10 percent of population affected by learning disabilities


Recent research indicates that up to 10 percent of the population is affected by specific learning disabilities, including dyslexia, dyscalculia and autism. That’s two or three students in every classroom across the U.S.

The new study helps to clarify the underlying causes of learning disabilities and the best way to serve affected individuals and education professionals.

Atypical brain development

The researchers state that specific learning disabilities arise from atypical brain development with complicated genetic and environmental causes. Conditions like dyslexia, dyscalculia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder and specific language impairment can arise.

Multiple diagnoses common

Children are frequently affected by more than one of these learning disabilities, compounding the problem of how to best treat them. For instance, among children with ADHD, 33 to 45 percent also have dyslexia and 11 percent have dyscalculia.

Lead author Brian Butterworth, professor at UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, explained:

We now know that there are many disorders of neurological development that can give rise to learning disabilities, even in children of normal or even high intelligence, and that crucially these disabilities can also co-occur far more often that you'd expect based on their prevalence. We are also finally beginning to find effective ways to help learners with one or more SLDs, and although the majority of learners can usually adapt to the one-size-fits-all approach of whole-class teaching, those with SLDs will need specialized support tailored to their unique combination of disabilities.

Educational system needs to be flexible

By understanding how these learning differences interact with formal education, the study group hopes that more specialized programs can be developed.

“Each child has a unique cognitive and genetic profile, and the educational system should be able to monitor and adapt to the learner’s current repertoire of skills and knowledge,” concluded Butterworth.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Science

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