Learning disabilities

Learning disabilities are disorders of the basic processes involved in understanding or using the spoken or written language. They can cause difficulty with listening, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or doing math calculations.

Learning disabilities are distinct from learning difficulties that are a result of visual, motor, or hearing problems, or that are associated with mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Learning disabilities may be caused by:

  • Heredity. Learning disabilities tend to run in families.
  • Problems during pregnancy and childbirth. Learning disabilities may be caused by illness or injury during or before birth or by the use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Incidents after birth. Head injuries, poor nutrition, exposure to poisonous substances such as lead, and child abuse can contribute to learning disabilities.

Last Updated: December 29, 2008

Author: Jeannette Curtis

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics

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