Types of
Learning Disabilities

There are many types of learning disabilities that appear in school-aged children.   With early intervention, accommodations and modifications, many children overcome their learning problems and are able to achieve their full potential.  If your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, it may not be as problematic as it sounds.  The most important thing you can do as a parent is to learn as much as you can about your child's disorder.

Besides dyslexia, there are numerous other types of learning disabilities that appear in school-aged children.   These include:

1. Auditory Processing Disorders:

This is one of the most common learning disabilities listed on an IEP.  It appears under the category of Specific Learning Disability. Auditory processing disorder means that a child has difficulty understanding sounds.  For example, a child will physically hear correctly but doesn’t comprehend the words meaning or use.   A child with this problem has trouble understanding spoken directions from a parent or teacher or following a conversation.   They are also easily distracted by noise.

2. Aphasia:

Aphasia is a condition that results in the limited ability to use or comprehend words.   Those with mild aphasia might have difficulty remembering the names of objects or people while severe forms can impair the ability to speak.  Aphasia is not the same as autism.

3. Dyscalculia:

This type of learning disability involves difficulty with calculating numbers or grasping mathematical concepts.   There is no single type of math disability as it varies from child to child.

4. Dysgraphia:

This condition involves problems with handwriting.   It can include illegible writing, awkward pencil grip, inappropriately sized or spaced letters or spelling problems.   Students with this problem sometimes use a laptop computer at school as an accommodation.

5. Dyspraxia:

Children with this problem have difficulties with motor tasks including either large movements or small movements. These can range from walking and balance problems to difficulty with picking up a pencil.

6. Sensory Processing Disorder:

SPD is thought to be a neurological disorder that causes difficulties with processing information from one or several of the five senses. The child perceives things abnormally which causes stress and confusion. These children may incorrectly process information which results in inattentiveness, disorganization and poor school performance. Specific behaviors can include a hypersensitivity to clothes rubbing against the skin, the inability to tolerate normal lighting, a dislike of being touched and being uncomfortable with eye contact.

7. Short and Long Term Memory Problems:

These children have a problem with creating or retrieving memories. Students have trouble remembering facts, numbers and assignments. They also have difficulty following instructions.

8. Visual Processing Disorder:

This disorder involves difficulties understanding visual input. A child doesn’t have sight limitations but has difficulties understanding and using visual information. The child has problem judging physical distances, differentiating between similar letters or objects and understanding spatial relationships.

Many children with common types of learning disabilities struggle with organizational and time management skills. Visit my section on improving study skills to read about effective strategies and techniques that may help improve your child's school performance.

Since all types of learning disabilities affect how a child performs in school, sometimes they can develop emotional or behavioral issues. These include sleep problems, anxiety, or your child may begin to show signs of acting out.   If your child is found eligible for special education make sure your child's IEP addresses all of the needs of your child, including social and behavioral goals.

If you suspect your child a type of learning disability and you want to request a special education evaluation, you can use our sample letter to make this request. Simply change the information to reflect your child's situation and state your specific concerns.