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Learning Disabilities interfere with the brain's ability to understand, remember, or communicate information. Formally, learning disabilities were seen as rare but recent data suggest that more than 12 million Americans suffer from some form of a learning disability. Many kids go undiagnosed and suffer the consequences from disapproving parents and teachers pressuring them to just "try harder." "If you would only apply yourself" are painful words to a learning disabled child that is giving it their all but nobody believes them.
It is a cruel irony that on the whole, learning disabilities are difficult to understand. The term learning disability does not define a single disorder. It encapsulates a broad range of deficits that can corrupt any area of academic performance. There is no single cause that has been isolated or given sole credit for causing learning disabilities. Many things can impair brain function and the picture gets even more complicated as home and school environments enter the picture.
Although learning disabilities can be divided into groups, they often overlap in one person or occur in combinations. It is this characteristic of learning disabilities combined with the fact that they vary in severity which makes it especially challenging to get a clear picture of where a student actually falls. Still more confounding is that learning disabilities can be subtle and many learning disabled kids have intelligence quotients in the average to superior range and may even demonstrate exceptional ability in several arenas. We witness this when a kid can tell you everything there is to know about the anatomy of a frog but cannot learn his alphabet. Or when a child reads three years beyond her grade level but turns in work that is incomprehensible. We see the gaps between what a student should be able to do based on their IQ and on what they actually end up doing in reality. We call this "unexpected underachievement" and it will plague the life of Learning Disabled children who do not receive proper intervention.
Since the brain has many functions, it is important to note those areas which are particularly affected in the learning disabled child and why this corrupts academic performance. Learning disabilities manifest neurologically in the areas of visual perception, language processing, fine motor skills, and the ability to focus attention. Mixed in with these areas, are problematic behaviors which make matters worse for a child already struggling in school. Some of these are short attention span, difficulty following directions, social immaturity, difficulty with conversation, inflexibility, poor planning and organizational skills, absent mindedness, clumsiness, or lack of impulse control. Each of these problem behaviors stem from the same neurological development problems that caused the learning impairment. When regarded separately, these behaviors can be viewed as defiant, willful or manipulative leaving the child open to character assassinations.
It is no surprise that while some learning disabled children live well adjusted lives, reports show as many as 50% develop emotional difficulties. Emotional and behavior difficulties are considered secondary problems. If not dealt with, secondary problems can become more serious than the learning disability itself. Research has shown that teens with learning disabilities have a higher chance of dropping out of school, abusing substances, engaging in criminal activity and even committing suicide. Parents' the most important thing we can tell you here is that you make the difference. It's a well-observed fact that students who have supportive and informed parents are the most likely to succeed and reach their goals bar none.