Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities (LD) are neurological disorders that can make it difficult to acquire certain academic and social skills. Whether you’re a parent, educator, or an adult with LD, learning about LD will help you support your child’s or your own success in learning and life.. Learning disabilities fall into three major categories.

1. academic skills disorders: difficulty with the three ‘R’s; reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic
2. developmental speech and language disorders: difficulty communicating with spoken language, understanding what others say or making the actual speech sounds required to communicate
3. ‘other’: a catch all term for other learning disabilities

NCLD Checklist of Early Warning Signs: ldchecklist

Dysgraphia – Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Because writing requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills, saying a student has dysgraphia is not sufficient. A student with disorders in written expression will benefit from specific accommodations in the learning environment, as well as additional practice learning the skills required to be an accomplished writer.

Warning Signs – If a person has trouble in any of the areas below, additional help may be beneficial.

  • Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Avoiding writing or drawing tasks
  • Tiring quickly while writing
  • Saying words out loud while writing
  • Unfinished or omitted words in sentences
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper
  • Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
  • Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech.

Dyslexia – When a person has difficulties with reading, writing, spelling and maybe even speaking, no matter how hard he or she tries, the problem could be a learning disability known as dyslexia.

What are the Effects of Dyslexia – Dyslexia can have different effects on different people, depending on the severity of the learning disability and the success of efforts to develop alternate learning methods. Traditionally dyslexia causes problems with reading, writing and spelling and those problems manifest themselves differently in each person. In fact, some children with dyslexia show few signs of difficulty with early reading and writing, but have more trouble with later complex language skills, such as grammar, reading comprehension, and more in-depth writing.

Dyslexia can also make it difficult for people to express themselves clearly. It can be challenging for them to use vocabulary and to structure their thoughts during conversation. Others struggle to understand when people speak to them, not because they don’t hear, but because of their difficulty processing verbal information. This is particularly true with abstract thoughts and non-literal language, such as idiomatic expressions, jokes and proverbs.

Warning Signs – The following are common signs of dyslexia in people of all ages, but that does not mean that a person displaying these signs necessarily has a learning disability. If a person continues to display difficulty over time in the areas outlined below, testing for dyslexia should be considered.

Understanding that words are made up of sounds (known as phonological awareness)

  • Assigning correct sounds to letters-alone and when combined to form words
  • Pronouncing words properly-blending sounds into speech
  • Spelling words
  • Learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week-basic sequential information
  • Reading with age-appropriate speed and accuracy
  • Reading comprehension
  • Learning numbers facts
  • Answering open-ended questions, such as math or word problems
  • Organizing thoughts, time or a sequence of tasks
  • Learning a foreign language

Dyscalculia – Dyscalculia is a term referring to a wide range of life-long learning disabilities involving math. There is no single form of math disability, and difficulties vary from person to person and affect people differently in school and throughout life.

What are the Effects of Dyscalculia –  Since disabilities involving math can be so different, the effects they have on a person’s development can be just as different. For instance, a person who has trouble processing language will face different challenges in math than a person who has difficulty with visual-spatial relationships. Another person with trouble remembering facts and keeping a sequence of steps in order will have yet a different set of math-related challenges to overcome.

Dyspraxia – Dyspraxia is a term that refers to a specific disorder in the area of motor skill development. People with dyspraxia have difficulty planning and completing intended fine motor tasks. It is estimated that as many as 6% of all children show some signs of dyspraxia, and in the general population, about 70% of those affected by dyspraxia are male. ??Dyspraxia can affect different areas of functioning, varying from simple motor tasks such as waving goodbye to more complex tasks like brushing teeth.

Dyspraxia and other Developmental Difficulties – 

Though not always, dyspraxia often co-exists with other learning disabilities, such as dyslexia (difficulty reading, writing and spelling) and dyscalculia (difficulty with mathematics); as well as AD/HD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). The symptoms from these learning disabilities can be similar to those of a person with dyspraxia; and regardless of whether there is an overlap in disabilities, the severity and range of difficulties can vary widely.

Other common difficulties facing people with dyspraxia include low self-esteem, depression, mental health problems and emotional and behavioral difficulties. Weaknesses in comprehension, information processing and listening can also contribute to the difficulties experienced by people with dyspraxia.

Social and Emotional Issues from Learning DisabilitiesHealthy social and emotional skills are the most consistent indicators of success for people with LD, even more so than academic factors. Your child’s ability to develop coping skills and to build meaningful friendships will have a positive impact well beyond the school years.

Developmental Speech and Language Disorders
Language processing disorders are the most common sort of language disabilities. There are several learning disabilities that fall into the developmental speech and language disorders category. Here’s a look at speech and language disorders in young children.

1. Developmental Expressive Language Disorder
Some children have trouble expressing themselves through language. For example, if your preschool child can’t answer simple questions with direct answers, she may have expressive language disorders.

2. Developmental Articulation Disorder
An articulation disorder is when a child is exhibits developmental delays in controlling the rate of their speech or articulating words. This language processing disorder is quite common, affecting approximately 10% of children. Developmental articulation learning disabilities is actually frequently grown out of as your child ages. If you’re still worried about this learning disability, speech therapy is quite successful with treating developmental articulation disorder.

3. Developmental Receptive Language Disorder
Having developmental receptive language disorder is generally having difficulty processing certain aspects of language.

Take Action! – Speak with your child’s teacher and school asking for an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) that will help your child in their learning disability.

You also have to take action at home.  Ask your teacher or therapis what tools you can use at home that help your child continue what they are learning in the school environment, especially if they will not be receiving services from the school during the summertime.


National Center for Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities Association of America