What is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability is a disorder that affects the brain’s ability to understand receive, process, and utilize certain kinds of information. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), a specific learning disorder is diagnosed when an individual has difficulty learning and using academic skills despite remedial interventions, academic skills are significantly below average for one’s age and grade, and this is not better accounted for by factors such as intellectual disability, visual or auditory deficits, or other mental or neurological disorders.
A specific learning disability in the domain of reading (which is often referred to as dyslexia) typically manifests in problems with word reading accuracy, slow reading rate or poor fluency, and/or trouble with reading comprehension. Dyslexia is often overlooked, especially in kids who are very bright, and those who compensate by working twice as hard as their peers.
A specific learning disability in the area of written expression will typically impact spelling accuracy, grammar and punctuation accuracy, as well as clarity and organization of written material.
A specific learning disability in the domain of mathematics manifests in poor number sense, difficulty memorizing arithmetic facts, difficulty with calculation, and impaired math reasoning ability. These kids often stand out because they have strong academic skills, but “can’t get” math.