According to research compiled by the National Institutes of Health, approximately 15-20% of children and adults in the United States (over 39 million people) have a neurological impairment called a learning disability.
Learning disabilities affect a person's ability to process, store, retrieve, and/or produce information. It can affect an individual's ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell, read, compute math, and/or relate to others in social situations. While this impairment is considered a handicap, it is often considered a "hidden handicap," as children with learning disabilities do not always have a physical difference. It is this very fact that often leads to the extreme frustration which individuals with learning disabilities face every day. Appearing "normal," society expects that they function without difficulty. When this does not occur, we often term these children "lazy," "unmotivated," "dumb," or "spacey." However, children with learning disabilities possess average to above average intelligence, and the learning disability creates a discrepancy between their potential and their achievement.
Without understanding, increased awareness, and the appropriate interventions from parents and professionals, learning disabilities can have serious consequences not only for the child, but also for society. The loss of self-esteem that is created by a lack of success in school and life is a major concern itself. However, learning disabilities left untreated and misunderstood are highly correlated statistically with illiteracy, juvenile delinquency, increased school drop out rates, substance abuse and other societal problems. The following facts indicate the importance of early identification and education of children with learning disabilities.
- 2.9 million children in the United States have a diagnosed learning disability
- More than 60,000 children in the state of Missouri have diagnosed learning disabilities
- 50-80% of adults with severe literacy problems have a learning disability
- 40-70% of juvenile delinquents tested in regional studies are LD; when offered remedial services, their recidivism rates dropped to below 2%
- Adolescents who have learning disabilities are at increased risk for drug and alcohol abuse and an estimated 17-60% of adolescents in treatment for substance abuse had learning disabilities
- 35% of students who have been identified as having LD drop out of high school - how many have not yet been identified?
- 62% of students with LD were not fully employed one year after graduating from high school
- LD and substance abuse are the most frequently cited impairments that inhibit a welfare client's ability to gain and retain employment and fiscal independence
The above information was taken from information published by the National Center for Learning Disabilities