As October comes to a close, there’s more than just Halloween to grab your attention. In 1985, the month of October was established as Learning Disabilities Awareness Month.(1) The goal of this awareness month is to help the public better understand and support the estimated 1 in 5 students in the U.S who learn differently. (2) This month also coincides with Dyslexia Awareness Month and ADHD Awareness Month.
Dyslexia is one of many common learning differences affecting students. These other learning differences include dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and other conditions, such as language disorders. ADHD, meanwhile, can greatly impact student learning, as well as adults in the workplace.
In honor of this awareness month, here’s a closer look at these common conditions.
Dyslexia is often thought of as a reading disorder. Students with dyslexia usually have trouble decoding words. (3) This means that they have difficulty sounding out words, or matching the letters in words to their sounds.(3) Students with dyslexia often struggle with other aspects of reading, too. For example, they might find it difficult to recognize rhymes or the repeating sounds in a sentence. (3)
It’s important to remember that dyslexia is not a disorder of intelligence. It also isn’t a problem with vision. Instead, students with dyslexia just need to learn about reading and language in new and different ways. Educators can help students with dyslexia learn the sound structure of words. Following along with audiobooks, too, can help provide a multisensory experience for kids with dyslexia. (3) However, dyslexia can still be distressing for students. Many students with dyslexia experience low self-esteem or anxiety as a result of their differences.
This blog from Understood.org offers a look into a day in the life of a student with dyslexia.
Students with dyscalculia struggle with math skills. They may have difficulty remembering and understanding basic math facts, learning times tables, determining distance, or understanding quantities. (4) They might also have trouble with number sense or telling time. (4)
Students with dyscalculia benefit from classroom accommodations and teacher guidance. Visual aids and graphic organizers can help them better understand math questions and break down problems. (5) With careful instruction, students with dyscalculia can learn math skills and even grow to excel at math.
Dysgraphia is a term used for when a student has difficulty with handwriting. Dysgraphia is not a language disorder, so the student doesn’t necessarily have trouble expressing their thoughts. Instead, a student with dysgraphia finds the physical act of writing to be a challenge. (6) Writing is often messy and spelling may be incorrect. Dysgraphia can be improved with physical therapy that targets fine motor skills and control.
Dysgraphia often overlaps with dyslexia, ADHD, developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia), and language disorders. (6) It can also strongly affect a child’s success and confidence in school.
Some people struggle to understand and express themselves using language. They might struggle with expressing themselves in writing or verbally. They might also have difficulty with reading comprehension. These types of language disorders impact school performance and can co-occur with a variety of other conditions, such as autism or a hearing problem. (7)
As with other learning differences, intervention and specialized instruction can help improve language disorders.
While it isn’t a learning disorder, the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder often affect a student’s ability to focus and do well in school. Signs of ADHD include excessive hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty paying attention, particularly when compared to students of the same age. (8)
Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is not usually outgrown. Children who have ADHD become adults who have ADHD. Many adults are also thought to be unaware that they have ADHD.
Resources for Children and Adults who Learn Differently
Many students learn differently. Understanding common learning differences can lead to better support for students at school and for adults in the workplace. The National Center for Learning Disabilities and the Learning Disabilities Association of America are helpful resources for parents of students who learn differently, as well as for adults with learning differences.
NeuroBehavioral Associates provides comprehensive, neuropsychological assessments for children, teenagers, and adults with known or suspected learning, cognitive, or neurodevelopmental differences. We also have a strong referral network, as well as therapies, for students with conditions such as ADHD and autism.
Contact NeuroBehavioral Associates today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.
- Reading Rockets. (n.d.). Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia Awareness Month. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.readingrockets.org/calendar/ld#history
- Aiyedogbon, G. (2019, November 22). This LD Awareness Month: U.S. Department of Education Recognizes the 1 in 5. NCLD. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://ncld.org/news/updates/this-ld-awareness-month-u-s-department-of-education-recognizes-the-1-in-5/
- Understood.org. (2021, April 1). What is dyslexia? Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/articles/en/what-is-dyslexia?_sp=539c0bc5-6340-4cc6-8244-e7a6fa36bd01.1635572392155
- Understood.org. (2021b, October 15). What is dyscalculia? Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/articles/en/what-is-dyscalculia
- Morin, A. (2021, March 30). Classroom accommodations for dyscalculia. Understood.Org. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/articles/en/at-a-glance-classroom-accommodations-for-dyscalculia
- Understood.org. (2021b, April 22). What is dysgraphia? https://www.understood.org/articles/en/understanding-dysgraphia
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Written Language Disorders. ASHA. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/written-language-disorders/
- Psychiatry.org. (n.d.). What Is ADHD? Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/adhd/what-is-adhd