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Learning Disabilities

Department Head for Intervention Services

Susan Gallagher, M. Ed, CAGS
Email Susan

Learning Disability Services:

Learning Disabilities are neurologically based processing problems that interfere with learning basics skills.  Students with learning disabilities are generally of average or above average intelligence but have gaps between potential and actual achievement.  The Learning Disabilities Specialist strives to enhance each student’s ability to become confident, academically-skilled learners who are able to successfully advocate for themselves and access their grade-level curriculum through successful application of learned strategies.  In order to help students access the curriculum, the LD specialist may:

  • Perform screenings and evaluations to assess the need for intervention
  • Develop and implement Individual Education Plans (IEP) and Section 504 accommodation plans
  • Provide direct instruction utilizing evidenced-based methodology that is highly-structured, systematic, and rule-based.
  • Teach specific compensatory strategies, organizational skills, and self-advocacy skills are taught, thus maximizing each individual student’s ability to reach his or her fullest potential.
  • Students are active participants in the learning process, which allows them to increase their self-awareness and their motivation to learn.

Common signs that a person may have learning disabilities include the following:

 Grades K-4

  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Confuses basic words (runeatwant)
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (house/home)
  • Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+, -, x, /, =)
  • Slow to remember facts
  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
  • Impulsive, difficulty planning
  • Unstable pencil grip
  • Trouble learning about time
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents

 Grades 5-8

  • Reverses letter sequences (soiled/solidleft/felt)
  • Slow to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other spelling strategies
  • Avoids reading aloud
  • Trouble with word problems
  • Difficulty with handwriting
  • Awkward, fist-like, or tight pencil grip
  • Avoids writing assignments
  • Slow or poor recall of facts
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Trouble understanding body language and facial expressions

 High School Students

  • Continues to spell incorrectly, frequently spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing
  • Avoids reading and writing tasks
  • Trouble summarizing
  • Trouble with open-ended questions on tests
  • Weak memory skills
  • Difficulty adjusting to new settings
  • Works slowly
  • Poor grasp of abstract concepts
  • Either pays too little attention to details or focuses on them too much
  • Misreads information

If you suspect that your child has a specific learning disability ask your child’s teacher, school administrator, or specialist about how to initiate the screening process.


Teacher of Moderate Disability – provide high quality instructional experience to students with moderate disabilities through creativity, resourcefulness and sound judgment consistent with the curriculum frameworks, standards and the rules and regulations of the Worcester Public Schools.

Instructional Assistant – support the instruction of all students by reinforcing lessons with individual students and small groups of students. Tasks and duties are assigned and directed by the classroom teacher and other professional staff.