Learning Disabilities: Causes, Signs and Types


In life, there are numerous challenges that limit the human ability to do or achieving certain things. These challenges can be genetic, economic, social, or political (Randall 60). One of the common topics studies in psychology is learning disabilities. It influences the human ability to live a comfortable and successful life. Disability refers to a state in which an individual is unable to perform certain tasks because of physical or mental unfitness. Learning disabilities are a good example of such human conditions that influence an individual’s ability to acquire the skills necessary for performing certain tasks. Learning disabilities are defined as human disorders related to the nervous system that makes it hard for people to acquire educational and social skills (Gerber 32).

Studies have established that learning disabilities affect the capacity of individuals to acquire academic and social skills, which play a crucial role in human development. Psychologists argue that poor comprehension of academic disciplines leads to low self-esteem in individuals, thus affecting their capability to socialize well with others. They also argue that people with learning disabilities have the good intellectual capacity and highly motivated. The difference between them and those without the disorders is that their neurological system cannot coordinate the cognitive process of acquiring skills in a normal way. This means that people with learning disabilities cannot learn at the same pace as those without the condition (Gates and Atherton 300). A common perception among people is that learning disabilities make people be lazy and unable to learn anything at all.


People with learning disabilities deal with unique challenges that spread throughout their lives. For example, they can experience difficulties comprehending things on their own. This results from conventional methods of teaching, which follow accepted customs and elements of instruction (Mapou 201). Conventional approaches influence the ability of individuals with learning disabilities to receive and process information normally.

Poor comprehension leads to improper interpretation and application of information. Various types of learning disabilities affect both children and adults in varying degrees. The effects that these types have on people vary from one person to another (Dudley-Marling 483). According to the Learning Disability Association of America (LDAA), numerous approaches and technologies apply in helping people with this disorder to acquire skills that can help them achieve success in life. Studies have shown that the biggest fear among parents with children diagnosed with learning disabilities is that they may fail to succeed in their life endeavors (Randall 73). Experts argue that this fear develops out of ignorance about learning disabilities among parents, guardians, and caregivers.

Research shows that people with learning disabilities have an equal chance to succeed as long as they receive the right support in time (Gates and Atherton 321). Experts argue that capacity building and awareness creation are effective strategies that can help parents to learn more about learning disabilities and the ways they can help their children in case of a diagnosis. People with learning disabilities have special needs and require a different style of learning that considers their inimitable learning needs (Mapou 219).

Causes of learning disabilities

Research shows that learning disabilities result from three major causes related to the impairments of the nervous system. The four causes are accidents after birth, genetic, as well as difficulties during pregnancy and delivery (Wong and Butler 380). Psychologists argue that learning disabilities among children start developing immediately after birth. This phenomenon develops due to causes such as poor nutrition, injuries to the head, and exposure to toxic substances. Experts say that a causative factor such as malnutrition can result from insufficient food, excessive consumption of certain foods, an unbalanced diet, or inability of the body to absorb certain foods (Dudley-Marling 485).

They also argue that learning disabilities result from genetic causes. Research has established that there is a high possibility that learning disabilities can occur among members of a family. Therefore, parents that have learning disabilities have a higher probability of passing the same genes to their children, who end up having difficulties in acquiring and developing important life skills. Studies have also established that learning disabilities also result from difficulties experienced during pregnancy and delivery (Dudley-Marling, 488).

During pregnancy, women should avoid dangerous habits such as taking alcohol, smoking, and or any other toxic substances. These habits influence the development of a baby’s nervous system in a negative way, thus affecting their capacity to acquire skills (Randall 100). Other difficulties during pregnancy and delivery that can lead to learning disabilities among children include illnesses, unwarranted labor, and prolonged labor, among others.

Signs and symptoms of learning disabilities

Research shows that the diagnosis of learning disabilities is different from one person to another. This means that people with this disorder do not suffer from the same challenges. For example, one individual may have trouble understanding mathematical concepts while another individual may struggle with spelling (Wong and Butler 389). According to experts, there are no universal signs and symptoms of learning disabilities. However, there are a number of commonly observed signs among people during childhood and adulthood. Experts advise that parents and teachers should start looking for the symptoms in children as early as possible (Gerber 35).

