Types of Learning Disabilities

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, almost two-thirds of people know someone with a learning disability. Yet, most people do not know what constitutes one or the different types of learning disabilities. Whether you’re a parent of a child struggling in school, a teacher, or a friend, having an understanding of learning disabilities offers the opportunity for you to be supportive and to assist them in getting the help they need to learn, like in a specialized school for children with learning disabilities.

A learning disability is a general term that describes learning problems that cause a person to have difficulty acquiring certain skills, usually reading, writing, math, listening, speaking, and reasoning. It is a neurologically based processing problem that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information. Most children with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence, yet there is a gap between the potential level of achievement and what is being attained.

While there are many types of learning disabilities, auditory processing, sensory processing, language based learning, and dyslexia are some of the more common. Knowing the signs and symptoms of each can help expedite getting a diagnosis and implementing strategies to help with the coping skills for what is a lifelong condition.

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder affects how the brain processes spoken language, making it difficult for the child to process verbal instructions or to filter out background noises in the classroom setting. The Auditory Processing Disorder Foundation states that 5% to 7% of school-age children are affected by it.

Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder

  • Difficulty understanding in noisy environments
  • Trouble following multiple directions
  • Struggles with distinguishing between similar sounds
  • Speech and language skills are delayed

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory processing disorder is the inability to use information received through the senses in order to function easily in daily life. The sensory signals do not get organized into appropriate responses, and that creates challenges in performing tasks. At least 1 in 20 children are affected by sensory processing disorder, states the SPD Foundation.

Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Withdraws when touched
  • Will not eat certain food or wear certain clothes due to texture
  • Avoids certain clothes because of tags
  • Delayed fine motor skills
  • Lacks variety in play
  • Craves excessive contact
  • Does not regard personal space
  • Social isolation

Language Based Learning Disability

Language based learning disability refers to problems with age appropriate reading, spelling, and writing, affecting the ability to understand or produce spoken language.


  • Vague and difficult to understand
  • Difficulty learning new vocabulary that is heard or read
  • Trouble with reading and comprehension
  • Difficulty learning numbers and the alphabet
  • Difficulty retelling a story in sequential order


Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects 10 to 15% of the U.S. population, according to the Dyslexia Research Institute. Characterized by difficulty with reading, fluency, comprehension, writing, spelling, and sometimes speech, children with dyslexia have trouble making connections between letters and sounds.


  • Reads slowly and gives up reading long passages
  • Has trouble with spelling
  • May have difficulty with handwriting
  • Struggles with math problems
  • Trouble learning foreign languages

And, while ADHD is not necessarily a learning disability, the characteristics of staying focused, paying attention, controlling behavior, and hyperactivity can impact learning and, therefore, should be noted. Research by the Learning Disabilities Association of America indicates that 30% to 50% of children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability.

The good news is that children with learning disabilities can learn. Finding a school that specializes in children with learning difficulties, such as the John Cardinal O’Connor School in Irvington, NY, which understands that children learn differently and offers instruction that meets them where they are so they can flourish academically and socially, can make all the difference.


1)  https://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-State-of-LD.pdf
2)  http://www.theapdfoundation.org/
3)  http://www.spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder/
4)  http://www.dyslexia-add.org/
5)  http://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/

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


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