Learning Disability Nurse Scope of Practice

Not all nurses work with people who are sick and injured- learning disability nurse training focuses on teaching nurses the proper approach to caring for children and adults with learning disabilities like ADHD.

Though it was discovered fairly recently, which leads a lot of laypeople to suspect that ADHD isn’t a legitimate diagnosis, modern medical research has found out some interesting things about treating the disorder:

–        Learning disabilities run in families, so researchers feel there may be a genetic component to them.

–        For most patients with ADHD, medication alone does not provide a long term solution. Behavioral therapy must be implemented to help patients get the most out of their pharmacological regimen.

–        Without behavioral intervention, a lot of patients with learning disabilities will go on to suffer from low self-esteem, behavioral disorders, and other problems as a result of their condition.

–        Many patients with learning disabilities notice marked improvement in their symptoms when things like dietary changes and new exercise regimens are added to their care plans.

Learning disability nurse training prepares nurses to support learning disabled patients and their families, and work as part of a multidisciplinary team in order help patients successfully manage their conditions. Good learning disability nursing provides better patient outcomes, and a lower instance of comorbid issues like depression and conduct disorders.

Learning Disability Nurse Training Requirements

Learning disability nursing is primarily a United Kingdom (U.K) phenomenon, but that doesn’t mean that nurses aren’t vital parts of learning disability management in the U.S., too. In the U.K., learning disability nurses are required to have a degree or diploma in the Learning Disability Branch of High Education in Nursing. Some learning disability nurses may be able to obtain a National Vocational Qualification Level III in Health through on the job training. Counseling courses are frequently a vital component to learning disability nurse training.


In the U.S., this form of nursing is most closely paralleled by Mental Retardation/Developmental Delays nursing, and psychiatric nursing. Though learning disabilities are neither mental retardation nor developmental delays (in fact, many people with learning disabilities have average to high IQs), some nurses with developmental delays nursing certification go on to work in behavioral treatment facilities. To obtain a Certification in Developmental Delays Nursing, nurses must have a bachelor’s degree, have passed a registered nurse licensure exam, have worked for 4,000 in a developmental delays facility within five years of applying, and then must pass a written certification exam. Licensed practical nurses and registered nurses may work in psychiatric care facilities after passing their licensing examinations, but advanced practice registered nurses must have a master’s degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing to act as a patient’s primary care provider.

Learning Disability Nurse Scope of Practice

Learning disability and developmental delays nurses have scopes of practice which are defined by the governing body in the state or country in which they practice. U.K. learning disability nurses generally work in schools, adult care facilities, counseling centers, and in homes. They assist people in developing life skills, social skills, and cultivating useful coping mechanisms for the long-term management of their learning disabilities. Adequate behavioral intervention often allows patients with learning disabilities to reduce their dependence on medication.

Developmental delays nurses and psychiatric nurses generally work with people with more severe impairments than learning disabilities. Whereas learning disabled patients need assistance with social skills, developmentally delayed patients may need help feeding themselves and learning to speak, and psychiatric patients may need help managing things like auditory hallucinations. In general, RNs and LPNs provide support to doctors and psychiatrists, while APRNs are able to act as primary caregivers for these patients. Many U.S. universities and hospitals have learning disability treatment and research centers that rely on qualified RNs, LPNs, and APRNs to help them serve learning disabled patients and their families. This includes places like New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, home to the Center of Excellence for ADHD and Related Disorders.

Learning disabilities are a fascinating area of study for doctors and researchers, but they can be heartbreaking for patients and their loved ones. By receiving learning disability nurse training, you can put yourself in a position to help children, adolescents, and adults manage their disability, and lead full, productive lives.