Learning involves processing information in an orderly and understandable fashion. Children with learning disabilities struggle with making connections between incoming information, and comprehension and organization of that information. The neurological basis behind learning disabilities disrupts a child's ability to fully understand how to perform basic skills such as reading, calculating, writing, communicating, and organizing data as he or she receives it.
Categories of Learning Disabilities
LD Online,a learning disabilities website emphasizes that developmental disorders may co-exist with learning disabilities, but are not the same. Common developmental delays that tend to afflict children who also have learning disabilities include attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders (ADD/ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, and other mental health or behavioral disorders.
LD Online offers insight into several categories of learning disabilities:
Dyslexia: language-based, affecting a child's ability to understand written words, leading to difficulty reading. Signs of dyslexia include difficulty learning letters and sounds, as well as difficulty spelling and organizing written language.
Dyscalculia: number-based, affecting a child's ability to understand math concepts and problem-solving. A child with dyscalculia struggles to read numbers or recall sequences of numbers, and has difficulty computing or performing math functions. Another sign of dyscalculia is lack of comprehension about time and difficulty keeping organized with a schedule.
Dysgraphia: writing-based, affecting a child's ability to form letters and figures to write properly. This learning disability typically manifests in a child's clenched or awkward grip on a writing utensil, resulting in illegible handwriting, as well as incomplete or omitted words.
Auditory or Visual Processing Disorders: sensory problems with no physiological basis, causing a child to have difficulty understanding language he or she hears or sees. An example of an auditory processing disorder is difficulty in understanding, differentiating, writing, and speaking individual sounds in words. A visual processing disorder can include an inability to discriminate the different shapes in letters, such as the difference between an "m" and an "n," or distinguish objects from their background, such as pictures of dishes on a table.
Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD or NLD): neurological problems affecting a child's ability to distinguish nonverbal cues, including tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and body language, along with difficulties with motor coordination, memory recall, and organizing information. Children with NVLD often have above average language skills, but tend to talk at an "adult" level, sometimes about inappropriate subjects in an inappropriate setting, as they lack self-awareness or boundaries. These children also exhibit clumsiness, as they struggle with coordination of motor skills.
According to LD Online, the most common learning disabilities affect reading and language skills, with reading disabilities afflicting as many as 80 percent of all students.