​​1. How do the terms neurodevelopmental disorder and learning disability relate to one another?

The term “neurodevelopmental disorders” includes intellectual development​al disorders, communication disorders, austism spectrum disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, specific learning disorders and motor disorders.

The term “learning disability” includes a subset of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as specific learning disorders.

The term “neurodevelopmental disorder” is commonly used within the medical/insurance community; the term “learning disability” is commonly used within the education community.

2. What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a neurodevelopmental disorder that negatively impacts one or more of the basic neurological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

​3. How common are learning disabilities?

According to the National Institutes of Health, one in seven Americans has a learning disability.

4.  What are the different types of learning disabilities?

Dyslexia: A language-based disorder in which a person has trouble understanding written words. It may also be referred to as a reading disorder.

Dyscalculia: A mathematical disorder in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.

Dysgraphia: A writing disorder in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.

Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders: A sensory disability in which a person has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision.

Nonverbal Learning Disorder:  A neurological disorder which originates in the right hemisphere of the brain, causing problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative and holistic processing functions.

5.  What is the most common type of learning disability?

The most common type of learning disability involves basic reading and language skills.  As many as 80% of students with a learning disability struggle with reading.

6. How is a learning disability diagnosed?

Several criteria must be met before a learning disability can be diagnosed. First, the student must exhibit a significant discrepancy between his/her academic potential and his/her academic achievement. Next, the student must exhibit deficiencies in specific neurodevelopmental processes. Finally, the student’s observed underachievement must not be due primarily to visual or auditory impairment, emotional disturbance, mental retardation, or environmental disadvantage.

7.  What are Dr. Smith’s unique qualifications as they relate to the diagnosis and treatment of learning disabilities?

Dr. Smith has doctoral degree (PhD), a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in Learning Disabilities from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL).  The Learning Disabilities Program at Northwestern University is one of the most highly-regarded programs of its kind in the world.  She has over twenty-five years of experience treating children with neuroeducational disorders within various clinical, public school and private school settings.

8. Is Attention Deficit Disorder a neuroeducational disorder?

Attention Deficit Disorder is not a learning disability.  However, 15-50% of individuals who have Attentional Deficit Disorder also have a learning disability. 

9. What is the most effective treatment plan for a student with a learning disability?

The most effective treatment plan for a student with a learning disability is an individualized plan that is designed to meet the student’s unique needs. In general, research-based, systematic, and multisensory approaches (involving the presentation of information simultaneously through visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic channels) usually yield the best results. Further, while the teaching method is important, the teacher’s knowledge base and expertise are even more critical.

10.  Where should I go to learn more about learning disabilities?

The best resources in the world for learning more about learning disabilities are listed on the Resources page of this website.