how, when, and whether students apply what they know. Teachers can also use this information to streamline and target instruction and resources, and to provide feedback to students to help them advance their learning (Learning for All, 2013, p.27).

Assessment of learning – is summative in nature and is used to confirm what students know and can do, to demonstrate whether they have achieved the curriculum outcomes, and, occasionally, to show how they are placed in relation to others. Teachers concentrate on ensuring that they have used assessment to provide accurate and sound statements of students’ proficiency so that the recipients of the information can use the information to make reasonable and defensible decisions (Learning for All, 2013, p.27).

Assistive technology – is any piece of technology that helps a student with or without a disability to increase or maintain his/her level of functioning. These often include laptops with specialized programs, like speech to text, text to speech, graphic organizers and word prediction software (Ontario Teachers’ Federation: Teachers’ Gateway to Special Education.

At-risk student - students for whom different support strategies may be necessary, which include: elementary students who are performing at level one, or below grade expectations; secondary students who would previously have studied at the modified or basic level; secondary students who are performing significantly below the provincial standard, earning marks in the 50's and low 60's and who do not have the foundations to be successful in the new curriculum (

Attention – involves brain controls that regulate what information gets selected as important and gets acted on. Many students with LDs also experience attention problems, particularly in the form of ADHD.

Auditory memory – also known as verbal working memory. This type of memory taps into the sound (phonological) system. Anytime students are expected to follow a multi-step set of oral instructions, they are using these working memory skills. A student who is still sounding out words while reading is relying heavily on verbal working memory. This is very taxing to the working memory system and affects reading comprehension (

Automaticity – refers to an action that is so well practiced that it does not require conscious effort to carry it out (


Behaviour – the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others. LDs may coexist with behavioural problems and may include psychiatric illness (often anxiety disorders and depression), somatic complaints, and social behaviour. Students who experience difficulties with social behaviour may use irritable or aggressive behaviour to cope with the stress associated with social interactions (

Bullying –aggressive and typically repeated behaviour; behaviour includes the use of any physical, verbal, electronic, written or other means (Ontario Ministry of Education, PPM No. 144 – Bullying Prevention and Intervention). Students with LDs are more at risk to experience bullying as they are different from their peers, they may be taunted as a result of their need to access special education programs, they may be less able to stand up for themselves, they may be socially awkward (e.g., they may have difficulties managing their behaviour and feelings), and they may be too honest, which results in their inability to conceal their weaknesses and mistakes (


Checklist – a list of items required, things to be done, or points to be considered, used as a reminder. Students with LDs may experience difficulties with executive functions and checklists can be an effective strategy to help them overcome some of their related difficulties. They can be used as a tool for systematically recording observations; self-evaluating; communicating criteria at the beginning of a learning activity; documenting the development of skills, strategies, attitudes or behaviours; and identifying students’ learning needs (

Chunking – an empirically supported memory strategy that may be helpful for students with LDs with memory challenges. This strategy helps to increase the amount of information that can be retained in the memory by pairing or associating items into groups (

Cognitive load – is linked to working memory. Cognitive load refers to the limited capacity of our working memory system and how different types of tasks vary in the amount of attention required to be successfully carried out (

Cognitive processes – LDs may be associated with difficulties with one or more cognitive processes, such as phonological processing, memory and attention, processing speed, perceptual-motor processing, visual-spatial processing, and/or executive functions (e.g., self-regulation of behaviour and emotions, planning, organization of thoughts and activities, prioritizing, decision-making) (

Collaboration – refers to providing special education in regular education classrooms. Research shows that collaboration between general education and special education teachers can result in improvements to teachers’ instructional practice and to student outcomes (

Comorbidity – a situation where two or more conditions that are diagnostically distinguishable from one another occur simultaneously. Some of the most common comorbid relationships include LDs and ADHD, LDs and behavioural difficulties, and LDs and social/emotional difficulties (

Compensatory strategies – are ways that allow students to use their strengths to compensate for their weaknesses (e.g., students with difficulties reading could listen to an audiobook or take an exam orally) (


Decode/decoding – the practice of using various reading skills to read or “decode” words. Students with LDs may have difficulty learning decoding skills which will impact their ability to read fluently and to comprehend what they are reading (

Demonstration school – see provincial school.

