Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities


Many brain problems result in learning inefficiencies.  A collection of symptoms that often occur together form a syndrome.  Syndromes are given terms and are studied by scientists and educators. 

Usually, not everyone in every field of study agrees on the same definitions, terms, and group of symptoms that are used to describe a syndrome. In fact, the terms, definitions, causes, symptoms, and treatments frequently differ among  fields of study or thought:  education, law, and science. 

Even within a field, definitions and terms differ (ex. neurology, neuropsychology, psychology, educational psychology, etc.).  

Don't let one professional's  lack of confidence or experience with a syndrome or term, dissuade you from obtaining the help that you need.  Keep searching until you find an aqequately informed and experienced expert in a given syndrome so that you can get properly assessed, diagnosed and treated.  

The terms learning disorder and learning disability and learning difficulty are frequently interchanged. People can have symptoms from several different syndromes.  

Common syndromes that pose barriers to learning:

Definitions of Learning Disabilities 


Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) in Mathematics, Reading, and Written Expression are defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. SLD is defined as a "Specific Learning Disorder-- with impairment in Mathematics (315.1), Reading (315.0), or Written Expression (315.2). SLD is "a neurodevelopmental disorder of biological origin manifested in learning difficulties and problems in acquiring academic skills markedly below age level and manifested in the early school years, lasting for at least 6 months, not attributed to intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders, or neurological or motor disorders." 


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines Specific Learning Disability (SLD) as "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.  See more at 34 CFR 300.8 (10).

Section 504 and ADAAA

Civil Rights for the Disabled (Learning and otherwise): According to the  US Department of Education,  the  Federal Office of Civil  Rights  (OCR)  enforces  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973  and  Title  II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990  which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.    The law states that  "no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or her disability, be excluded from the  participation  in,  be  denied  the  benefits  of,  or  be  subjected  to  discrimination  under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."