What are Learning Disabilities?

Learning disability is a general term that describes specific kinds of learning problems. A learning disability can cause a person to have trouble learning and using certain skills.
The skills most often affected are: reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math.

“Learning disabilities” is not the only term used to describe these difficulties. Others include:
  • dyslexia—which refers to difficulties in reading;
  • dysgraphia—which refers to difficulties in writing; and
  • dyscalcula—which refers to difficulties in math.

All of these are considered learning disabilities.


Learning disabilities are not the same among all people. There are many disabilities under the category of learning disabilities. One student may have troubles with reading comprehension, another with written expression, and other with mathematical applications. The magnitude of the disability and the impact it has on a student’s success varies across the student population as well. For example, one student with a reading comprehension disability may need the assistance of graphic organizers and then be able to comprehend the material with ease while another student with a reading comprehension disability may not recall anything they read even with the assistance of graphic organizers.

Researchers have come to the conclusion that learning disabilities have differences because each person’s brain is not the same. They also want to emphasize that students with learning disabilities are not dumb or unmotivated; they simply have a brain that processes information differently than other students and need assistance in order to grasp the material. Researchers want to get the point across that students with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence and that IQ is not the problem when it comes to them learning new material.

As for a cure for a learning disability, there are no simple cures for the disability. The learning disability is long term, but the learning disability can be accommodated for so that the students can be achieving a high level of learning. Obtaining the right instructional methods and materials are essential for students with disabilities bridging the gap that is the result of their disability.

(Source: http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld#story )

Facts about learning disabilities

  • Fifteen percent of the U.S. population, or one in seven Americans, has some type of learning disability, according to the National Institutes of Health.

  • Difficulty with basic reading and language skills are the most common learning disabilities. As many as 80% of students with learning disabilities have reading problems.

  • Learning disabilities often run in families.

  • Learning disabilities should not be confused with other disabilities such as mental retardation, autism, deafness, blindness, and behavioral disorders. None of these conditions are learning disabilities. In addition, they should not be confused with lack of educational opportunities like frequent changes of schools or attendance problems. Also, children who are learning English do not necessarily have a learning disability.

  • Attention disorders, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities often occur at the same time, but the two disorders are not the same.

(Source: http://www.ldonline.org/ldbasics/whatisld )

A student with a learning disability is typically highly motivated and likes to achieve things for themselves. They feel a sense of accomplishment when the perfect a task or finally reach a goal after previously struggling. Students with learning disabilities may become frustrated and feel compelled to quit or put in minimal effort when too much is provided for them. Students with disabilities do not want to be treated differently and most certainly do not want to be regarded as stupid or inferior. It is essential that students with disabilities not feel that an extra burden is placed on them by being attached to the stigma that they are lazy or not trying hard in the areas which are affected by their learning disability.

(Source:http://www.ldonline.org/article/6007/ )

Most frequently displayed symptoms:

  • Short attention span

  • Poor memory

  • Difficulty following directions

  • Inability to discriminate between/among letters, numerals, or sounds

  • Poor reading and/or writing ability

  • Eye-hand coordination problems; poorly coordinated

  • Difficulties with sequencing

  • Disorganization and other sensory difficulties

Other characteristics that may be present:

  • Performs differently from day to day

  • Responds inappropriately in many instances

  • Distractible, restless, impulsive

  • Says one thing, means another

  • Difficult to discipline

  • Doesn’t adjust well to change

  • Difficulty listening and remembering

  • Difficulty telling time and knowing right from left

  • Difficulty sounding out words

  • Reverses letters

  • Places letters in incorrect sequence

  • Difficulty understanding words or concepts

  • Delayed speech development; immature speech

Symptoms from: http://www.ldanatl.org/aboutld/parents/ld_basics/symptoms.asp

What Teachers can do to Help

  1. break learning into small steps;

  2. administer probes;

  3. supply regular quality feedback;

  4. use diagrams, graphics and pictures to augment what they were saying in words;

  5. provide ample independent, well-designed, intensive practice;

  6. modele instructional practices that they wanted students to follow;

  7. provide prompts of strategies to use; and

  8. engage students in open ended questions like "In what type of ways are the cells moving?"


