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Learning Disabilities

Understanding Learning Disabilities

Learning disability refers to difficulties with learning skills such as reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and math. One of the most common learning disabilities is dyslexia. Learning disabilities vary from one person to another.1 Exact causes of learning disabilities are unknown, but researchers think several factors could influence learning disabilities. First, since learning disabilities tend to run in families, there could be a genetic component. Second, brain development, both in utero and after birth. Third, environmental impacts, such as exposure to lead, other toxic chemicals, or poor nutrition, may impact learning.2

There are approximately 2.4 million students with learning disabilities, or about 41% of all children receiving special education. Although children with learning disabilities make up a large number of children receiving special education, the number of children diagnosed with a learning disability has declined over the past decade.

Children who have a learning disability will often have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in school, and may use classroom supports or assistive technology to maximize their potential.3 Classroom supports are varied and include accommodations such as getting pictorial directions or spending additional time with a reading aide. Assistive technology are devices such as recorders or computers that may help the child learn. 

Fact Sheets and Frequently Asked Questions

Other Resources

  • LD Online-LD OnLine offers accurate and up-to-date information about learning disabilities and related issues.
  • The National Center for Learning Disabilities has useful information on a wide variety of learning disabilities.
  • KidsHealth has information about learning disability signs and causes.
  • The Parent Center Hub provides information on specific learning disabilities in English and en español. 
  • CARE-LINE, 1-800-662-7030 (English and Spanish) is the toll-free telephone information and referral help line of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Individuals who are deaf or have a hearing impairment may reach CARE-LINE toll-free at 1-877-452-2514 (TTY).

Advocacy and Social Connections


  1. Parent Cener Hub (2011). Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from 
  2. KidsHealth (2012). Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from
  • Oct 22 2014