Types of Learning Disorders

Learning disorders, also known as learning disabilities, are not rare. In fact, about 8-10% of children in the United States have some type of learning disability, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. In Australia, it is estimated that around 10% of the population has a learning disorder. A learning disorder is not the same as intellectual disability, lack of motivation, or other factors that can affect someone’s ability to learn. Rather, a learning disorder is a neurological condition that affects specific areas of the brain and impacts a person’s ability to learn, read or write, speak, or do math.

Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a reading disorder that makes it difficult to read, spell, write and speak. People with dyslexia may struggle to decode words, mix up letters or syllables, and have difficulty understanding the meaning of sentences. Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that occurs in all individuals regardless of their level of intelligence. Dyslexia is not associated with vision problems, but rather a difficulty in the brain that involves interpreting and manipulating language. Dyslexia can be diagnosed through a psychological or educational assessment and can be treated with structured literacy programs.

Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a math disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand and manipulate numbers. People with dyscalculia may have difficulty with math concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and telling time. They may have trouble estimating quantities or measuring distances. Dyscalculia is often diagnosed in children who struggle with mathematics but can also occur in adults. Dyscalculia can be diagnosed through a variety of assessments, including cognitive, neuropsychological or educational assessments. Treatment can involve specific math programs, visual aids, and assistive technology such as calculators.

Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a writing disorder that makes it difficult to write neatly or express oneself through writing. People with dysgraphia may find it difficult to form letters, write legibly, write on lines or pages in a consistent way, or copy words accurately. Dysgraphia can be diagnosed through occupational or psychological assessments, and treatment can involve specific writing programs, computer programs, and assistive technology such as speech-to-text software.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects attention, impulse control, and hyperactive behavior. People with ADHD may have difficulty focusing or paying attention to tasks, forgetful, and unable to complete regular activities. They may have impulsivity, difficulty waiting their turn, interrupting others, or “blurting out” in class or social situations. They may also have excessive energy or fidgeting which can interfere with their activities. ADHD can be diagnosed through a variety of assessments, including neuropsychological or psychological testing, and treatment can involve medication, behavior modification or coaching sessions, and accommodations in the educational and social context.

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

APD is a hearing disorder that affects a person’s ability to process sound accurately. People with APD may struggle to distinguish between similar sounds or words, have difficulty following multi-step directions, or struggle to follow conversations in noisy environments. APD can be diagnosed through audiometric and/or linguistic assessments and treatment can include auditory training or speech-to-text software.

Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)

VPD is a visual disorder that affects a person’s ability to interpret or process visual information. People with VPD may have difficulty recognizing objects, reading, or distinguishing between similar letters or words. They may also have difficulty with depth perception, tracking objects, or ball sports. VPD can be diagnosed through a visual perceptual test or a neurological examination, and treatment can include vision therapy, occupational therapy or assistive technology such as text-to-speech software or audio books.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are six main types of learning disorders – dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADHD, APD, and VPD, which affect different areas of learning and neurological processing. These disorders can significantly impact a person’s academic and social life if left undiagnosed or untreated. Early detection and intervention can help alleviate the negative impact of these disorders and improve the quality of life of individuals affected. If you suspect that you or your child may have a learning disorder, consult with a qualified professional who is experienced in assessing and treating learning disorders.

FAQs

FAQs About Types of Learning Disorders

What are the different types of learning disorders?

Learning disorders are classified into various types based on their symptoms and causes. Some of the most common types of learning disorders include Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Executive Functioning Disorder (EFD).

How can I identify if someone has a learning disorder?

Identifying a learning disorder can be challenging as the symptoms vary from person to person. However, some common signs include difficulty with reading, writing, or arithmetic, poor memory, trouble following directions, inattentiveness and distractibility, and poor social skills. If you suspect someone has a learning disorder, consult a healthcare professional or an educational psychologist.

What are the treatment options available for learning disorders?

The treatment of a learning disorder depends on the type and severity of the disorder. Some common treatment options include educational support, behavioural therapies, medication, and assistive technology. Learning disorders cannot be cured, but with appropriate interventions, individuals with learning disorders can overcome challenges and achieve success in their academic and personal lives.


References

1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

2. Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2008). Predispositions to dyslexia and the broader phenotype of reading and spelling impairments. In M. M. Kliegman, R. M. Behrman, H. B. Jenson, & B. F. Stanton (Eds.), Nelson textbook of pediatrics (18th ed., pp. 2530-2533). Saunders/Elsevier.

3. Semrud-Clikeman, M., & Schaffer, S. (2007). Social skills problems in children with learning disabilities: Assessment and intervention. Guilford Press.