Common Learning Disabilities

my name is Andrea Heavener and I'm a

pediatric neuropsychologist at the Mayo

Clinic Children's Center

so unfortunately learning disabilities

are pretty common and in the United

States about 15% of people will have

some form of a diagnosable learning

disability there are different types of

learning disabilities and this can get

really confusing for parents because

there are lots of different terms that

are thrown around there are actually

three commonly and officially recognized

learning disabilities in the Diagnostic

and Statistical Manual of Mental

Disorders which is the manual that

professionals will use to classify

learning disabilities as well as other

problems the first and most common of

these is our renamed disability or a

reading disorder also sometimes called

dyslexia depending on the particular

characteristics that are present and

these are children who may have

difficulty learning letters and numbers

they might have difficulty understanding

letter and sound correspondence so they

see the letter T and they have trouble

remembering that that letter T makes it

sound but even more than that they have

difficulty with blending sounds so once

they're able to understand that the

letters like T ap have that app sound

they have difficulty blending those

sounds and we think that this is a

problem in part with something called

phonological memory which is a part of

the brain or a process of the brain that

helps us to hold that sound information

in mind so as you might imagine these

difficulties can lead to problems with

just reading single words and they also

extend to things like

comprehension so once a child is reading

full sentences or reading paragraphs of

information they might have difficulty

putting all of that together to derive

meaning from what they're reading

another characteristic that of dyslexia

or reading disability is slow reading

and the reason for that is because we

believe that the brains of these

children are wired a little bit

differently so that they just don't have

the same automatic processes that

typical readers will have so it takes

them a little bit longer to get through

printed text and that kind of processing

is just more laborious for them

another type of learning disability is a

math disability it's sometimes called

discount kulia this is a problem with

processing numerical information

typically we see children who have

difficulty recognizing numbers but they

also have difficulty with things like

learning math facts or memorizing math

facts they have trouble with different

kinds of computation and also with math

story problems there's another category

of learning disabilities that are

commonly referred to as writing

disorders another term is disorder of

written expression sometimes people will

call this dysgraphia there's quite a bit

of variability in this particular

category some children will have

difficulty simply with the act of

handwriting so it's very difficult for

them to make the writing movements

necessary in order to get thoughts down

on paper but other children have

difficulty with the mechanics of writing

like capitalization and or punctuation

or spelling and then also problems with

writing content so they can have maybe

the words and the ideas and their brains

have trouble organizing them and getting

them out on paper efficiently there are

other learning problems that children

can have that are not necessarily

formally classified but children can

have them nonetheless there's one

category called nonverbal learning

disability or nonverbal learning

disorder we think that children who have

these difficulties struggle with what we

would consider to be right hemisphere

functions so things like visual spatial

skills math abilities also with global

processing of information they may have

difficulty with finding gross motor

skills and also with math in contrast

they might have particular strengths and

things like reading and spelling and

even reading comprehension some children

also have difficulty with executive

functions executive functions are really

a set of skills that involves generating

strategies to problems information

processing impulse control they also

help with emotional and behavioral

regulation and children can have

difficulties with executive functions

for many different reasons

again it's not a formally diagnosed

learning disability but it certainly can

affect children's ability to learn