Learning Disabilities

Headline Children covered by public health insurance are almost twice as likely as uninsured children and children with private insurance to be identified as having a learning disability (12 percent of children covered by public health insurance versus 6 percent of uninsured children and 7 percent of children with private insurance in 2004). (See Figure 2) Importance Learning disabilities include a number of discrete disorders that affect children’s ability to learn. Professionals have defined three categories of learning disorders: • speech and language disorders (e.g., trouble with articulation, difficulty understanding certain aspects of speech); • academic skill disorders (e.g., dyslexia, writing difficulties related to hand movement, vocabulary or memory and mathematics disorders); and • other disorders (including a set of diagnoses not meeting the criteria of the other two categories).1 A learning disability can be a life-long condition affecting many aspects of life including education and employment, family life, and daily routines. However, persons with learning disabilities can learn. Academic supports and accommodations can help the learning process, as can medical treatment for certain disorders.2 Children with learning disabilities are far more likely than other children to be enrolled in special education and to use health care services.3 It is not clear what causes learning disorders. However, existing evidence indicates a diverse set of causes related to difficulties in bringing together information from various parts of the brain. Possible causes for these disturbances include: genetic factors; maternal use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco during pregnancy; complications during pregnancy; and environmental toxins such as cadmium and lead.4 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not in itself a learning disability, but it often interferes with learning and is connected to academic skills disorders.5 Recent research estimates that a little under one-half of all children ages six to 11 identified as having a learning disability also have ADHD.6 Trends Between 1997 and 2004, the proportion of children identified by a school official or health professional as having a learning disability varied only slightly, staying between 7 percent and 8 percent, and was 8 percent in 2004. (See Table 1)

Non-Hispanic white children fell in the middle at 9 percent. (See Table 1) State and Local Estimates None .to 17-year olds. (See Table 1) Differences by Age of Child The percentage of children who are identified as having a learning disability increases with age from 3 percent of three. (See Figure 1) Differences by Parental Education Level Children with a parent who has a bachelor’s degree or higher are less likely than other children to be identified with a learning disability. 6 percent of children with a parent with a bachelor’s degree or higher were identified as having a learning disability. 10 percent of boys and 6 percent of girls ages three to 17 had a learning disability. compared with 6 percent of Hispanic children. (See Figure 2) Differences by Welfare Receipt Children living in families that receive welfare payments are much more likely than other children to be identified as having a learning disability (16 percent compared with 8 percent of other children in 2004). when 10 percent of non-Hispanic black children were identified as having a learning disability. (See Table 1) Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin Non-Hispanic black children were more likely than Hispanic children to be identified as having a learning disability in 2004.Differences by Gender Boys are more likely than girls to be identified as having a learning disability. In 2004. compared with between 8 percent and 9 percent of children whose parents had less education.to four-year-olds to 11 percent among 12. (See Table 1) Differences by Health Insurance Coverage Children covered by public health insurance are almost twice as likely as uninsured children and children with private insurance to be identified as having a learning disability (12 percent of children covered by public health insurance versus 6 percent of uninsured children and 7 percent of children with private insurance in 2004). In 2004.

International Estimates None National Goals None Definition The National Health Interview Survey asks adult respondents. 2002. Summary Health Statistics for U. read.”8 Parental education reflects the education level of the most educated parent in the child's household.cdc. or to do mathematical calculations.7 Federal legislation regulating special education services in public schools defines a learning disability as “a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language. speak.cdc.pdf Raw Data Source National Health Interview Survey http://www.htm Approximate Date of Next Update Winter 2006 . and Tonthat L.gov/nchs/nhis. Estimates for 1997 from: Bloom B. a learning disability may exist when the child’s level of achievement is substantially below what is expected by their intelligence level or ability to learn. that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen.S. write. the following question concerning their child: “Has a representative from a school or a health professional ever told you that (sample child) had a learning disability?” To education and health professionals. Children: National Health Interview Survey. typically a parent.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_203. spell. spoken or written. http://www. 1997 Vital Health Stat 10(203). Data Source Estimates for 1998-2004 are from original analyses by Child Trends of the National Health Interview Surveys for those years.

National Center for Health Statistics. 2002. National Center for Health Statistics.pdf 7 Ibid. 3 Pastor P. page 16. page 8. Reuben C. http://www. 2002.org/ld_indepth/general_info/gen-nimh-booklet.. Table A.ldonline. National Center for Health Statistics.ldonline.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_206.. 8 Pastor P. Reuben C. Page 13.cdc. 6 Pastor P.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_206. 2006 at: http://www. Vital Health Stat 10(206). Attention deficit disorder and learning disability: United States 1997-98.html#anchor109836 2 Ibid.html 5 Ibid.National Institute of Mental Health. Reuben C. 2002. NIH95-3611.cdc. http://www. Attention deficit disorder and learning disability: United States 1997-98.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_206. Learning Disabilities: Decade of the Brain. Pages 7-8. Learning Disabilities: Decade of the Brain.. Vital Health Stat 10(206).pdf 1 .pdf 4 National Institute of Mental Health. http://www. NIH95-3611. http://www. Vital Health Stat 10(206).org/ld_indepth/general_info/gen-nimh-booklet. Accessed March 30. Attention deficit disorder and learning disability: United States 1997-98. Page 1. page 6.cdc.

