What Is a
Children learn at different paces, and there is a wide range of
normal learning behavior. But neurologically based learning problems are
considered learning disorders (or learning disabilities). These disorders make
it hard to understand and retain information. They can affect academic and
Learning disorders affect about 2.7 million children in U.S. public
schools (The Ohio State
University Wexner Medical Center).
Learning disorders vary in terms of severity. They are not related
to a person’s intelligence.
Learning disorders are often classified according to the affected area
of learning. These are the most common types:
affects affects reading ability.
affects writing ability.
affects math ability.
Causes Learning Disorders?
A learning disorder’s cause cannot always be identified. Structural
differences in the brain may cause some of them. These differences affect how
the brain processes information. The exact cause of these differences is not known,
but they are present at birth and in some cases seem to be inherited (NICHD).
Drug and alcohol use during pregnancy can affect a fetus and lead
to learning disorders. Poor nutrition in early childhood may cause learning
disorders. Being exposed to certain chemicals or substances, such as lead, may cause
learning disorders. Cancer treatment (for instance, for leukemia) may also
A traumatic brain injury may lead to a learning disorder.
Who Is at
Risk for a Learning Disorder?
The most common risk factor is a family history of learning
disorders (Cleveland Clinic).
Additional risk factors include poor nutrition and maternal drug or alcohol use.
the Symptoms of a Learning Disorder?
Learning disorders have many possible symptoms. Typical symptoms in
a school-age child include difficulty following directions, reversing numbers
or letters in writing, and poor social skills. Trouble reading, understanding speech,
or speaking at an age-appropriate level is also a sign.
Having an average or above-average IQ but nonetheless having
problems with schoolwork may be a sign of a learning disorder.
How Is a
Learning Disorder Diagnosed?
Problems are frequently noticed in early childhood.
An evaluation for a learning disorder often includes a medical
exam to rule out problems such as hearing, vision, or developmental
disabilities. It will include a discussion of family history. A psychological
assessment and academic testing are also part of an accurate diagnosis. A
specialist may also give the child an IQ test.
How Is a
Learning Disorder Treated?
Treatment for learning disorders involves education. U.S. law ensures
that schools offer specialized instruction to children with learning disorders.
For example, students may videotape lectures instead of taking notes. They may
learn special memorization techniques. Or they may get more time to complete work.
Learning disorders are not treated with medication. If additional
issues exist, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), medication
may be recommended. Therapy may include counseling for related issues, such as
the Outlook for Learning Disorders?
People do not outgrow learning disorders. But specialized learning
techniques and strategies can help a child overcome obstacles and frustration
with schoolwork. Early intervention is best, so educational plans can be put in
place. With these tools, children can overcome learning disorders and have
successful academic and social lives.
Learning Orders Be Prevented?
The cause of learning disorders is often unknown, so prevention is
not always possible. Avoiding drugs and alcohol during pregnancy may reduce the
risk of learning disorders in children.