Key Differences Between Learning Difficulties and Learning Disabilities

Learning difficulties and learning disabilities – they seem similar, don’t they? You may even talk about one without even knowing that you actually mean the other one. It’s a mistake that many people make because they don’t know the difference between these two problems.

A learning disability means a condition that affects your intelligence and learning abilities across all spheres of your life, as stated by the disability news service.

On the other hand, a learning difficulty means a condition that creates an obstacle to learn a few things. However, that doesn’t affect your overall IQ.

You may be curious to know whether Downs Syndrome goes under learning disability or learning difficulty. Well, it definitely comes under learning disability because it impacts a person’s life. This includes his physical condition, IQ, health, and life skills.

If Downs Syndrome comes under learning disability, does that mean dyslexia is also a similar problem? No. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty, and it only impacts a few areas that don’t create an obstacle in other life skills of that person. For example, a dyslexic person may have difficulty reading, writing, or while spelling a word, but the same person can efficiently perform other activities without requiring ongoing care and support.

Learning disabilities confused with mental health problems

Sometimes, many people think that a learning disability is a mental problem. Although a person with a learning disability may think that the condition impacts his mental health, you should know that these conditions are not the same. Learning disability can develop in the early childhood days, or a person may be born with this condition. But mental health problems may occur at any time. Most importantly, learning disability is a permanent condition, while mental health problems may not always be permanent.

In fact, there are differences in treatments for patients with learning disabilities and mental health problems. Doctors try to resolve mental health problems by providing psychiatric support and pharmaceutical treatment. But those with learning disabilities require more ongoing support and less pharmaceutical treatment to live a happy life.

Learning disabilities require specialist care tailor-made according to the individuals. The treatment should centre around what they want and how they want to lead their lives. It should focus on empowering individuals to take care of their own and also lead from the front wherever possible.

Severity of learning disability

There are three levels of learning disabilities: mild, moderate, and severe.

Those who have mild learning disabilities can look after themselves and talk easily with their peers. But they usually take longer to learn a new skill. Some people may have communication issues or have other disabilities also.

It’s not that everyone with a learning disability faces the same type of problems. For example, some may require help with everyday tasks while others may live independently. The level of support the person needs depends on his abilities.

Does that mean people with learning disabilities cannot learn anything in their lives? No. That’s not it. Some people have special educational needs. That doesn’t mean no one with a learning disability can learn anything.

What causes learning disabilities?

A learning ability occurs when a person’s brain doesn’t develop properly. It can happen before the person is born, during birth, or during early childhood days.

Here are a few things that may cause learning disabilities:

• If a mother becomes ill during pregnancy
• If the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen in the brain during birth.
• If the unborn baby inherits a few genes from his parents, that leads to a learning disability. This condition is called inherited learning disability.
• Serious illness like meningitis or severe injury to the brain during early childhood days.

Sometimes, doctors may not find a definite reason for a learning disability also.