What learning disabilities (LDs) are

Learning disabilities refer to a number of disorders which may affect the acquisition, organization, retention, understanding or use of verbal or nonverbal information. These disorders affect learning in individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking and/or reasoning. As such, learning disabilities are distinct from global intellectual deficiency. Learning disabilities result from impairments in one or more processes related to perceiving, thinking, remembering or learning.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • language processing
  • phonological processing
  • visual spatial processing
  • processing speed
  • memory and attention
  • executive functions (e.g. planning and decision-making)

Facts

1/10

HAVE A LEARNING DISABILITY, DIAGNOSED OR UNRECOGNIZED

80%

OF LEARNING DISABILITIES ARE READING DISABILITIES

Learning disabilities are lifelong. The way in which they are expressed may vary over an individual's lifetime, depending on the interaction between the demands of the environment and the individual's strengths and needs. Learning disabilities are suggested by unexpected academic underachievement or achievement which is maintained only by unusually high levels of effort and support. Learning disabilities are due to genetic and/or neurobiological factors or injury that alters brain functioning in a manner which affects one or more processes related to learning. Although these factors may further complicate the challenges faced by individuals with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities may co-exist with various conditions including attentional, behavioural and emotional disorders, sensory impairments or other medical conditions.

These disorders are not primarily due to:

  • hearing/vision problems
  • socio-economic factors
  • lack of motivation or ineffective teaching

Facts

42%

SAID SOCIAL SERVICES WERE NOT AVAILABLE AT THE LOCAL LEVEL

7.5%

OF STUDENTS WITH LD ENTER STUDIES AT THE POST-SECONDARY LEVEL

TYPES OF LEARNING DISABILITIES

A learning disability is a condition that affects a person’s ability to process information. People with learning disabilities possess average to above-average intellectual capabilities. A learning disability is not an intellectual disability.

BE AWARE that in the UK and Europe, the term LD is used to refer to an intellectual handicap.
With an estimated 80% of persons with learning disabilities having difficulty in this area, it is the most common form of learning disability. It is a language-based disability in which a person has trouble processing or understanding words, sentences, or paragraphs. They may struggle with pronunciation, decoding or comprehension. Many dyslexic people are notably talented in arts and music; 3-D visual perception; athletic and mechanical ability.
This learning disability affects the ability to grasp and solve math concepts as well as concepts of time and money. People with dyscalculia often have difficulty acquiring basic number bonds, multiplication tables, manipulating numbers in their head and remembering steps in formulas and equations.
A learning disability where persons have great difficulty forming letters and writing within a defined space. Many people with dysgraphia possess handwriting that is uneven and inconsistent. Many are able to write legibly but do so very slowly. Typically, people with dysgraphia are unable to visualize letters and do not possess the ability to remember the motor patterns of letters. Writing requires a large amount of energy and time.
Dyspraxia affects areas where fine motor skills are required. Symptoms include trouble with coordination and manual dexterity. They have trouble with scissors, buttons, drawing, and writing.
NVLD is a neurological syndrome that affects mainly the right side of the brain. People with NVLD have a very strong verbal ability, remarkable memory and spelling skills, and strong auditory retention; although they possess poor social skills and have difficulty understanding facial expression and body language. Many do not react well to change and some possess poor social judgement. Some people with NVLD have poor co-ordination, balance problems and difficulty with fine motor skills.
APD is an information processing disorder. The area of difficulty is in interpreting auditory information and trouble with language development and reading. An example of this disorder is difficulty anticipating how a speaker will end a sentence.
Is difficulty in interpreting visual information. Symptoms include trouble with reading, writing and math. An example of this disorder is difficulty distinguishing letters such as “h” and “n”.
The frontal lobes of the brain are the affected areas in executive function disability. This is the area responsible for managing time and attention, the ability to switch focus, planning and organizing, remembering details, integrating information as well as internal communication barriers.

Signs and symptoms

Learning disabilities range in severity and may interfere with the acquisition and use of one or more of the following:

  • oral language (e.g. listening, speaking, understanding)
  • reading (e.g. decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition, comprehension)
  • written language (e.g. spelling and written expression) and
  • mathematics (e.g. computation, problem solving)

How LDANB responds

To help individuals with learning disabilities succeed, LDANB emphasizes the importance of identifying learning disabilities as early as possible. We also perform specialized assessments and interventions which encompass home, school, community and workplace settings. Finally, we ensure that our interventions are customized to each individual's learning disability subtype. These interventions include:

  • specific skill instruction
  • accommodations
  • compensatory strategies
  • self-advocacy skills
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