The Complete List Of Learning Disabilities in the UK

Learning disabilities are common, affecting around 2-4% of people in the UK. While the term “learning disability” covers a wide range of conditions, they all affect a person’s ability to acquire certain skills and impact daily functioning. Recognizing different types of learning disabilities is key to getting the right support. This article provides an overview of List of learning disabilities in the UK.


A learning disability is a neurological condition that actively influences how a person processes, retains, or applies information. It can affect various aspects, including language, reading, writing, reasoning, memory, coordination, math skills, executive functions such as planning and organization, and social skills. Learning disabilities arise from differences in brain development and are not attributable to factors like low intelligence.

While the impact varies from person to person, common challenges include:

  1. Difficulty in reading, writing, and spelling
  2. Trouble comprehending verbal instructions
  3. Issues with organization and time management
  4. Short attention span or restlessness
  5. Poor short-term or working memory
  6. Difficulty relating to others

Early identification and addressing of learning disabilities are crucial through specialized support, accommodations, therapies, and teaching strategies. This proactive approach can help minimize the impact on daily life and enhance academic achievement. Let’s delve into some of the most prevalent learning disabilities in the UK.


Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities, estimated to affect around 10% of the population. It causes problems with reading and spelling.

People with dyslexia often:

  • Reverse letters and words
  • Struggle to match letters to sounds
  • Have poor spelling and decoding abilities
  • Read slowly with many errors
  • Have trouble recognizing familiar words

They may cope by using alternative strategies like focusing on whole word shapes rather than phonics. Dyslexia varies in severity and originates from differences in how the brain processes language.


Dyscalculia causes difficulties with learning and understanding math concepts. It’s sometimes called “math dyslexia” with an estimated prevalence of 3-6%.

Common signs include:

  • Trouble grasping math symbols or memorizing facts
  • Difficulty organizing numbers, understanding place value
  • Problems counting sequences or sorting items into groups
  • Struggling with concepts like bigger vs smaller
  • Poor ability to reason through math problems

Dyscalculia can make it hard to perform routine math skills like adding, subtracting, dividing or handling money. It’s distinct from poor academic performance and tied to how the brain processes quantitative information.


Dysgraphia is a writing disability that causes problems with handwriting and fine motor skills. The difficulties can include:

  • Messy, irregular writing
  • Tight, awkward pencil grip
  • Inability to write or color within defined lines
  • Struggling to organize ideas on paper
  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • Heavy erasing or crossing out words

Dysgraphia makes the physical act of writing laborious. People with dysgraphia may avoid writing and have trouble putting their thoughts in writing.


Also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD), dyspraxia affects coordination and movement. It causes problems with:

  • Balance and posture
  • Fine motor control
  • Organizing sequences and unfamiliar actions
  • Spatial awareness
  • Doing multiple tasks at once

Clumsiness, bumping into things frequently, poor handwriting and trouble picking up new motor skills are typical of dyspraxia. It can lead to issues with self-care skills too like using utensils, getting dressed or riding a bike.

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD) affects individuals who cannot process sound and language in a typical manner. Key difficulties associated with APD include:

  1. Poor listening skills and challenges in following conversations
  2. Requiring increased time to respond
  3. Issues with locating sound sources
  4. Difficulty in reading comprehension
  5. Sensitivity or being bothered by loud noise

APD is thought to stem from the brain’s inability to accurately interpret auditory signals. Individuals with APD often have normal hearing but encounter difficulties in decoding and interpreting speech.

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities

Non-verbal learning disabilities like NVLD cause problems with visual-spatial, motor and social skills. Those affected typically have issues with:

  • Visual perception – shapes, directions, patterns
  • Coordination and balance
  • Reading maps, charts or graphs
  • Figurative language and metaphors
  • Understanding others’ perspectives or non-verbal cues
  • Social interactions

While verbal and academic abilities are often normal, significant discrepancies exist with visual-spatial, motor and social skills.

Getting Support

The first step is getting a professional assessment if your child shows signs of a learning disability. Reach out to your school and doctor for referrals to psychologists or specialist teams.

There are effective interventions like assistive technology, therapies, teaching adaptations and IEPs to support those with learning disabilities. The earlier they get help, the more independent they can become.

With the right support, people with learning disabilities can thrive socially and academically. A diagnosis brings relief, self-awareness and access to resources.


Learning disabilities are common conditions that affect how individuals acquire and apply skills in reading, writing, math and other areas. While they are lifelong disorders, their impact can be minimized through early, specialized interventions. This list of learning disabilities in the UK can help parents recognize the signs and secure the appropriate support and accommodation. With the right strategies, those with learning disabilities can achieve academic success and social growth.

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