Understanding Learning Disabilities

A child wearing headphones looking sad

A learning disability can be defined as a condition that reduces the ability of a person’s brain to process information. This neurological condition can present itself in diverse forms including experiencing challenges in reading, speaking, listening, and writing. It is possible for one person to have a number of learning difficulties simultaneously.

An estimated 1.5 million people living in the UK suffer from learning disabilities. Parents and caregivers of individuals who have learning disabilities need to be properly equipped in order for them to offer meaningful support to them. Connecting with Ability Today can also be very helpful as it’s run by disabled people for disabled people. Below is content that has been curated to help you understand the causes of, different forms and symptoms of learning disabilities.

Causes of Learning Disabilities

Although experts have never been able to pinpoint any specific cause of learning disabilities, they are known to occur when a person’s brain is in the development stage. Some of the factors that can trigger the evolvement of this condition before, during, or immediately after a child has been born include:

  1. Genes: Learning disorders can be hereditary. This means that parents who have the condition can pass on the gene to their children.
  2. Illness: Several factors can contribute to a mother giving birth to a child with learning disabilities. These include if the mother consumes alcohol and drugs during pregnancy or has physical trauma that causes injury to both her and the child. These factors may have led to poor growth of the child while in the uterus leading to low weight at birth. Premature birth and prolonged labour can also lead to a child developing learning disabilities.
  3. Infant Stress: Incidences such as head trauma, lack of oxygen during birth, and poor nutrition during infancy can lead to a child developing learning disabilities.
  4. Childhood illnesses: Seizures and accidents that affect a child can early on in life cause learning disabilities.

Common Learning Disabilities and their Symptoms


This learning disorder commonly affects both children and adults. A person with this condition experiences difficulties in understanding either speech or text; making speaking, reading, and writing to be difficult actions for them to perform.


  • Struggling to read and comprehend words.
  • Speech delay.
  • Auditory processing difficulties such as learning rhymes.
  • Visual processing difficulties such as understanding directions.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

A child with ADHD experiences difficulties in controlling their actions. This is often mistaken for indiscipline and being disorganized because they are unable to pay attention.


  • Inability to be still
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of attention and motivation
  • Emotional outbursts and inability to stay quiet


This learning disability makes it difficult for a person to understand math however basic the concept is. Children with this condition struggle to catch up with their peers despite doing practice on the subject.


  • Inability to grasp measuring concepts
  • Inability to grasp estimation and time concepts
  • Challenges with working out word math problems and counting group numbers


Despite this being a motor skills condition, it can lead to learning disabilities because it affects a person’s hand-eye coordination. With this condition, a child may be unable to properly hold a pencil or take part in other classroom activities.


  • Poor balance
  • Struggling to perform fine–motor tasks.


A person suffering from this condition finds it difficult to write in a legible manner


  • Taking long to write and even then, the handwriting is messy
  • Inability to hold a pen or pencil properly
  • Poor grammar and sentence structure
  • Mouthing words or being audible while writing.

Although it is important to learn how to recognize the symptoms of these common learning disabilities, only a professional can diagnose them. Seek medical attention if you suspect your loved one has a learning disability as a first step towards offering them proper care and support.

Recommended Articles