2004 40 30 Percent 20 10 8 10 6 0 Total Male Female Source: Original analysis by Child Trends of National Health Interview Survey data. . by Gender.Figure 1 50 Percentage of Children Ages Three to 17 Reported to Have Ever Been Diagnosed with a Learning Disability.

It does not include children with only Medicare or the Civilian Health and Medical Care Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS/CHAMPVA/Tricare). Source: Original analysis by Child Trends of National Health Interview Survey data.Figure 2 Percentage of Children Ages Three to 17 Reported to Have Ever Been Diagnosed with a Learning Disability. by Health Insurance Coverage. As defined here. . including State plans. public health insurance for children consists mostly of MEDICAID or other public assistance programs. 2004 50 40 30 Percent 20 12 10 7 6 0 Private insurance Public insurance Not insured Note: Children with both public and private insurance are placed in the private insurance category.

8 4.3 6.4 6.11 1.1 8.9 14.3 9.5 7.5 14.5 5.7 7.8 2.2 6. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.6 12.3 8.0 7.6 7.3 11.4 8.6 14.0 6. Parental education reflects the education level of the most educated parent in the child's household. no degree/AA degree Bachelor's degree or higher Insurance Coverage Private insurance4 Public insurance5 Not insured Usual source of health care No usual source Usual source Welfare/TANF At least one family member received income from welfare/TANF No one in family received income from welfare/TANF Food Stamps At least one family member authorized to receive food stamps No one in family authorized to receive food stamps 1 2 3 4 5 1998 7.7 11.7 2001 7.4 6.61 5.1 9.3 7.9 15. public health insurance for children consists mostly of MEDICAID or other public assistance programs.3 - 10.5 8.11 5.0 10.0 2003 7. Summary Health Statistics for U.1 8.2 6 - 6.5 15. original analysis by Child Trends of National Health Interview Survey data 19982004.0 6.0 7.3 7.0 8.51 7.5 9.6 6. 2002.8 7.1 7.7 8.4 6.1 5.3 Data from Bloom B.3 10.9 8.5 7.4 14.6 4.5 5.9 5. Source: Except where otherwise noted.4 6.2 9.8 4.6 8. including State plans.1 6.9 9.3 7.7 7.8 7.0 8.4 7.S.5 2002 8.7 6. As defined here.5 9.9 7.2 9.1 6.3 12.7 9. Excludes emergency rooms as a usual source of care.0 7.9 11.8 7.6 6.1 4.8 14.6 9.1 2.6 5.3 9.2 7.5 14.5 2000 7.5 9.4 1999 7.1 6.5 9. and Tonthat L.2 15.5 5.5 12.6 5.5 9.7 5.1 7.7 7.2 1.21 10.9 9.9 9.4 5.0 6.81 10.0 7.7 5.6 2004 8.2 12.8 7.7 7. 1997-2004 1997 Total Gender Male Female Race and Hispanic origin2 White.8 14.71 4.1 9.8 5.8 7.2 14.8 6.2 5.6 8.2 6.4 7.7 6.2 8.5 - 6.0 6.9 11.3 7. Children: National Health Interview Survey.9 5.1 10.81 7.6 8.4 10.9 7.5 6.Table 1 Percentage of Children Ages 3 to 17 Reported to Have Ever Been Diagnosed by a School or Health Professional as Having a Learning Disability.7 6. 1997 Vital Health Stat 10 (203).1 16.2 6.1 15.6 16.4 10.8 2.0 9.8 9.7 12.9 7.0 10.1 4.3 5.8 11.6 10.2 6.0 6.5 10.4 10.0 9.8 6.2 2. 6 .7 5.5 5.51 7.8 11.2 6.31 8. Children with both public and private insurance are placed in the private insurance category.9 12.0 7.0 7.0 8. non-Hispanic Hispanic Non-Hispanic other Age group Ages 3-4 Ages 5-11 Ages 12-17 Poverty Status At or above poverty Below poverty Parental Education 3 Some high school or less High school graduate/ GED or equivalent recipient Some college.6 8.6 13.7 12.1 1.3 6.3 7.1 8.3 1.8 3. non-Hispanic Black.6 7.1 7.1 4.5 7.5 7.6 7. It does not include children with only Medicare or the Civilian Health and Medical Care Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS/CHAMP-VA/Tricare).

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