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Learning Disability

Types of Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are neurologically-based processing problems. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math.They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention.It is important to realize that learning disabilities can effect an individual's life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family,friends and in the workplace.

Since difficulties with reading, writing and/or math are recognizable problems during the school years, the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities are most often diagnosed during that time.However, some individuals do not receive an evaluation until they are in post-secondary education or adults in the workforce.Other individuals with learning disabilities may never receive an evaluation and go through life, never knowing why they have difficulties with academics and why they may be having problems in their jobs or in relationships with family and friends.

Learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of mental retardation; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages

Generally speaking, people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. There often appears to be a gap between the individual's potential and actual achievement. This is why learning disabilities are referred to as "hidden disabilities": the person looks perfectly "normal" and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person,yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.

A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in school, at work, in relationships, and in the community.

In Federal law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the term is “specific learning disability,” one of 13 categories of disability under that law.

"Learning Disabilities" is an "umbrella" term describing a number of other, more specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. Find the signs and symptoms of each, plus strategies to help below.

Dyslexia

As with other learning disabilities, dyslexia is a lifelong challenge. This language-based processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling and sometimes even speaking. Dyslexia is not a sign of poor intelligence or laziness or the result of impaired hearing or vision. Children and adults with dyslexia have a neurological disorder that causes their brains to process and interpret information differently.

Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math. There is no single type of math disability. Dyscalculia can vary from person to person, and it affects people differently at different stages of life. Work-around strategies and accommodations help lessen the obstacles that dyscalculia presents. And just like in the area of reading, math LD is not a prescription for failure.

Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia might have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.

Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. People with dyspraxia have trouble planning and completing fine motor tasks. This can vary from simple motor tasks such as waving goodbye to more complex tasks like brushing teeth. It is not a learning disability (LD) but often coexists with other LDs and conditions that impact learning.

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities

A disorder which is usually characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual-spatial and social skills. Typically, an individual with NLD (or NVLD) has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language, and may have poor coordination.

Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit

A disorder that affects the understanding of information that a person sees, or the ability to draw or copy. A characteristic seen in people with learning disabilities such as Dysgraphia or Non-verbal LD, it can result in missing subtle differences in shapes or printed letters, losing place frequently, struggles with cutting, holding pencil too tightly, or poor eye/hand coordination.