What Causes A Learning Disability?

by | Mar 3, 2020

A learning disability can be caused by hereditary and by environmental factors. You can be born with a learning disability because a close relative also had the same problem. Learning disabilities can originate from the genes that you inherit and they can be passed on through family members.  

Circumstances at birth and various toxins within a child’s environment can cause learning disabilities. Irritations to our brain and nervous system that may be caused by a disease, toxins, or injury can result in a portion of the brain developing poorly while an adjacent part of the brain develops normally. In this way, inherited learning disabilities can be triggered or made worse by environmental stressors and difficulties.  

When we think of the term learning disability, most of us understand the word disability. We know what disability means and we have had many common experiences with being disabled. To understand a learning disability however, we need to make sure we share the same definition of what learning actually is.

Learning is acquiring knowledge. Acquiring knowledge implies that one piece of knowledge and wisdom builds onto another. In this manner, we learn through an exchange between ourselves and our environment. 

We perceive our environment through our sensory system and we act on our environment through our motor system. The feedback between our sensory and our motor system creates the potential for expanding our intelligence.

The sensory-motor system is how we acquire knowledge about our self and our environment. It is how we learn. A dysfunction in the sensory-motor system is the entity that goes wrong to cause a learning disability.

Public aquariums have always been interested in teaching us about sea life. They allow us the opportunity to physically interact with tidal pool creatures and other ocean displays. When we do this, it brings out the inquisitive scientist in all of us. We use our sensory-motor system to learn about the animals. We reach out to touch the sea star. When we do so, we are attempting to learn something more about its texture or its movement or some other curious quality.  We are gaining knowledge.

For the joy of testing our intellectual understanding of something and for the pure joy of learning, we will “poke” at our environment. We touch baby crabs in a tidal pool, we change the shape of its habitat to watch its behavior, we may use other parts of our sensory system to learn and interact with items to gain insight and wisdom. Yelling in a canyon to hear an echo, smelling the lovely residue a lavender plant leaves on the fingers, jumping in a puddle to learn its depth. We interact (or poke) at our world all the time to advance our understanding.      

Not everyone has the very same sensory-motor system in order to poke at and learn about the world.  So, we all learn differently.  We learn different things and we learn in different ways.  

This is very true of an individual with a learning disability. We all learn in different ways, but we all need a fully functioning sensory-motor system to learn the best. We also need the two systems to be speaking to one another. A learning disability is caused by some dysfunction in the conversation going on between the sensory-motor system, itself.

When we understand that a learning disability is caused by a dysfunction in the sensory-motor system, we can proceed scientifically to help each child. As parent, teacher, coworker, spouse, or family member of a learning disabled individual we all want to relate and learn from each other.

Finding the way forward with each individual is not always easy and yet, looking at the learning disability through this lens, can yield surprising and immediate solutions. A new way of defining the problem results in new solutions. And a new solution is something all of us could use more of!

Read more on this topic through my blogs on this website and by purchasing my book, Unique Learner Solutions (CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE).





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