A person with learning disabilities may be frustrated about the way a partner provides assistance by feeling stifled when too much is routinely provided, which may give rise to the perception that he or she is stupid or being treated like a child. Also, he or she may feel unfairly blamed for relationship problems, such as not listening or not trying hard enough, which may be due to his/her learning disabilities.

(Source:http://www.ldonline.org/article/6007/ )


Not all great minds think alike

Did you know that Albert Einstein couldn't read until he was nine? Walt Disney, General George Patton, and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller had trouble reading all their lives. Whoopi Goldberg and Charles Schwab and many others have learning disabilities which haven't affected their ultimate success.

Parenting Children with Learning Disabilities

Tips for Helping Your Child

“Your influence on your child outweighs that of any teacher, tutor, therapist, or counselor. If your child has a learning disability, your love, encouragement, and support can make all the difference, helping him or her emerge with a strong sense of self-confidence and the determination to succeed.”

Parents can help children with learning disabilities achieve such success by encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understanding the educational system, working with professionals and learning about strategies for dealing with specific difficulties.

Helpful Tips:

  • Don’t try to cure your child, give him/her the social and emotional tools needed to work through challenges.
  • Focus on developing important life skills
  • Take care of yourself too!
  • Communicate with others about your child’s disability
  • Emphasize healthy lifestyle habits (Diet, proper amount of sleep, exercise, etc.)
  • Take charge of your child’s education (Research, pursue treatment services, learn the specifics of the disability)
  • Work with the school (Clarify goals, listen to advice, don’t give up, and keep calm)
  • Find out how your child learns best (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)
Visual Learners:
  • Learn by seeing or reading
  • Do well when material is presented and tested visually, not verbally
  • Benefit from written notes and directions, diagrams, charts, maps, and pictures
  • Often love to draw, read, and write; are good spellers and organizers
Auditory Learners:
  • Learn by listening
  • Do well in lecture-based learning environments and on oral reports and tests
  • Benefit from classroom discussions, spoken directions, study groups
  • Often love music, languages, and being on stage
Kinesthetic Learners:
  • Learn by doing and moving
  • Do well when they can move, touch, explore, and create in order to learn
  • Benefit from hands-on activities, lab classes, props, skits, and field trips
  • Often love sports, drama, dance, martial arts, and arts and crafts
  • Think life success, rather than school success (Be POSITIVE)

(Source: http://helpguide.org/mental/learning_disabilities_treatment_help_coping.htm )

Funding/ Legal Advocacy

This website, which is self proclaimed to be the leading website on learning disabilities and ADHD, provides accurate information to families about how they should go about the selection process of choosing a college for their child. In particular, the website references sources and scholarships the families can turn to to recieve financial support and funding so that their child's college education is not deemed and expensive burden. The particular programs this website focuses on in terms of funding assistnace are federal and state based. It goes in-depth about requirements and how to recieve and retain aid.

As referenced above, a college education is one of the most expensive investments a family can make for a student. This website refers families to a number of scholarship options that assist with funding for college. There are a plethora of scholarships that are strictly eligable for students with learning disabilities as this site provides a number of them. This comprehensive list provides the name of the schoalrship, the amount, the nature of the qualifications,a dn the person or organization that provides it.

This website also details various grants and scholarships options for students with disabilities. It lays out there qualifications and the amount of the award. This website also refers families to specific books they can browse to get a general understanding of funding they can expect to recieve and funding they need to take the incentive to obtain.

This impressive website compiles a list of nationwide and international services that can be of assistance to families with a student who has a learning disabiltiy. In addition to this, it provides information on legal advocay of learning disabilities in the form of attorneys that specialize in cases defending people with special needs including learning disabilties.


This website created by the Foundation Center offers an extensive look at funding for people with disabilities and that includes students with learning disabilities. It also provides an impressive list of books families can read that refer them to funding opportunities. Also incoporated into the website are ways to fundraise as needed in addition to past funders that have assisted people with learning disabilties.


This link provides options for monetary assistance when people are striving to aquire new technology. This website could be used for families who have learning disabilities as many of the students need some sort of assistive technology to aid them in their education. The struggle is though, that all families and school systems do not have the resources to provide high technology to every student. For example, a student may benefit from having an ipad to aid the instruction. A lot of families and school systems cannot afford this, so they can turn to these organizations for assistance.


