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The Umbrella of Learning Disabilities

By: Samantha E Gill

Come under the umbrella and learn.

First learn, as I did, It is no longer called learning differences it is only called disabilities. Second, they also use the umbrella to help teach and guide us to understand the many terms to describe the disabilities that under the learning disabilities categories.


Let's try to figure it all out together.

As per the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) they endorse the use of the terminology of: "learning disabilities" versus "learning differences" to: "ensure that individuals are appropriately identified as required by these laws in order to receive supports and services as provided by these laws or who deserve equal access to employment and other similar opportunities."

With that being cleared up, what are learning disabilities?

The LDA continues with they are "conditions that affect how a person learns to read, write, speak, and calculate numbers. They are caused by differences in brain structure and affect the way a person's brain processes information."
Sometimes learning disabilities are referred to as "hidden disabilities" because as the LDA describes, "generally speaking, people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence."

So you may be thinking to yourself, why then is this then called a "disability"? Yes, in 2017, "that word" still has certain connotations attached to it.
"That" is because learning disabilities still have that old fashioned stigma still looming unfortunately, but the good news is, being the glass 1/2 full, with articles like these bringing attention and information to people we teach people about it and this only helps everyone understand that although there is not a cure to a learning disability someone with a learning disability can indeed live a wonderful successful live, education, career, family, etc. They just need the right therapies, supports and interventions along the way.

You may hear the term "umbrella" a lot attached to the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. What is super fantastic about this "umbrella" term is picturing it in your mind when describing a number of learning disabilities. If you open up your mind and the umbrella a drop down list will appear underneath of it, if you will.

Here's a quick guide to help us all better understand:

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder. Difficulty processing and remembering language related tasks. Difficulty hearing the differences between sounds. Also problems with reading and language.

Problems with math concepts. They may also struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, using money, and/or have difficulty telling time.


A writing disorder that affects the handwriting ability and fine motor skills. Problems may include illegible handwriting, organizing your ideas, and poor spelling.


Dyslexia is sometimes referred to as a Language-Based / Reading and Learning Disability. You can display problems reading, writing, spelling and/or speaking.


Problems with motor coordination, hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity and/or balance.

Language Processing Disorder

Trouble understanding the spoken language and also struggling with reading comprehension.

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities
Trouble with non-verbal cues (for example: body language, poor coordination, clumsy.)

Visual Processing Disorder
You struggle to interpret visual information. You may have problems with reading, math, maps symbols, pictures or you may reverses letters and/or cannot copy accurately.

If you live in New Jersey and would like to go online for more information here is a great NJ resource:
LDA of New Jersey. The Learning Disabilities Association of NJ (LDANJ) is the state affiliate of LDA of America (LDAA).LDANJ is a nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to providing information, support, and advocacy for children and adults with learning disabilities. Our members include individuals with learning disabilities, their families, and the professionals who serve them. http://www.ldanj.org

Samantha Gill (Sammy) is a Mom of 2 daughters ages 8 and 7 and one service dog, all loudly residing in Northfield. Her girls love to keep active and Sammy loves to write. Check out NJ Addie's law Bill A3690 from 2015.


Last Updated on Thursday, 02 November 2017 18:37

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