Parents should seek assistance as soon as they start seeing signs and symptoms of learning disabilities in their children. This is important because it helps the children to receive specialized care from an early age, thus increasing their chances of succeeding and fulfilling their potential (Wong and Butler 396). Some of the common signs and symptoms observed in children before they go to school include difficulties in pronunciation, choosing the right words, rhyming, following directions, learning the weekdays, as well as trouble handling things such as pencils (Tunmer and Keith 230).

Some of the notable signs and symptoms when children go to school include trouble connecting letters, blending sounds to make words, spelling, learning mathematical concepts, remembering the sequence, and the difficulty in telling time (Randall 136).

The intellectual capacity of children expands as they grow, allowing them to have a better acquisition of various skills. The challenges experienced during childhood can disappear or develop into conditions that are more complex (Gates and Atherton 401). Some of the notable signs and symptoms among children in their pre-teen years include difficulties in handling open-ended tests, writing, reading aloud, and spelling of words consistently in a single document. Others include troubles organizing their work, developing legible handwriting, and difficulties in understanding mathematical concepts.

People with learning disabilities often have trouble with their organizational skills, as everything around them is always in a mess (Reynolds 460). It is important for parents, guardians, and care providers to have good knowledge about child development. This helps them to identify any abnormalities in the behavior of their children. If parents observe any unusual behavior in a child, they should act promptly because it could be an early sign of learning disabilities. Studies have shown that early detection of signs of learning disabilities helps in managing the disorders from an early age (Wong and Butler 420).

Types of learning disabilities

There are four categories of learning disabilities, namely dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyspraxia. Psychologists argue that individuals can suffer from more than one of these disorders, although it is a rare occurrence (Reynolds 464). These categories explain various difficulties that people experience in comprehending and acquiring important skills. Dyslexia refers to a learning disorder in which an individual’s ability to learn how to read is impaired.

The disorder spreads throughout an individual’s life and influences on their ability to live comfortably. People are suffering from impaired reading also experience in speaking, spelling, and writing. Such individuals cannot identify the right words to use in specific situations and cannot give their correct meaning. Dyslexic people experience slow acquisition and development of speech (Reynolds 471). Difficulties in speech development are characterized by poor fluency and inability to read aloud. The nervous system of dyslexic people receives and interprets information in a different way. Studies have proved that dyslexic people are not lazy, dumb, and can become good readers if given the right support (Mapou 242).

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), dyscalculia refers to the state when an individual’s ability to learn grade-appropriate mathematics is impaired. Psychologists argue that people experience different mathematical difficulties. Therefore, the effects of dyscalculia vary from one individual to another (Gerber 39). The disorder affects people during different stages of life. If signs and symptoms of dyscalculia are not detected during childhood, it is possible for signs and symptoms to appear later in life. Some of the notable signs of someone suffering from this disorder include difficulties in computing mental calculations, learning mathematical vocabularies, applying multiple methods in solving a problem, estimating costs, and counting (Gerber 42). Other signs include difficulties in comprehending spatial directions, interpreting charts, and mastering a sequence, among others.

NCLD defines dysgraphia as the impaired ability of an individual to learn how to write. This disorder develops when an individual has poor information acquisition and processing skills (Gates and Atherton 457). People with dysgraphia often have trouble maintaining consistency in spelling the same words in a single document, having legible handwriting, and clear expression of ideas through writing. Although this disorder spreads throughout an individual’s life, its development can change as someone grows (Reynolds 480). Warning signs of this disorder are different among young children and adults. The most notable signs among children in their pre-school stage include difficulties in holding something, maintaining a position, differentiating letters with their cases, drawing, and maintaining a single activity for a long time (Mapou 261).

Notable signs among children going to school include difficulties in loud reading, poor comprehension, using the right words, and completing words or ideas in a sentence. The signs shown by adults with this disorder include difficulties in having organized thoughts, having a consistent flow of thoughts in a paper, developing grammatically correct sentences, and trouble relating written ideas in speech (Sonnet and Taylor 51).

