What IS a Learning Disability, Anyway?

The term learning disability has gone out of vogue because the word “disability” is now politically incorrect.  And in many ways, when talking about students who actually fit this profile, the term learning disability, can be very confusing.

By definition, someone who has a learning disability has average to above average intelligence.  In fact, many of our students are extremely bright or even gifted, but in spite of being smart, these children and adults have difficulty with some aspects of learning that cause them to struggle in school or at work more than would be expected.

Bright, Talented, and Able!

Learning disabilities are perplexing because they may cause very “able” individuals to be unsuccessful or “disabled” in certain situations.

Children and adults with learning disabilities look and act like the rest of the population. They are bright and often talented in creative or physical areas. Their “disability,” with its accompanying frustration, withdrawal, or coping behaviors, rears its head in the face of specific tasks or expectations.

There are many underlying learning/processing skills that support efficient learning.  These are things such as body and attention awareness and control, memory, auditory and visual processing (how the brain perceives and thinks about information that is seen or heard), processing speed, language processing, and reasoning.

Weak or inefficient learning/processing skills can cause smart students to struggle.  Sometimes, they get diagnosed as having a learning disability and sometimes they don’t, but parents and the students themselves know that there is something making learning harder than it should be.

Lazy?  Unmotivated?

Unfortunately, because they are obviously intelligent and generally do some kinds of tasks very easily, parents and teachers may, at first, see the student with learning challenges as lazy or unmotivated.  Older students often view themselves as lazy.

With very few exceptions, learners of any age want to be successful and would if they could.  In spite of what it may look like, there is almost always a reason why a child is not performing as expected and it’s almost NEVER because they’re lazy or don’t care.

Great News!

The great news about learning disabilities is that they don’t have to be permanent!   Brain plasticity research shows us that the brain can literally develop new neuropathways, or quicker, more efficient connections for learning. 

Students of any age with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning disabilities including dyslexia can become comfortable, confident, and independent learners.

Don’t Live a Learning Disability

The key to correcting learning challenges is to identify which of the underlying learning/processing skills are not supporting the student well enough and develop these areas.  Then remediate the troublesome basic academic areas such as reading, spelling, or math, and the student is on his way to being the learner he has the potential to be.

P.S.  If you are interested in really understanding what it feels like to have a learning or attention challenge, join us for our upcoming simulations.

  • Attention Challenges Simulation – April 13, 2013 – Irvine, CA
  • Dyslexia Simulation – April 20, 2013 – Chino, CA

Go to www.learningdisability.com for info and RSVP

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