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FAQ: Learning Disability Print E-mail
Written by Phillip LaVeque   
Saturday, 24 October 2009
When a person has a learning disability, he or she is unable to obtain or express knowledge appropriately. Learning disabilities may also involve mental processes used in understanding or using written or spoken language.
What is going on in the body?

It is generally believed that the brain functions differently in a person with a learning disability. A person with a learning disability has average to above-average intelligence when measured by standardized testing. However, the person's reading, math, or written expression is much lower than expected for age, schooling, and environment. Learning disorders may affect a person's ability to read, write, spell, speak, or perform math problems.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The exact causes of a learning disability are unknown. The way a person's brain works may cause learning disabilities. Certain biological, genetic, or environmental factors are linked with learning disabilities. Boys are affected 4 to 5 times more than girls. Learning disabilities can run in families. The following factors may contribute to the cause of learning disability:
# genetics
# injury to the fetus
# medical problems the mother had during pregnancy
# prenatal exposure to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or other toxic substances
# lead poisoning
# premature birth, low birth weight, or birth trauma
# head injury
# poor nutrition, either the child's or the mother's when she was pregnant
# certain medical problems, such as asthma, allergies, or diabetes

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment is aimed at helping the child learn ways to lessen the effects of the learning disability. The child needs to learn how to learn. Specific treatments are available with certain disorders.

After the correct learning disorder is diagnosed, the special education services at the child's school will design an individualized educational plan, called an IEP. This will specify who and what services will be provided to the child.

The child may need counseling in order to overcome his or her self-esteem problems. He or she needs to feel supported and accepted. Counseling will help the child understand the problem and teach him or her ways to cope.

The child's home life needs to support his or her educational goals. An organized, quiet study area is needed. A balance between diet, rest, play, and study should be maintained. Solid discipline coupled with nurturing and consistent, fair expectations are very important for children with learning disorders.

Sometimes medications may be suggested, depending on the type of the learning disability. Medication can be effective in minimizing hyperactivity, distractibility, or poor attention span.
What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects depend on the medications used, but may include drowsiness and allergic reactions.
What happens after treatment for the condition?

Depending on the type of learning disability, treatment may be lifelong, but in varying degrees. A caregiver may need to carefully watch the child to see if more treatment or a different type of treatment is needed.
How is the condition monitored?

Monitoring a learning disability may also be lifelong. Treatment may need to be adjusted based on a person's needs.


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