Types of Learning Disabilities

This section is to help parents and teachers identify the type of learning disabilities a child might have. We want to emphasize that a learning disability is not a disease but a condition that a child is born with. Children with disabilities often have well above average intelligence, the issue is that they have trouble processing sensory information because they see, hear, and understand things differently.

The process of diagnosing a learning disability can be overwhelming. It usually means that you have to find a trained specialist and  become an expert yourself on the disability. Finding the right information and the appropriate tools and resources will be crucial to your child’s learning process. Remember that early intervention and providing your child with emotional, educational and moral support is the best practice in helping our children overcome their disabilities.


Dyslexia (Developmental Reading Disorder):
A reading disability. A severe difficulty in understanding or using one or more areas of language, including listening, speaking, reading, writing, and spelling.

Dysgraphia (Developmental Writing Disorder):
A writing disability. A severe difficulty in producing handwriting that is legible and written at an age-appropriate speed.

Dyscalculia (Developmental Arithmetic Disorder):
A math disability. A severe difficulty in understanding and using symbols or functions needed for success in mathematics.

Aphasia: (Sensory Integration Disorder):
A language disability. An acquired language disorder in which the person has either a partial or total loss of the ability to communicate verbally or using written words. This person would have difficulty to speak, read, write, recognize the names of objects, or understand what other people have said.

A language disability. Dysphasia is a partial or complete impairment of the ability to communicate resulting from brain injury.

Auditory Processing Disorder:
A sensory disability related to processing sounds. An inability to accurately process and interpret sound information. Students with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words. Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, CAPD.

Visual Processing Disorder:
A sensory disability related to processing images.

Non-Verbal Learning Disorder:
A visual-spatial disability related to body control. Nonverbal learning disorder (NLD or NVLD) is a neurological disorder which originates in the right hemisphere of the brain. NLD is characterized by a large discrepancy between high verbal and lower performance scores on an IQ test, with deficits in gross motor skills, visual-spatial relations and social skills.


ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder: A severe difficulty in focusing and maintaining attention. Often leads to learning and behavior problems at home, school, and work.

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Any of a range of behavioral disorders in children characterized by symptoms that include poor concentration, an inability to focus on tasks, difficulty in paying attention, and impulsivity. A person can be predominantly inattentive (often referred to as ADD), predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, or a combination of these two.

Hyperactivity: is the excessive and often inappropriate activity, often associated with attention-deficit disorder. A hyperactive person will often show strong emotional reactions, impulsive behavior, and sometimes a short span of attention. Some children may show these characteristics naturally, as personality differs from person to person. However, when hyperactivity starts to become a problem for the child or other people, it may be classified as a medical disorder.

ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder: is a controversial psychiatric category described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures which supposedly goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior. People who have it may appear very stubborn.

Conduct Disorder: is a behavioral and emotional disorder of childhood and adolescence where the child acts inappropriately, infringes on the rights of others, and violates the behavioral expectations of others. Symptoms include verbal and physical aggression, cruel behavior toward people and pets, destructive behavior, lying, truancy, vandalism, and stealing

Developmental Disabilities

Autism: is a severe disorder of brain function marked by problems with social contact, intelligence and language, together with ritualistic or compulsive behavior and bizarre responses to the environment. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. The two other autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and PDD-NOS, diagnosed when full criteria for the other two disorders are not met.

Asperger: is an autism spectrum disorder named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger. Contrary to Autism, Children with Asperger’s may only be mildly affected and most of the time have good language and cognitive skills. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and a typical use of language are frequently reported.

Mental Retardation: is a developmental disability, characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning and deficits in adaptive behaviors that first appears in children under the age of 18. Once focused almost entirely on cognition, the definition now includes both a component relating to mental functioning and one relating to individuals’ functional skills in their environment.

Fragile X Syndrome: or Martin-Bell syndrome is the most common form of inherited mental retardation. People who suffer from this condition have developmental delay, variable levels of mental retardation, and behavioral and emotional difficulties. They may also have characteristic physical traits. Generally, males are affected with moderate mental retardation and females with mild mental retardation.

Stuttering: also known as stammering, is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the stuttered is unable to produce sounds. ‘Verbal non-fluency’ is the accepted umbrella term for such speech impediments.

Leave a Reply