The term “learning disability” is an umbrella term describing of more specific learning disabilities. Definitions of these problems are not standardized; however, we do know that learning disabilities are due to genetic and/or neurobiological factors or injury that alters brain functioning in a manner which affects one or more processes related to learning. These disorders are not due primarily to hearing and/or vision problems, socio-economic factors, cultural or linguistic differences, lack of motivation or ineffectual teaching, although these factors may further complicate the challenges faced by individuals with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities may co-exist with various conditions including attentional, behavioural and emotional disorders, sensory impairments or other medical conditions. – LDAC fact sheet
For further information on the causes of learning disabilities please select this link.
Following are some of the common terms and definitions as listed by the classic self-help book for adults with learning disabilities, Steps to Independence by Dale S. Brown:
Problems with basic academic skills. These include:
One part of the body moves involuntarily because of the movement of another part of the body, for instance, the left arm may- move a little when the right arm moves or one arm may move when the head turns.
Trouble taking information in through the sense of hearing and/or processing that information. People with this problem frequently hear inaccurately. A sequencing or discrimination error can change the meaning of an entire message: for example, one might hear “I ran to the car,” instead of “I rented the car.” People with auditory handicaps frequently do not hear unaccented syllables. They may hear “formed” instead of “performed,” “seven” instead of “seventy.” Some auditory perceptual handicaps are:
An involuntary reaction to too many sights, sounds, extreme emotions, or other strong stimuli. This may result in losing one’s temper, becoming dazed or unaware of one’s surroundings, or “freezing” for a short time.
Trouble with moving ones limbs across the center of the body. This could include: difficulty writing across a page, sweeping a floor, or controlling a steering wheel.
Trouble automatically distinguishing left from right; learning north, south, east, west; remembering the placement of an icon on a computer toolbar; learning the layout of a large symmetrical building.
Difficulty in behaving appropriately in an automatic way. This is a problem with the self governing part of the brain that stops one from doing such things as laughing at the wrong time, talking aloud to oneself, coughing without covering the mouth. A disinhibited person might abruptly interrupt a conversation or talk aloud to himself in public.
Trouble using two senses at once or associating two senses, for instance, not realizing that the letter “d” which is seen, is the same as the sound “d” when it is spoken; being unable to feel someone tap you on the shoulder while you are absorbed in a task; being unable to listen to a conversation and drive at the same time.
Trouble remembering names, numbers, specific facts, what happened a few minutes ago. A poor memory makes academic success difficult.
Trouble moving one’s body efficiently to achieve a certain goal. Some motor problems are:
Trouble taking information in through one’s senses and/or processing that information.
Trouble knowing where one is in space. A person with this problem might not be able to tell the position of her limbs with her eyes closed.
Signs of central nervous system dysfunction that can be observed: staring, turning the head instead of moving the eyes, inability to look at people in the eye, not holding the head straight, being easily startled.
Trouble taking information in through the sense of touch. Some tactile disabilities are:
Problem with one’s sense of balance, for example, a tendency to lose one’s footing on a curb.
Trouble taking information in through the sense of sight and/or processing that information. Some visual perceptual difficulties are: