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Types of Learning Challenges

A variety of issues may affect a child’s learning capability. In the context of an academic education, the following 13 conditions get support from schools in the US, as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  1. Specific Learning Disability :
    • Dyscalculia – Severe difficulty in making arithmetic calculations.
    • Dysgraphia – Inability to write coherently.
    • Dyslexia – difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and decoding.
    • Dyspraxia – difficulty is gross motor coordination.
    • Auditory Processing Disorder – also known as central auditory processing disorder, is when the brain doesn’t “hear” sounds in the usual way. It’s not a problem with understanding meaning or with hearing loss.
    • Nonverbal Learning Disability or Disorder – is a neurological condition marked by a collection of academic and social difficulties experienced by otherwise intelligent or even highly gifted children.
  2. Other Learning Impairment (OHI) – such as ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition with symptoms such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
  3. Autism Spectrum Disorder – Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.
  4. Emotional Disturbance that affect the mental health and daily normal functioning of a person. They are :
    • Depression – Constant sad low mood and loss of interest in life.
    • Anxiety –  Persistent anxiety that does not go away and can get worse over time.
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – obsessive thoughts and urges or compulsive, repetitive behaviors.
    • Bipolar – Extreme changes in mood, from mania to depression.
    • Schizophrenia – is a serious brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others.
  5. Speech or Language Impairment– Apraxia, articulation and phonological delays, stammering, stuttering, problems saying sounds, reading, writing, understanding and talking.
  6. Visual Impairment (including blindness) – is a decreased ability to see, not fixable by usual means such as glasses
  7. Deafness – Inability to hear
  8. Hearing Impairment – occurs when there’s a problem with or damage to one or more parts of the ear. Hearing loss may be temporary.
  9. Deaf-Blindness – Deaf-blindness refers to both hearing and visual disabilities.
  10. Orthopedic Impairment – congenital anomalies such as absence of a member, clubfoot or those caused by diseases and can include amputations, fractures, cerebral palsy, burns etc.
  11. Intellectual Disability – is characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills.
  12. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – often occurs as a result of a severe sports injury or car accidents
  13. Multiple disabilities – Combination of above.

There are other conditions for which a student can get support from schools. These may be  classified under one of the above mentioned categories. Examples include Physical Disability, Developmental Disability,  Language Processing Disorder, Visual Motor Deficit, Executive Functioning and Memory.


  1.  “Learning and attention issues” (www.understood.org)



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