What Are Learning Disabilities? Definition & Examples in Children

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, and respond to new information. It can impact various cognitive processes, including reading, writing, math, comprehension, and reasoning, making it challenging for students to learn in typical ways and in traditional classrooms.  

Being diagnosed with a learning disability is NOT indicative of a student’s intelligence. Individuals with learning differences often have average to above-average IQs but struggle with specific academic tasks. These difficulties may persist throughout a student’s education but can be managed with appropriate academic support and accommodations.     

5 Examples of Common Learning Differences & Disabilities

Learning disabilities are often present at birth or begin in the early years of development. Children with learning differences may find school challenging and have trouble keeping up academically and socially with other students their age. Examples of common conditions affecting school-aged children and requiring specialized strategies and resources include the following. 


Attention deficit disorder (ADD) affects people’s ability to concentrate and focus. When hyperactivity and impulsiveness are added to the mix, we call that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with ADD/ADHD may fidget and have trouble sitting still, demonstrate forgetfulness, frequently lose things, have difficulty staying on task, talk excessively, and demonstrate difficulty taking turns.  

  1. Dyslexia

Dyslexia impacts a person’s reading and comprehension ability and can affect individuals of all intelligence levels. They may read slowly, have trouble with spelling, and demonstrate difficulty writing. Children may have trouble with phonics as well. Dyslexia affects an estimated 80-90% of all individuals with learning disabilities, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, affecting 20% of the population.

  1. Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia impacts writing ability, including spelling, correct word usage, and organization of thoughts into written form. Individuals with this learning difference may have unclear handwriting and be unable to write in cursive or maintain a straight line when writing. Their style may also be inconsistent, such as letter size and spacing.

  1. Dyscalculia

Individuals with dyscalculia have difficulty understanding numbers. Children may have trouble learning basic math, such as addition, subtraction, times table memorization, and fractions, as well as have difficulty telling time. They may also find it challenging to understand charts and graphs, handle money, and recognize patterns. 

  1. Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD), also called central processing disorder, is a condition that affects the way a person processes sound. Individuals with this learning difference find it difficult to understand speech and decipher where certain sounds are coming from. They may have difficulty reading and spelling as well as have trouble following directions, remembering information, or distinguishing differences in words. 

What Should I Do If My Child Has a Learning Difference?

Now that you have an understanding of what learning differences mean and have read about several common examples, if you feel your child has a learning difference, consider having them evaluated by a specialist. You’ll also want to provide them with a special education program that is individualized and designed to enrich their lives academically, spiritually, developmentally, and socially. Eventually, the goal is to transition them to a traditional school environment, from which they’ll graduate prepared for college. 

Mainstreaming from a special education class to a traditional school environment is the ultimate goal. “If a student learns how to manage their learning differences and is capable of mainstreaming, we want them to do so,” notes Nadine Davis, M.Ed in Special Education and principal of the  Enrichment Center at Wesleyan Christian Academy

How Does Wesleyan Approach Students with Learning Disabilities?

First and foremost, Wesleyan recognizes that all individuals are created in the image of God and that the Lord does not make mistakes. This means that every aspect of our mind and body was fearfully and wonderfully created according to God’s perfect will for our lives. With this biblical truth as our framework, The Enrichment Center at Wesleyan Christian Academy refers to students as having “learning differences,” not “disabilities.” Disabilities only arise if the underlying issue is unknown or unaddressed.  

The mission of our Enrichment Center is to bridge any existing educational gaps by teaching our students how their brains work through various accommodations including, but not limited to, smaller class sizes, specially certified teachers, specific learning difference instruction, flipped classrooms, and many other techniques. Our Enrichment Center students not only learn a college-preparatory curriculum, but they also understand how their brains process new information and can advocate for themselves.  

Come see for yourself how we’ve been serving North Carolina students with learning differences in Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, and Randolph counties for more than 20 years. Schedule a time to discover our community, where your child will be empowered to become a successful independent learner and gain a foundation of faith that will serve them well in school and life.