Learning Disability Does NOT Equal Low IQ

David Letterman and Jay Leno both used to do “man-on-the-street” interviews.  In spite of all kinds of documentation on the contrary, a “man-on-the-street” interview would reveal that many people equate a learning disability with low IQ.

Parents with smart but struggling students see far too much evidence of their child’s ability to accept the low IQ theory.

Learning Disability Defined:

According to the U.S. government, “specific learning disability” means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

Does My Child have a Learning Disability?

When kids are spending hours and hours on homework, often amidst arguments and tears, parents begin to wonder if their child might have a learning problem.  Here are some questions parents can think about that will help them determine if their child should be tested for a learning disability:

  • Is there a family history of difficulties in school?
  • Were there problems in pregnancy or birth?
  • Does the student seem to do just fine in some areas but really struggle with others (i.e. great at math but terrible at spelling)?
  • Are there non-academic talents or abilities that just don’t seem to match the struggles at school?
  • Are there inconsistencies in performance – seems to have it one day but forgets it the next?

Here are some statements from parents that come up over and over again that tell me that their child almost certainly has a learning problem.  These are nearly always prefaced with, “I know (s)he’s smart, but…”

  • He’s just lazy.
  • He’s not working to his potential.
  • She can do it when she’s interested.
  • Her reading’s “not that bad.
  • The teacher says it’s a motivation problem.
  • He doesn’t care if it’s right. He just wants to get it done.
  • He just doesn’t pay attention.
  • School just isn’t his thing.
  • He can understand it if I read to him, but doesn’t get it when he reads to himself.
  • I have to be right there or she won’t get anything done.

By definition, a student with a learning disability has average to above average intelligence. With very rare exceptions, no matter what it looks like, these kids do try, they do care, they don’t want to fail, and they are far from lazy.

Throw out the Learning Disability Myth

In spite of the common belief that a learning disability is a life sentence that cannot be changed, neuroplasticity research and decades of clinical evidence-based findings, show that the underlying learning/processing skills that support easy, efficient learning can be developed.

At our center, we identify and develop the weak underlying learning/processing skills that are at the root of most learning problems.  While there are no overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or corrected.

Do you or your child struggle with dyslexia, reading, spelling, writing, math, or attention?  These challenges can be changed.  While there are no simple, overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through developing the weak underlying skills and remediating the affected academic areas.  Need to know more??

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night!

For information and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com


“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

Recent Posts



Ready to take the next step?

Speak to a Learning Specialist to learn more about the results from students and parents at Stowell Learning Centers.