What is a Learning Disability?
A Learning Disability is a broad term referring to various impairments in specific cognitive processes that affect the acquisition of reading, writing, math, and language skills of people who have at least average abilities essential for learning. Learning disabilities are suggested by academic under-achievement or achievement maintained only by high levels of effort and support.
Learning disabilities range in severity. While a severe learning disability may be quite apparent in the early elementary school years, mild learning disabilities are frequently not apparent until the high school or post-secondary school years when the demands of their academic program place significant challenges on the person's cognitive processing capabilities.
Since learning disabilities result from impairments in cognitive processes, rather than from other factors such as school absence, learning disabilities are most typically lifelong. However, the way a learning disability interferes with one's functioning depends on the interaction between an individual's cognitive strengths and weaknesses and the demands of their environment.
To optimize outcomes for people with learning disabilities, early identification and access to specialized supports and interventions is preferable, tailored to their learning disability subtype. People with learning disabilities benefit from the provision of specific academic skill instruction, accommodations, compensatory strategies, and the development of self-advocacy skills.
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