Types of Learning Disabilities

Types of Learning Disabilities

Types of Learning Disabilities



Children often have difficulty interpreting and manipulating the sounds of their language. Children who have difficulty in phonics often have an underlying Central Auditory Processing Deficit. Not infrequently they have a history of speech deficits or chronic ear infections. These children are slow to learn phonics and commonly have weak spelling. In future years they are slow to learn foreign language.

Others have difficulties at the semantic level including understanding the meanings of words and the relationships among them. These students are confused by syntax, word order and grammar.

Lastly a large group can have what is traditionally called Dyslexia. It is more commonly thought to be a visual processing deficit. The popular conception of dyslexia is mirror-like reading and/or writing. However this is just an extreme form. Often these children are delayed in receiving visual data such as “words.” Psychoeducational testing can determine slow visual processing, visual misperceptions and a tendency towards reversals.


Children with mathematics disabilities often do not become apparent until higher-order math (Algebra) is required. However more severe math LD can be detected in third grade when children learn times tables. These children may learn the times tables one day and then forget it the next. Still more severe mathematics learning disabilities can be diagnosed from histories apparent in pre-kindergarten. These children have special difficulties including weaknesses learning left from right. They have trouble with memory including memory for colors and shapes. They have difficulty with early mathematic concepts such as the clock and money. Children with severe mathematics learning disabilities of ten never “get it” and require multiple accommodations.


These children sometimes are dyslexic which is indeed exacerbated when the act of writing is required. Because so much processing is required between the mind and the hand, dyslexic dependencies become more apparent. Other dysgraphic children simply cannot communicate in writing. However they are very competent verbally. (Sometimes the opposite is the case when a shy or verbally unproductive child is superior with writing skills.)

Some students write poorly because their fingers do not keep pace with the flow of their thoughts and language. They may also grasp pencils awkwardly, form letters poorly and hesitate on every word. The often prefer printing to cursive.


Some children have difficulty with higher cognitive reasoning, problem solving, critical thinking, analogies and concept formation. They may be superior with rote learning. They are superior in subjects that are more factual.


Some children have deficits in short-term memory. These students may study for hours without retaining important material. Others have weaknesses with active working memory, which is the ability to hold onto information long enough to complete a specific goal.

Many academic students struggle with long-term memory. They have difficulty transferring facts or skills to permanent storage or filing them away systematically. Some suffer from an inability to retrieve learning effortlessly; they may recall slowly and imprecisely.

Reference: Child Neurodevelopmental Dysfunction and Learning Disorders by Melvin D. Levine, July 1995

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