About Autism Being Autistic What is the difference between a learning difficulty and a disability? Learning disability – is a general term that refers to individuals who find it harder to learn, understand and communicate. Other terms that are used to describe an individual’s situation include complex needs or high support needs. Learning difficulty – is often used in educational settings and refers to individuals who have specific problems with learning as a result of either medical, emotional or language problems. Children and young people requiring special education needs (SEN) are often described as having a learning difficulty.