About Us

Founded in 1960

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RECOGNIZING THE NEED

1959 - 1965


Eloise Budd put a small ad in a local newspaper asking other frustrated parents who were having

trouble with the Costa Mesa School District to come to a meeting early in 1959. Ten people showed up.

That was the beginning of California Association for Neurologically Handicapped Children (CANHC).

As they talked to other parents, they came across some parents in Los Angeles who were establishing

classes under the Los Angeles County Pilot Project for NH children. Rosemary Lee, Delight Weisman,

Gabrielle Ramos, and David Eisenmen were also among those first pioneers. They found that they needed

legislation to separate neurologically handicapped (NH) students from those with mental retardation

(MR). So they went to Sacramento and got acquainted with some parents from the Bay Area. They began

working with Representative Jerome Waldie, a legislator who was willing to listen to their horror stories.

It seemed that the only choice parents had was to place their children with “neurological handicap” in

classes for the mentally retarded or keep them home. Eloise Budd remembers that her child became

violent when he was placed in a class for the Trainable Mentally Retarded where they were teaching him

how to tie his shoes rather than teaching him how to read. The school district finally placed him at

Fairview State Hospital because of his behavior!

This group of concerned parents created CANHC (it rhymes with panic) in 1960

Getting the Word Out...

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AN EXPLOSION OF INFORMATION

CANHC 1965 - 1975


If schools were to be required to teach hard-to-teach children, teachers needed more information. Diane Frost took up the challenge and began providing an annual Good Teaching Practices Conference at

Richmond High School in 1965. CANHC had now grown to 19 chapters. By 1972, CANHC began

sponsoring these conferences with the cooperation of the chapters in Alameda County North, Alameda

County South, Central Contra Costa, and Contra Costa West. These conferences were to draw 2,000 to

4,000 parents and professionals each year. In 1975, California had led the way for federal legislation that would mandate a free and

appropriate public education (FAPE) for all handicapped children. Public Law 94-142 was the crown

jewel of years of legislative work in cooperation with ACLD. The legislation promised to pay 40% of the

costs of Special Education. Barbara Chesler and her son, Dean, received a Special Award in 1973 for the production of her

sound filmstrip, “A Walk in Another Pair of Shoes.” It was narrated by Tennessee Ernie Ford and had

original music composed by Dean.


Under the Big Top

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GROWTH AND CHANGE

CANHC-ACLD 1975 - 1980


Lauriel E. Anderson was concerned with the effect of NH in young adults. She put together a

research project for 20 out-of-school young adults with “mild” neurological dysfunction. The outcome of

that research was the CANHC VOC-KIT, published in 1976. It was designed to help young people with

NH understand their dysfunctions and learn what they needed to do to prepare themselves for

employment. Steps in Vocational Readiness for Adolescents and Adults with the Hidden Handicap was

170 pages and sold for $10. By 1977, most community colleges would no longer host community events without fee, so

conferences turned into two-day affairs at local hotels. This was the last year of the Good Teaching

Practices Conference in Northern California. The 1977 Annual Meeting and Conference was held at the

Registry and Airporter Hotels in Irvine with 1200 attendees. At that meeting, CANHC began a two-year

debate about joining ACLD. CANHC was the more powerful organization and did not wish to lose its

name recognition. After protracted negotiations, at the 1979 Board of Trustees meeting, CANHC voted to

join ACLD as CANHC-ACLD, a name that would remain for the next eight years. The entire Resource

Center was eventually turned over to ACLD. In San Francisco, in 1979, 8,000 people converged on the San Francisco Hilton Hotel for the

ACLD Annual International Conference, “Bridges for Tomorrow.” Chapters of Council II assisted to

make this one of the most successful LD conferences ever. Diane Frost was conference manager and

Betty Lou Kratoville, ACLD’s newsletter editor, was conference executive chairman. Leo Buscaglia, the

“Love 101” professor from USC was the keynote speaker.

