Types of Learning Disabilities and Learning Differences
Types of Learning Disabilities and Learning Differences
Table of Contents
What are Learning Differences?
There are many different types of learning disabilities and understanding what makes them unique can improve the quality of life for those who experience them as well as their loved ones. Though “learning disabilities” and “learning differences” can be used in the same way, it’s important to acknowledge that the latter is the preferred term. This term acknowledges that a wide variety of individuals exist and that their differences do not make them less than their peers who are not in the same situation.
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Learning Disabilities Vs. Learning Differences
While the term “learning disabilities” does appear in this article, it is being used so more people will understand what is being discussed. Using “learning differences” is more inclusive and the wording allows for more acknowledgment of individual abilities. There are many different types of learning styles and resources to support them. Let’s discuss the many types of learning, as well as how specific learning disabilities differ from each other.
Types of Learning
There are many different types of learners. Some people may have multiple types, while others can be clearly classified as just one type. Many are familiar with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners, but there are other types of learners.
One of the first types of learners is those that are taught best with visual methods. Visual learners work best by being able to look at the material and follow along. Many visual learners will appreciate when a lecture contains lots of diagrams and prefer being able to look at a picture to understand a process or concept that’s being discussed.
Auditory learners prefer to hear the material, instead of seeing it. They most likely thrive in lecture settings and can benefit from repeating something out loud. Auditory learners may listen to podcasts or YouTube videos as a way of learning deeper.
Verbal learners will also benefit from saying things out loud. Being able to talk through a concept and working in a group is often helpful for those that benefit from verbal methods.
Logical learners are a slightly less known type. These types of learners typically excel at math and can perform complicated problems easily. They may naturally come up with steps to solve a problem and will be able to carry out that process in the future. Logical learners may do well in chess or other games that require reasoning and solving skills.
Social learners work best when they’re in a group. Learning with others and being able to share perspectives is important to them, so they’ll thrive in a traditional classroom setting that regularly allows for groups.
The opposite of social learners, solitary learners work best when they’re on their own and can focus. Their independent learning style is versatile and they may be very introspective.
Reading and Writing Learning
Reading and writing learners will often take high-quality notes and be able to learn simply from reading a textbook. Their ability to learn through writing is an extremely useful and helpful tool that can be harnessed to improve academic performance.
Another important type of learner to discuss is those that prefer kinesthetic methods. They work well when they can move while learning and will thrive when there are models or physical diagrams that they can use.
Access for Education
Regardless of what type of learner a student is, they deserve to have access to learning methods that will work best for them. Educators should seek to incorporate many different types of learning methods into their classrooms so that each student has the opportunity to learn in a way that feels natural to them.
Types of Learning Disabilities
It’s important to know about the different types of learning disabilities. Removing the stigma around the different types of learning challenges is something that should be worked toward, as they can impact anyone. All children deserve respect and should have access to resources designed for their learning. Cognitive disabilities have a stigma in modern society. Building acceptance for those with cognitive disabilities and children with disabilities is needed. Finding out more about each specific learning disability is an excellent step in being able to see other perspectives and increase understanding.
Dyslexia is one of the most well-known learning disabilities and can often present when an individual is learning to read. When there is difficulty decoding, there is frequently a struggle with the correlation between letters, sounds, and how they combine to form words. Those with dyslexia may have learned to talk at a later stage than is typical and may seem to have memory problems, as it can be challenging for them to be able to connect letters with physical or audible markings.
Individuals with one or more of these learning disabilities should know that there are options available that can help with learning in a way that’s practical for them. Learning disability testing can help them target where specific difficulties are and use the information to make a plan specific to their needs.
Dyspraxia impacts motor learning abilities, as well as language. Atypical balance, posture, and hand-eye coordination can all be evidence of a varying degree of dyspraxia. Symptoms can present at a very young age, as a child might have difficulty with movement, such as walking, crawling, and even talking. This is an excellent example of the variation that exists in the types of learning disabilities, as not every disability impacts the same skills.
Dysgraphia is similar to some of the aforementioned learning disabilities, in that it often becomes evident as a child begins their schooling. This can present challenges in writing, as it is heavily correlated with fine motor skills. Dysgraphia can occur after a brain injury and those with this specific learning disability can experience it in different ways.
Written Expression Disorder
Written expression disorder is similar to dysgraphia, though the latter typically involves the physical acts required to write. Written expression disorder often impairs an individual’s ability to connect writing concepts. Some people may use “dysgraphia” and “written expression disorder” in the same context.
The two previously mentioned specific learning disabilities relate to writing words, while another type of learning disability, language disorders, have to do with the act of speaking. Language disorders can alter an individual’s ability to understand the words that are being spoken to them. There are different types of language disorders.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is not a type of learning disability, though it can commonly impact those with learning disabilities. Just as with learning disabilities, it is often diagnosed when a child enters school and is in the academic environment for the first time. This can be an incredibly sensitive and formative time for an individual, so educators and parents must recognize this and work together to find the best solution for their child. ADHD may present as having a harder time focusing and controlling behavior.
The Spectrum and Learning Disorders
It’s important to understand all the different types of learning disabilities, as well as other diagnoses that are not considered to fall within that category. For example, if an individual is on the autism spectrum, that does not mean they have a learning disability. While it is possible to be on the spectrum and also have a learning disability, one does not automatically go with the other. Those on the spectrum may have different learning needs and different learning styles, but that does not mean that they have a learning disability. Supporting students with a learning disability and others with autism can mean different things and they should not be classified into one area.
When discussing academic environments and learning differences, it’s important to go over executive functioning. Executive functioning is a set of skills that are heavily used in school and developed at a very young age. Less developed executive functioning skills do not mean that an individual has a learning disability. However, those who have a learning disability may have their executive functioning skills impacted as a result.
Educators' Role in Executive Functions
Educators have many different options and resources that can be used to help every student feel supported. Executive functioning skills can be increased in the classroom environment, as educators play a large role in that process. Being aware of the learning style of students, as well as any disabilities that may impact their time in the classroom, is an important part of classroom awareness. Those with learning difficulties deserve every opportunity possible to succeed.
Learning Disability Testing
Learning disability testing is a service that changes lives. Cognitive disabilities should be met with compassion and understanding, creating inclusion and acceptance within the classroom. Many people who have struggled in school may request learning disability testing. This can help find unique solutions to fit the situation.
Children with disabilities deserve to be part of the classroom and should feel that they belong in academic environments. If you have noticed an increase in struggling in yourself or a loved one, there are diagnostic tools available to discover which methods could increase academic performance and overall school experience.