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4 Learning Disabilities Explained

Published on 27th Jan 2016
Encompass Blog and Updates

Our recent blog post on the most common types of mental health highlighted some key information on depression, anxiety and other illnesses. In this post we will be shedding light on a selection of common learning disabilities and how they affect people.

What is a Learning Disability?

Learning disabilities cause problems with learning information, developing new skills, interacting with other people and following conventional processes which people often find relatively simple.

As is the case with many issues affecting the brain, learning disabilities can exist in a variety of forms and with varying levels of severity. Over a million people in the UK are estimated to have a form of learning disability, which is over 1% of the population.


Dyslexia affects between 3-7% of the population and relates to a reduced ability to read. Problems caused can include difficulty in correctly spelling words, having to read very slowly, writing, pronunciation and more.

There are many possible causes including environmental, hereditary and genetic factors. Additionally, it may begin during a person’s early adult years from brain injuries, strokes and dementia.

This disorder not connected to the individual’s IQ and can affect people of all levels of intelligence. “Alexia” is a similar condition which is defined by a person who has previously held a normal level of reading ability which has since diminished.


Dyspraxia (otherwise known as “Developmental Coordination Disorder”) is a condition which affects a person’s ability to carry out physical actions particularly in complicated sequences. Verbal dyspraxia specifically alters the ability to plan movements needed to produce words and sounds.

Common areas of difficulty for people living with dyspraxia are:

  • Balance and timing
  • Spatial awareness
  • Holding simple objects
  • Chewing and eating
  • Clumsiness

Dyspraxia can also cause the body to transmit an unusually high amount of information which can occasionally cause them to suffer from panic attacks as a result.


People with Dyscalculia find great difficulty with comprehending mathematical logic and processes and is estimated to affect between 3-6% of the population.

Common issues involve:

  • Requiring long periods of time to complete simple calculations
  • Counting backwards
  • Defaulting in understanding division, multiplication and subtraction
  • Difficulty in understanding the magnitude of numbers and determining which numbers are larger than others
  • Differentiating between left and right


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is often misunderstood and many people can perceive people with the condition as simply having unruly behaviour.

In reality, ADHD is characterised by hyperactivity or restlessness, short attention span and high impulsivity – all of which are uncontrollable, despite often fluctuating from day-to-day.

These behaviours can make learning and socialising difficult for those affected which naturally entails numerous negative outcomes such as low self-esteem, reduced motivation and can also cause delays in reaching educational milestones.

Encompass Dorset provide a range of services designed to improve the lives of people suffering from learning disabilities and enduring mental health illnesses.