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Define Learning Disability

As parents, we’re more interested in finding ways to help our children learn than we are in trying to “define learning disability.”
define learning disability

Nonetheless, I recently had a parent ask me what the definition was for “learning disability,” and to be honest, I can tell you all about it but had to look up the complete definition.

Here is how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines specific learning disability:

“…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 primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” 34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.7(c)(10)

Of course there is more to it than that and I don’t want to sound like the definition is unimportant, but to me it can be broken down to an important point – children with learning disabilities have challenges with one or more of the following:

  • reading
  • writing
  • listening
  • speaking
  • reasoning
  • math

If you suspect your child may have a learning disability, document everything and discuss it with their teacher(s). There’s no shame in having a learning disability, it does not mean your child is dumb, and it does not mean they are lazy, even if they do have a messy room. It means they need help learning and you should do everything you can to help them.




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