Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), also known as Learning Disabilities (LD), is a disability category used by the federal government to define a complex cluster of lifelong neurobiological disorders that can severely interfere with a person's ability to acquire competency in one or more of the following areas:
Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) result from differences in the way a persons brain is wired. SLD negatively impact the manner in which an individual interprets what is seen and heard and the ability to connect ideas within the brain. The brain of a child or adult with SLD is usually structured differently. Many types of Specific Learning Disabilities occur before birth while the brain is forming.
Moderate to severe Specific Learning Disabilities prevent children and adults from processing and using information in a meaningful manner. SLD can severely impact an individuals ability to learn to read, write, speak, understand spoken language, organize, plan, remember, and/or do basic mathematics.
Specific Learning Disabilities are sometimes called an invisible handicap, because the disability often cannot be readily seen or noticed. The ways in which Specific Learning Disabilities are displayed vary over an individuals lifetime, depending on the interaction between the demands of the environment and the individuals learning abilities and learning weaknesses. SLD often go unnoticed until a child enters school since school requires complex learning activities such as reading and math and more sophisticated forms of information processing. These are the types of activities which are very difficult to learn for many children with SLD.
Common types of SLD include the following: difficulty learning to read and spell, problems with mathematics, difficulty with handwriting, and difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision. There are a variety of clinical terms used to define specific types of SLD. Under this umbrella of SLD are such terms as reading disability, dyslexia (difficulties with fluent reading, poor spelling and decoding abilities), dyscalculia or math disorders, dysgraphia or handwriting disorders, auditory and visual processing disorders, nonverbal learning disabilities, etc.