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Types of Learning Disabilities

A learning disability (LD) as according to the website of the National Center for Learning Disabilities is a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information [1]. People with a learning disability, are likely to be of normal or above-average intelligence but have difficulty with a basic psychological process that affects language and possibly other areas such as mathematics or planning [1]. This difficulty may manifest itself in a range of associated activities, and notably in a disparity between the standard of written work and oral understanding. Learning difficulties are neurologically-based; they are not the result of upbringing although there may be an environmental factor; they affect people of all social classes and ethnic backgrounds [1].

Learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantages [2].

Since difficulties with reading, writing, and/or math are recognizable problems during the school years, the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities are most often diagnosed during that time. However, some individuals do not receive an evaluation until they are in post-secondary education or adults in the workforce. Other individuals with learning disabilities may never receive an evaluation and go through life, never knowing why they have difficulties with academics and why they may be having problems in their jobs or in relationships with family and friends [2]

There often appears to be a gap between the individual’s potential and actual achievement. This is why learning disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities”: the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age [2].

A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in school, at work, in relationships, and in the community [2].

In Federal law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the term is “specific learning disability,” one of 13 categories of disability under that law [2].

“Learning Disabilities” is an “umbrella” term describing a number of other, more specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. The types of learning disabilities are [2]:

  1. Dyscaculia: A specific learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts.

  2. Dysgraphia: A specific learning disability that affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills.

  3. Dyslexia: A specific learning disability that affects reading and related language-based processing skills.

  4. Non-verbal learning disabilities: Has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language and may have poor coordination.

  5. Oral/ written language Disorder and Specific Reading Comprehension deficit: Learning disabilities that affect an individual’s understanding of what they read or of spoken language. The ability to express one’s self with oral language may also be impacted.

  6. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, controlling behavior, and hyperactivity.

  7. Dyspraxia: A disorder that causes problems with movement and coordination, language, and speech.

  8. Executive Functioning: Affects, planning, organization, strategizing, attention to details, and managing time and space.

In searching for ways to help children with learning disabilities, remember that you are looking for ways to help them help themselves. Your job as a parent or guardian is not to “cure” the learning disability, but to give your child the social and emotional tools they need to work through challenges. In the long run, facing and overcoming a challenge such as a learning disability can help your child grow stronger and more resilient.

Firstly is to recognize a learning disorder: By understanding the different types of earning disorders and their signs, you can pinpoint the specific challenges your child's faces and find a treatment program that works [3].

Then Focus on strengths, not just weaknesses: Your child is not defined by their learning disability. A learning disability represents one area of weakness, but there are many more areas of strength. Focus on your child’s gifts and talents. Your child’s life—and schedule—shouldn’t revolve around the learning disability. Nurture the activities where they excel, and make plenty of time for them [3].

All children need love, encouragement, and support, and for kids with learning disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough [3].

Always remember that the way you behave and respond to challenges has a big impact on your child. A good attitude won’t solve the problems associated with a learning disability, but it can give your child hope and confidence that things can improve and that they will eventually succeed [3].


1. Students with learning disabilities | Emerald Publishing

2. Types of Learning Disabilities – Learning Disabilities Association of America

3. Helping Children with Learning Disabilities -

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