About Us

CANHC v. Honig

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THE SEARCH FOR VOLUNTEERS

CANHC-ACLD 1980 - 1987

ACLD-CALIFORNIA 1987-1989


In 1980, several events changed the way CANHC-ACLD was able to operate. First, Proposition

13 returned property taxes to their 1975 level and allowed only a 2% rise in taxes each year. This resulted

in a decrease in income for school districts. Money for in-service was one of the first items to vanish from

the budget. At the same time, the DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, III)

published the mental disorder Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In the index of that manual,

Hyperactivity and Language Disorders were referred to as ADD. 

In 1975, federal legislation had required a 24-point difference between particular tests that were

used to demonstrate a student’s intellectual ability and his/her level of achievement. This formula would

not identify many students who did indeed have LD. CANHC instituted a lawsuit against the California

Department of Education in CANHC v. Honig in 1982. By 1984, a settlement was reached wherein there

was (1) “an explicit statement that the IEP team must decide whether or not a severe discrepancy exists

and that no single score or product of scores may be used for that team decision.” (2) A modified formula

provided for the 1.5 standard deviation to be adjusted by 4 points. Now a 20-point difference would be

sufficient. Shela Barker, the Governmental Affairs Chairman, shepherded this lawsuit to its conclusion. Attitudes toward the term “neurological handicap” (NH) were changing. Nobody wanted to be

labeled NH. At the 1987 Annual Meeting in Oakland, the Executive Committee voted to change our name

to ACLD-California. However, that change was to be short-lived.

In 1989, ACLD decided to follow Canada’s lead and change its name to Learning Disabilities

Association (LDA) of America. This change put the term “learning disabilities” at the front of our name,

the better to compete with all the other organizations who were competing for the public’s attention about

children who had difficulty learning and behaving.


Turning to Face the Strain...

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LDA-CA 1990 - 2000


In the September/October, 1990, issue of The Gram, the editor wrote this about “Education

reform.” “In some states misguided ‘reform’ has translated into a breakdown in the process of special

education, inadequacy of services, and dismantling of programs for students with learning disabilities.” LDA-CA filed a complaint in June, 1998, with OSEP, the Federal Office of Special Education

Programs, concerning the supplanting of Special Education funds in California. Terry Prechter was

notified in August, 1999, that the complaint will be reviewed. LDA-CA would like to see the supplanting of Special Education Funds for equalization discontinued immediately and the supplanted funds returned

and used locally, as the law intended, to improve services and programs.

On March 1, 2000, the California State Assembly Education Committee held a public hearing

about California’s compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). LDA-CA

members were among those who joined a demonstration of parents, students, advocates and educators to

demand that California comply with the provisions of IDEA. According the Terence Prechter, D.D.S.,

LDA-CA’s president, the Eligibility Criteria needs to be redefined. It appears to require that a child be two

years behind in order to get help. 

Shifting Landscapes

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A CHANGING WORLD, A CHALLENGING WORLD

LDA-CA 2001-2005


In December, president Jo Behm, R.N., wrote of the impending disaster with the implementation

of the CAHSEE (California High Stakes Exit Exam) for students with learning disabilities. Many LD

students had not been exposed to much of the advanced curriculum that the test requires. Many of the

accommodations required by students with learning disabilities were not to be allowed for the CAHSEE

test. Nearly 90% of students with disabilities failed the test in the spring of 2001. There needed to be

much thought invested in implementing the CAHSEE for students with learning disabilities. The Fall, 2002 GRAM, published an article by Liz Mazur of the Disability Rights Advocates,

(DRA) asking for plaintiffs in their lawsuit challenging the CAHSEE as discriminatory against students

with disabilities. Even the Sacramento Democratic Party passed a resolution supporting the DRA and

LDA-CA in the CAHSEE class-action lawsuit to provide an alternative assessment for students with IEPs

and 504 Contracts. In February, 2003, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) argued a Motion for Preliminary

Injunction in Alameda County Superior Court presenting evidence that the CAHSEE was both invalid and

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harmful to students with disabilities. Unfortunately, the Court denied a request that the Court issue an

order preventing use of the Spring 2003 Exit Exam as a condition of graduation for special education

students in the Class of 2004. This meant that there was no protection of students with special needs until

a trial was set which might be a year away. For most special education students, the exam was not

“valid.” The Exit Exam was testing students on material that they have never had a fair opportunity to

learn and therefore the test was not an accurate measure of their true abilities.