The terms Learning Disability or Learning Disorder are broad terms that generally refer to a variety of problems related to how a person learns to read, write, calculate numbers and speak.
Estimates vary but studies suggest as many as 15% of the population have some form of language-based learning disability, with reading disorders (Dyslexia) being by far the most common.
Importantly, learning disorders are known to be the result of differences in the structure and functioning of the brain, and are not the result of low intelligence or laziness. In fact, those with learning disorders have normal intelligence and often work very hard to perform well academically.
While learning disabilities are often identified during childhood, many adults have learning disabilities that were never diagnosed and/or continue to struggle with learning disabilities that may have been diagnosed earlier in life. Adult dyslexia and learning disability diagnosis is becoming more common.
Some of the most common learning disabilities include:
Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder. It causes problems with language skills, particularly reading. People with dyslexia may read slowly, have difficulty comprehending what they read and struggle to recognize and/or spell words.
Dysgraphia refers to problems with handwriting. People with dysgraphia may have problems forming letters, writing within a defined space, and writing down their thoughts.
Dyscalculia is a condition that results in problems with math. People with this math learning disorder may have difficulty understanding arithmetic concepts and doing such tasks as addition, multiplication, and measuring.
The most important thing is to make the right diagnosis so that effective recommendations can be developed and implemented. Schools and colleges typically rely on diagnoses and recommendations to create academic plans to help students be more successful. The right diagnosis is important because other problems such as ADHD can resemble learning disorders yet require a very different approach to treatment. The most comprehensive learning disability evaluation includes a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation and educational testing.
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