Learning Disability

Learning Disability

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Learning Disabilities are neurological and psychological disorders manifested in difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing and reasoning skills. A learning disability is not the same as a learning difficulty or mental illness. Learning difficulty is a neurological problem.

People who have Learning Disabilities cannot perform well if they are taught in a conventional way or if they have to figure out how to do things by themselves. New technology and media techniques can be used to help these people to learn strategies that will foster their future success.

A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things in any area of life, not just at school.

Some types of learning disabilities:

• Speaking disability or Speech disorder

• Reading disability (dyslexia)

• Mathematics disability (dyscalculia)

• Writing disability (dysgraphia)

What causes learning disabilities?

A learning disability happens when a person's brain development is affected, either before they are born, during their birth or in early childhood.

Several factors can affect brain development, including:[1]

    • Heredity - Learning disabilities often run in the family. Children with learning disabilities are likely to have parents or other relatives with similar difficulties.
    • Problems during pregnancy and birth
      • Anomalies in the developing brain
      • Illness or injury
      • Fetal exposure to alcohol or drugs
      • Low birth weight
      • Oxygen deprivation
      • Premature or prolonged labor
      • Accidents after birth
      • Head injuries
      • Malnutrition
      • Toxic exposure (such as heavy metals or pesticides).

Sometimes, the causes for learning disabilities are not known

Toolkit.png Strategies to teach people with Learning Disabilities

Lee Swanson (1999) and his colleagues found two major intervention practices that produced large outcomes. One is direct instruction. The other is learning strategy instruction.

Of particular interest was the work of the teachers who were applying those kinds of interventions.

These teachers:[2]

  1. broke learning into small steps
  2. administered probes;
  3. supplied regular quality feedback;
  4. used diagrams, graphics and pictures to augment what they were saying in words;
  5. provided ample independent, well-designed, intensive practice;
  6. modeled instructional practices that they wanted students to follow;
  7. provided prompts of strategies to use; and
  8. engaged students in process type questions like “How is that strategy working? Where else might you apply it?”

Something else that seems to make a real difference is the practice of scaffolding. Start out with heavily teacher-mediated instruction -- explicit instruction – then as students begin to acquire the skill, moving down the continuum to more student-mediated instruction.

Link icon.png Web Resources
Below you have a list of selected websites where you can find more information:
Link Content
Children with learning disability It explains what is a learning disabily, the level of disability and what causes them.
New technology holds the key to supporting people with learning disabilities Article from The Guardian on how new technology and new approaches can help people with learning disabilities.
Learning disabilities Evidences and news Latest learning disabilities evidence that is published each week.


  1. Learning Disability (November 2013)
  2. Successful Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities (October 2013)