What Is Involved in Living with a Learning Disability?

Susan Abe

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that impairs a person's ability to process information. More often than not, an individual deals with a constellation of disabilities or symptoms that combine to result in a learning deficit. Living with a learning disability affects more than just learning itself; it also can impact an individual's quality of life and educational and work achievements. The challenges these conditions present may be helped by early diagnosis and intervention, medication, modifications and accommodations, and assistive technology.

A child with a learning disability may have difficulty processing information.
A child with a learning disability may have difficulty processing information.

Difficulties in processing information associated with learning disabilities may affect recognition, learning, retention, recall or application. Among the most well known learning disabilities are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia; however, many more neurological disorders may impact learning. As the term learning disability encompasses so many types of disorders affecting individuals along a continuum of severity, living with a learning disability is an experience unique to each individual.

Someone's quality of life in living with a learning disability depends upon many factors. One of the most important of these is early detection and diagnosis. Early detection of a learning disability allows for the development of educational aids and individualized educational plans (IEDs) that will ideally prevent a child from falling behind his peers. Parent or guardian involvement in developing and monitoring the student's progress helps to ensure family support and education regarding the child's learning disability. A pediatrician specializing in the treatment of children with neurological disorders may prescribe medication to minimize symptoms that interfere with successfully living with a learning disability.

The challenges of living with a learning disability as a young adult are different. A person must decide whether or not to pursue a degree in higher education, and if so, how much his learning disability may impact his studies. Most institutions of higher learning offer modifications to testing and evaluation for individuals with learning disabilities. Employment sometimes also becomes a challenge due to how well a young adult is able to learn a position's duties and responsibilities. In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for any type of employee disability.

As a person matures, living with a learning disability should become second nature and positive steps or assistive devices should be in place to aid learning or retention. A person with dyslexia primarily expressed with numbers, for instance, should learn to double-check telephone numbers to avoid inadvertently transposing digits. Someone who experiences difficulty in remembering or organizing daily tasks can dictate necessary chores as they become apparent and later add these activities to a daily list. Larger jobs can be broken down into smaller tasks for those who suffer from ADHD and require frequent cognitive breaks from an uninterrupted activity. Severe dyslexics can obtain articles, newspapers or books to listen to and supplement comprehension gained from reading.

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