Are you the parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or do you know someone who is? Do you feel like your child may be facing unique challenges that require special consideration regarding their academic and daily life? Do you wonder if your child’s autism classifies as a learning disability?
Understanding the difference between autism and a learning disability isn’t easy, as
characteristics between the conditions can overlap. However, autism spectrum disorder is not classified as a learning disability, although it can affect learning, among other vital skill sets, making life more difficult for many.
While understanding how to optimize your neurodivergent child’s learning outcomes can feel daunting, we hope to simplify the process for caregivers facing these challenges.
In this blog post by ABA Centers of Florida, we’ll explore the complexities surrounding autism and how it differs from learning disabilities. We’ll also discuss the benefits of utilizing ABA therapy to manage autism symptoms that can hinder significant aspects of life, like learning.
Through reliable information combined with research, we aim to provide a quality explanation and clarify why autism is not considered a learning disability. By presenting comprehensive information regarding how autism affects an individual, parents can employ more suitable teaching strategies to overcome these complicated obstacles, leading to better learning outcomes for individuals experiencing these conditions.
What Is a Learning Disability?
The term “learning disability” generally describes disorders that impact an individual’s ability to comprehend concepts, utilize spoken or written language, complete mathematical calculations, coordinate movement, and engage in direct attention, all impacting learning. While many people misunderstand these challenges, learning disabilities are more common than many assume, affecting an estimated 5 to 15 percent of school-age children.
It’s essential to recognize that a learning disability isn’t the product of a child’s low IQ or lack of effort. Additionally, most often, learning disabilities require specialized consideration and personalized teaching approaches to compensate for the challenges they impose on learners.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism is a complex developmental condition caused by differences in the brains of those diagnosed. Individuals with autism often have trouble in social communication and interactions. Additionally, they can exhibit repetitive and restricted interests and behaviors.
Although many refer to autism as a learning disability, the condition encompasses many abilities and deficits. Many on the autism spectrum additionally experience difficulty understanding emotions, abstract concepts, and demonstrating imaginative play, among other impairments.
Caregivers and educators must recognize that everyone touched by neurodiversity has a unique and distinct experience with the condition. In many cases, while autism hinders several aspects of life, many carrying the diagnosis excel in areas like music, art, and advocacy.
It’s also important to note that bad parenting or environmental factors do not cause autism as older research suggests, and there is no cure. However, with ABA therapy, early intervention, and clinical support, neurodivergent individuals can lead fulfilling lives.
It is crucial to understand and accept people touched by neurodiversity for who they are while celebrating their diverse strengths. The focus of ABA therapy is never to make an individual on the spectrum more “neurotypical” or rote.
What Are the Symptoms of Autism?
The symptoms of autism vary tremendously between patients. Autism symptoms can range from mild, causing the person to seem slightly eccentric, to debilitating, requiring around-the-clock care for daily functioning. Many individuals diagnosed with autism struggle with communication and language abilities in social settings, making participation and inclusivity more complex.
In many cases, individuals on the spectrum also exhibit repetitive or obsessive behaviors and interests. For example, a child with autism may know every NYC subway stop or Disney character but may have trouble discussing other topics.
In other instances, individuals on the spectrum demonstrate complicated behaviors like arm flapping or random shouting as a response to various stimulation, leading to unwanted attention or difficulty focusing. However, these two examples only encompass some people’s experiences.
What Learning Disabilities Are Associated with Autism?
While autism is not a learning disability, many individuals with autism also have a learning disability, affecting their ability to acquire and process information. Some of the most common learning disabilities associated with autism include:
- Dyslexia – impairing an individual’s reading ability
- Dyscalculia – affecting their math skills
- Dysgraphia – impacting an individual’s ability to write
Other learning disabilities often seen in individuals with autism include:
- Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD)
- Executive Functioning Disorders
- Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders
In the case of NVLDs, learners don’t experience difficulties with verbal expression but rather struggle with visual-spatial reasoning. In addition, NVLD can also impair comprehension and an individual’s ability to connect ideas.
What Are the Overlapping Symptoms between Autism and Learning Disabilities?
Autism and learning disabilities are two different conditions, but they can share similar symptoms. Some overlapping symptoms include:
- Poor social skills
- Difficulty with concentration
- Struggles with language and communication
- Poor academic performance
Furthermore, autism and learning disabilities are lifelong conditions with no cure. Both can significantly impact an individual’s life but can improve with proper treatment.
How Can ABA Therapy Help Children with ASD Manage Their Symptoms and Support Better Learning?
Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA therapy is an evidence-based behavioral approach helping individuals on the spectrum manage the complicated features of ASD while highlighting their talents to improve their life.
ABA specialists like Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) employ positive reinforcement techniques – among other robust ABA interventions – to teach new skills while modifying and redirecting behaviors that make daily routines stressful or unmanageable.
With the help of ABA therapy, children and teenagers with autism overcome challenges and expand their developmental potential. Additionally, clients gradually refine their communication, interaction, and problem-solving abilities while being rewarded for appropriate responses.
ABA therapy is comprehensive approach to ASD symptom management, personalizing every learner’s plan to ensure they benefit from sessions long after treatment.
ABA is beneficial for optimizing learning because it breaks tasks down into smaller, more achievable steps, making learning more seamless. With tailored goals and motivating rewards, ABA makes a remarkable difference in the lives of clients and their families, supporting overall autonomy and self-reliance in those receiving care.
Managing Life with Autism for Better Learning Outcomes
Understanding whether your child has a learning disability in addition to autism entails
comprehending what a learning disability is, assessing your child’s symptoms, and seeking support from a licensed provider to establish how to proceed best.
Learning disabilities are neurological disorders that impact an individual’s ability to learn skills or acquire information. Autism is a developmental condition affecting an individual’s ability to establish new skills and behave appropriately across settings, impacting learning for many.
ABA therapy has and continues to demonstrate great promise, remaining the industry’s gold standard in autism therapy services. Over time, ABA therapy empowers individuals on the spectrum to acquire new skill sets, enhance their communication abilities, and improve behavior for a better life.
More About ABA Centers of Florida
ABA Centers of Florida works hard to provide families touched by neurodiversity with the most accommodating, comprehensive ABA therapy services available. If you or a family member has autism spectrum disorder diagnosis or requires one, we can help. From navigating the classroom setting to learning peer engagement, we can help your loved one have better daily experiences.
We support better learning through ABA care every day.