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What are Learning Disabilities?

Updated on February 13, 2015

Four Types of Learning Disabilities

Along with millions of others, I was born with a learning disability. As the name suggest, learning disabilities apply to a number of different disorders that can interfere with the individual’s ability to learn. There are four main areas where an individual may be affected:

  1. Reading
  2. Language (both oral & written)
  3. Math
  4. Organizational & Social Skills

We will consider each of these points one at a time.

Richard Branson

The billionaire business mogul is dyslexic.
The billionaire business mogul is dyslexic. | Source

Reading Disabilities (Dyslexia)

The most common learning disability in connection with reading ability is dyslexia. Dyslexia is a language-based disability where an individual struggles to comprehend the written word. It is also referred to as reading disorder or reading disability.

Dyslexic individuals struggle with the ability to identify separate speech sound. It is also a challenge to understand how letters work together to form those sounds. There are many successful people that are dyslexic such as billionaire Richard Branson.

Words As a Dyslexic Person Would Write It

Example of 10 ways that a dyslexic person would write the word teapot.
Example of 10 ways that a dyslexic person would write the word teapot. | Source

Language Disabilities

Auditory and visual processing disorders are a sensory disability that affects a person ability to understand language despite normal hearing and vision. Dyslexia, which we discussed previously, can affect the individual's ability to express themselves in the written form. Another writing disability is dysgraphia, which makes it a challenge for the individual to form letters. The individual may also struggle to write in a confine space.

Math (Dyscalculia)

Mathematical disabilities are also referred to as dyscalculia. Dyscalculia involves the individual having a tough time with arithmetic and grasping basic math concepts. This could even include a person ability to read analog clocks or to distinguish between their left and right. Those were a couple of things that I have found to be challenge when growing up.

Organizational & Social Disabilities

Organizational ability is affected by what is referred to as a nonverbal learning disability (NLD). NLD is a neurological disorder that affects the right hemisphere of the brain. This can affect different organizational functions. It can also contribute to certain coordination issues. This is the type of learning disability that I was born with. As a result I did struggle with some of my fine motor skills when I was growing up.

As far as social disabilities goes, you are now potentially getting into an argument over semantics. For example, there is debate over whether or not attention disorders are learning disabilities. In addition, there is debate whether or not Asperger's syndrome would be considered a learning disability. However, any condition that would interfere with social interaction could potentially interfere with the ability to learn within certain settings.

Most learning disabilities have the potential to interfere with social interaction. If individuals do not get the assistance and support that they need there is the potential of struggling with low self-esteem, which can affect how an individual responds within certain social settings. Now that we have considered four areas covered by learning disabilities, let us consider possible signs of having a learning disability.

Confusion: My Life with NLD (Video)

Signs of Having a Learning Disability

For parents here are some possible signs that your child may have a learning disability:

  • Is later to speak than most children
  • Slow vocabulary growth
  • Is easily distracted and unusually restless
  • Struggle with social interaction
  • Has a tough time in developing their fine motor skills
  • Is slow to make the connections between sounds and letters
  • They avoid reading and writing tasks
  • Difficulty making friends

For older teenagers and adults, signs can also include:

  • Struggles with spelling, may frequently spell the same word a number of different ways through a single piece of writing
  • Either pays very little attention to details or way too much
  • Extremely poor memory or recall ability
  • Has a tough time grasping abstract concepts

The following list only includes a few possible signs. It is also not meant for self-diagnosis. However, they can be potential indicators. If you suspect that either you or your child has a learning disability, there are different assessment tests that can be professionally performed.

Learning Disability Poll

Do you know anyone who has a learning disability?

See results

Albert Einstein

It is widely debated that Einstein may have had multiple learning disabilities.
It is widely debated that Einstein may have had multiple learning disabilities. | Source

Learning Disabilities Has Nothing to Do with Intelligence

Individuals with learning disabilities quite often have an average or higher than average IQ. People who have learning disabilities may be limited in certain areas but quite often excel in others. Individuals like me can live a perfectly normal and productive life. The only way that someone knows that I have a learning disability is if I choose to tell them.

Examples of famous people who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities include Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Oliver, Tommy Hilfiger & the previously mentioned Richard Branson. Also they have never been properly diagnosed but it is widely debated that both Thomas Edison & Albert Einstein had learning disabilities. By understanding learning disabilities and getting the support they need, people with learning disabilities can excel and live productive lives.

© 2014 Chris Baker


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    • ChrisJBaker profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Baker 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Oldiesmusic, I absolutely agree with you. Learning disabilities have nothing to do with intelligence. Thanks for the read and the comment.

    • oldiesmusic profile image


      4 years ago from United States

      Yeah, it's unfair that people have learning disabilities are called stupid. That's not true. In fact many of them are the most intelligent.

      I didn't know that there's also a math disability. I know I'm not really good at math and I considered that once as a disability but when I get to read this hub I realize that I really don't have one. As long as I know the basic math concepts. Great hub.


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