October is

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, ADHD Awareness Month, and Dyslexia Awareness Month

1 in 5 students across the country have learning and attention issues. This includes the 2.5 million who have specific learning disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. It also includes the 6 million who have been diagnosed with ADHD

Distant Learning Challenges

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month is more crucial than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the education of students with special needs.

Many students with learning disabilities require hands on or one-on-one attention in the classroom. Spending months away from teachers and schools has set some students back months or even years in their educational progress. Zoom fatigue, technical issues, and distractions at home can present barriers to any student attending school from home, but can make it nearly impossible for students with hyperactivity or an attention deficit disorder.

Besides a loss of quality when it comes to education for those with learning impairments, many students are unable to attend school virtually, and statistics from last semester reflect the deep disparities faced by students of color and students with learning disabilities. More than 50,000 Black and Latino middle and high school students did not regularly participate, and only about half of students with disabilities participated.

distant learning challenges

Learning disabilities by the numbers

The first thing to acknowledge is that learning disabilities are a more common occurrence than one might expect. One in five students has a language-based learning disability, whether it be the most common one, dyslexia, ADHD, or a processing disorder. The commonality of learning disabilities also differs fairly drastically by ethnicity, as  American Indian and Alaska Native children receive special education at twice the rate of the general student population and Black students are 40 percent more likely to be identified with a disability versus all other students.

Since the coronavirus pandemic first hit earlier this year a racial disparity has also been made evident, as more BIPOC communities have continued to be rocked by the virus. Now, as students have had a few weeks back in their classrooms or have begun learning from a distance, those disparities have only become more evident, experts say.

Types of Learning Disabilities

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A specific learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts.



A specific learning disability that affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills.


A specific learning disability that affects reading and related language-based processing skills.

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities

Has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language and may have poor coordination.

Oral / Written Language Disorder

Learning disabilities that affect an individual’s understanding of what they read or of spoken language. The ability to express one’s self with oral language may also be impacted.


A disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, controlling behavior and hyperactivity.


A disorder which causes problems with movement and coordination, language and speech.

Executive Functioning

Affects, planning, organization, strategizing, attention to details and managing time and space.

Understanding Learning Disorders

Learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages.

Generally speaking, people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. There often appears to be a gap between the individual’s potential and actual achievement. This is why learning disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities”: the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.

A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in school, at work, in relationships, and in the community.