What is a Learning Disability?

The Learning Disability Association of America defines a learning disability as a “neurological condition that interferes with one’s ability to store, process or produce information.  Learning disabilities can affect one’s ability to read, write, speak, spell, compute math, reason and also affect a person’s attention, memory, coordination, social skills and emotional maturity.” (https://ldaamerica.org/support/new-to-ld/#defining).

LDA states that someone with a learning disability might display some (not necessarily all) of the following characteristics:

  • Confuses numbers and letters when reading and/or writing
  • Struggles comprehending oral and/or written language
  • Hears sounds, words, sentences incorrectly
  • Reads well but doesn’t write well, or vice-versa
  • Can express ideas orally but not in writing
  • Struggles with writing (sentence structure, writing mechanics, grammar, spelling and organizing ideas)
  • Struggles remembering math facts
  • Struggles remembering and following sequential, multi-step math procedures
  • Struggles with memorization
  • Has a short attention span
  • Has poor social skills

What is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)?

According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, AD/HD is a neurological condition that interferes with the brain’s executive functioning (efficient management of one’s thoughts, emotions and actions), manifesting itself in a persistent pattern of inattention, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity that significantly hinders daily functioning. (http://www.add.org/?page=ADHD_Fact_Sheet).

Both the Attention Deficit Disorder Association and Dr. Ed Hallowell, director of  the Hallowell Center (http://www.drhallowell.com/add-adhd/), state that someone with AD/HD might display some (not necessarily all) of the following characteristics:

  • Struggles inhibiting impulses
  • Struggles becoming and remaining organized
  • Struggles focusing and sustaining attention and effort until task is completed
  • Searches for high stimulation
  • Has low tolerance for frustration and boredom
  • Juggles many projects simultaneously
  • Struggles following established procedures
  • Is often creative, intuitive and intelligent
  • Is often physically and/or cognitively restless
  • Worries Excessively
  • Has low self-esteem

Additional signs of a possibly undiagnosed Learning Disability or AD/HD:

  • Parental over-involvement in daily life to remind, plan and problem-solve
  • History of working with tutors or needing informal classroom adjustments prior to college
  • Slower at completing work compared to others
  • Grades do not reflect the extent of studying
  • The presence of depression, anxiety, substance abuse or other emotional problems – conditions often coexisting with LD and AD/HD
  • Family history of LD and/or AD/HD