Definitions of a Learning Disability
There are many current definitions and labels for the same thought process and list of symptoms. In Canada and the United States we use the term learning disability, while in the United Kingdom they use the terms dyslexia or specific learning disabilities.
The definitions below summarize dyslexia as problems with processing visual or auditory information, with holding that information in working memory and with kinaesthetic awareness, co-ordination and automaticity. These can affect academic progress across a variety of subjects.
Learning disabilities result from impairments in one or more processes related to perceiving, thinking, remembering or learning. These include, but are not limited to: language processing, phonological processing, visual spatial processing, processing speed, memory and attention, and executive functions (e.g. planning and decision-making). Learning disabilities range in severity and may interfere with the acquisition and use of one or more of the following: oral language (e.g. listening, speaking, understanding) reading (e.g. decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition, comprehension) written language (e.g. spelling and written expression) mathematics (e.g. computation, problem solving) Learning disabilities may also involve difficulties with organizational skills, social perception, social interaction and perspective taking.
Dyslexia is a world-wide phenomenon. A learning disability is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to either interpret what they hear or see or to link information from different parts of the brain. Although the individual with a learning disability has an average or above average IQ, the disability may become evident in either academic or social situations. The individual can have marked difficulties on certain types of tasks while excelling at others. Their learning disabilities arise from perceptual problems leading to significant delays in important learning challenges. Often, this condition is referred to as a “hidden disability” since few, if any, obvious external characteristics cause the individual to be seen as different initially.