This website refers families to places where they can recieve assitance for buying assistive technology for their child that has a learning disability. Some of the suggestions include a medical assistanc program, a school district, a private insurance company, or the various local programs that may be willing to help. This website is particiularly for Minnesota residents, but the majority of the information pertains to Maryland residents as well.

Recreational and Community Based Resources


This website focuses on residents of Maryland with disabilities including learning disabilities. The site details various organizations that teach skills on computers so that students with learning disabilities may bridge the gap created by their disability. One of their events is a sumemr camp that involves computer arts as a hands on activity. This resource also provides information on counselors for students with disabilites and educators that may assist the aforementioned students needs.


This website goes in to detail about a number of summer camps offered to students with learning disabilites. The activities offered at a lot of these camps vary so the family can choose which camp is most beneficial for their child. Also provided on this website is information for families on preparing their child to go to summer camp which will help to mentally prepare both the child and the parents.


This website informs parents of the abundance of activities chidlren with diabilities can partake in; this website particularly pertains to summer events such as art, sports (particularly hiking, skateboarding, and biking. Also referenced are music and drama classes. These will keep the children occumpied in the summer while stimulating their body and brain.


This link refers to students with learning disabilities and their inclusion in extra curriucular activities after school. The website references how assisitive technology may help bridge the gap in music clubs, theatre, book clubs, academic games, and athletics. For example, in book clubs students with learning disabilities may easily be included by providing books on tape of the selected reading. This would allow a student with a reading disability to feel the same as the other students and boost their self-esteem.


This website is basically a help guide to the parents of students with a learning disability. It instructs the parents on their child's diet, physical activity, and sleeping habits among other things. It mentions how students with learning disabilities are often stressed and frustrated. Exercise is an excellent coping mechonism so it refers the parents to encourage their child to get involved in activities that interest them. It also refers to how a healthy diet is going to impact their child's growth and development so it is crucial they pay close attention to this aspect of their life. It goes on to offer multiple tips in these areas.


This website details how learning disabilites may or may not impact a students success in physical education. For the most part, learning disabilities inhibit success in PE and this website provides some examples of accomodations that may be needed to level the playign field. The website alos references how educators can help students through this difficult class. Everyone has seen the student in special education being picked on in dodgeball. This source will help prevent that from happening.

Local Support Groups and Educational Conferences


This support group in Baltimore City titled:
GILD: Group for Independent Learning Disabled Adults meets monthly to plan activities. They focus on providing recreation for adults with learning disabilities. In addition, they provide social skills and life skills classes.


This website contains mutlipe support groups for parents in Baltimore County. The following is an exerpt from the site:

Monthly Dundalk Parent Support Group

This parent support group meeting is held the
second Thursday of each month. A light dinner
is served at 7 p.m.
This meeting begins at 7:30. Meetings are open
to the public and there is no charge.
Meeting will be held at

Dundalk Pediatrics
2112 Dundalk Avenue
Dundalk, MD 21220


This website offers an abundance of support groups to parents, educators,and students with a variety of disabilities including learning disabilites. The following is one example included on the site:

Special Education Citizen's Advisory Committee Meeting


This is the monthly meeting for parents, educators, administrators, community partners, and service providers on local issues relative to the provision of a free, appropriate public education and the achievement of students with disabilities,

Date and Time

Dec 12, 7-


ESS Building at Greenwood, 6901 Charles Street, Baltimore,


not required


not required

Contact info

Phone: 410-887-5443.


This website contains a lot of workshops and seminars in the Maryland area containing everything from how to use technology to educating parents on their child's disability. The following example instructs parents on how to navigate the IEP process.

