Important Parent Information


Harrison C. Sylvester 1932-2008

Harry's tireless work for and on behalf of people with learning disabilities in Maine and throughout the country was a continuing source of hope and inspiration. His extraordinary life, the lessons he learned along the way, and his practical advice for those who have to cope with learning disabilities in their own lives are captured in his highly acclaimed book, Legacy of the Blue Heron: Living with Learning Disabilities.

The Sylvester Service Award Recipients:

2005: Harry and Janet Sylvester

2006: Linda Joyce Walton Felle

2008: Dr. Diane Jackson

2009: David Noble Stockford

Learning Disabilities

A Specific Learning Disability is a permanent neurological brain disorder, which affects the way individuals Receive, Store, Organize, Retrieve and Use information. This cortex-based brain disorder affects the individuals basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. The disability may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, do mathematical calculations, reason, and affects a person's attention, memory, coordination, social skills, and emotional maturity.

"Learning Disabilities" is an "umbrella" term describing a number of other, more specific learning disabilities, such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dysphasia, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit, Language, and Non-Verbal LD. Every individual is unique and shows a different combination and degree of difficulties; each with uneven areas of ability, "a weakness within a sea of strengths." For instance, a child with dyslexia who struggles with reading, writing and spelling may be very capable in math and science.

A Specific Learning Disability is a life long "hidden" disability. It is very real, always hampering, and often crippling to the child or adult who struggles daily with these executive functioning brain deficits.

Everyone in Maine is affected by Specific Learning Disabilities!

The unmet needs of individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities is seriously affecting Maine's local schools and business community, taxing our substance abuse & mental health services and our criminal justice systems. Please become a member of LDA and join us in lowering the following startling statistics:


  • 29% of Maine school children (10,053) currently receiving special education are categorized as having Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD/LD). (ME DOE Dec. 1, 2007)
  • 20% of secondary students with SLD read five or more years behind their peers; two thirds three or more grade levels below their grade. (Nat. Longitudinal Trans. Study-2, 2003)
  • Only 57% graduate with a standard diploma. (National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, 2003)
  • 35% of students identified with SLD drop out of school; twice the rate of their non-disabled peers. This does not include the students who are not identified and drop out;
  • 60% of adults with severe literacy problems have undetected or untreated learning disabilities. (National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center 1994)


  • 62% of students with learning disabilities were unemployed one year after graduating. (National Longitudinal Transition Study/ Wagner 1991)
  • 42% of families with SLD are at or below the poverty level vs. 16% without SLD; Learning disabilities and substance abuse are the most common impediments to keeping welfare clients (about 35%) from becoming and remaining employed. (Office of the Inspector General on "Functional Impairments of AFDC Clients" 1992)


  • 31% of students with learning disabilities will be arrested 3-5 years out of high school. (National Longitudinal Transition Study, Wagner 1991)
  • 50% of juvenile delinquents tested were found to have undetected learning disabilities. (National Center for State Courts and the Educational Testing Service 1987)
  • 51% of adults with SLD are in prison. (National Longitudinal Transition Study, 2002)


  • Up to 60% of adolescents in treatment for substance abuse have learning disabilities. (Hazelden Foundation, Minnesota 1992)


  • 50% of individuals with Specific LD have other co-existing disorders such as, Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, Obessive Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, PTSD (from school failure), Tourette's, etc., and 80% have ADHD.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral brain disorder that interferes with the ability to sustain attention or focus on a task & delay impulsive behavior; characterized by attention skills that are developmentally inappropriate, impulsivity, and in some cases hyperactivity.

ADHD is not a SLD, but like SLD, is a chronic and pervasive disorder that can negatively impair many aspects of daily life, including home, school, work, and interpersonal relationships. Like SLD, it, too, is a lifespan disorder impacting many areas of an individual's daily functioning. (Co-morbidity, Dr. Larry B. Silver, MD, Georgetown Univ. Medical Ctr., MD 2008)