Learning disability and intellectual disability are two terms that we often tend to confuse with one another as if there is no difference between them. In fact, these refer to two particular disabilities that are different from one another. In Intellectual disabilities, the individual has a lower IQ than average and has difficulty in engaging in day to day activities due to a certain lack of skills. Learning disability, on the other hand, is an umbrella term, which is used to refer to a variety of disabilities in learning. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two types of disabilities.
What is Intellectual Disability?
An individual with an intellectual disability displays intelligence that is considered as below average. Such an individual may have difficulty in carrying out daily activities as he or she lacks the necessary skill set. Sometime back, people with intellectual disabilities were considered as mentally retarded. However, nowadays this term is not much in use and has been replaced by the term ‘intellectual disability.’ There are certain characteristics that can be observed in a person who suffers from an intellectual disability. He would have difficulty in communicating effectively, solving problems, reasoning, making decisions and learning. The IQ of an individual who has an intellectual disability is usually less than 70.
These disabilities can be identified by specialists through observing the behavior of children and their interactions with others. If the child displays behavioral issues, where they would display uncontrollable anger and frustration, have difficulty in remembering things and taking care of oneself such as eating, dressing, and encounter difficulties in solving problems, there is a tendency that such a child may be suffering from intellectual disabilities. However, it is vital to get the opinion of a specialist before coming to conclusions.
What is Learning Disability?
A learning disability should not be considered as an intellectual disability mainly because it refers to the issues or problems that the child encounters in the process of learning, and these are not intellectual problems. When speaking of learning disabilities, this can apply to a number of problems. However, this does not denote that the child has a lower IQ or lacks skills, but that his patterns of learning are different from the majority. A child can display disabilities in terms of listening, reading, writing, speaking, mathematical problem-solving and calculations, etc. These are usually viewed as learning disabilities.
Since learning disabilities are varied, it can be quite difficult to identify whether the child is suffering from a learning disability or not. These also differ according to different stages of childhood. A very young child may have difficulty in identifying colors, letters, problems in pronouncing, rhyming, coloring within the lines, tying the shoe laces, etc. But a much older child can have difficulty in solving math problems, reading aloud, writing, difficulty in comprehension, etc.
Some of the most common learning disabilities are Dyslexia ( Difficulty in reading), Dysgraphia (difficulty in writing), Dyscalculia (Difficulty in mathematics), Aphasia (Difficulty in language comprehension), Auditory processing disorder (Difficulty in hearing sound differences), and visual processing disorder (Difficulty in understanding maps, charts, pictures, etc.)
This highlights that intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities are two different things.
What is the difference between Learning Disability and Intellectual Disability?
• Areas of Difficulty:
• An individual with an intellectual disability displays intelligence that is considered as below average.
• An individual with learning disabilities has difficulty in the process of learning.
• A person with an intellectual disability may have difficulty in carrying out daily activities as he or she lacks the necessary skill set.
• However, those with learning disabilities do not have any difficulty in carrying out daily activities. They are perfectly capable of functioning without such difficulty, but display disabilities in terms of listening, reading, writing, speaking, mathematical problem-solving and calculations, etc.
• IQ level:
• An individual with an intellectual disability displays a lower IQ.
• However, an individual with learning disabilities does not display a lower IQ.
• Signs and Symptoms:
• A person with intellectual disability displays uncontrollable anger and frustration, have difficulty in remembering things and taking care of oneself such as eating, dressing, and encounter difficulties in communicating effectively, solving problems, reasoning, making decisions and learning.
• In the case of learning disabilities, identification is quite difficult as learning disability is varied and differ according to different stages of childhood.
- IQ Curve by Alessio Damato, Mikhail Ryazanov (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Visual-dyslexia by Charlesjsharp (CC BY 2.5)