What is a Learning Disability?

Unlike other disabilities, such as paralysis or blindness, a learning disability (LD) is a hidden handicap.  A learning
disability doesn't disfigure or leave visible signs that would invite others to be understanding or offer support.

LD is a disorder that affects people's ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from
different parts of the brain.  These limitations can show up in many ways--as specific difficulties with spoken and
written language, coordination, self-control, or attention.  Such difficulties extend to schoolwork and can impede
learning to read or write, or to do math.

Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions that, in some cases, affect many parts of a person's life: 
school or work, daily routines, family life, and sometimes even friendships and play.  In some people, many
overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent.  Other people may have a single, isolated learning problem
that has little impact on other areas of their lives.

Learning disabilities can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Developmental speech and language disorders
  • Academic skills disorders
  • "Other," a catch-all that includes certain coordination disorders and learning handicaps not covered by the other terms.

Each of these categories may include a number of more specific disorders.