What are learning disabilities?

Learning disabilities are disorders that affect a person’s ability to understand or respond to new information, or they are disorders that affect the ability to remember information that appears to have been taken in. Learning disabilities tend to cause problems with listening skills, language skills (including speaking, reading or writing), and mathematical operations. Learning disabilities can also cause problems in coordinating movements, making the child seem (and feel) awkward.

Learning disabilities are a brain operational difference and do not affect intelligence (IQ). In fact, they are the most severe, pervasive, and chronic form of learning difficulty in children with average or above-average intellectual abilities. Because most learning disabilities are diagnosed in childhood, this article will focus on the childhood effects of these conditions.

Although often present from birth (caused by unique features in brain structure that may be hereditary), most learning disabilities are discovered when the child is school age and begins to show significant gaps in learning when compared with peers. Learning disabilities are continual and can cause considerable lifelong challenges. In some cases, mildly affected adults learn to adapt their learning styles, making the learning disability less problematic.

Several of the most common types of learning disabilities include developmental reading disorder, disorder of written expression, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, and mathematics operations disorder. Often these learning disabilities are accompanied by other disorders, especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a disorder that can compound the child’s learning disability by making it difficult to listen, stay still, pay constant attention, or absorb new material. Consequently, this can lead to social problems for the child.

The most common treatment for a learning disability is special education or speech and language therapy; however, occasionally, medication can be tried to enhance attention and concentration. Because medication usually meets with mixed results, health care practitioners place an emphasis on therapy and special education.

While learning disabilities are not life threatening, they can create or be signs of a serious situation. Seek prompt medical care for a child if you believe he or she is a victim of neglect or caregiver negligence; if the child being treated for learning disabilities is exhibiting aggression, acting out, or other behavioral problems in response to embarrassment or frustration; if you feel that your child has behaviors that could cause injury to self or others; or if your child is being treated for learning disabilities, but you continue to have concerns about his or her needs.


What are the symptoms of learning disabilities?

Learning disabilities are usually ongoing for a person’s lifetime. However, depending on the severity and the type of disability, many people are able to compensate for minor disabilities in adulthood and are able to function very well in society. For others, the learning disabilities remain apparent. The most common symptoms tend to be related to cognition or language skills and tend to cause ... Read more about learning disabilitiessymptoms


What causes learning disabilities?

Learning disabilities are a brain operational aberration. This means that the brain assimilates and processes certain kinds of new information and performs operations in unique, unusual ways that often make it difficult to achieve normal learning milestones.

In many cases, there may be a genetic predisposition to the development of learning disabilities. They can also be caused by... Read more about learning disabilitiescauses


How are learning disabilities treated?

Learning disabilities are not curable; however, many can be reduced or controlled with early screening and intervention. In addition, disabilities caused by correctable factors, such as poor hearing or vision, may go away entirely over time once the causative condition is corrected. Once diagnosed with a learning disability, your child’s most beneficial treatment will be special education servi... Read more about learning disabilitiestreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior