A learning disability does not necessarily mean that a child has an intellectual disability, though some children with learning disabilities do also have intellectual disabilities. A learning disability is a disorder that means a child may have trouble with certain specific academic skills, like reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia) or math (dyscalculia), because their brain has difficulty with processing, storing or retrieving certain kinds of information. People diagnosed with learning disabilities in the absence of intellectual disabilities can do well academically, provided they receive quality instruction and are provided with proper adaptive strategies for creating workarounds, often through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Children with learning disabilities in the absence of intellectual disabilities can have average or above-average intelligence and potential, but a learning disability can lower academic achievement. It is important to screen for learning disabilities properly, as an improper screen may diagnose a child as having an intellectual disability when they instead have a learning disability such as Dyslexia or Dyscalculia.
Generally, if a child is not having academic success, the child is provided with ‘Response to Intervention’ services before being formally evaluated for a learning disability. These services help distinguish learning difficulties due to poor schooling from learning difficulties related to learning disabilities specifically. If Response to Intervention services are ineffective, the child is then screened for learning disabilities as part of mandated IDEA protocols.
Related Reading: Learning Disabilities
For more information on learning disabilities and intervention strategies, please visit the following sites:
- LDA America: Types of Learning Disabilities
- How to Get Help for Children with Learning Disabilities
- Understood.org: Learning Disabilities Overview
- Successful Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities
- National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities: Responsiveness to Intervention and Learning Disabilities
- Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for Disabilities