What is a Learning Disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities, including household tasks, socialising and managing money, which affect a person for their whole life.

A person with a learning disability often takes longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people.

Learning disabilities occur when the brain is still developing, either before, during or soon after birth and there are several things that can cause a learning disability. Before birth there can be things happen to the central nervous system affecting the brain and spinal cord that can cause a learning disability, a child can be born with a learning disability if the mother has an accident or illness while pregnant or if the unborn baby develops certain genes.

A person can also be born with a learning disability if they do not get enough oxygen during childbirth, has a trauma to the head at birth or is born too early.

After birth, a learning disability can be caused by early childhood illnesses, accidents or seizures.

A learning disability can be diagnosed at any time. This could be at birth, noticing a difference in a child’s development. For many it can take a number of years while others may never receive a diagnosis at all. The process to get a diagnosis can be a difficult and emotional experience but is often the first step in accessing care and support.

With varying levels of learning disabilities there are varying levels of support required, these are dependent on the needs of the individual. For example, an individual with a mild learning disability may require support with areas such as getting a job, compared to someone who has a severe or profound learning disability who may require full time care and support with every aspect of their lives. They may also have physical disabilities.

People with certain specific conditions can have a learning disability too. For with Down’s syndrome and some people with autism have a learning disability as well.

There are a number of different learning disabilities, they can be mild, moderate, severe or profound. For all individuals with a learning disability, it is lifelong.

Mild learning disabilities can be hard to diagnose as the individual can often mix well with others and may be able to cope with most everyday tasks, however they may need support in other areas such as filling out forms.

Those individuals with a severe learning disability or profound multiple learning disability (PMLD) will require more care and support with areas including mobility, personal care and communication. There are those with a moderate learning disability who may also need support in these areas but not definitely.

For parents of people with learning disabilities the greatest concern is their wellbeing and future. As a parent of a child with a learning disability it is important to help them by encouraging their strengths and putting in place the right support to help them overcome the things, they find difficult. Every child is an individual with their own individual needs, but putting in place the right support children with a learning disability can lead fulfilling lives in the way that they choose.

There is often confusion between a learning disability and learning difficulties. Learning difficulties, unlike a learning disability, does not affect intellect and can be conditions including dyslexia or ADHD.

Staff at Moonrise are experienced and trained in supporting those with a Learning Disability – contact us to find out how we can support you.

To find our more about Learning Disabilities and this years Learning Disability Week (19th-25th June) visit: Learning Disability Week | Mencap

Popular Articles

Other News & Articles