Understanding the Problem

What is a learning disability anyway? A definition I like comes from T. Lewin in his New York Times article: “College toughens its stance on learning disabilities [aid.”]] He captures the frustration of living with learning disabilities by defining them as “the unexpected failure to learn, despite adequate intelligence, motivation, and instruction.” (2/13/96 – p. 1)

My book “Smart but Stuck” elaborates: Learning disabilities are disorders that, in contrast to an individual’s intelligence, interfere with his or her ability to achieve and can get in the way of comfortably functioning [in] the following areas.







•mathematical calculations

•interacting with others

In other words, learning disabilities can interfere with normal academic functioning or can create difficulties in relating to other people. They are presumed to result from a hardwired problem in one’s brain.” (2001 p. 19) [Incidentally “hardwired” does not necessarily mean there is no way to work around or way to solve the problem.]

An undiagnosed learning disability (ULD) is one that is invisible or overlooked. It’s covert. People who struggle with ULD want more than anything to succeed. But, no matter how hard they try, the struggle never ends. In areas of weakness, achievement is never easy. ULD, then, is experienced as a permanent invisible vacuum in one’s brain that creates mysterious impasses that prevent learning. It’s not surprising that frustration is a serious byproduct of ULD.