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Understanding The Top Five Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities present multiple challenges to students, parents and teachers. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, the majority of people with a learning disability have average or above average intelligence. A learning disability simply builds a roadblock that prevents a child from processing and retaining information.

Children diagnosed with disabilities related to learning face lifelong challenges. There is no cure or fix, but the proper support and guidance can result in successful learning. The key is understanding the specific learning disability and how it affects each child.


A commonly known learning disability, Dyslexia affects a student's ability to read and understand written words. This language-based learning disability can take many forms. Common signs include delays in reading, struggling with math and difficulty with handwriting.


Dysgraphia is a writing-based disability. A student with dysgraphia often tires easily when writing, holds a pencil incorrectly and simply cannot put words to paper. This disability also causes issues with organization of thoughts, the ability to take notes during class and spatial awareness.


While other learning disabilities can also affect a student's math abilities, dyscalculia is specifically a math-based disability. Students with dyscalculia have difficulty organizing numbers, working word problems and telling time. They often cannot recognize patterns or properly sequence events.

Processing Deficits

Processing deficits include visual, auditory and language processing disorders. The student struggles with processing incoming information. He may hear or see the information, but it doesn't make sense. The student might not be able to hear the slight differences in sounds or might struggle with copying information.

The inability to process non-verbal information, as seen in students with a non-verbal learning disability, can affect a student's ability to follow instructions, understand boundaries and interpret information. Often seen as "clumsy," the student may also have fine motor skill challenges.


While not technically considered a learning disability, students with ADHD often have another learning disability and struggle in a classroom setting. ADHD affects a student's ability to pay attention, stay focused and maintain a routine. The way ADHD is exhibited in a student is based on the individual. Some students may be hyperactive, but have no problems with attention. Some students exhibit inattention or lack of impulse control while showing no hyperactivity.

By understanding a student's diagnosis and how it affects learning, parents, teachers and the student can work together to develop strategies and systems for success.

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