Distinguishing Factors of Learning Disabilities

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

How can teachers identify learning disabilities in students? Are there specific signs to look for? This lesson will discuss the distinguishing factors of learning disabilities.

What Is A Learning Disability?

Tara is a fifth grade student who struggles with reading. She does very well in all other subjects and really tries when it comes to reading, but just can't seem to master it. What is going on with Tara? Could it be a learning disability that is making reading difficult for her?

Learning disabilities are impairments in one's ability to learn that are caused by flaws in neurological functioning. They are not the result of low intellect or a lack of intelligence. Children with learning disabilities may demonstrate problems with attention, memory, reading, writing, spelling, speech, language, math, behavior and/or motor control, thus it isn't always easy to spot.

Distinguishing Factors Of Learning Disabilities

Although it usually falls to psychologists and learning specialists to assess students for learning disabilities, teachers are on the front lines when it comes to spotting behaviors that may be indicative of a learning disability. There are many factors that can signal a possible learning disorder, and it's not necessarily a 1:1 relationship; that is, an issue or type of behavior could often signal any number of learning disorders.

Also, the presence of any one of these factors does not necessarily indicate the presence of a learning disability at all. In addition, the degree or severity of the problem will be different from child to child. Therefore, teachers should work with administrators and other specialists to properly diagnose and treat learning disabilities.

Let's examine some examples of factors that may indicate the presence of a learning disability.

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