Distinguishing Learning Difficulties From Learning Disabilities

The terms “learning difficulties” and “learning disabilities” may sound like they are describing the same condition, but there is a discernible difference between a person with a learning disability and one with learning difficulties. It can be difficult for a person who is told they have one when they indeed have the other to obtain effective care. As a result, a thorough understanding of the differences between the two terms is important by consuming disabled news.

• Learning disability = A permanent condition that affects intelligence and ability to learn new concepts and skills

• Learning difficulty = A condition that has no impact on IQ but creates a barrier to an identifiable type or types of learning

An individual with Downs Syndrome, for example, has a learning disability as the condition impact all areas of their life, including their IQ and skill acquiring abilities.

An individual with dyslexia, meanwhile, has a learning difficulty as the condition only impacts their ability to take in or convey information in specific formats. Such an individual is likely to have difficulty with reading, writing and spelling, but will be able to navigate daily life without support.

Mental Health Problems And Learning Disabilities

Unfortunately, many individuals with learning disabilities are misdiagnosed with other mental health problems. While a living disability can have an impact on a person’s mental health, confusing the two conditions is unhelpful.

A learning disability is a permanent condition that a person is either born with or acquires following an illness or injury in early childhood development years. Mental health problems, meanwhile, are not always lifelong and can present at any time.

The treatment protocols for those with learning disabilities and those with mental health problems are also very different. Mental health conditions require professional treatment that can include medications and counselling. Individuals with learning disabilities, meanwhile, require ongoing support to give them a better quality of life as opposed to a treatment for a sometimes curably medical condition.

It is crucial that specialist care provided to those with learning disabilities is individualised and adapted to personal preferences. Many with learning disabilities thrive when they are able to dictate exactly what type of care and customised support they want to receive.

Levels Of Severity For Learning Disabilities

Each type of learning disability can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Those with a mild disability can often communicate easily and take care of themselves independently but might require more time than others to acquire new skills. Others with more severe learning disabilities may not be able to talk at all .

Learning disabilities in adulthood manifest in different ways. Some people can enjoy productive, independent lives, while others require lifelong assistance with daily chores, such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation. A person’s individuals capabilities will determine the level of daily support and care required.

Children and teenagers with learning disabilities might also require special educational needs (SEN).

What Are Learning Disabilities Caused By?

Learning disabilities arise when an individual’s brain development is interrupted, either in the womb, during childbirth or in young childhood. Some things that can affect brain development are:

• Mother falls sick during pregnancy
• Serious complications during childbirth that result in a lack of oxygen reaching the brain
• Inherited genes from either one or both parents that predispose the individual to the development of a learning disability
• Suffering from an injury or illness during early childhood Eg. meningitis

In many cases, there is no identifiable cause for a learning disability.