Most Common Learning Disabilities

Learn about common learning disabilities and disorders that interfere with a person's ability to store, process and retrieve information.

Learning disability, commonly referred to as LD, is a term that describes a disorder in which a person's ability to evaluated and process what they see or hear is affected. Those people who are affected by learning disabilities could have development and achievement problems over their lifetime. Without help, the learning disabilities could cause years of frustration.

There are a variety of learning disorders. Some cause problems or difficulties with language (both written and spoken), reading, writing, math, attention and control. Learning disabilities are not due to mental or emotional problems. Learning disabilities are also not associated with someone having less of an economic or social advantage than someone else.

At least ten percent of the population has one or more learning disabilities. If you were to look in special education classrooms, almost 40 percent of the students have a learning disability. Many more are probably affected throughout the world but have not been diagnosed yet.

There are no specific reasons as to why learning disabilities are found in some people and not in others. It is believed that learning disabilities could possibly be caused by disturbances in the brain structures and functions during development. Getting an injury or being in an accident before a child is born or during a child's first few years could cause some later problems. It is also found that learning disabilities tend to run in families, so it could be inherited. More than likely, if one child has a learning disability than another child has a LD too. They do not necessarily have to have the same disability. It would actually be rare for two people in the same family to have the same exact disability. Learning disabilities are also more common in boys than in girls.

There are signs to look for when assessing if someone has a learning disability. As children grow up, they need to reach certain milestones within a specific amount of time. The time limits are based on when the average child reaches each milestone and then some leeway is allowed for faster or slower children. An example of this is when a baby says his or her first word or takes a first step. Doctors look for delays in reaching milestones so they can predict whether or not they feel a child may have a development problem in the future.

When the child is in school, learning problems may surface that weren't noticed before. These areas are usually affected: language (both written and spoken), math, memory and reasoning.

Language problems show up as delays or difficulties in listening, speaking, reading, writing and spelling.

Math problems consist of difficulties with operations or understanding of basic concepts. This can also include problems with shape, size and color.

Memory problems include difficulties with information and instructions.

Reasoning problems involve organizing and using thoughts.

Other signs of a learning disability could include consistently performing poorly on tests, incomplete work, often distracted or disorganized, hyperactivity, problems with paying attention and acting out. There are many, many more signs related to learning disabilities.

A lot of the signs fall under another learning disability called attention deficit disorder or ADD. ADD and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) consists of the behavioral characteristics associated with hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. Those people who are diagnosed to have ADD or ADHD need to constantly move or be doing something, they have a hard time paying attention to one thing for long and can not control their actions or reactions. These people used to be thought of as "troubled." They would tend to get into trouble because they could not control their actions or boredom. People with ADD and ADHD need a lot of flexibility when learning. They need to use their hands a lot and get involved rather than sit at their desk.

Once a child is diagnosed to have a learning disability, the school and the parents write up an agreement on how the child's needs could be met. This is called an IEP. An IEP is an individualized education program. The individualized education program consists of the child's level of academic performance, the long term goals that the school and parents feel the child can meet each year, the short term goals the child can reach during the year, any and all services that the child will be receiving and when the child should be evaluated again. A new IEP is drawn up each year as the child's development level increases or decreases.

People with learning disabilities can overcome and lead successful lives. Because they can be diagnosed early; parents, doctors and teachers can work together to create a learning program that can be beneficial to the child. Having a learning disability does not mean you are stupid or incapable of having the same things that everyone else has. You just have to work a little harder to get there.

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