Learning Differences

Learning and attention differences impact reading, writing, math, and/or focus. These differences aren’t related to intelligence but are based on how the brain processes information.

Learning and attention differences can leave children and families feeling helpless and like failures. If your child is experiencing a learning difference, you are not alone. One in five people in the U.S. have a learning difference, such as dyslexia or ADHD. With the help of an expert, your family can experience reduced anxiety related to this difference, gain more time back in your schedule, and turn a present weakness into a future strength.

Edge Fearless Learning has expert staff ready to support your family on an academic journey from struggling in school to loving learning. We embrace the phrase “learning differences” because every learner is different, and differences should be celebrated.

Child with Mother reading from book

Table of Contents

  • What is a Learning Difference?
  • Learning Differences, Difficulties, and Disabilities
  • Types of Learning Differences
  • What Causes Learning Differences?
  • How to Support Students with Learning Differences
  • How to Identify Students with Learning Differences
  • The Center for Multisensory Learning

What is a Learning Difference?

Our brains process information differently, and as a result, we all learn information differently. “Learning differences” refer to the different ways all students learn.

Learning differences can negatively impact an individual’s ability to read, write, pay attention, and stay organized. Experts believe that genetics play a role in learning differences and that these differences tend to run in families. Learning differences are based in biology. Individuals with learning differences can struggle to sustain focus, make decisions, stay organized, or follow multiple-step directions.

Without early and effective interventions by trained experts, students with learning differences are at significant risk of falling behind their peers, experiencing low self-esteem, and/or dropping out of school.

Learning Differences, Difficulties, and Disabilities

The terms differences, difficulties, and disabilities often get used interchangeably but are different. Unlike learning differences, which reflect the diverse ways all students learn, learning difficulties are related to external factors outside of differences or disabilities. Examples include absenteeism, English as a second language, lower socioeconomic status, or family trauma. These environmental factors can make it difficult for a student to learn or to meet school expectations. While learning difficulties can present similarly, they are environmentally rooted challenges.

Learning disabilities can be diagnosed and individuals with learning disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A learning disability is a formal diagnosis, made by a licensed clinician. Learning disabilities are intrinsic, lifelong, and neurologically based. The formal diagnosis of dyslexia, for example, is a learning disability.

Types of Learning Differences

Learning differences are often grouped by difficulties in reading, writing, or math. Many are not exclusive. Often people who learn and think differently struggle in more than one area. A specific function of one disorder my cause difficulties for a variety of tasks.

Students who struggle with learning differences might also have trouble having conversations, following daily routines, managing emotions, or sustaining focus.

The most common learning differences are:

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Auditory-processing Disorder, Visual-Processing Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder

Child with Mother reading from book


difficulty interpreting words, letters, and symbols


difficulty with arithmetic, numbers, and calculations


difficulty with spelling and writing

Auditory-processing Disorder

difficulty hearing and interpreting sounds

Visual-Processing Disorder

difficulty processing visual information

Attention Deficit Disorder

difficulty paying attention and controlling impulsive behaviors

What Causes Learning Differences?

There is no single specific cause for learning disabilities or differences. Experts point to several factors that contribute to learning differences.

  • Heredity – genetics play a role in learning differences
  • Illness during or after birth – premature or prolonged labor, low birth weight, physical trauma
  • Stress during infancy – high fever, head injury, or poor nutrition
  • Exposure to lead in water or paint

Learning differences are caused by something affecting the development of the brain. This may occur prior to birth, during birth, or in early childhood.

How to Support Students with Learning Differences

Learning differences are often misunderstood. It’s important to remember that learning differences are not related to an individual’s overall intelligence. This is a common myth that creates a negative stigma and additional social difficulties for students. Building awareness and knowledge is the first step in supporting those with learning differences.

The more we understand how the brain processes information, the better we can adapt and find ways to overcome any challenges associated with differences.  

Common ways to support individuals with learning differences are by creating daily routines, providing explicit instructions and explanations, creating individual learning experiences, and by creating an inclusive environment.

Edge Fearless Learning programs help “re-train the brain” using proven multisensory literacy and math methods that allow students to hear, see, and touch letters and numbers to improve reading and math scores. Our evidence-based approaches combined with our culture of support makes this an ideal place for students with many types of learning differences and styles.

How to Identify Students with Learning Differences

Learning differences aren’t always obvious. All children learn at different rates, making it difficult to compare the progress of one child versus another. If you identify any of these signs in your child, seek out help from an Edge Fearless Learning expert for an evaluation:


  • Doesn’t associate sounds with letters or blend sounds to make a word.
  • Difficulty rhyming words or counting syllables in a word.
  • Skips or substitutes words in a sentence and doesn’t stop to self-correct.
  • Can’t remember words; sounds out the same word every time it occurs on the page.
  • Having trouble remembering how words are spelled or applying spelling rules in writing.
  • Struggling to explain what happened in a story or answer questions about key details unless it is read aloud.
  • Avoiding reading whenever possible or getting frustrated or upset when reading.
  • Taking a very long time to complete reading assignments.

Executive Skills

  • Trouble starting and/or completing tasks
  • Difficulty prioritizing tasks or switching focus from one task to another
  • Forgetting what they just heard or read
  • Trouble following directions or a sequence of steps
  • Get overly emotional and fixate on things
  • Have trouble organizing their thoughts
  • Trouble keeping track of their belongings

Parents and teachers are often the first to notice any learning struggles. It’s common to talk with a doctor or child’s pediatrician to evaluate potential developmental delays or other conditions causing learning differences. Additional meetings with specialists or screenings can help identify problems and determine if your child needs individualized support.

Contact Edge Fearless Learning for expert guidance and support.

Edge Fearless Learning

Early identification of a learning difference is the key component necessary to help students achieve academic success and have a thriving future.

Nobody should have to experience being left behind in school. Every learner should be celebrated for their unique strengths and supported to individual successes.

Studying harder or spending more time working the same way only adds to the problem. Don’t waste time struggling when we’re here to help.

Access virtual or on-campus (Wheeling, West Virginia) tutoring and transform your child’s school experience. Speak with an expert today.

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