Orange County Learning Disabilities Association


The underlying medical disorder in learning disabilities is a dysfunction of the central nervous system which includes the brain. When the brain dysfunctions it affects the neurobiology of the body. The neurobiology involves the interaction of the central nervous system with the immune system and the endocrine system. There are many reasons for the dysfunctions.

  • Genetics play a part. Many times the disorder comes down the father's line from grandfather, father to son. Fragile X, XYY, or Tourette's may be involved. Depression, particularly bi-polar, may be involved. There is a need for much more research in this field.
  • Pre-natal, peri-natal and post-natal problems such as maternal measles during gestation, problems of birthing such as brain damage from the use of forceps, or the use of soy-based formula with excessive manganese after birth, can be responsible for the onset of learning disabilities. Certain vaccinations may also cause problems.
  • Structural problems of the brain, many times caused by the use of substances by the mother during gestation, can cause dysfunction of the brain after birth. When the fetus gets hit with a load of cocaine, whatever brain function was in development at that moment may be damaged. There are many substances and circumstances that can cause structural defects in a developing fetus's brain.
  • Toxic substances can be very dangerous to brain function. Concern about lead depressing children's IQ led to the elimination of lead in gasoline and paint. Mercury and cadmium, pesticides and petrochemical-based products can have a devastating effect on brain function.
  • Infections such as encephalitis, meningitis, pneumonia, severe influenza, measles, and other childhood diseases that overwhelm the individual's immune system make it difficult for the central nervous system to function properly.
  • Allergens also affect the function of the immune system and can adversely affect brain function. Molds, pollens, and animal danders that are inhaled make it difficult to think. Food sensitivities causing such problems as "a leaky gut," fatigue and malaise, brain fatigue (inability to think well), stomach aches, leg aches and more, affect blood sugar function. The brain cannot function without adequate glucose or blood sugar.
  • Brain trauma can be the result of many things. Specific head injury can impair thought even when the doctor finds no problem. Abuse and neglect can affect the brain directly or indirectly because of malnutrition. Abandonment and loss situations, such as the death of a parent, or a divorce in the family, can cause grief and the grief cycle. Feelings of anger and depression can look like learning disabilities but may clear when the time of grief has passed.

A knowledgeable physician is necessary to diagnose the medical aspects of learning disabilities.