Learning Disabilities

Essay by kaaanch October 2010

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Learning Disabilities

Learning disability is a general term that describes specific kinds of learning problems. It is thought to be a neurological or processing disorder that affects the brain's ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information. It can cause a person to have difficulty learning and using certain skills despite having at least average intelligence. The skills most often affected are reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math.

The legal definition of learning disability comes from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is a federal law that guides how schools provide special education and related services to children with disabilities. IDEA defines a specific learning disability 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 an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia."

However, learning disabilities do not include learning problems that are mainly the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. Many states use a discrepancy formula to define learning disability. That is, the student shows a gap, often of 2 years or more, between his or her IQ score and achievement level in a particular area.


As many as one in five people in the United States has a learning disability. About 5% of the total population of all school-age children receive special education or related services because of a learning disability. The percentage of children classified as learning disabled has increased substantially-from less than 30% of all children receiving special education services in 1997-1998 to...