Understanding Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are extremely common.  It is estimated that at least 1 in 10 schoolchildren are affected by some form of a learning disability and contrary to popular belief, learning disabilities are not a sign of an impaired intelligence.  In fact, learning disabilities can occur among some of the most intellectually gifted individuals.

Learning disabilities have to do with specific impairments in the process of learning new material or utilizing previously learned material. The categories are not simple and it can be difficult to test directly for a specific ability because usually a combination of abilities are utilized for any one task.

A sample of commonly recognized learning disabilities includes:

Auditory comprehension (spoken material)
Visual comprehension (written material)
The ability to utilize numbers and sequences
The ability to produce spoken language on demand (as the result of questions, rather than spontaneous conversation)
It is believed that learning disabilities are caused by a difficulty with the nervous system that affects receiving, processing, or communicating information. They may also have a genetic link and run in families. Some children with learning disabilities are also hyperactive; unable to sit still, easily distracted, and have a short attention span. This can complicate the diagnostic process.  Psychological testing is required to appropriately diagnosis a learning disability and to provide skills and strategies to overcome resulting individual difficulties.

To help determine if a child you know may be experiencing a learning disability please see our 7 Signs That Your Child May Have a Learning Disability article.

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