Learning Disabilities

Empty classroom with chairs

What are Learning Disabilities?


A learning disability is a lifelong disorder which affects the manner in which individuals with average, above average or gifted intelligence select, retain and express information. Incoming or outgoing information may become scrambled as it travels between the senses and the brain.


Do You Know Someone With a Learning Disability?

Someone Who:
  • Has ability but doesn't learn
  • Tries but fails
  • Works hard but is called lazy
  • Is motivated but is frustrated with school and work
  • Is talented but lacks confidence
  • Wants to belong but lacks social skills

A Child Who has Difficulties:
  • Learning to Walk
  • Making and keeping friends
  • Sitting Still
  • Learning to read, write, spell or do math
  • Memorizing information
  • Paying attention and following directions

An Adult Who May:
  • Have trouble getting and keeping a job
  • Be Underemployed
  • Be anxious about change
  • Feel pressured by time limitations
  • Be forgetful and disorganized
  • Have difficulty sustaining concentration
  • Have difficulty with relationships

This person may have a learning disability often called a "hidden handicap."

Recognizing that a disability exists is the first step to freedom from many of its effects.

Clinical Definitions for Learning Disabilities

Schools provide special eduction services to children with these difficulties under one “learning disabilities” category.

Dyslexia is more than a reading problem; it is difficulty with language. People with dyslexia may have trouble with word recognition or decoding for reading and problems with spelling because of difficulty learning the alphabetic / phonetic code. They may also have difficulty expressing themselves clearly when speaking or writing. An unexpected gap exists between their potential for learning and their school achievement in these areas.

Dyscalculia is a math disorder that causes problems with grasping computation and mathematical. concepts. While many people have problems with math, a person with dyscalculia has much more difficulty than his or her peers, inconsistent with good ability in other academic areas.

Dysgraphia is a neurologically based disorder affecting visual-motor control for handwriting and pencil and paper tasks. This causes difficulty with forming letters and numbers correctly and automatically, and with spacing them appropriately on a line or page. It significantly affects the speed and quality of written products.

A Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD/NVLD) affects functioning of visual-spatial and nonverbal processes. In school, these individuals often demonstrate good decoding, word recognition, and spelling, but relatively poor reading comprehension. They have marked difficulty with math calculation and reasoning, science, handwriting, and specific aspects of written expression. Social perception and social interactions often pose problems. Unlike other learning disabilities, this disorder can become more apparent as the individual reaches the older grades and moves into adulthood.

Auditory/Visual Processing Disorders refer to processing problems that cause difficulties with understanding auditory or visually presented information despite good vision and hearing acuity.