What are Learning Disabilities?

A learning disability is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. Although the individual with a learning disability may have an average or above-average IQ, the disability becomes evident in both academic and social situations. The individual can have marked difficulties on certain types of tasks while excelling at others.

Learning disabilities may be divided into several different categories. Five of the most common categories of learning disabilities are listed below.


1. Visual Problems

  • Poor visual memory (not remembering faces, people’s names, reversals in writing (41 instead of 14)
  • Visual perception (difficulty in seeing the difference between similar objects such as b and d)
  • Figure ground discrimination (not being able to find the place to write your name on an application form)

2. Auditory Problems

  • Auditory memory (difficulty in remembering what has been said, information or instructions)
  • Auditory discrimination (trouble telling difference between similar sounds – for example, bee and pea)
  • Auditory sequencing (confusion with number sequence, lists or directions)
  • Auditory figure ground (trouble hearing sounds over background noises)

3. Organizational Problems

  • Poor ability to organize time (not meeting deadlines, being late or too early, poor sense of time)
  • Poor ability to organize tasks (not understanding the steps required to carry out a particular task)
  • Poor ability to organize space (difficulty organizing or laying out a page in a written document)
  • Impairment of ability to analyze (difficulty applying information in a new way or adapting to new circumstances)

4. Motor Problems

  • Eye-hand co-ordination (difficulties with handwriting, etc)
  • Small muscle control (misjudging where to place things)
  • Large muscle control (clumsiness, difficulties in certain physical activities)

5. Conceptual Problems

  • Difficulty interpreting non-verbal language (such as facial expressions or body language)
  • Difficulty in anticipating the future (difficulty predicting consequences)
  • Poor social skills and peer relations (not maintaining eye contact during a conversation or using an inappropriate tone of voice)

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