Diagnosis – a diagnosis of an LD must be made by a qualified member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario in order to distinguish the disorder from other potential causes of the presenting problems or symptoms. A diagnosis will be accompanied by documentation of the student’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as ideas for how to support the student in the classroom in the areas where they struggle. Educators can learn more about their students’ diagnoses from a psychoeducational assessment (

Differentiated instruction (DI) – is based on the idea that because students differ significantly in their strengths, interests, learning styles, and readiness to learn, it is necessary to adapt instruction to suit these differing characteristics. The content, process, products, and affect/environment of learning can each be differentiated for students. Students with LDs can especially benefit from differentiated instruction as they may have difficulties processing and/or expressing their knowledge in more traditional learning contexts (

Direct instruction (DI) – is an active, reflective approach to instruction that breaks learning into smaller steps with scaffolding, leading towards students’ independence and mastery (

Dyscalculia – a term that may be used for LDs which affect mathematics.

Dysgraphia – a term that may be used for LDs which affect written expression (including spelling).

Dyslexia – a term that may be used for LDs which affect reading.

Dyspraxia – a term that may be used for LDs which affect gross or fine motor skills.


Early identification – Ontario school boards are required to have procedures in place to identify each child’s level of development, learning abilities and needs and to ensure that educational programs are designed to accommodate these needs and to facilitate each child’s growth and development. Early identification of students with LDs can help to ensure that students receive the educational supports they require to accommodate their disability from a young age and that they do not miss specific opportunities for learning (

Education assistant – see teaching assistant.

Educator – an individual who provides instruction or education, typically a teacher, principal, or other person involved in planning or directing education.

ELL (English-language learner) – students who are learning the language of instruction at the same time as they are learning the curriculum and developing a full range of literacy skills (Ontario Ministry of Education [2008], Supporting English Language Learners: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators Grades 1 to 8, p.3). (

Equity – a condition or a state of fair, inclusive, and respectful treatment of all people. Equity does not mean treating people the same without regard for individual differences (

ESL (English as a Second Language) – see ELL (English Language Learner)

EB (evidence-based) – on the LD@school site, the term evidence-based refers to research that has provided strong evidence of the effectiveness of a practice, approach or strategy for students with LDs.

EI (evidence-informed) – on the LD@school site, the term evidence-informed refers to one or more components of a practice, approach or strategy that is clearly supported by research as being effective for students with LDs.

Exceptional student – is a student who has been formally identified by an Identification and Placement Review Committee (IPRC). Students with LDs will have significant needs in the areas of communication. A student who has been identified as ‘exceptional’ must be provided with the supports and services required to meet the exceptional needs. In addition, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) must be developed for the student within 30 days of identification at an IPRC (

Expressive language – is the ability to communicate with others using language. LDs which impact expressive language may affect a student’s ability to communicate their thoughts using spoken and sometimes basic written language and expressive written language (

Executive functioning – is a term used to describe the many different cognitive processes that students use to control their behaviour and to connect past experience with present action. Many students with LDs experience difficulties with executive functions, which can impact their ability to plan, organize, strategize, pay attention to and remember details, and manage time and space (

Explicit instruction – see direct instruction

Expressive writing – also known as written expression. Students with LDs are more likely than their peers to struggle with expressive writing because of difficulties including illegible handwriting, incomplete sentences, and errors in syntax, grammar, and spelling. They also may experience difficulties as they may have a hard time switching between mechanical tasks and mental tasks (e.g., handwriting and forming and organizing ideas) (


Fluency – the ability to express oneself smoothly and easily, in speaking or writing. Students with LDs who struggle with reading fluency may also struggle with reading comprehension.

