Dr. Shahal Rozenblatt, Clinical Neuropsychologist, New York

USAToday- What a learning disorder is not

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What a learning disorder is not

Despite an increased understanding that kids learn differently, a majority of Americans still do not completely understand what conditions are related to learning disabilities, a new poll says. The report by the Tremaine Foundation, which supports programs in arts, environment and disabilities, is based on a telephone poll of 1,000 adults.

The report says that 79 percent of parents and 80 percent of non-parents incorrectly associate mental retardation with a learning disorder. A majority of Americans also incorrectly associate attention deficit disorder (ADD), emotional disorders and autism with learning disorders, all of which are unrelated to learning disabilities.

We still see a great confusion among the public and among the teachers as to what learning disabilities are and are not, says Tremaine Foundation president Stewart Hudson.

A learning disorder does not affect a person’s intelligence but rather affects the brain’s ability to process, store, and respond to information, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Dyslexia, difficulty reading and processing language, and dyscalculia, difficulty processing math, are two common learning disabilities.

These misconceptions may lead to shortcomings in addressing learning disabilities in schools.

It makes us wonder – if there’s a lack of understanding at this level, how does this play out in the classroom where the rubber meets the road?says James Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Signs in children, like language difficulties and trouble with letters and numbers, do not always indicate a learning disability, but parents should address problems early, says Virginia Buysse of the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.