The final category of learning disabilities is dyspraxia. Dyspraxia refers to a state when an individual’s ability to learn and complete activities that involve the movement of certain body parts is impaired. People with this disorder have difficulties in comprehending ways to complete simple tasks that involve the movement of body parts (Sonnet and Taylor 78). Examples of such tasks include brushing teeth, waving, clapping, and running, among others. Statistics indicate that this disorder is more prevalent among adult males compared to females. The condition affects 6 % of children, while only 2% of the total population suffers from this disorder. Research shows that people with dyspraxia can manage to do things on their own if they are provided with the right support from an early age when the condition is first detected (Tunmer and Keith 238).

This is managed through therapy, specialized teaching, and regular exercise of the tasks. Just like the other types of learning disabilities, dyspraxia spreads throughout an individual’s life. The warning signs for this disorder include difficulties in learning to walk, jump, word pronunciation, moving eyes, developing sensitivity, as well as establishing left or right-handedness (Tunmer and Keith 241). Notable signs among adults include difficulties in writing, typing, personal grooming, developing the right sensitivity, cooking, doing household chores, and clumsiness.

The effects of this disorder belong to four categories that show the kind of difficulties people with the disorder experience. The four categories are ideomotor dyspraxia, ideational dyspraxia, promotor dyspraxia, and constructional dyspraxia. People suffering from ideomotor dyspraxia have trouble completing activities that involve singe movements such as combing hair and waving (Sonnet and Taylor 100). Ideational dyspraxia makes an individual have trouble completing activities that involve multiple movements such as arranging clothes, buttoning a shirt, folding, brushing teeth, and making the bed, among others.

People with Oromotor dyspraxia have trouble coordinating the movement of muscles responsible for pronunciation words in a correct manner. Constructional dyspraxia makes it hard for people with the disorder to establish relationships with the environment (Wigs and Gerald 529). A good example of a spatial relationship is taking the right position in a place or moving things from one point to another. Studies have established that all the other three types of learning disabilities influence the development of this condition among the affected individuals. Impaired abilities to read, comprehend mathematical concepts, and writing disability can increase the effects suffered by an individual with dyspraxia. Other major effects of this disorder on people include hopelessness, low self-esteem, and emotional breakdown, among others (Sonnet and Taylor 116).


Learning disabilities are common disorders that affect people in their childhood and even adulthood. Studies have established that the perceptions that people have regarding learning disabilities are wrong and unfounded. People with this challenge are not lazy, dumb, or insensitive like people believe. However, they have an intellectual capacity of a normal human being, only that their nervous system receives and translates the information in a different manner. Studies have established that there are four major types of learning disabilities. These categories of learning disabilities are dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyspraxia. People with this disorder often deal with unique life challenges that spread throughout their lives. Individuals with learning disabilities have an equal chance to succeed, just like those not suffering from the condition as long as they are provided with the right support from when the disorders are first identified.

Works Cited

Dudley-Marling, Curt. The Social Construction of Learning Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities 37.1 (2004): 482-489. Print.

Gates, Bob, and Helen, Atherton. Learning Disabilities: Toward Inclusion. New York: Elsevier Health Science, 2007. Print.

Gerber, Paul. The Impact of Learning Disabilities on Adulthood: A Review of the Evidence-Based Literature for Research and Practice in Adult Education. Journal of Learning Disabilities 45.2 (2012): 31-46. Print.

Mapou, Robert. Adult Learning Disabilities and ADHD: Research-Informed Assessment. London: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Randall, Soren. Learning Disabilities: New Research. New Jersey: Nova Science Publishers, 2006. Print.

Reynolds, Cecil. Critical Measurement Issues in Learning Disabilities. The Journal of Special Education 18.4 (1985): 451-476. Print.

Sonnet, Helen, and Ann, Taylor. Activities for Adults with Learning Disabilities: Having Fun, Meeting Needs. New York: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009. Print.

Tunmer, William, and Greaney, Keith. Defining Dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities 43.3 (2010): 229-243. Print.

Wigs, Laura, and Stores, Gerald. Severe Sleep Disturbance and Daytime Challenging Behavior in Children with Severe Learning Disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 40.6 (1996): 518-528. Print.

Wong, Bernice, and Deborah, Butler. Learning about Learning Disabilities. California: Academic Press, 2012. Print.