Students with Learning Disabilities in postsecondary education: Selected initial characteristics

Allyson G. Harrison, Anne-Claire Larochette, Eva Nichols


In 1997, the government of Ontario announced the establishment of the Learning Opportunities Task Force (LOTF) to develop and administer a series of pilot projects to enhance the transition of students with specific learning disabilities into postsecondary education, and to identify what supports, services and accommodations would assist these students best in meeting their academic goals. Twelve hundred forty-two students who met rigorous diagnostic validation criteria participated in the programs offered at six colleges and four universities over a four-year period. This paper describes the 969 students who completed intake questionnaires addressing their personal and academic experiences prior to attending a postsecondary institution. Most students had never been formally diagnosed as having a learning disability, half had received limited or no special education in primary or secondary school, one third had repeated a grade, and many reported that their LD affected their self-esteem. Implications of these findings and suggestions for how this information should inform the provision of special education are included.

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