What are Learning Disabilities?
Learning disabilities (LD) may be genetically determined or acquired after birth through disease
or trauma. LD affects the way children and adults with average to above average intelligence
receive, process, and express information. There is often a gap between the individual’s
potential and his or her actual achievement. Sometimes called a specific learning disability
(SLD) or learning difference, LD is defined by the federal government as “…disorders of
listening, thinking, talking, reading, writing, spelling, or arithmetic.” Additionally, feelings of
frustration may result in difficulties with social skills and behavior. LD can also be present
(comorbid) with other diagnoses. While Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is
often connected to LD, ADHD is a separate diagnosis. However, ADHD can certainly also
interfere with learning, processing, and performance.
Why is LD called a "hidden" disability?
The disability can't be seen just by looking at a person with LD. This can lead to misunderstanding of the individual's learning and/or achievement challenges by parents, relatives, spouses or partners, teachers, friends, employers, and the community.
What are Symptoms of a Learning Disability
While some children and adults may exhibit some of the symptoms listed below, it is important to remember that for a person with LD these symptoms do not disappear with age and interfere with learning and/or performance.
- Inability to discriminate letters, numerals,and sounds
- Difficulty with rhyming.
- Poor word recognition skills.
- Slow reading fluency.
- Difficulty with reading comprehension.
- Poor handwriting.
- Poor spelling skills.
- Slow math fact fluency
- Difficulty expressing spoken or written thoughts
- Difficulty with math concepts
- Difficulty with sequential order, such as days of the week or months of the year.
- Difficulty stopping an activity at the appropriate time
- Short attention span
- Difficulty following directions
- Poor memory
- Low frustration tolerance
- Poor eye-hand coordination
- Extreme over-activity or inactivity
- Poor judgment in social situations
- Difficulty handling changes in routine
LD may be challenging, but doesn’t have to impact a person’s chances of success. Many famous people did
not allow LD to define them. People with LD can be found in many professions; there are actors
and entertainers, artists and architects, athletes, business leaders, community advocates and
activists, doctors, political leaders and lawyers, musicians, scientists and technology experts, and
writers and media professionals.
What can you do?
- Become a member of LDANJ
- Be informed about the rights of individuals with learning disabilities
- Advocate for individuals with learning disabilities
Together we can make a difference!