1. What is a learning disability?

The term “learning disability” is not a label for a single disorder. Rather it encompasses a group of disorders that impinge upon the learning process.  It is most often used to characterize the difficulty certain individuals have in acquiring the fundamental academic and life skills, despite average or better intelligence. The learning disability creates roadblocks to the brain’s ability to effectively and efficiently listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or solve mathematical computations and problems. The existence of a learning disability is generally a life-long issue which affects not only academic education, but vocational, social, and daily life activities as well, frequently resulting in low levels of self-esteem.

2. What is the best age to have a child evaluated for a learning disability?

If a child has been in a formal educational setting, beginning with pre-school, the best time to seek an evaluation from a qualified professional is the point at which the parent and/or teacher becomes concerned that the child is struggling to keep up with peers and teacher expectation, despite exposure to good instruction. As with any developmental issue, early identification and intervention are critical to the child’s future success.

3. How does a Learning Disability differ from dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific type of learning disability. It occurs in the presence of other intact cognitive abilities and exposure to generally effective classroom instruction. It is believed to be neurobiological in origin and is manifested by difficulties with automatic word recognition or spoken language, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities, usually due to a deficit in phonological processing of language. Dyslexia may also create problems in reading comprehension which, when coupled with word processing issues, results in poor motivation to read for enjoyment or information. Limited reading experiences, in turn, lead to limited development of vocabulary and fund of general information.