What is Learning Disability? National Center for Learning Disabilities Luncheon #Dyslexia

Two weeks ago, I went to a luncheon to learn about the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), hosted by two Philly Social Media Moms, Colleen and Whitney.  The NCLD is an organization that provides support and resources to families living with a learning disability, and educating the public on what a learning disability (LD) is.

Traditionally, people, including myself, think of a learning disability as something that comes hand-in-hand with a type of condition such as autism or Down syndrome.  In reality, that is not an accurate description.  According to NCLD, learning disabilities are “a group of varying disorders that have a negative impact on learning.”  Neuro-typical children can have learning disabilities and thus have difficulty learning in traditional settings, leading to high levels of high school and college drop out rates.  Learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia: Difficulty with reading
  • Dysgraphia: Difficulty with handwriting
  • Dyscalculia: Difficulty with math
  • Dyspraxia: Difficulty with motor skills

These affect a person’s ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do math, but they are not intellectual or developmental disabilities.  LD is not:

  • Visual, hearing or motor disabilities
  • Developmental disabilities, such as autism or Down syndrome
  • Problems that arise from cultural, environmental, or economic disadvantages

Finally, a child can have any one of those things I just listed AND an LD. For example, Zoe has dysgraphia and Amelia has dyscalculia.  For a neurotypical child, these issues can be addressed if the school is willing to work with you.  An example that was frequently brought up in the luncheon (and in an old video clip of “90210”) is difficulty with test taking, in a crowded and timed setting.  Given test-taking adaptations, some kids with LD can perform wonderfully.

Here is a small sampling of the resources available on dyslexia at the NCLD website:

I want to thank Dr. Sheldon Horowitz for taking the time to share this information with us.  This kind of resources empowers parents and kids dealing with a learning disability to overcome it and be successful as students and in life.  Head over to the NCLD at LD.org to learn more, and to find support if you think your child has a learning disability.


  1. says

    Thanks so much for coming Gina, and for posting! I love that NCLD is helping to spread the awareness and break the stereotype that, like you said, a learning disability is something more severe than it is. There are so many varying degrees!

    Dr. Horowitz was awesome – I hope to learn more from him and the NCLD moving forward. My eyes were definitely opened!
    Whitney Wingerd recently posted…Xbox 360 Game Review: Marvel Avengers Battle for EarthMy Profile

    • Gina B says

      Yes, mine were too! I didn’t know about the handwriting disability, for example, but I’m looking into that. Zoe really has a lot of difficulty with this skill. Thank you for inviting me.

    • Gina B says

      Thanks. Yes, I looked at what came home the other day, and wow! I thought progress had been made since Zoe can now color in the lines, but handwriting is off as ever. Yes, the site is an awesome tool!

  2. says

    Hi Gina, just stumbled across this interesting post. Great summary. Just to confuse matters, in the UK we DO refer to people with Down’s Syndrome, autistic spectrum disorders etc as having learning disabilities. It can get very confusing in work in these fields which stretches across different countries!
    Personally, I prefer “developmental disability” for Down’s etc., but I do wish countries could get together and agree on definitions!

    • Gina B says

      Hi Tess, well, until this luncheon, I had always said “learning disability” too. It does, though, make it clear between inherent difficulties with a specific learning task and delays caused by a condition. I use developmental disability as well, but to me, those seem to talk about kids not reaching milestones. The speaker said, “What used to be called MR,” but I won’t use that term at all, now that it’s erased from formal usage (as in, for state support). The official term is now “intellectual disability” but as soon as that was used, the controversy against that started! For me, labeling is far less relevant than finding out what is behind a difficulty and looking for both trusted and new solutions to help our kids work with it, work around it, or solve it.