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Learning Disabilities

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According to learning disabilities are disorders that affect one's ability to understand or use spoken or written language, do mathematical calculations, coordinate movements or direct attention. Although learning disabilities occur in very young children, disorders are usually not recognized until a child reaches school age. Research shows that 8 to 10 percent of American children under the age of 18 have some type of learning disability.

One's ability to interpret what one sees and hears, or to link information from different parts of the brain is affected. These limitations can show up as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control or attention. Such difficulties extend to schoolwork and can hinder learning to read, write, or to do math.

Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions that, in many cases, part of a person's way of functioning can be affected such as school or work, daily routines, family situations and, sometimes, even friendships and play. In some people, many overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Others may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their lives.

Dyslexia is a reading and language-based learning disability. With this problem, a child may not understand letters, groups of letters, sentences or paragraphs. For a young student, a "b" may look like a "d." He may write on when they really mean no. This is not a vision problem, rather it is a problem with how the brain interprets the information it "sees."

Dysgraphia is a term for problems with writing. Writing neatly takes time and effort; yet despite the extra effort, handwriting still may be hard to read.

Dyscalculia is a term for problems concerning math. Math is difficult for many students, but with dyscalculia, a child may have much more difficulty than others his age.

There are many possibilities of the cause of learning disabilities; a leading theory is that learning disabilities stem from subtle disturbances in brain structure and function that may begin before birth. Others include:

* Genetic predisposition

* Tobacco, alcohol or substance abuse by the mother prior to, during, and after


* Problems during pregnancy or delivery such as low birth weight, prematurity, and

birth traumas

* Environmental Toxins such as lead poisoning

* Central Nervous System Infections and Severe Head Trauma.

Some children and adults might have problems in all three areas (reading, mathematics and written expression) that, together, significantly interfere with academic



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