What is a learning disability?

Learning Disabilities (LD) are neurological disorders that affect the brains ability to receive process, store and respond to information.  The term 'learning disability' is used to describe unexplained difficulty in acquiring and/or learning basic skills such as reading, writing or math. They can also interfere with higher level thinking skills such as organization, time planning, and abstract reasoning. All LD's can greatly interfere with daily activities at school and in work.

LD is not about intelligence….LD's are found across the range of intelligence including gifted individuals.  Most individuals with LD have average to above average intelligence.  People with LD's are often said to have an invisible disability because they may appear like everyone else, but are somehow different.

A child or adult with an LD cannot try harder, pay closer attention, or improve motivation on their own; they need help to learn how to do those things. People who understand the nature of their LD can develop strategies to compensate for it.  Early identification and intervention has proven to be very successful in helping individuals with LD's to succeed in school and fulfill their career goals.  No one’s potential should be limited! Scientists are currently studying the brain’s potential for change which may hold the answer to innovative treatments and remediation for learning disabilities

Assessments for Learning Disabilities

If you suspect your child may have a learning disability it is important to consult with your child’s teacher regarding having a psycho-educational assessment to confirm.  This assessment will determine an individual’s cognitive profile and identify strengths or weaknesses in many areas of learning. A psycho-educational assessment may be done by your child’s school or can be arranged and paid for privately by a registered psychologist.

It is important, that if you suspect that your child has a learning disability, you begin an organized filing system to document his/her school progress and all communications between you and your child’s school. Organized information will be important in your role as your child’s advocate, as you liaise and communicate concerns with school personnel. For a psycho-educational assessment to be arranged through your child’s school, quantitative data collection that measures your child’s progress / challenges from year to year will be instrumental. The psycho-educational assessment will give the information needed to define the specific learning challenges/disability. Your child’s assessment will be critical to ensuring your child receives the support they are entitled to and that he/she will have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) developed to provide that support. This document will highlight customized accommodations and alternative learning strategies your child’s teacher will use in teaching the curriculum.