Have a look at our answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs). If you would like to find out more information, please contact us.

What is a learning disability?

“Learning disability” is an all–encompassing term referring to people’s inability to process information, thus leading to difficulties at school, at work, or in social situations. Generally speaking, learning disabilities last a lifetime and affect a person’s ability to read, communicate, calculate mathematical problems and build social relationships.

But learning disabilities are often combined with other physical and mental difficulties. For example, some people also have complex physical needs or have challenging behaviour. So the term “learning disability” refers to a much more complex range of issues and conditions than you might expect. Across much of the rest of Europe and North America, the term “intellectual disability” is used to describe a “learning disability”.

What is acquired brain injury?

Acquired brain injury is damage to the brain after birth, rather than as a result of inherited or congenital disorders. It may come as the result of accidents or assaults causing head injury, or it may come from a less traumatic source, such as stroke, tumours, infection or drug abuse. No two people are affected in the same way, but acquired brain injury can lead to physical, intellectual, behavioural, social and emotional effects.

Speed of thought, communication, concentration and understanding can all be affected. The emotional and behavioural impact of acquired brain injury can often be the most difficult for friends and family to deal with. A brain injury acquired before the age of 18 is often considered to be a learning disability.

What is an autistic spectrum condition?

Autism is a developmental disability affecting a person’s interaction with others and how he or she makes sense of the world. The word “spectrum” is used because although affected people have some common difficulties, the condition can vary widely between different individuals. The term “on the autistic spectrum” is often used to describe these individuals. The clinical diagnosis is “autistic spectrum disorder”.

Some people with autism can lead independent lives, but others may have extreme difficulty in communicating, or indeed may not have any speech at all. Another effect can be sensitivity to sounds, taste, touch, smells or light and colour.

Another condition on the autism spectrum is Asperger’s syndrome. People with this disorder are often able to communicate better than people with classic autism, but hearing someone speaking, for example, may sound like a foreign language.

There are many myths about autism, such as the notion that everyone with the condition is like the main character in the movie “Rain Man”, with special talents in memory. People with autism are not “mentally disabled”. Nor is bad parenting a “cause.” Another myth is the idea that people with autism are not capable of empathy or affection. They may have trouble expressing affection in a traditional way, but that doesn’t mean it’s not heartfelt.

Further information about how the Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability considered this condition can be found here.

Other information about this condition can be found at:–

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) | nidirect


About Autism – AsIAm.ie – Ireland’s National Autism Charity

Autism Europe