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Learning Disabilities

A learning disability, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia, is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.

When someone has a learning disability, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia,it means that he or she learns differently than most people, and that learning itself is usually more difficult. A learning disability is a condition that can affect anybody, regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender.

There must be a significant discrepancy between overall cognitive ability and achievement

The ability may be present, but for some reason(s), achievement is lacking. Ability is usually calculated through the use of an intelligence test. Achievement is determined by studying an individual’s performance in various academic areas (spelling, math, reading, written expression, etc.). Once both of these are measured, they are compared to determine if discrepancies exist.

The brain has a processing deficit, which impair the ability to process information

The brain must process all of the information that it receives from our senses, such as vision or hearing. For example, if one’s visual memory is weak it will cause that person to have great difficulty remembering what he or she sees. Other’s may easily recall what they’ve seen, but will have trouble processing the sounds they hear, causing them to struggle with sounds that are similar, like ‘m’ and ‘n.’ Everyone has different processing abilities, and processing deficits can have a negative effect on learning ability.

The processing deficit must prove to be directly contributing to underachievement

If a person does have trouble processing the sounds he or she hears, it must be discovered whether or not it is negatively impacting his or her academic performance. For example, difficulty with processing similar sounds may cause one to have trouble learning to read using the traditional, phonics based approach causing a direct contribution to their underachievement.

The underachievement cannot be primarily due to factors other than the processing deficit

For an individual to have a Learning Disability, his or her underachievement cannot be due to other factors, such as mental retardation, epilepsy, sensory impairment (vision and hearing), or severe psychological disturbance. Although many with learning disabilities have other problems, these other concerns (i.e. depression and low self esteem) must be secondary to the learning disability.