You may be wondering what we mean when we use the term “learning and attention issues.” Maybe you’ve heard other terms, like “learning disabilities,” and are confused. Are learning and attention issues the same thing or something different? Here we explain what learning and attention issues are, what they are not, and why we call them that.
What are learning and attention issues?
The term “learning and attention issues” covers a wide range of challenges kids may face in school, at home and in the community. It includes all children who are struggling—whether their issues have been formally identified or not.
Learning and attention issues are brain-based difficulties. They often run in families. Roughly 20 percent of children have learning and attention issues.
Kids with learning and attention issues could be struggling in different ways and to varying degrees. They may have trouble with reading, writing, math, organization, concentration, listening comprehension, social skills, motor skills or a combination of these.
What are they not?
Learning and attention issues are not the result of where or how a child grows up. They’re also not just “kids being lazy.” Having these issues doesn’t mean a child isn’t intelligent. In fact, kids with learning and attention issues are just as smart as their peers.
Sometimes people mix up learning and attention issues with other conditions. For instance, some people equate learning and attention issues with intellectual disabilities, even though they’re not the same thing. You might also hear people attribute learning and attention issues to poor vision or hearing. It’s true that some learning and attention issues may result from how the brain processes sights and sounds. But this isn’t the same as having poor eyesight or hearing.
Why do we use the term “learning and attention issues”?
We’ve chosen to use the term “learning and attention issues” to be inclusive. Some kids are struggling in school but haven’t been formally identified with a disability or disorder.
For example, one child may struggle with reading while another struggles with reading and has been formally identified as having dyslexia. Our resources can help the parents of both of these children.
Why not stick with terms like “disability” or “disorder”?
Terms like “disability” and “disorder” are necessary to open doors to important services and supports for kids with learning and attention issues. But some parents aren’t comfortable with these legal and medical terms. We want to help these parents recognize and understand their child’s issues—and get their child on a path to success without concern over labels or stigma.
Is Understood for all parents?
We created Understood specifically for parents of children with learning and attention issues. Dyslexia and ADHD (which affects roughly one-third of kids with learning disabilities) are examples of common learning and attention issues.
Understood may be helpful for parents whose children struggle because of autism spectrum disorders, mental health issues or intellectual disabilities. But it’s not specifically geared to meet their needs.