Formal assessment – in a formal psychological or psychoeducational assessment, a qualified member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario will normally look at a student’s reasoning and thinking ability; visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic processing; memory; attention; academic skills; social and emotional functioning; and a number of other areas in order to develop a comprehensive picture of their current functioning. In order to be identified as having LDs, students must undergo a formal assessment (


Giftedness – the Ontario Ministry of Education defines giftedness as, “an unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth and breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular school program, to satisfy the level of educational potential indicated”(”.  Some students with LDs are twice-exceptional, which can mean that they are identified as having LDs and are gifted. These students will be highly successful in some areas of their learning while experiencing significant difficulties in other areas. The combination of the two may result in the student presenting specific behavioural difficulties, and also in a variety of mental health issues, as the two conditions are quite paradoxical in nature (

Grapheme – a unit of a writing system consisting of all the written symbols or sequences of written symbols that are used to represent a single phoneme ( Students with LDs may struggle with phoneme/grapheme relationships, specifically naming the phoneme that corresponds to a particular grapheme in reading or naming a grapheme that corresponds to a phoneme being heard when writing (

Graphic organizer – is a communication tool that uses visual symbols to express knowledge, concepts, thoughts, or ideas. They are also known as knowledge maps, concept maps, story maps, cognitive organizers, advance organizers, or concept diagrams. Students with LDs who need support in developing literacy skills may benefit from the use of graphic organizers because as visual tools, they reduce the amount of cognitive effort required on the part of the student and results in less taxation on their working memories as they work to understand specific ideas (

Guided practice – students practice a specific task (e.g., reading or writing) under the direct supervision of an educator. This allows the educator the opportunity to explain their metacognitive processes while they themselves perform a task, as well as giving them the ability to correct student errors before allowing students to practice target skills more independently.


Handwriting – a functional yet complex task in which lower-level, perceptual-motor processes and higher-level cognitive processes interact, allowing for communication of thoughts using a written code. Some students with LDs fail to progress typically in the acquisition of handwriting and their handwriting may lack consistency and be variable in size, form and orientation (

Heuristic – a general strategy that students can use on their own to help identify and solve a math problem. It can be useful in math to solve word problems in particular, as it reduces the number of mental operations (or information-processing steps) taken to solve a problem. Many students with LDs can benefit from the use of heuristics in the math classroom, including those with LDs related to math and reading and writing (


Identification – in Ontario, an IPRC will identify students as exceptional. Students are referred to an IPRC for identification on the recommendation of their school principal or upon parent request. Once identified as exceptional, the school is responsible for creating an IEP for the student, as well as a transition plan to ensure that the student has access to an appropriate educational program (

IEP (Individual Education Plan ) – written plan describing the special education program and/or services required by a particular student based on a thorough assessment of the student’s strengths and needs that affect the student’s ability to learn and demonstrate learning (

Impulsivity – impulsivity may be defined as a tendency to act on impulse, rather than thought; individuals who are impulsive do not seem to be able to think before they act and may be unable to control an immediate response. Impulsivity is a characteristic associated with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

Inclusive education – education that is based on the principles of acceptance and inclusion of all students. Students see themselves reflected in their curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, in which diversity is honoured and all individuals are respected (, p.4).

In-school team – a group of in-school staff with various types of expertise who work together to support students, parents and each other to enable students with learning difficulties to succeed in their learning environment. They will collaborate, consult, and share information and knowledge to identify strategies that may increase a student’s learning access (, p. C6).

Intervention – effective individualized treatment for students with specialized education needs. When choosing an intervention, educators should ensure that they consider the specific needs of their students as well as the research behind a specific approach, strategy or practice before implementation (

IPRC (Identification, Placement and Review Committee) – a committee formed during the process of defining a student as exceptional and deciding the student’s placement within the education system (



Kinesthetic learner – related to Howard Gardner’s bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Kinesthetic learners will prefer to learn by doing rather than watching or listening. They may use their hands to explain things and like to move while thinking (, p.13).


