Understanding the Difference Between a Learning Disorder and a Learning Disability

Are you battling with learning or cognitive issues? Maybe you are wondering if they fit into the category of a disability, a learning disorder, or something else entirely. It can be tricky to distinguish between the labels. In this article, we will explore the distinctions between learning disorders and disabilities to help you gain clarity.

What is a learning disorder?

A learning disorder is a problem with the use and processing of certain skills that are necessary for successful academic performance. 

Learning disorders can interfere with an individual’s ability to understand, remember, or apply information. These issues may be present in one or more areas of life – for example reading, writing, speaking, math, concentration and organization.

People with learning disorders may also have trouble paying attention or controlling their behavior.

There is not a singular cause of learning disorders. They can be caused by a variety of factors including:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Environmental influences
  • Trauma

Most learning disorders are caused by a combination of factors.

Learning disorders can be very challenging to deal with, but with the right support and treatment, people with learning disorders can lead successful lives.

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to process and respond to information. It is caused by a developmental problem in the way signals are processed in the brain, making it difficult for an individual to learn certain skills, but it does not impair intellect. 

Learning disabilities can range from mild to severe and can affect one or more areas of life, such as reading, writing, math, memory and/or organization.

Like learning disorders, there is no single cause for learning disabilities. They may be caused by a number of factors like genetic predisposition or environmental influences.

Learning disabilities are lifelong conditions that cannot be cured but they can be managed with the right support and treatments.

The difference between a learning disorder and a learning disability

The main difference between learning disorders and disabilities is that learning disorders are caused by difficulty processing certain skills, while learning disabilities are caused by neurological impairments in the brain’s ability to process information. 

In other words, learning disorders are primarily related to how an individual learns and remembers information, while learning disabilities are related to the neurological processing of information.

Both learning disorders and disabilities can be very difficult to manage, but with the right support and treatment, individuals can lead successful lives. It is important to remember that everyone’s experience is unique; there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to learning. The most important thing is to identify the issue and seek support so that you can manage it effectively.

Signs you may have a learning disorder or learning disability

If you are noticing any of the following signs, it is important to talk to a professional who can help determine if you have a learning disorder or disability:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Difficulty understanding and remembering information
  • Trouble with math or reading
  • Trouble organizing tasks or following directions
  • Difficulty with spelling or writing
  • Trouble comprehending what you read
  • Difficulty staying on task

Although learning disorders and learning disabilities are often used interchangeably, they differ in a few key ways. Managing either effectively often requires intervention from educators or healthcare professionals experienced in dealing with these types of issues.  Accommodations or changes to the way information is presented can help those struggling to retain information.

If you think you or someone you know may have a learning disorder or disability, talk to your doctor for further guidance. They can provide information on available treatments and resources that can help you understand and manage the condition effectively.

Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic, a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact us today for more information. A safe space to heal.