Types of Learning Disabilities: Discover 10 Common Learning Disabilities

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There are different types of learning disabilities. These disabling conditions are either present at birth or come on gradually during the child’s early development.

The main causes are injury to the brain, which affects its growth, and a primary disorder of the nervous system. 

Identifying these disorders at an early age makes them easier to treat, which is why school curriculums should include special education programs.

What kinds of learning disabilities are there today? Most of you have probably run into a few terms when searching. Let’s explore the most common learning disabilities.

What are Learning Disabilities?

Learning disabilities are difficulties in specific areas of learning, academic skills, understanding, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or motor coordination. Such disorders appeared in early childhood (before the age of 18). 

It is estimated that over one-quarter to one-third of school children have learning disabilities. This number represents a serious difficulty for the children themselves.

Thus, it has created a need for educators who are not only equipped with knowledge regarding evaluation techniques but are sensitive to the particular needs of these students.

The following are the major types of learning disabilities.

1. Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a developmental learning disability that is characterized by difficulty in learning to read.

The most common cause of dyslexia is difficulty on how to process the sounds of language, particularly the letters of the alphabet. 

It is particularly difficult for dyslexics to learn how to read and to read fluently. They often have difficulty learning to write as well.

There is also evidence that dyslexics have difficulty with other aspects of learning, including math and language. 

The onset of dyslexia can be in childhood or adolescence, although it can also develop later in life.

While dyslexics may struggle to learn to read, they can still learn other skills such as spelling, math, or science.

2. Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a developmental learning disability that is characterized by difficulty in learning to write.

It is most often associated with difficulty in writing and a difficulty in understanding the meaning of written language.

A writer’s disability affects all areas of written expression, according to experts. The problems with handwriting can be challenging to diagnose since they are diverse. 

Dysgraphia is most commonly caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI), which occurs as a result of a direct or indirect blow to the head. This disrupts communication between the brain’s motor and language functions.

SEE: How to improve your handwriting and make money with it

3. Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a developmental learning disability that is characterized by difficulty in learning mathematics.

It is a disorder that is related to the development of the brain’s ability to understand numbers. 

Dyscalculia is most often associated with difficulty in understanding the meaning of numbers. It can also be related to a difficulty in learning to read or in using mathematics.

Dyscalculics have average or above-average intelligence and may struggle with other skills such as reading, spelling, or doing math.

4. Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit

This is a learning disability that makes it difficult for people to receive, process, store, or express information visually in the form of pictures.

Individuals with this characteristic may have difficulty generating or using visual memory. It may happen on a short- or long-term basis, or both, in particular when doing more than one thing at once. 

Visual-motor coordination is another component of this. The following symptoms are indicative: 

  • limited eye-hand span for copying
  • limited visual attention span/visual persistence 
  • confuse recognition of size relationships among objects
  • limited recognition of the spatial organization and depth relationships between objects and their background. 

A visual-motor, cognitive disability impacts an individual’s ability to learn, problem-solve, navigate, or communicate accurately. In this condition, the eyes have difficulty tracking movements when performing a task. 

5. Language Processing Disorder

Language processing disorder also described as learning Disability (LD) refers to the specific learning problems where students find it difficult to process language. There are different terms used to describe language processing disorder. 

These may include language impairment, learning disability in the category of language, grammatical pragmatic disorder, and pragmatic language impairment. It is also referred to as specific language impairment. 

Generally, it refers to difficulties in understanding and the use of oral and written words that impede the normal development of communication skills. Hence, children with this disability do not comprehend or interpret text or speech at appropriate levels for their age.

SEE: What are the easiest languages to learn?

6. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

Auditory processing disorders (APD) are speech or communication disorders that involve problems with how the brain processes sound.

This disorder affects the way a person hears, understands, and responds to sounds. It may also affect motor skills, musical abilities, and academic performance of auditory-processing disorder sufferers.

It can affect one or both ears, and it usually becomes apparent in childhood.

Those with APD may have trouble learning in noisy environments because they cannot distinguish background noise from speech or other sounds that need to be heard clearly. 

They may also misinterpret what is said to them, such as failing to understand instructions correctly, especially if instructions are combined with other tasks.

7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder that has been commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents.

It is a type of neurobehavioral disorder that affects 3% to 7% of school-aged children and 4% to 11% of adults. 

Several behaviors must be present for someone to be diagnosed with ADHD. In particular, they include poor attention spans, hyperactivity or restlessness, impulsive behaviors, or difficulty delaying gratification or waiting for their turn.

ADHD presents a unique set of challenges to many people with significant learning disabilities, as it can be hard to keep a consistent focus and absorb information.