Language – many students with LDs will struggle with some aspect of language, including oral, non-verbal, reading or writing. Language difficulties can affect students’ understanding and expressing of vocabulary, following and giving directions, verbal and non-verbal social communications, along with many other aspects of learning (

Language-based learning disabilities – are problems with age-appropriate reading, spelling, and/or writing (

Language proficiency – the ability of an individual to speak or perform in an acquired language,, which is English or French for Ontario students. Sometimes, learners who are not proficient in English may be mistakenly considered as having learning disabilities.

Learning difficulties – refers to any learning or emotional problem that affects, or substantially affects, a person’s ability to learn, get along with others and follow convention. Learning difficulties may arise from a number of factors that cannot be attributed to impairments in psychological processes as with LDs. (

Learning disabilities – refers to a variety of disorders that affect the acquisition, retention, understanding, organization or use of verbal and/or non-verbal information. These disorders result from impairments in one or more psychological processes related to learning, in combination with otherwise average abilities essential for thinking and reasoning. LDs are specific, not global impairments and, as such, are distinct from intellectual disabilities. For a more detailed definition, please click here to visit the LDAO website.

Learning resource teacher – also known as learning support teacher, resource teacher, special education resource teacher (SERT), or in-school support teacher. Learning resource teachers work with students with a variety of special education needs and provide them with the highest level of support which can be accessed at a school level. They work closely to support classroom teachers with things such as early identification, curriculum differentiation and modification, assessment, intervention strategies, the development and coordination of IEPs and in-class or withdrawal support related to special education.

Learning styles – are the ways in which students learn best. Traditionally, learning styles can be classified as auditory, visual, tactile, or kinesthetic. They can also be classified according to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences as verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, musical/rhythmic, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. Understanding a student’s learning style can help educators in the development of learner profiles, which can in turn help educators with differentiation (, p. 18).

Literacy – the ability to use language and images in rich and varied forms to read, write, listen, speak, view, represent, discuss and think critically about ideas. Literacy enables us to share information and to interact with others. Literacy is an essential tool for personal growth and active participation in a democratic society (, p.3). Students with LDs often have difficulty learning to read and write efficiently, which can negatively influence not only the development of their literacy skills but also their progress in all academic subjects (

Long-term memory – refers to the permanent storage of a seemingly infinite amount of information including knowledge of procedures, experiences, and factual information. Long-term storage requires the activation of multiple cognitive abilities such as perception, thought, language, prior memories and, in particular, the use of strategies to process and organize the information meaningfully (


Memory – the ability to retain information in both short and long-term memory. Students with LDs may have difficulties related to memory which can impact their ability to remember information they have just heard, follow directions, listen to and understand lengthy discussions, remember information long enough to use it and understand it, remember sight words when writing, remembering sight word recognition and spelling, remembering number facts and steps involved in computations, and remembering information without memory cues (

Mental health – mental health difficulties cover a range of negative feelings, including unpredictable moods, anxiety, trouble sleeping, sadness or eating problems. Approximately  40% of people with LDs experience mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression (

Metacognition – the process of “thinking about my thinking”. For example, good readers use metacognition before reading when they clarify their purpose for reading and preview the text ( Students with LDs may need specific instruction in metacognitive strategies in order to overcome some of the learning challenges associated with their LDs.

