What is a Learning Disability?
Experts estimate that six to ten per cent of children in schools have a learning disability. These children appear to be no different than their peers because there are no outward signs of a learning disability. It is referred to as the "invisible handicap."
In general, children with learning disabilities have difficulties processing information. These difficulties involve the reception of information through the senses, the storage of information in the brain, the retrieval of information from storage and the expression of information through oral or written language. In addition, many of these children experience difficulties in focusing attention. These difficulties are evident during schooling, but they may also affect a child's social functioning.
The characteristics of an individual child's learning disability are unique. Even when two children have difficulties with language, the degree of difficulty may be quite different and effective teaching strategies can vary considerably.
Children with learning disabilities may have severe deficits in information processing in one or more of the following areas:
Areas Affected by a Learning Disability:
A history of frustration, anxiety and tension caused by the failure to learn can lead to very low self-esteem and little self-confidence. Research indicates that difficulties in learning is prevalent in most people with these experiences.
Symptoms Commonly Related to Learning Disabilities
Services in Ontario
Local Board Of Education
The Ministry of Education offers residential schools with resource services for students with severe learning disabilities or with severe learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. There are four schools:
There are formal procedures that school boards and parents must follow to access the services provided by Demonstration Schools ( click here to see referral process)
Finding out that a student has a learning disability is often a relief to students and parents. It is the first step in understanding one's learning difficulty and seeking out the strategies that can help maximize learning and cope with the deficits. When a student is identified with a learning disability, we know two things for certain. One, that he/she has at least average intelligence and two, that he/she learns in a different way. Unlocking the mystery of how an individual learns is a difficult task, but not an impossible one. The first step begins with the identification. Next, individuals need to identify those areas that cause difficulties for them and work out ways of coping with those difficulties. Once this has been accomplished, students need to be able to advocate for themselves, explaining in appropriate ways to teachers, what they need to succeed in a given academic situation. A learning disability does not disappear when a student leaves school. Many adults with a learning disability have learned to use strategies for coping with their learning difficulties and are very successful in their life long endeavors.