A learning disability is a neuro-biological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information. A child with a learning disability often has average or above average intelligence but has difficulty in one or more areas of learning. Dyslexia is a language-based processing disorder that can affect reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes even speaking. Dyscalculia is a processing disorder that affects the learning of a wide range of math and spatial concepts. Dysgraphia is a disorder that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting, and difficulties putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia might have trouble organizing letters, numbers, and words on a line or page. Executive Functioning is a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. Children who have difficulties with executive functioning often struggle to plan, organize, strategize, remember details, and manage time and space. Many children with learning disabilities also have challenges with executive functioning, which contributes to academic problems.
Learning Disabilities can affect many different areas:
- Language—problems in listening/understanding and speaking
- Reading—difficulties decoding or recognizing words or understanding them
- Written language—problems with writing, spelling, organizing ideas
- Math—trouble doing arithmetic or understanding basic concepts
- Reasoning—problems organizing and putting together thoughts
- Memory—problems remembering facts and instructions
- Social behavior—difficulties with social judgment, tolerating frustration, reading social cues and making friends
- Physical coordination/movement—problems with handwriting, manipulating small objects, running and jumping
- Organization—trouble with managing time and belongings, carrying out a plan
- Metacognition (thinking about thinking)—problems with knowing, using and monitoring the use of thinking and learning strategies, and learning from mistakes
A skilled Speech and Language Pathologist can help children with learning disabilities that are related to language processing (including comprehension, reasoning, social language/pragmatics and sequencing of thoughts and ideas).
A skilled Occupational Therapist can help children with learning disabilities related to written language, reasoning/problem solving, movement/coordination, organization, executive functioning and social behavior.