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Learning Difficulties or Differences


A learning difference (sometimes called  disability) is an area of weakness in a person's brain function.  We all have areas of strengths and weaknesses, but some students struggle in areas that make learning extra challenging. For example, one student may have trouble correctly receiving verbal information. Another cannot correctly process written information.  Still others might not be able to respond in writing or orally. For others, there are memory or reading struggles. Frustration is a common emotion among students with learning differences. Sometimes they hide their frustration with apathy.  Typically such students will be failing in one or more academic areas or be spending too much time and energy on one subject. Also, they may be inconsistent--able to do a skill one day and unable the next. While these struggles are distressing for parents and children alike, these "areas of weakness" can be retrained for success in academics. 


What is a learning difference?

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Four Key Components of Learning 


The Foundation of NILD 

Educational Therapy

Cognition refers to students' thinking processes such as reasoning, reflecting, attaching meaning, remembering and evaluating.  These skills allow them to adjust, adapt, develop and problem solve in the many varied experiences of life and education. These thinking processes are essential for promoting independent, successful learners.

Perception refers to how we receive and process information presented visually, orally, through touch or movement.  If there is a problem in the way a student perceives information, then his or her responses will be faulty.

Emotions strongly affect our ability to learn effectively.  Frustration over school work, a lack of confidence about communicating the need for help, and uncomfortable relationships with teachers, peers, or parents will negatively affect a students educational success.

Academics is the required content students must learn in a given subject.  In order for this to happen, they must be taught how to learn. Struggling students need help with independent learning skills that they can use in all subject areas to become more efficient and effective learners.


Common Learning Differences

Learning differences are as individual as any other personality trait, but the most common types are dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia.  

Dyslexia is often thought of as the problem which causes people to reverse letters and numbers and see words backwards.  It is this, but also includes a broader reading disability which affects a student's capacity to process language.  Dyslexia can be mild or severe and will affect a student's ability to associate the many different speech sounds with the letters that make those sounds, leading to much struggle with decoding words and reading fluency. 

Dysgraphia refers to a difficulty in writing. It refers to more than just poor handwriting.  It does include the motor skills needed to hold a pencil and write legibly, but also encompasses spelling, vocabulary retrieval, grammar, memory, clarity of thought and the ability to put it all together in written form on paper.   

Dyscalculia means difficulty with calculations and mathematics. This refers to students who struggle with understanding numbers and number concepts, remembering math facts as well as trouble with math reasoning and calculations.

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For more information on various learning difficulties and NILD educational therapy, please visit to the NILD website.

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