What is a Learning Disability?

NumbersPeople with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence. Many are gifted in maths, science, fine arts, journalism, and other creative fields. A list of such people would include Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill and many others who have changed the course of our world.

However, their tremendous strengths are offset by noticeable weaknesses – an inability to read or write, memory problems, and difficulty understanding what is heard or seen. These difficulties stem, not from a physical problem with the eyes or ears, but rather from the basic neurological functioning of the brain.

A learning disability is an area of weakness or inefficiency in brain function that significantly hinders our ability to learn or to function in life. Every human brain is created with a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses. We each have certain areas that make sense to us easily as well as areas of difficulty that require outside explanation and extra effort to understand. 

It is a pattern of neurological dysfunction in the brain that causes a person to have difficulty correctly receiving information coming into the brain (perception), correctly processing that information once it is received (cognition/thinking), or satisfactorily responding to the information once it has been processed (written and verbal expression, visual-motor coordination, memory, etc).

Students with learning disabilities experience an imbalance in their own ability levels. They are very good at some things, very poor at others and feel the tension between what they can and cannot do. Frustration is a hallmark of a student with learning disabilities. Typically such students will either be failing in one or more academic areas or be expending excessive amounts of energy to succeed. Also, they are also highly inconsistent, able to do a task one day and unable the next.