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What Are the Different Types of Learning Disabilities?

By Jacob Queen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Learning disabilities are major difficulties with learning that aren’t necessarily related to intelligence, and they can come in several different varieties. Some of the most common include difficulties with reading and math, which can make it very difficult for people to perform at a normal level in those subjects. Other fairly common types of learning disabilities involve problems with communication — either understanding, or speaking — and difficulties using fine motor skills, which can hamper performance and advancement in physical areas.

People with various types of learning disabilities might perform very well or at least within a normal range on an intelligence test, but the individual’s performance in learning activities will not usually live up to the level suggested by his intelligence. Often, the person’s learning difficulties will only be in one or two areas, although some may have a lot of similar, related problems. For example, problems with reading and writing can occasionally go hand in hand since they may rely on the same parts of the brain.

There are many types of learning disabilities related to reading, and these are often some of the most troublesome kinds of learning problems, hindering performance in a wide variety of academic areas. Children may have trouble seeing words well, with the orders of things getting confused in their minds, or they may not be able to comprehend lines of text without great difficulty. These kinds of disorders are generally referred to under the blanket term "dyslexia" although the specific problems for each individual may be very different. Many children also have problems with writing text or spelling, and these children may not necessarily have any problems at all with reading. Writing-related problems are generally referred to under the blanket term "dysphagia."

Another one of the most common types of learning disabilities is dyscalculia, which is an inability to comprehend or perform math-related tasks. People suffering with dyscalculia may struggle with relatively simple math ideas, and advance much more slowly than their peers on these subjects. Math can be difficult for many children, and according to experts, determining when the problems are severe enough to call it a learning disability isn’t always easy.

There are many types of learning disabilities related to communication. This can include problems understanding speech, or problems forming words or sentences. Additionally, there are children with serious difficulty learning anything related to fine motor skills. They may simply have much greater trouble learning physical games during gym class, or they might have trouble with simple things like learning to hold a pencil.

In many cases, learning disabilities can be overcome to some extent. Children can often learn workarounds for their problems, along with various ways of enhancing their performance in the areas of difficulty. For some children, this may require special classes where they learn subjects in a different way that specifically caters to their needs.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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