Learning disabilities are not a problem with intelligence but instead relate to how a child understands, remembers and responds to new information. A learning disorder affects how new information is communicated, processed and received.
Learning disabilities are neurologically-based processing problems. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math. They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention, according to the Learning Disabilities Association of America. Learning disabilities should also not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of mental retardation; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages, according to the Association.
Specific examples of learning disabilities include but are not limited to dyslexia, a disability that affects reading and language based processing skills, dyscalculia, a disability that affects an individual’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts and dysgraphia, a disorder that affects handwriting ability and fine motor skills.
Although younger children may have learning disabilities they typically aren’t recognized until a child is school aged. However, developmental delays that may indicate a learning disability may be easier to correct if recognized early. Children with learning disabilities may have problems paying attention and may have trouble reading, writing or doing math. They may also have language deficits and a low tolerance for frustration.