What are specific types of learning disabilities?

DO-IT Factsheet #70

A specific learning disability is unique to the individual and can appear in a variety of ways. It may be difficult to diagnose, to determine impact, and to accommodate. Generally speaking, someone may be diagnosed with a learning disability if he or she is of average or above-average intelligence and there is a lack of achievement at age and ability level or there is a large discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability.

An untrained observer may conclude that a person with a learning disability is "lazy" or "just not trying hard enough." He may have a difficult time understanding the large discrepancy between reading comprehension and proficiency in verbal ability. The observer sees only the input and output, not the processing of the information. Deficiencies in the processing of information make learning and expressing ideas difficult or impossible tasks. Learning disabilities usually fall within four broad categories:

A person with a learning disability may have discrepancies in one or all of these categories. The effects of an LD are manifested differently for different individuals and range from mild to severe. Learning disabilities may also be present along with other disabilities, such as mobility or sensory impairments. Often people with Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also have learning disabilities. Specific types of learning disabilities include the following:

For information about how technology can benefit individuals with learning disabilities, consult Working Together: Computers and People with Learning Disabilities [1].