Mnemonics – a set of strategies designed to help students improve their memory of new information. This can be done by linking new information to prior knowledge that incorporates visual and/or audio cues. Mnemonics instruction is an evidence-based practice that can help students with LDs who have difficulties with learning and memory (

Modification(s) – refer to changes made to the age-appropriate grade-level expectations for a subject or course in order to meet the needs of the student. They may involve either raising or lowering grade-level expectations. For core subjects, such as math or language, expectations may be taken from a different grade level. For content subjects, such as social studies or history, modifications may include significant changes to the number and/or complexity of learning expectations in the regular grade level curriculum. Whenever a subject is modified, it must be documented in both the student’s IEP and on each progress report ( For additional information, refer to the Ministry of Education IEP Resource Guide (2004), pages 25 – 26:

Morpheme – the smallest meaningful unit of language. It can be one syllable or more than one syllable, or a whole word, or part of a word, such as a prefix or suffix (

Morphology – the study of how the aspects of language structure are related to the ways words are formed from prefixes, roots, and suffixes, and how words are related to each other (

Multiple intelligences – Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences explains that we all have and use varying amounts of nine intelligences (see learning styles for a more detailed description). Educators can use their knowledge about multiple intelligences to help differentiate their teaching (


Norm-referenced – during an assessment, norm-referenced assessments may be used to indicate a student’s relative standing in a group of students of the same age (

Numeracy – is related to recognizing and using mathematics in a variety of contexts and using math as a tool to explore problems (

NVLD (non-verbal learning disability) – a neurological disorder that impacts the reception of nonverbal or performance-based information in varying degrees. NVLDs can cause problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative, and holistic processing functions (


OSR (Ontario Student Record) – the record of a student’s educational progress through schools in Ontario. The Education Act requires that the principal of a school collect information to be included in the OSR and also limits access to a student’s OSR to supervisory officers and the principal and teachers of the student for the improvement of the instruction of the student, as well as the parents of a non-adult student, and the student themselves ( The OSR is an important resource for educators who work with students with LDs as it will include the student’s IEP, a psycho-educational report, and past assessment data, if available.


Paraprofessional – see teaching assistant.

Peer-mediated learning – also known as peer-assisted learning, peer tutoring, reciprocal teaching and class-wide peer tutoring. Peer-mediated learning is a classroom-based practice where students work in pairs to complete activities. One student (tutee) provides overt responses while the other student (tutor) provides immediate corrective feedback, clarification of concepts, or further instruction (

Perceptual skills – see visual-spatial skills.

Phoneme – the individual sounds in spoken words (

Phonemic awareness – is the ability to deal explicitly and segmentally with sound units smaller than the syllable (i.e., phonemes) (

Phonological awareness – phonological awareness is a broad skill that includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language – parts such as words, syllables, and onsets and rimes. Students who have phonological awareness are able to identify and make oral rhymes, can clap out the number of syllables in a word, and can recognize words with the same initial sounds like 'money' and 'mother.' sensitivity to the sound structure (rather than the meaning) of speech ( & Reading Rockets).

Phonological processing – refers to the use of phonological information, especially the sound structure of oral language, in processing words and oral information. Two key parts of phonological processing are phonological awareness and phonemic awareness (

PPM 8 (Policy/Program Memorandum No. 8) – is the Ontario Ministry of Education’s memorandum Identification of and Program Planning for Students with Learning Disabilities, which came into effect January 2, 2015. The memorandum sets out requirements for school boards for the identification of and program planning for students with LDs. It provides the ministry’s definition of the term learning disability, which is to be used by an IPRC in the identification of students with LDs (

PPM 156 (Policy/Program Memorandum No. 156) – the Ontario Ministry of Education’s memorandum Supporting Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs, which came into effect September 2, 2014. The memorandum sets out requirements for school boards and schools of the new requirements for transitions for students with special needs from Kindergarten to Grade 12 (

Practice-informed – on the LD@school site, the term practice-informed refers to tools, approaches or strategies that educators have found in their own practice to be useful in supporting the learning of students with LDs.

Processing speed – refers to the ability to perform simple tasks quickly and efficiently. Students with LDs which impact their processing speed may experience delays in the ability to perform these small, simple tasks which can interfere with the performance of more complex tasks (

Provincial school – schools operated by the Ministry of Education for students who are blind, blind-deaf or who have a severe learning disability. One French and three English and residential schools serve students with severe LDs specifically: Amethyst School (London), Sagonaska School (Belleville), Trillium (Milton), and Centre Jules-Léger (Ottawa).

