Definitions page
Learning disability and dyslexia defined
 
 
   

 

   
 

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Go to "In the news" (above) to watch Ronald D. Davis explain dyslexia - the gift and the disability.

   

 

   
 

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Dyslexia/learning disability defined

 
 

 

 There are many current definitions and labels for the same thought process and list of symptoms.  In Canada and the United States we use the term learning disability, while in the United Kingdom they use the terms dyslexia or specific learning disabilities.

The definitions below summarize dyslexia as problems with processing visual or auditory information, with holding that information in working memory and with kinaesthetic awareness, co-ordination and automaticity.  These can affect academic progress across a variety of subjects.

 

   

Canadian definition

 
 

 

According to the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta:Learning disabilities affect all ages and races

"Learning disabilities” are a number of disorders which may affect the acquisition, organization, retention, understanding or use of verbal or nonverbal information. These disorders affect learning in individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking and/or reasoning. As such, learning disabilities are distinct from global intellectual deficiency.

Learning disabilities result from impairments in one or more processes related to perceiving, thinking, remembering or learning. These include, but are not limited to: language processing, phonological processing, visual spatial processing, processing speed, memory and attention, and executive functions (e.g. planning and decision-making).

Learning disabilities range in severity and may interfere with the acquisition and use of one or more of the following:

  • oral language (e.g. listening, speaking, understanding)
  • reading (e.g. decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition, comprehension)
  • written language (e.g. spelling and written expression)
  • mathematics (e.g. computation, problem solving)

Learning disabilities may also involve difficulties with organizational skills, social perception, social interaction and perspective taking.

 

Dyslexia is a world-wide phenomenonA learning disability is a disorder that affects a person's ability to either interpret what they hear or see or to link information from different parts of the brain. Although the individual with a learning disability has an average or above average IQ, the  disability may become evident in either academic or social situations. The individual can have marked difficulties on certain types of tasks while excelling at others.

Their learning disabilities arise from perceptual problems leading to significant delays in important learning challenges. Often, this condition is referred to as a "hidden disability" since few, if any, obvious external characteristics cause the individual to be seen as different initially.

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United Kingdom definitions

 
 

 

United Kingdom definition of dyslexia:

According to the British Dyslexia Association:

  • It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed and the automatic development of skills that are are unexpected in relation to an individual’s other cognitive abilities.
  • These processing difficulties can undermine the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills, as well as musical notation, and have an effect on verbal communication, organisation and adaptation to change.

These definitions state that dyslexia is not due to the individual’s ability to learn and develop these skills.  It is caused by the way people process information and how that affects their ability to learn.

United Kingdom definition of specified learning difficulties: 

According to Dyslexic.com:

The term specific learning difficulties (SpLD) is frequently used in the [British] education community.  SpLD refers to a difficulty that is specific to a particular area, or that affects a particular process (as distinct from a general learning difficulty, which affects the learning of many different skills).  SpLD includes learning related disabilities such as:

  • Dyslexia: difficulty with written language.
  • Dysphasia: speech and language delay and/or deficit.
  • Dyspraxia: motor and co-ordination difficulties.
  • Dyscalculia: difficulty with mathematical concepts, calculations and interpreting mathematical symbols.
  • Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD).
  • Autism, Aspergers syndrome, Tourette's syndrome.

Dyslexia is an umbrella term for many different labels

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United States definition

 
 

 

According to the National Institutes of Health:

In the US the term learning disability (LD) is used. LD is defined as:

"a disorder that affects people’s ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways: as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, co-ordination, self-control or attention. Such difficulties extend to schoolwork and can impede learning to read, write or do math."
(National Institutes of Health, 1993)

The general view of dyslexia in the US is that it mainly affects reading, and the terms reading disability and dyslexia are used interchangeably.

 

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Rocky Point Academy's definition

 
 

 

 

Dyslexia comes with giftsIntelligent, bright or even gifted individuals, that for no obvious reason, struggle to learn in reading, writing, spelling, math, focus, organization, time management or social skills.  Dyslexia is the ability to think multi-dimensionally.  It is the ability to think in pictures and to register those pictures as real.  Therefore, perception may be altered and what is seen or heard will then be inaccurate.

On this website we take the view that the term dyslexia does not just affect reading and can have a wider impact throughout life.

 

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