One might think that our general knowledge of learning disabilities and their impact on children and adults would be better understood today. After all, research studies and recent advancements in our ability to study brain activity have confirmed the reality of learning disabilities. Yet many people continue to think that individuals with learning disabilities could do whatever was asked if they just tried ‘harder.’
Learning disabilities are complex and difficult to understand. For those of us who have never struggled to read, write down our thoughts or solve a math problem, it is almost impossible to imagine that tasks we accomplish easily could be so challenging for someone else. The problem is further compounded because learning disabilities have an almost invisible quality.
On Springer’s website, the following definition appears: A learning disability is a neurological condition that interferes with the ability to acquire, process, store, or produce information. It creates a significant discrepancy between an individual's intellectual potential and his/her success with any of the following: listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, and mathematics. Throughout the individual's life, the condition may also affect emotional well-being, interpersonal relationships, daily living activities, and vocational performance. Learning disabilities cannot be attributed to other difficulties such as physical disabilities, mental retardation, emotional or behavioral disorders, or environmental factors. This definition is consistent with the definition for ‘specific learning disability’ in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
It is important for families and teachers of students who are struggling to understand a few things about learning disabilities:
Of course, not all students who struggle in school have a learning disability, but considering the “invisible” nature of the disability, it is best if everyone involved is well informed.
Blogger Shelly Weisbacher was with Springer for 30 years, 21 of them in the role of Executive Director. Shelly retired from Springer in 2018. If you have questions, please contact Director of Learning Programs Carmen Mendoza at .