Scholars and researchers have constantly argued due to the ambiguity and a lack of consensus in the scientific community in defining what constitutes a learning disability. The difficulty in identifying a universal term is reflected in the multiple terms that are used interchangeably (e.g. learning disabilities, specific learning disabilities, dyslexia, minimal brain dysfunction). Most commonly accepted and used definitions (e.g. IDEIA) can be considered ambiguous as it excludes certain conditions and describes characteristics in terms of abilities, processes, and achievement without discrimination between these terms. The only constant criterion (across definitions) is the discrepancy criterion that is the discrepancy between ability and achievement. In this context, it is important to note the differences in conceptualizing ability and academic achievement. Currently, the scientific community appears to agree that (a) learning disabilities are a distinct disability manifesting in students with low academic achievement, (b) it is a developmental disability that impacts individuals across their lifetime, and (c) it is a product of the interaction between genetic and environmental contributing factors, with environmental factors being determining by sociocultural conditions. Interventions addressing learning disabilities are not always evidence-based; interventions can be influenced by socioeconomic circumstances and policy decisions. Consequently, it is necessary to approach learning disabilities with a holistic and system-based approach rather than try to differentially diagnose them.
Part of the book: Learning Disabilities