Pseudoword – a unit of speech or text that appears to be an actual word, but in fact has no meaning. Pseudowords are often used when teaching reading to reinforce specific phonemes.

Psychoeducational assessment – this type of assessment provides a profile of a student’s intellectual or cognitive abilities and educational achievement levels. It identifies the processing deficits that are associated with a student’s LDs and must be performed by a psychologist or psychological associate registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario (

Psychologist and Psychological Associates – professionals trained in the assessment, treatment and prevention of behavioural and mental conditions. They diagnose neuropsychological disorders and dysfunctions as well as psychotic, neurotic and personality disorders and dysfunctions (



Read-aloud – an oral delivery of a written text that involves teacher modelled or facilitated reading comprehension strategies before, during and after the reading (Ontario Ministry of Education. (2003a). A guide to effective instruction in reading: Kindergarten to grade 3. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario).

Reading comprehension – a complex undertaking that involves many levels of processing which results in a student understand what they are reading. Vocabulary knowledge and spelling skills, in particular, can have a significant impact on a student’s ability to understand a text (

Receptive language – the understanding or comprehension of spoken or written language, including both figurative and literal language. Students with LDs who have receptive language difficulties may also have difficulty understanding and processing what they hear or read. (

Reciprocal teaching – see peer-mediated learning.

RTI (Response to Intervention) – the common term used outside of Ontario to refer to the Tiered Approach.


Scaffolding – a term used to refer to a number of specific instructional strategies that an educator can use, all of which have two interrelated goals: to move the students from one place to another in terms of learning, and to gradually transfer the responsibility for learning from the teacher to the student, thereby fostering a more independent learner (, p. 62).

School team – see in-school team.

Self-advocacy – a key component of self-determination which is the ability to speak on one’s own behalf and represent one’s own personal needs and interests. Students with LDs require strong self-advocacy skills in order to communicate their own learning needs and required accommodations (

Self-assessment – the process by which a student gathers information about and reflects on his or her own learning. It is the student’s own assessment of personal progress in knowledge, skills, processes, or attitudes. It leads to greater awareness and understanding of himself or herself as a learner.

Self-determination – a student’s knowledge of their own areas of strength and weakness. It is also described as the extent to which a person assumes responsibility for his or her own goals, accomplishments, and setbacks (

Self-regulation – in the simplest terms, self-regulation can be defined as the ability to stay calmly focused and alert, which often involves – but cannot be reduced to – self-control. Students with learning disabilities and/or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) often have difficulty with managing their behaviour. They need to recognize, channel and manage their frustrations, excessive physical energy and impulsiveness that may result from their difficulty. Engineering the learning environment and teaching students strategies to deal with these issues are key to their success in school and in life. (

Semantic maps – a type of graphic organizer used to support learning in mathematics, mainly used to relate conceptual information (

Short-term memory – short-term storage of information where the information is stored and recalled in the same format (

Social Skills – social skills are the skills we use to interact and communicate with one another, through both verbal and non-verbal means, including voice, intonation, gestures, body language and facial expressions. Social skills enable us to create and maintain relationships with others.

Special education – educational programs, supports and/or services that are based on the results of continuous assessment and evaluation of the student. Includes an IEP for the student containing specific objectives and an outline of the educational services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil or the student who requires special education supports and services. (

SEAC (Special Education Advisory Committee) – a committee of a school board or a school authority that provides important advice on special education. It is comprised of trustees and representatives of local associations that further the interests and well-being of groups of exceptional children or adults (

SERT (special education resource teacher) – see learning resource teacher.

