These two terms may sound like the same thing, yet there are marked differences between a person with a learning disability and one that has a learning difficulty. It is also difficult for a person to obtain the correct care if they have been misdiagnosed, which is why it is very important to understand the differences as a relative, friend, carer or ask a professional such as fisc healthcare.
Learning disabilities are conditions that affect intelligence and learning across every area of life.
Learning difficulties are conditions that create obstacles to specific forms of learning, yet they won’t affect the person’s overall IQ.
When using this as the foundation for understanding, a person that has a condition like Downs Syndrome is regarded as having a type of learning disability, since this condition will impact every area of the person’s life, which includes their life skills, IQ, health, and their physical condition.
On the other hand, a person that has dyslexia has a type of learning difficulty that will impact only one area, or in some cases other areas that won’t impact all their life skills. For this example, a person with dyslexia may struggle to spell, write, and read, but they are usually still able to function in other areas of their life without requiring ongoing support and care for their condition.
Confusing Mental Health Problems With Learning Disabilities
Unfortunately, it is also common for many people to confuse mental health issues with learning disabilities. While a person that has a type of learning disability can find that the condition impacts their mental abilities and mental health, these conditions are different. People with learning disabilities usually have the condition from birth or it will develop while they are still a child and turn into a “permanent” condition. A mental health problem, on the other hand, can come about at any stage, and in most cases are not permanent.
Treating individuals with mental health issues is also completely different from how people with a learning disability are treated since a mental health problem is often resolved with pharmaceutical treatment and support. Individuals with a learning disability often require ongoing support and care rather than just treating the main condition in order to effectively lead a happy life.
It is crucial that a person with a learning disability receives specialist care that is customised to that person, revolving around their wishes and needs. This involves empowering the individual so that they can take care of their own needs as much as possible.
The Severity Of A Learning Disability
Learning disabilities are categorised as either severe, moderate, or mild.
People that suffer from mild learning disabilities can take care of themselves and communicate, yet they may take slightly longer to learn a new skill. Other individuals cannot talk or communicate and may also have one or more other disabilities.
Certain adults that suffer from a learning disability can still live independently, yet many others will need assistance with daily tasks, including dressing, eating, and washing, for their entire lives. This will also depend on the abilities of the individual and the type of support and care they are receiving.
Young people and children with learning disabilities might also have SEN (special educational needs).
What Are The Causes For Learning Disabilities?
Learning disabilities occur when the brain development of the person is affected before birth, during the birth, or when they are still a child.
The causes can relate to:
- The mother falling ill during the pregnancy
- Issues during birth that have delayed enough oxygen from reaching the brain
- The unborn baby inherits genes from the parents that make developing learning disabilities more likely. This is known as inherited learning disabilities
- An injury or an illness like meningitis during early childhood
In some cases, there are no known causes as to why learning disabilities develop.