How Common Are Learning Disabilities in Children?

When your child is diagnosed with a learning disability, there are a variety of feelings, but none more than that of isolation, a feeling that you and your child are in a small, select group coping with a learning disability. The truth is, you are not alone. In fact, you are in very good company. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, there are 2.4 million American public school students that have been identified with learning disabilities. That is approximately 5% of the total public school enrollment, though it does not include children in private schools for learning disabilities.

Learning disabilities are defined as any number of disorders that impact a child’s ability to learn. It means the brain’s ability to receive, process, analyze, and retain information is affected. It is unclear what causes learning disorders, but they are a life-long condition that affects every aspect of a child’s life, from academics to social life.

Even though learning disabilities are common, there is much misinformation, and the public’s perception shows a disturbing lack of knowledge. For example, people mistakenly associate learning disabilities with impairments like blindness and deafness. Other misperceptions of children with learning disabilities include that they are lazy, not smart, and have a disorder because they watch too much television.

Truths About Children with Learning Disabilities

  • They have average or above average intelligence.
  • They are not lazy; they have a neurological issue.
  • They struggle with more than learning; their disability impacts their ability to do everyday tasks.
  • They are more likely to be bullied than other children.
  • There are more boys than girls with learning disabilities.

Most people who hear the words “learning disability” think of dyslexia, which affects writing, spelling, pronouncing words, etc., yet there are many more types of learning disabilities, including:

  • Auditory processing, which affects how the brain processes the spoken word
  • Sensory processing, which is the inability to use information received through the senses in order to perform everyday tasks
  • Language based learning disorder, which refers to problems with age-appropriate reading, spelling, and writing

Frequently, learning disabilities are not diagnosed until the child has entered school. It may be the first time the child has to spend time focusing on the very things that are difficult for him or her, like reading, writing, math, and speaking. It’s also at this time, when they are tested on these subjects and do not do as well as expected that it becomes an issue.

Finding out your child has a learning disability can be a scary and frustrating time, but it is not insurmountable. It requires you as the parent to do your homework and learn as much as you can about your child’s disability, and to be their greatest advocate. Look for a learning environment that understands that your child learns differently, and one which offers a full academic curriculum modified to your child’s needs. It is also important that the school offer a supportive and trained staff with the tools and the knowledge to not only help your child learn, but to become confident and successful. The John Cardinal O’Connor school in Irvington, New York, is a school specifically for children with learning disabilities. We have a highly trained staff that teaches to the whole child and gently guides the families through this difficult process.


  3. individualized-education-programs

For more information, contact us at (914) 591-9330


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