Understanding Learning Differences

A specific learning disability (SLD) is a problem in understanding or in using spoken or written language.

This may cause problems in areas of listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or mathematics.  The term does not refer to neurological disorders, autism, mental retardation, emotional/behavioral disorders, visual, auditory, or motion impairments.

It is estimated that 20% of schoolchildren have a diagnosed SLD, although this does not account for those who have not been evaluated and diagnosed.

Any of the following learning functions may be affected:

  • Ability to collect, and make sense of information presented
  • Ability to sort, organize, and categorize information
  • Ability to memorize and store information (especially apparent in recalling sequences such as in spelling or math)
  • Ability to express information either orally or in writing

An SLD can range from mild to severe.  Even a child with a mild learning disability can benefit from some type of intervention. It is common for children with a learning disability to have average to above average intelligence.


Many people think of dyslexia when they hear the term learning differences.  Dyslexia is still widely misunderstood among the general population.  Fortunately, the researchers, neuroscientists, and educators in this field have demystified dyslexia.  The brain of a dyslexic person uses different, less efficient, pathways to read.  Remediation includes training the brain to use the neural pathways which strong readers use.  The process is systematic, sequential, and multi-sensory.  And it works.  After being exposed to the methodology in a recent seminar, I was so impressed with how it works that I enrolled in SMU’s Learning Therapy Program to become a licensed dyslexia therapist.  I look forward to beginning my clinical supervision and practice in summer 2012.

For more information on this particular reading disorder, I would highly recommend the book, Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.  The title says it all; yes, there is more than hope.  There is research.

“A child with dyslexia is in need of a champion, someone who will be his support and his unflinching advocate; his cheerleader when things are not going well; his friend and confidant…; his advocate who by actions and comments will express optimism for his future.  Perhaps most important, the struggling reader needs someone who will not only believe in him but will translate that belief into positive action… Whatever his strengths are– the ability to reason, to analyze,  to conceptualize, to be creative, to have empathy, to imagine, or to think in novel ways– it is imperative that these strengths be identified, nurtured, and allowed to define that child.”
~ Sally Shaywitz, M.D.

Learn more about this book on Amazon.

Kelley Carter is a private tutor specializing in College test preparation, learning differences, and ADD; she works in Dallas, Texas and also serves the Lakewood, Highland Park, and Lake Highlands communities.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>