Fifty years ago the phrase "learning disabilities" was coined -- and a movement began.
This was written by Jim Baucom, Prof. of Education at Landmark College-the first and perhaps still the only college exclusively for students who learn differently--Lou
".....This month, we will commemorate an important historical event that opened doors for generations of students with learning differences and, in essence, may have madeLandmark College, where I teach possible. At Landmark, we specialize in teaching students who learn differently, using methods designed specifically for those with dyslexia, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Fifty years ago, on April 6, 1963, a group of concerned parents convened a conference in Chicago to discuss a shared frustration: they all had children who were struggling in school, the cause of which was generally believed to be laziness, lack of intelligence, or just bad parenting. This group of parents knew better. They understood that their children were bright and just as eager to learn as any other child, but that they needed help and alternative teaching approaches to succeed in school.
One of the speakers at that conference was Dr. Samuel Kirk, a respected psychologist and eventual pioneer in the field of special education. In his speech, Kirk used the term “learning disabilities,” which he had coined a few months earlier, to describe the problems these children faced, even though he, himself, had a strong aversion to labels. The speech had a galvanizing effect on the parents. They asked Kirk if they could adopt the term “learning disabilities,” not only to describe their children but to give a name to a national organization they wanted to form. A few months later, the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities was formed, now known as the Learning Disabilities Association of America, still the largest and most influential organization of its kind.
These parents also asked Kirk to join their group and serve as a liaison to Washington, working for changes in legislation, educational practices, and social policy. Dr. Kirk agreed and, luckily, found a receptive audience in the White House. Perhaps because his own sister, Rosemary, suffered from a severe intellectual disability, President Kennedy named Kirk to head the new Federal Office of Education’s Division of Handicapped Children....