Do individuals with learning disabilities have low IQs?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main indicators of learning disability are evident when students demonstrate difficulty in the following areas

  • responding to stimulus -i.e., verbal and non verbal cues, basic Q and A, fact recall.
  • making inferences -although generally this is a difficult skill to master, in an LD case there is not even an attempt
  • sequencing (beginning, middle, end)-LD students tend to forget faster because they cannot conceptualize an abstract situation unless there is something concrete right in front of them.
  • if/then conclusions (if the egg is not held with care then it could break and splatter all over)- LD kids cannot make those conclusions because it entails engaging in an abstract scenario
  • identifying patterns (blue-red-red-blue)--the LD student may not understand why the colors are being mixed or why one goes before the other; they may even add a color out of nowhere to try and make sense out of what is going on

Now, to determine LD services federal regulation excludes cases of LD that manifest as a result of:

  • mental deceleration
  • environmental/dysfunctional triggers
  • motor, visual or hearing handicaps
  • economic disadvantage
  • cultural disadvantage

Once all of those elements are ruled out then the child officially becomes the financial responsibility of the state, which is obligated by federal regulation to provide any program and service to ensure academic and independent success. 

Interestingly enough, IQ scores are used to predict the level of performance of the student. Despite being unreliable in plenty of situations, somehow the state requires IQ testing to establish that there is a starting point and an end point within which the student can work as closely as possible to what is considered "at level". 

However, the irony is that a low IQ does not preclude learning disability. Learning disability results in the student performing poorly in areas for which all that is needed is remediation and independent interventions. It does not mean mental deceleration, nor cognitive dissonance.  In fact, most LD students have average IQs. 

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