Learning difficulties indicate an individual's need for alternative learning methods. Find a Therapist Advanced Search While some learning difficulties are mild, others may have a severe impact on an individual's academic performance. Simply having a learning difficulty does not mean an individual will be unable to succeed academically or hold an intellectually demanding position.
The health needs of people with learning disabilities: issues and solutions
It is not clear what causes learning difficulties, but researchers believe genetic influences, brain development, and environmental effects may all be likely to have some impact on their development. While learning difficulties often appear in families, researchers are uncertain whether this is due to genetic causes or if this recurrence appears because children typically learn from and model their parents. A learning difficulty might often be termed a "hidden disability.
The difficulty arises in the gap between the individual's potential for achievement and ability to achieve, which is often hampered by a difficulty in receiving or processing information.
Learning difficulties can be verbal or nonverbal. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual classifies learning difficulties under the diagnosis of "Specific Learning Disorder," differentiating between conditions marked by impairment in reading, mathematics, or written expression. This diagnosis occurs more often in males than in females. When these two conditions occur together, learning can become even more challenging. Generally, an IQ test score below 75 can be said to indicate a limitation to intellectual function. With an intellectual difficulty, adaptive behavior—conceptual, social, and practical skills—may also be limited.
An individual with a learning difficulty usually does not experience these same limitations. Those with learning difficulties may often exhibit above-average intelligence, as determined by an IQ test, and they may have developed strategies on their own to either hide or cope with a learning difficulty. An individual diagnosed with a learning disability may find the diagnosis difficult to cope with, as might that person's family. However, one might fear becoming labeled or worry that plans for the future and potential careers may be impacted.
General Learning Disability
Parents may worry that a learning disability will prevent their child from succeeding in school, but this is not necessarily the case. Coping with the challenges of a learning issue can be difficult. Children and teens may experience anger , frustration, anxiety , or stress as a result of the difficulty.
These emotional issues can often compound the issue and may worsen it, but speaking about these and other emotional concerns to a counselor or therapist can be helpful. Although they rarely give up on a general goal, depending on the situation, they may change the way they go about achieving it, thereby improving their chances for success. In other words, after repeated failure, these individuals are able to see and pursue alternative strategies for reaching their goal, or know when the goal itself might have to be modified.
Often they try several strategies until they find one that works. One successful adult states, "Once I have a failure, I can't just dwell on that failure and restrict myself for the rest of my life. I'll do something else. Successful persons with learning disabilities appear to learn from their hardships making statements such as "I have failed many times, but I am not a failure. I have learned to succeed from my failures. In comparison, unsuccessful individuals with learning disabilities are often overwhelmed by adversity, back away from challenges, and give up much more easily and quickly than successful peers.
Successful individuals set goals that are specific, yet flexible so that they can be changed to adjust to specific circumstances and situations. These goals cover a number of areas including education, employment, family, spiritual and personal development. In addition, the goals of successful persons with learning disabilities include a strategy to reach their goals. That is, they have an understanding of the step-by-step process for obtaining goals. One successful adult pursuing a career in the entertainment field states:.
That's how I'm looking at it. As I said, the area I really want to move into is, I want to direct.
- Information about learning disabilities.
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- General Learning Disability. Learning Disabilities Information | Patient.
I'm very realistic in terms of what I know I can do, what I possibly can do, and what I cannot do. That's why I knew right off the bat that I was not going to be a doctor.
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Many successful people with learning disabilities set at least tentative goals in adolescence, which provide direction and meaning to their lives. A successful adult trained as a social worker says:. I was given the opportunity to babysit and in the twelfth grade I worked at a day camp. I just discovered that I was interested in children and that this may turn out to be a profession. So there was kind of a break and something to shoot for; some sort of self-direction.
While successful individuals with learning disabilities have concrete, realistic, and attainable goals, unsuccessful individuals often have vague, unrealistic, or grandiose goals that are not in line with their strengths, weaknesses, or special abilities. For example, one individual having extreme problems with eye-hand coordination and spatial relations aspired to be an airline pilot, while another with severe reading, writing, and organization difficulties wanted to become an executive secretary. Not surprisingly, both were unsuccessful at their attempts to reach these goals and experienced frustration and stress as a result.
Both successful and unsuccessful individuals with learning disabilities receive some form of support and assistance from others over the course of their lives. Guidance, support, and encouragement come from family members, friends, mentors, teachers, therapists, and co-workers. However, as successful individuals move into adulthood, they attempt to reduce their dependence on others.
In fact, in many instances they are able to switch roles with people who had provided them with support in the past, finding themselves assisting and encouraging those who once helped them. In contrast, unsuccessful persons with learning disabilities frequently are unable to "cut the cord" as they transition into adulthood and end up remaining highly dependent on others.
The people who have provided support to successful individuals with learning disabilities generally held clear and realistic expectations regarding life goals and outcomes, guiding them to identify and achieve realistic goals without being harsh or critical. They were also able to help them change directions in attempting to achieve goals, or modify the goals, if necessary.
They were consistent and steadfast in their functioning as sounding boards for reality testing. A successful adult with learning disabilities describes the support from a workplace mentor:. I was working at this place and going nowhere. Probably getting canned and I only had a couple of more months of work and he was able to take me out of the division I was in and put me back working on minicomputers. That made me very happy. He taught me a new programming language to work in and really helped me out. He's one of the reasons I own this place.
Successful individuals with learning disabilities also actively seek the support of others. They don't simply wait for someone to come to their aid when they need assistance.
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Rather, they take the initiative to get help. Furthermore, they are willing to accept help when it is offered. By contrast, unsuccessful individuals are not as likely to actively seek support or accept it when offered. All people with learning disabilities experience stress in their lives as a result of living with learning problems. Such stress can be experienced in a variety of settings -- school, work, home, and social life. In some cases, the stress can be so significant that it leads to psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression.
However, although all persons with learning disabilities may experience disability-related stress, successful individuals appear to have developed effective means of reducing and coping with stress, frustration, and the emotional aspects of their learning disabilities. In particular, there appear to be three components of successful emotional coping:.
For example, a successful adult with learning disabilities in our study manages her anxiety attacks by recognizing that reading aloud in a group triggers anxiety, physical symptoms such as rapid breathing are signs of stress, and slow deep breathing reduces her anxiety. Successful individuals have developed strategies for reducing stress and avoiding resulting psychological difficulties. Such strategies include seeking counseling, asking others to do unmanageable tasks on the job, changing activities periodically so stress does not build up, expressing feelings, asserting oneself, utilizing peer support and encouragement, learning to ask for help, planning ahead for difficult situations, keeping away from negative or critical persons, obtaining medication if necessary, working out differences with friends and family, and sharing with sympathetic family members.
Whereas recognizing triggers and using coping strategies helps successful individuals with learning disabilities cope, unsuccessful persons with learning disabilities report being blindsided by events that cause stress. When overly stressed or emotionally wrought, they have great difficulty thinking of potential resources -- both internal and external -- to help them reduce stress and regain stability.
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