What is a Learning Disability?

Learning disability is an umbrella term which encompasses a wide range of learning problems. These neurological disorders affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, respond and communicate information. However, its effects vary from each individual. Therefore, it is important to understand its basic facts before trying to get professional help.

Types of Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities come in numerous forms, including:

  • Dyscalculia – This term refers to a wide range of learning disabilities involving math. These can last throughout the person’s life.
  • Dyspraxia – Coexisting with learning disabilities, this disorder targets a person’s motor skills, hindering their development.
  • Dyslexia – This disorder affects the sufferer’s ability to read, write, spell or speak.
  • Dysgraphia – This disability affects a person’s ability to write, leading to spelling issues, poor handwriting, and inability to write down thoughts.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other similar disorders may accompany these. Executive function, which controls a person’s ability to plan and manage details, can also be affected.

How Does Learning Disability Affect Individuals

LD is not a problem of intelligence or motivation nor are those suffering from it dumb or lazy. However, their brains receive and process information differently from other children. Children and adults who suffer from learning disabilities see, hear and even understand things differently, which interferes with their ability of learning and acquiring new skills, information and subsequently putting all these to use.

LD is a lifelong challenge and cannot be cured. However, the sooner this is identified, the easier it will be to overcome the challenges these issues may cause.  Children who suffer from LD are by no means rendered incapable of learning, but they merely need to be taught in unconventional ways which have been specifically designed to meet the challenges facing these children.

How to Assess Learning Disability

Preschool teachers and parents are often the ones who recognize that the child may be suffering from a learning disability However, learning disabilities vary from one individual to the other, making it difficult to identify these. In addition, while they may be easy to detect, they can also be hidden in other situations.

Because of these, there is neither a universally accepted approach for the identification of LD. Several assessment measure and screening tools, however, may assist physicians, psychologists, general as well as special educators to understand, analyze and even document the specific nature of the individual’s struggle with learning. Specific tests are also available for specific ages to assess the presence of a learning disability.

As the effects of a learning disability may surpass academic performance to also impact social relationships and a person’s ability to live independently, it is very important that a therapist become involved the minute a child performs poorly at school.