Dec. 5, 7:30 - 9:00 PM. Successfully Navigating the IEP Process - Overcoming the Challenges
Between Families and Schools
McLean Bible Church, Rm. 2400, 8925 Leesburg Pike, Vienna. Offered by
McLean Bible Church Access Community Lecture, Erin Roundtree, 703-770-2938,

Also included was this:

Dec. 7, 7:00 - 9:00 PM. Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIP) and Functional Behavioral
Assessments (FBA) - Extraordinary Parents’ Night.
Dr. Paul Livelli will be on hand to discuss what a BIP
and a FBA are.
Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville. Sponsored by Extraordinary Parents’,


This website provides a number of support groups from around the Baltimore area that focus on assisting families with providing support for each other and providing new skills to them that will help them cope with their child's disability, whatever it may be. An aexample of one of the support groups is as follows:

2300 Dulaney Valley Road on Tuesdays or 2600 Pot Spring Rd on Wednesdays; 21093This group meets on the 2nd Tuesday (St. Vincent’s Villa (Dulaney Valley) and 4th Wednesday (St. Vincent’s Villa, Pot Spring) of each month. Dinner, childcare (for ages 3 to 14) and limited transportation (for Child & Family Services families, residing in Baltimore Co/City area) may be provided with RSVPTime: 5:45 to 7:30 p.m.Dates: Tuesdays - Jan. 1, Feb. 8, Mar. 8, Apr. 12, May 10, and June 14 and Wednesdays - Jan. 26, Feb. 23, Mar. 23., Apr. 27, May 25, and June 22

This website offers a lot of services throughout the greater Baltimore area that would be of assistance to the parents of students with a learning disability. Examples of services provided by various organizations include testing, counseling, and consultation. Some of the groups mentioned are:

Affiliated Community Counselors, Inc *

Certified Learning Center (Administrative Office)*

Diagnostic Testing Consultants, LLC*

Dyslexia Tutoring Program

Additional Education and Services

This website focuses specifically on dyslexia which is a specific learning disability. It provides information about a various sources for students with dyslexia. One specific program used for students with dyslexia is **Ghotit On-line Free Spell Checker**. This program aids students who are normally inefficient spellers.


This website describes the WINGS Mentor Program located in Maryland. This program pairs students with a learning disability with a mentor who assists them by increasing their knowledge and skills in areas where they are interested. The goal of the program is to help students realize their intellectual and creative potential by helping them transcened barriers.


This website compiles a comprehensive list of what schools and programs in the Washington D.C, Baltimore, and northern Virginia area that focus specifically on serving students with disabilities and that includes students with learning disabilities. Links to the schools' websites in addition to their exact location and tution amount are included on this site. A brief description of the schools' strengths are also provided.

Additonal Disability and Specific Information

Smith, C. (1997).Learning Disabilities A to Z. New York: Free Press, Inc.
This book focuses on ways to develope a student with a learning disabilities strengths rather than their weaknesses. In addition, the book offers various strategies to recognize the early signs of certain learning disabilities. Also referenced in the book are the ways a parent can advocate for their childrens specific needs.

Miller, W.H. (1993). Complete Reading Disabilities Handbook: Ready-to-Use Techniques for Teaching Reading Disabled Students. The Center for Applied Rsearch in Education.
This book is directed toward teachers and parents that work with elementary and middle school students. It directs them on how to diagnose certain learning disabilities. This book includes worksheets and tests that can be utilized for students of all types of reading disabilities. These can be used with individuals, small groups, or even class wide.

Kurtz, L.A. (2007). Understanding Motor Skills in Children with Dyspraxia, ADHD, Autism, and other Learning Disabilities: A Guide to Improving Coordination. Philadelphia:
Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
This book is directed toward the parents and teachers of students with learning disabilities. It helps them understand the proper motor development the children should be experiencing. In addition, it offers ways the parents/educators can aide a child's progress and improve their weaknesses.

McFarlin, J.F. (2007). Learning disabilities: From Identification to Intervention. New York: Guilford Press.
This book offers an abundance of approaches parents may utilize when dealing with their children that has a learning disability. This book offers strategies of assessment, classiification, and intervention. The disabilities are surrounding mathematics, reading comprehension, and written expression.

Waber, D.P. (2010). Rethinking Learning Disabilities: Understanding Children Who Struggle in School. New York: Guilford Press.
This book discusses what exactly a learning disability is. In addition, it discusses how to identify various learning strategies in addition to what to do when a child is identified as having one. The book focuses on how the child with a learning disability is between him and the function of the world.

Tanguay, P.B. (2002). Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at Home: A Parent's Guide. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
This book details signs that a child has a nonverbal learning disability. It discusses the daily challenges a student with a nonverbal learning disability encounters and what parents can do to support and encourage them.