A Developmental Approach to Learning Disabilities

Child Psychology in Practice

2. Research Advances and Implications for Clinical Applications

  1. Virginia W. Berninger

Published Online: 1 JUN 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0411

Handbook of Child Psychology

Handbook of Child Psychology

How to Cite

Berninger, V. W. 2007. A Developmental Approach to Learning Disabilities. Handbook of Child Psychology. IV:2:11.

Author Information

  1. Area of Educational Psychology, College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JUN 2007


This chapter offers a developmental, life-span perspective on learning disabilities, with a focus on specific learning disabilities that affect reading and writing. Dyslexia, which is one specific kind of learning disability and has a genetic basis, is used to illustrate the changing behavioral expression of this reading disability as affected individuals encounter a curriculum with changing requirements. In keeping with the multidisciplinary nature of the field of learning disabilities, the chapter provides an overview of the contributions of the various disciplines. However, the focus is then on the special contributions of the field of developmental psychology to this field and applications of these contributions to practice as well as research. Both assessment and treatment are covered in terms of research findings and issues for practice. Special attention is given to the unresolved definitional issues and to the hallmark features of dyslexia, dysgraphia, and language learning disability. The chapter ends with a vision of how educational practice might draw on the results of research to better serve children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and language learning disability in a cost-effective, scientifically grounded, and developmentally appropriate way.


  • dysgraphia;
  • dyslexia;
  • language learning disability;
  • learning disability;
  • reading disability;
  • writing disability