What is a Learning Disability?

A learning disability is a neurological disorder. In simple terms, a learning disability results from a difference in the way a person's brain is "wired."  

Children with learning disabilities are as smart or smarter than their peers. But they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways.

A learning disability can't be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong issue. With the right support and intervention, however, children with learning disabilities can succeed in school and go on to successful, often distinguished careers later in life.
Parents can help children with learning disabilities achieve such success by encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understanding the educational system, working with professionals and learning about strategies for dealing with specific difficulties.

Not all great minds think alike
Did you know that Albert Einstein couldn't read until he was nine? Walt Disney, General George Patton, and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller had trouble reading all their lives. Whoopi Goldberg and Charles Schwab and many others have learning disabilities which haven't affected their ultimate success.

Facts about learning disabilities
  • Fifteen percent of the U.S. population, or one in seven Americans, has some type of learning disability, according to the National Institutes of Health.
  • Difficulty with basic reading and language skills are the most common learning disabilities. As many as 80% of students with learning disabilities have reading problems.
  • Learning disabilities often run in families.
  • Learning disabilities should not be confused with other disabilities such as mental retardation, autism, deafness, blindness, and behavioral disorders. None of these conditions are learning disabilities. In addition, they should not be confused with lack of educational opportunities like frequent changes of schools or attendance problems. Also, children who are learning English do not necessarily have a learning disability.
  • Attention disorders, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities often occur at the same time, but the two disorders are not the same.

What are the Types of Learning Disabilities?

LD is a broad term. There are many different kinds of learning disabilities. Most often they fall into three broad categories:
  • Reading disabilities (often referred to as dyslexia)
  • Written language disabilities (often referred to as dysgraphia)
  • Math disabilities (often called dyscalculia)
Other related categories include disabilities that affect memory, social skills, and executive functions such as deciding to begin a task.
source: http://www.ldonline.org/article/5613#dyslexia


FAT CITY: How Difficult Can this Be?

Video & prompt questions
Resource page on LD:


Posting Response to Topic [see Postings Page for guidelines]


  1. Identifying Learning Disabilities: Evaluation vs. Functional Assessment

    Alright, so you’re a teacher or a parent and you recognize that your student/son/daughter is struggling. Every year the problems seem to progress with the building of more and more information in each grade level. You know the issue is not related to emotional disturbance, visual, hearing, emotional, or intellectual disabilities, but the student is struggling to stay afloat. What do you do?

    The child should be evaluated. An evaluation can be requested by the teacher or parent. The student is then given tests to try and recognize why and where a child struggles. A child that has been evaluated and identified as having a learning disability is then eligible to receive special learning accommodations. The earlier a child is identified as having a learning disability the better, simply because it prevents them from falling too far behind and building negative emotional responses to education.

    While tests to evaluate if a student has a learning disability are a very important aspect, sometimes what children need to learn is not reflected in these assessments. A functional assessment then studies factors that could be coming from home, school, or in the neighborhood; primarily how the student actually functions in these environments. Questioning/observing if the student can ride the city bus, dress without help, or handle money sometimes act as more effective form of assessment to identify the learning disability.

  2. I personally have dealt with LD's. When I was younger I had a strong speech impediment which through the years has gone away for the most part. I also was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and was medicated through high school. I decided in college that I wanted to try being "normal" a.k.a. off medication. My grades were stable and I seemed to have more free, higher-level thinking abilities. Sure I wasn't looking at the board the whole time and often drifted into my own little dream world, but I was able to soak up more and process it better. One of my problems/gifts has always been hyper focus.

    I think the key point that I took away from the FAT city video was the lack of awareness on the part of adults as to how they are conducive towards continuing and furthering the impediments and low academic self-esteem and self-confidence of LD students. To them they see them as Lazy and Dumb and don't really understand the cognitive processes of their LD students. They don't understand how their minds work and how their thought process functions. Lastly, they don't realize what they're doing to them by being unaware of LD symptoms and causes and they are the single reason why many LD students have trouble with school.