SLP (Speech-language Pathologist) – Speech-language pathologists are skilled, autonomous professionals with specialized knowledge, skills, and clinical training in assessment and management of communication and swallowing disorders. Speech-language pathologists' expertise includes prevention, identification, evaluation, and treatment of congenital and acquired communication and swallowing disorders (

Spelling – refers to the process or activity of writing or naming the letters of a word; it is an important skill to develop, as it has a positive effect on reading and writing outcomes. Some students with LDs may struggle with spelling as they may struggle with identifying the sounds of words or they may have difficulty generalizing skills between contexts (

Student profile – provides information about the learning styles and preferences of a student that can be used to inform instructional and assessment strategies used with the student.


Teaching assistant – also known as an Educational Assistant, is someone who works alongside a classroom teacher to support students. There are a variety of different types of teaching assistants, but they may assist teachers with helping special education students with individualized programming (

Think-aloud – a method where educators explicitly tell students what they are thinking, at different points, while modelling specific strategies or approaches (see also verbalization).

Tiered approach – is a systematic approach to prevention and intervention to provide high-quality, evidence-based assessment and instruction and appropriate interventions that respond to students’ needs. The approach requires frequent monitoring of student progress and the use of assessment data, focusing on learning rate and level, to identify students who are facing challenges in learning and to plan specific assessment and instructional interventions of increasing intensity to address their needs effectively (, p. 24).

Transition – a transition occurs when there is a change between two settings or between services and/or supports. Transitions occur at a variety of important points in a student’s educational career, for example with the entrance to kindergarten, the entrance to secondary school, and from secondary to post-secondary, whether this be work, apprenticeship, post-secondary, or another route. Students with LDs, in particular, may experience difficulties with these transitions and any student with an IEP is now required to have a transition plan in place, as per PPM 156.

Transition plan – according to PPM 156, all students over the age of 14 with an IEP (who are not identified solely as gifted), must have a transition plan included in the IEP that includes a plan for their move from secondary school to work, further education, and/or community living (

Twice-exceptional – students identified with both Gifted and Communication-LD.


UDL (Universal Design for Learning) – broad principles for planning instruction and designing learning environments for a diverse group of students. The aim is to provide access for all students and to assist educators in designing products and environments to make them accessible to everyone, regardless of age, skills, or situation (, p. 12 & 14).


Verbalization – an evidence-based practice that can be used to teach cognitive and metacognitive strategies to students with LDs. It is the act of orally stating one's thinking processes (

Visual-motor skills – the ability to coordinate the eyes and hands to produce/guide physical movements such as the production of written work. Some students with LDs who have a deficit in this area may experience difficulties in coordinating small or large movements, such as copying information from the board or catching a ball while running (

Visual representation – a strategy often employed in mathematics during problem-solving, in particular, where students construct a representation of a problem to help them understand it (

Visual-spatial skills – refers to the ability to organize verbal information into meaningful patterns. Students with LDs with deficits in this area can experience difficulties in understanding and making sense of visual information (e.g., figure-ground discrimination, perceiving constancy despite changes in context, or the perception of spatial relationships between objects) (

Vocabulary – refers to all of the words of a given language. Students with limited vocabulary knowledge may experience difficulties with communication and comprehension. Educators must ensure that students are given many opportunities to learn new vocabulary, by having them read often, by incorporating new vocabulary into instruction, and by incorporating new vocabulary into everyday usage whenever and wherever possible (


Well-being – is a positive sense of self, spirit and belonging that we feel when our cognitive, emotional, social and physical needs are being met. It is supported through equity and respect for our diverse identities and strengths. Well-being in early years and school settings is about helping children and students become resilient so that they can make positive and healthy choices to support learning and achievement both now and in the future. (

Word wall – a literacy tool composed of what is typically an alphabetically ordered collection of words which are displayed in large visible letters on a wall, bulletin board, or another display surface in a classroom.

Working memory – a brain system responsible for temporarily storing and manipulating information. It is widely thought to be one of the most important mental faculties, critical for cognitive abilities such as planning, problem-solving, and reasoning, and it is often included among executive functions (