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What is a Learning Disability?

by | Feb 13, 2024 | Learning, New Port Richey, Requirements, Riverview, Tampa | 0 comments

What is a learning disability - Pepin Academies

Pepin Academies is a school that was specifically chartered to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities or other learning-related impairments.

A learning disability is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that can significantly impact a student’s ability to learn. According to the Florida State Board of Education Rule 6A-6.03018, a specific learning disability is defined as a “disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in learning or in language, spoken, or written, that may manifest in significant difficulties in the ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematics.”

What does that mean exactly? While many people may have difficulty in one of these areas, the “difficulty” may not mean they have a “disability.”

For a child to be able to receive exceptional education services, they must be found eligible for these services by being diagnosed with a disability in the area of learning. In brief, they must exhibit a significant discrepancy between their intellectual ability and their academic achievement. This determination must be conducted by a team of qualified professionals that includes the child’s parents. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that 8 to 10 percent of children below the age of 18 have some type of learning disability.

Learning disabilities can manifest themselves in many different ways.

Reading, written expression, and/or math are the three major areas that are typically impacted by a learning disability. The term, dyslexia, refers to the lack of proficiency in reading, spelling, and/or writing. Dysgraphia describes the difficulties a student may have in getting their thoughts down on paper. It can include difficulty in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and handwriting. Difficulties in learning number-related concepts or the symbols necessary to perform mathematical functions is called dyscalculia.

While these specific terms are used to describe various types of disabilities, they alone cannot be considered areas of eligibility for a specific learning disability. Whether or not these difficulties can be considered a disability depends upon their severity and/or the ability of the student to compensate for their deficits.

For instance, some of us may not be able to calculate a 20% tip for the cost of a meal in our “heads” and rely on the calculator in our phones to conduct the operation or we frequently use an online dictionary to find the correct spelling of a word because of weak spelling skills. These minor weaknesses or the use of such accommodations do not necessarily constitute evidence of a learning disability. When the difficulties become so significant that the student cannot compensate for them without specialized teaching and accommodations, it is then characterized as a disability.

If you would like to read more about the most common types of learning disabilities and how they affect a child’s learning, a great source of information is the Learning Disabilities Association of America. (https://ldaamerica.org/disability_type/learning-disabilities/ )

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