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Learning disabilities

May 7th, 2007 No comments

I thought I should add a little information about learning disabilities. This information is not meant to be the definitive word on learning disabilities but rather it is meant to serve as a short introduction to the topic.

Learning disabilities are usually due to brain development delays or abnormalities or brain injury. The nature of the brain dysfunction is not always known, however.

A learning disability is defined as a disorder in which there is a deficit in at least one psychological process involved in the comprehension or expression of written or oral language. These deficits could be related to listening, reading, speaking, writing, spelling, or even doing mathematical computations. However, a learning disability is not the result of emotional distress or disturbance, sensory (e.g., sight or hearing) or motor deficits, or general intellectual impairment. A learning disability is also not the result of environmental or socioeconomic factors. I learning disability is diagnosed when there is a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability (generally measured by an IQ score) and achievement (usually academic).

Learning disabilities can be detrimental to a child’s education and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Treatment usually entails environmental accommodation (such as longer time allowances for tests or in-class note taking assistants, just to mention two of many accommodations). The underlying nature of the disability (e.g., is it a visuospatial or more of an auditory deficit?) is also important to understand as that drives the accommodations that should be made for the child. While it is unlikely that learning disabilities are ever “cured” they can be greatly helped by treatment and their effects minimized. As difficult as they may be, learning disabilities do not rule out academic, economic, or social success.

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