Learning Disorders and Disabilities

Also known as: language-based disabilities

What are learning disorders and disabilities?

Learning disabilities and learning disorders are brain based processing difficulties which interfere with learning skills like reading, writing and/or doing mathematics. They may also cause problems with memory, attention, time planning and organization.

Learning disabilities is a broad term which also describes a number of more specific learning disabilities like dyslexia. Children with learning disorders usually have normal intellectual ability.

Learning disabilities are different to “learning problems” which are usually due to visual, hearing and/or motor handicaps.

What causes learning disorders and disabilities?

There is frequently no specific cause found for a child with a learning disorder. Potential causes of learning disorders and disabilities are multiple and varied. Some tend to run in families, while others may have an environmental component such as exposure to drugs or nutritional deprivation while in the womb. Childhood injuries or other illnesses (like epilepsy) may also lead to learning disorders and disabilities.

What are the symptoms of learning disorders and disabilities?

Symptoms usually appear by the age of 3 years (but can present earlier or later) and can range widely depending on the nature of the disability. Common symptoms include:

  • reading and math difficulties
  • trouble forming thoughts and communicating them
  • trouble understanding speech
  • appear not to be paying attention
  • unable to answer questions in class (because they can't process the information like other children)
  • problems organizing schoolwork

A specific learning disorder is one that has been present for more than 6 months; starts during the school years; causes children to function below their expected level in school or in everyday life; and is not due to some other condition (like vision or hearing loss).

What are learning disorders and disabilities care options?

Children with learning disorders and disabilities need a good special education program, family and community support.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: September 09, 2020 11:23 AM

Weekly Support Programs

Brain Wellness: Kids Yoga

This program is provided by a certified yoga instructor. It offers children and teens the following benefits: managing stress through breathing, self-awareness, healthy movement and meditation. Yoga also promotes strength, flexibility, coordination and body awareness. Learn more.

Learn more about

Developmental Delays

Whenever a child fails to reach a set of developmental milestone for physical/motor, in language and communication, social, or behavioral function, and/or cognitive ability at their expected time, it's known as developmental delay. Learn more

Autism

Autism refers to a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that makes it difficult for a child to interact socially, communicate verbally and non-verbally and connect with people. Learn more

Sensory Motor Deficits

Sensory deficits is a general medical terms that encompasses a wide arrange of symptoms which can include difficulties with the senses (like touch or taste) and/or motor coordination (sitting, walking, grasping objects). Learn more

Tracking Rehabilitative Advancement through Accountable Care (TRAAC)

TRAAC (Tracking Rehabilitative Advancement through Accountable Care) is the service delivery model of care for rehabilitation at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Learn more

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Communication systems, strategies and tools that replace or supplement natural speech are known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Learn more