LDs – What they ARE and are NOT

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There are many misconceptions about learning disabilities (LDs), which often affect preemies. Here is a quick review of LDs – first, the misconceptions, and then the truth.

LDs are NOT…

• the result of laziness.

• caused by a child’s home environment or cultural factors.

• the same as autism.

• the same as an intellectual disability (formerly called “mental retardation.”) In fact, persons with LDs have average or above average intelligence, and some are gifted!

• all the same. There are various kinds and degrees of LDs (mild to severe) and a child can have more than one kind.

• curable, and a child will NOT outgrow them. But they are treatable and most kids that receive appropriate educational interventions and supports overcome obstacles.

• associated with blindness or deafness.


• often unidentified or under-identified. Many students (as much as 15%) struggle in school as a result of having a learning disability that is not diagnosed or treated.

• prevalent.  Almost half (42%) of kids receiving special education services are children with learning disabilities. Roughly 2.4 million children in public schools in the U.S. have been identified as having LDs.

• more common in boys. Two thirds of students identified with LDs are boys.

• treatable. Through appropriate educational programs, kids with LDs are able to learn in school and succeed in life.

• brain based disorders, and often co-exist with attention problems.

• often seen to run in families.

The key to success is…

• getting a diagnosis as early as possible.

• getting help and support in place. “Specific learning disability” is one of the 13 conditions that qualifies a child for special education and related services.  (The other 58% in special ed have the remaining 12 qualifying conditions.)

• providing positive reinforcement so that a child’s self-esteem is not damaged.

• understanding your child’s diagnosis so that you can be an effective advocate for him. Arm yourself with information. See prior posts for general info on LDs, and specific info on dyslexia, dysgraphia and even dyspraxia and CAPD (cousins to LDs).

Have questions? Send them to

Source:  Data for this post provided by NCLD’s 2014 publication of “The State of Learning Disabilities: Facts, Trends and Emerging Issues.”

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). As always, we welcome your comments and input.


  • comment-avatar
    Ellison March 16, 2014

    I was born at 1 pound 10 ounces my twin was 2 pounds (he lived 1 month) we were born in ’86 the smallest born in Greenville Memorial Hospital. This is very true and I’m thankful I have supportive parents my Mom had a degree in Special Education that benefitted me growing up. So thankful for supportive, parents, family, teachers, and Disability Services throughout my schooling. Very blessed! One of the many things I have been coping with is who different the world is outside of college with not really support or understand plus people not understanding.

  • comment-avatar

    Do all children with LD’s have to be placed with a IEP in order to get special assistance in schools?

  • comment-avatar
    Barbara March 17, 2014

    Please see my prior posts on how a child qualifies for special education (with an IEP). It is also possible for children to receive services through a 504 plan. (without an IEP). It all depends on the individual needs of the child. If you have additional questions, feel free to send them to
    March of Dimes