Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities (LDs) are real. They affect the brain's ability to receive, process, store, respond to, and communicate information. LDs are actually a group of disorders, not a single disorder.

Learning disabilities are not the same as intellectual disabilities (formerly known as mental retardation), sensory impairments (vision or hearing) or autism spectrum disorders. People with LD are of average or above-average intelligence but still struggle to acquire skills that impact their performance in school, at home, in the community and in the workplace.

Learning disabilities can affect a person's ability in the areas of:


The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) improves the lives of all people with learning difficulties and disabilities by empowering parents, enabling young adults, transforming schools, and creating policy and advocacy impact.

Since 1963, Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) has provided support to people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers and other professionals. At the national, state and local levels, LDA provides cutting edge information on learning disabilities, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources. These services make the Learning Disabilities Association of America the leading resource for information on learning disabilities.

Learning Disabilities Basics

This page provides definitions, areas of difficulty, and symptoms

LD Terminology

Area of Difficulty: Processing language
Symptoms include trouble with:  Reading, writing, spelling
Example:  Confusing letter names and sounds, difficulties blending sounds into words, slow rate of reading, trouble remembering after reading text

Area of Difficulty:  Math skills
Symptoms include trouble with: Computation, remembering math facts, concepts of time and money
Example:  Difficulty learning to count by 2s, 3s, 4s, poor mental math skills, problems with spatial directions

Area of Difficulty: Written expression
Symptoms include trouble with: Handwriting, Spelling, Composition
Examples: Illegible handwriting, difficulty organizing ideas for writing

Area of Difficulty: Fine motor skills
Symptoms include trouble with: Coordination, manual dexterity
Example:  Trouble with scissors, buttons, drawing

Information Processing Disorders
Auditory Processing Disorder

Area of Difficulty:  Interpreting auditory information
Symptoms include trouble with: Language development, reading
Example: Difficulty anticipating how a speaker will end a sentence

Visual Processing Disorder
Area of Difficulty: Interpreting visual information
Symptoms include trouble with: Reading, writing, math
Example: Difficulty distinguishing letters line “n” and “h”

Adapted from “What are Learning Disabilities?” by the NCLD Editorial Team at www.ncld.org

This video provides insight into what it feels like to be a student with a learning disability

The FAT City Workshops provide a unique insight into the experiences of students with disabilities.  The experts include the following topics:

LD processing
Two sessions on reading comprehension
Risk taking
Visual perception
Reading and decoding