Learning disabilities (LD) seriously interfere with students' achievement in mathematics thus putting them at a higher risk of having problems in meeting the obligatory academic standards as compared to the normal student population. Thus, some recent studies report that between 4-7% of the school age population experiences some form of math difficulty as a result of LDs (Fuchs & Compton, 2005). Granted the increasingly strict graduation requirements imposed on high school seniors in mathematics the risk is even greater these days than ever before. The lack of specialized teacher training, coupled with insufficient amounts and poor availability of effective study material and traditional LD-friendly curricula contributes substantially to the already huge educational issues the average US students with a learning disability must face (Miller & Mercer,1997).
Various behavioral disorders (BD) such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), conduct disorder (CD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in students represent another highly important problem in terms of teaching and learning mathematics. Thus, ADD/ADHD is one of the most commonly met behavioral disorders in the U.S.: approximately 7.8% of children and adolescents aged from 4 to 17 are diagnosed with it (Chang, 2005). The base prevalence of ODD is also estimated within the range of 1.7% -almost 10% (Rey, 1993). These behavioral disorders are also commonly associated with serious academic problems, including problems in learning mathematics (Todd et al, 1999). In fact, it will not be an exaggeration to state that BDs are almost always associated with LDs. Thus, one of the latest studies in this field reports that 71% of children with ADHD also have a LD and 26% of children with ADHD have a specific math disability (Mayes & Calhoun, 2006).
However, despite the growing recognition that students with some form of LD or BD have unique learning needs, up to now the majority of such students are taught without any reference to their needs, including those in learning mathematics, in the general education classroom. One possible reason for such disappointing situation is lack of literature on teaching math for students with LD and BD: some researchers observe that the literature on teaching math is scarce even when compared with the existing research in the field of teaching other subjects such as language and reading - a situation that is hardly acceptable considering the importance of mathematics in modern world (Steele, 2004). The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the most interesting works in the field of teaching math for students with LD.
There is a solid body of literature exploring definitions, diagnostic criteria, and many other formal aspects of LD with some authors focusing specifically on mathematics (Dockrell & McShane, 1993; Adelman & Taylor, 1993; Lerner, 1993; Butterworth, Cipolotti & Warrington, 1996). Similarly, a serious body of research is dedicated