Imagine having important needs and ideas to communicate, but being unable to express them. Perhaps feeling bombarded by sights and sounds, unable to focus your attention. Or trying to read or add but not being able to make sense of the letters or numbers.
You may not need to imagine. You may be the parent or teacher of a child experiencing academic problems, or have someone in your family diagnosed as learning disabled. Or possibly as a child you were told you had a reading problem called dyslexia or some other learning handicap.
Although different from person to person, these difficulties make up the common daily experiences of many learning disabled children, adolescents, and adults. A person with a learning disability may experience a cycle of academic failure and lowered self-esteem. Having these handicaps – or living with someone who has them – can bring overwhelming frustration.
But the prospects are hopeful. It is important to remember that a person with a learning disability can learn. The disability usually only affects certain limited areas of a child’s development. In fact, rarely are learning disabilities severe enough to impair a person’s potential to live a happy, normal life.
The site provides up – to-date information on learning disabilities and the role of research in discovering underlying causes and effective treatments. It describes treatment options, strategies for coping, and sources of information and support. Among these sources are doctors, special education teachers, and mental health professionals who can help identify learning disabilities and recommend the right combination of medical, psychosocial, and educational treatment.
In this next article, you’ll read the stories of Susan, Wallace, and Dennis, three people who have learning disabilities. Although each had a rough start, with help they learned to cope with their handicaps. You’ll see their early frustrations, their steps toward getting help, and their hopes for the future.
The stories of Susan, Wallace, and Dennis are representative of people with learning disabilities, but the characters are not real. Of course, people with learning disabilities are not all alike, so these stories may not fit any particular individual.
What Is a Learning Disability?
Unlike other disabilities, such as paralysis or blindness, a learning disability (LD) is a hidden handicap. A learning disability doesn’t disfigure or leave visible signs that would invite others to be understanding or offer support. A woman once blurted to Wallace, “You seem so intelligent – you don’t look handicapped!”
LD is a disorder that affects people’s ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways – as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control, or attention. Such difficulties extend to schoolwork and can impede learning to read or write, or to do math.
Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions that, in some cases, affect many parts of a person’s life: school or work, daily routines, family life, and sometimes even friendships and play. In some people, many overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Other people may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their lives.