It can be even more difficult for a person who cannot focus to learn what they need to know to succeed at school.

8. Nonverbal Learning Disabilities

Nonverbal learning disabilities tend to be the second most common type of learning disability after ADHD. This learning disability is also prevalent in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

People with this disorder have problems with non-verbal skills. They include understanding body language, facial expressions, and labeling spatial relationships.

It also has problems with learning complex patterns, creating sequences, and multi-step directions for information related to daily living activities. 

They may have difficulty in correctly interpreting what others mean by their tone of voice or word choices in conversation. Nonverbal learning disabilities are a form of pervasive developmental disorder and not a neurological disorder. 

9. Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is a developmental learning disability that occurs when a person has difficulty controlling their muscles and using their muscles properly. It is most often seen with difficulty in learning to walk and in writing. 

Furthermore, in children with dyspraxia, the most common learning struggles are reading and maths. A child with dyspraxia may have difficulty with directions, organizing paperwork, and writing legibly. 

Children with dyspraxia have poor handwriting due to problems such as lack of control over pencil grasp and reduced grip strength. Handwriting is usually egocentric (the letters do not always line up as they would in an adult).

10. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have communication problems, social issues, and they also display repetitive behaviors.

They are also susceptible to distraction, and often times need assistance doing basic tasks. A child with ASD will most likely show one or more of the following:

  • Problems with eye contact and eye-to-hand coordination
  • Problems with fine and gross motor skills
  • Poor social skills and interaction
  • Problems with sensory processing
  • Problems with language

It has become clear that there are three distinct disorders within the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). One of them is an interruption in cognitive development, social interaction, and communication. The other involves repetitive movements or behaviors. 

This includes behavior problems such as self-injurious actions or other abnormal repetitive behaviors. The third group has both types of symptoms.

What Causes Learning Disability? 

Every child is unique, so no two students will experience the same set of problems. Researchers have found that there is no single cause of learning disabilities. A child’s learning disability may be the result of many factors.  

They include problems during pregnancy, problems during birth or shortly after birth, or biological differences in information processing.

The most common causes of learning disabilities are genetics and injuries to the brain. However, most people with LDs do not have a family history.

How Do People with Learning Disabilities Learn?

Any individual with a disability is an important, unique person who has special needs. He or she requires specialized education and training, specially adapted to his or her specific learning style.

The most effective methods for teaching students with learning disabilities (LD) are based on an individual’s learning strengths, weaknesses, and past experiences. Programs exist to help students with LD master difficult concepts despite their cognitive deficits. 

Some people with learning disabilities learn most effectively through auditory or visual means; others learn best by doing hands-on projects or experiencing things firsthand.

SEE: Types of learning


What is the difference between learning disabilities and mental health?

A learning disability (LD) affects the brain. The impairment impacts the way a person takes in, interprets, or processes information, affecting their ability to access, understand, and use information.

Mental health issues are different. They are psychological disorders that interfere with ‘normal’ functioning including thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors. For example, depression is a mental health issue.

How serious are learning disabilities? 

Learning disabilities are serious.  In fact, it is unlikely that a person with a developmental disability will have only one kind of learning disability. They pose emotional and social problems that can affect people throughout their lives.

For some people, learning disabilities can even cause life-long struggles with schoolwork, jobs, and relationships. 

How can you know your child/children have a learning disability?

Compare your child’s reading, writing, and arithmetic skills with those of his/her classmates. Your child may exhibit a learning disability if he or she is behind in any of these areas, or if there is a combination of them.

When comparing the skills of their children, parents should keep in mind that learning disabilities vary from child to child.

The typical signs of a learning disability include having problems in areas such as reading, writing, spelling, or math. But these problems may not have been identified.

It’s important to be aware of early warning signs of a learning disability so you can seek help from a specialist.

How can parents help their children with learning disabilities?

Being an active and positive parent is the most important thing any parent can do for their child. Believing in a child is the best way for a parent to help them.

Parents should support and encourage their children, rather than allow their learning disabilities to rule their lives. 

Parents should focus on the reality of what their children can do, rather than view learning disabilities as a loss of potential.

SEE: Why is parental involvement important in a child’s education?

Final Thoughts 

As mentioned above, there are many different types of learning disabilities. For this reason, it is difficult to give a precise diagnosis for every kind of learning disability.

Identifying someone with a learning disability requires a variety of tests to determine their weaknesses.

Parents and teachers need to understand what types of learning styles are effective for students with different types of learning disabilities.

It is also possible that not all types of teachers are suitable for teaching students with learning disabilities, as this may require extra effort and dedication.

If you would like to learn more about the kinds of teachers who are appropriate for this position, please refer to the article on the qualities of good teachers

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