What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people. 

The level of support someone needs depends on the individual. For example, someone with a mild learning disability may only need support with things like getting a job. However, someone with a severe or profound learning disability may need full­time care and support with every aspect of their life – they may also have physical disabilities.

People with certain specific conditions can have a learning disability too. For example, people with Down’s syndrome and some people with autism have a learning disability. 

It’s important to remember that with the right support, most people with a learning disability in the UK can lead independent lives.

------------------

Learning disability is often confused with dyslexia and mental health problems. AMW describes dyslexia as a “learning difficulty” because, unlike learning disability, it does not affect intellect. 

Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time and may be overcome with treatment, which is not true of learning disability.

------------------

There are different types of learning disability, which can be mild, moderate or severe. In all cases a learning disability is lifelong.

It can be difficult to diagnose a mild learning disability as the individual will often mix well with others and will be able to cope with most everyday tasks. However, they may need support in other areas of their life such as filling out forms.

People with a severe learning disability or profound and multiple learning disability (PMLD), will need more care and support with areas such as mobility, personal care and communication. People with a moderate learning disability may also need support in these areas, but not definitely.

A PHP Error was encountered

Severity: Warning

Message: Unknown: write failed: Disk quota exceeded (122)

Filename: Unknown

Line Number: 0

A PHP Error was encountered

Severity: Warning

Message: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct (/tmp)

Filename: Unknown

Line Number: 0