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Learning Disabilities Mini Fact Sheet

DESCRIPTION: Learning disabilities are disorders that affect the ability to understand or use spoken or written language, do mathematical calculations, coordinate movements, or direct attention. Although learning disabilities occur in very young children, the disorders are usually not recognized until the child reaches school age.

TREATMENT: The most common treatment for learning disabilities is special education. Specially trained educators may perform a diagnostic educational evaluation assessing the child's academic and intellectual potential and level of academic performance. Once the evaluation is complete, the basic approach is to teach learning skills by building on the child's abilities and strengths while correcting and compensating for disabilities and weaknesses. Other professionals such as speech and language therapists also may be involved. Some medications may be effective in helping the child learn by enhancing attention and concentration. Psychological therapies may also be used.

PROGNOSIS: Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions. In some people, several overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Other people may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on their lives.

RESEARCH: The NINDS and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and the National Institute of Mental Health support research on learning disabilities. Current research avenues focus on developing techniques to diagnose and treat learning disabilities and increase understanding of the biological basis of learning disabilities.

These articles, available from a medical library, may provide more in-depth information on learning disabilities:

Silver, LB. "Controversial Approaches to Treating Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder." American Journal of Diseases of Children, 140; 1045-1052 (October 1986).

Lyon, GA, Gray, DB, Kavanagh, JF, and Krasnegor, NA. (eds). Better Understanding Learning Disabilities: New Views From Research and Their Implications for Education and Public Policies, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD (1993).

*Information may also be available from the following organizations (last updated 2-24-00):

International Dyslexia Society
The Chester Building
8600 LaSalle Road
Suite 382
Baltimore, MD 21286-2044
(410) 296-0232

Learning Disabilities Association of America
4156 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15234-1349
(412) 341-1515
(412) 341-8077

National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc.
381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1420
New York, NY 10016
(212) 545-7510

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 31, Room 2A32
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
(301) 496-5133

National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Rm. 7C02
Rockville, MD 20857-8030
(301) 443-4515

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD)
8181 Professional Place, Suite 201
Landover, MD 20785
(301) 306-7070
(800) 233-4050

Information Provided by the courtesy of the National Institute of Mental Health.

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