Learning Disabilities

Auditory Learning Disorder

The symptoms of an auditory processing disorder are often confused with those of Attention Deficit Disorder. It is often difficult to separate them out and children can often have both. Typically, children with auditory processing disorders have problems with naming and phonological processing. They are slow to process information that is presented verbally and often miss information as the speaker has moved on while the individual is still decoding the first sentence. Because of this, comprehension is often impaired. People with auditory processing difficulties are often slow to read. There are many interventions that can be made including making sure information is presented both visually and verbally and using such programs as Picture Me Reading and Fast ForWord.


This is a reading disorder that has a variety of causes in which the individual struggles to learn the code of reading. A person with dyslexia is someone who is at least 1½ years behind his/her peers in the development of reading skills. We often think of those with dyslexia as reading words backwards or reversing letters, but this form of dyslexia is rare. Some reversal of letter and numbers is actually normal through the age of 8 years. The most common difficulty is with phonological processing. People often have difficulty with spelling and remembering sight words and cannot seem to recognize or retain the reading code (that is, what sounds go with what symbols or combination of symbols). A good assessment is critical to figure out the most appropriate intervention.

Non-Verbal Learning Disorder

This is very difficult to diagnose and requires careful testing and an awareness of the disorder. Often, the test results are better than the academic performance, which can be confusing. Typically, people with a non-verbal learning disorder have good verbal skills and appear quite bright. They tend to be early readers. They often do well in early elementary school but struggle as they get to 4th grade and beyond.

When a child struggles in math, handwriting, spatial orientation, right left orientation, sequencing and slow work speed, a non-verbal learning disorder needs to be considered. Sometimes, these children have difficulty knowing where to start on a page and may start in the middle rather than reading the directions. They often have awkward gross motor skills and have a hard time reading body language, which can result in difficult social interactions.

The best ways to help people with this type of learning difficulty is to have them use verbal by-pass strategies. They typically do best in a very structured, predictable environment. Help with organization is useful.