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Description of Common Disabilities


What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or commonly referred to as ADHD?

ADHD in the classroom: Helping Children Succeed in School

Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience more obstacles in their path to success than the average student. The symptoms of ADHD, such as inability to pay attention, difficulty sitting still, and difficulty controlling impulses, can make it hard for children with this diagnosis to do well in school.

To meet the needs of children with ADHD, schools may offer

  • ADHD treatments, such as behavioral classroom management or organizational training;
  • Special education services; or
  • Accommodations to lessen the effect of ADHD on their learning.

Spanish translation 


What Does ADHD Look Like in a School Setting?

  • Difficulty with organization
  • Struggling to follow directions
  • Easily distracted
  • Blurting out answers or excessive talking
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Forgetful or misplaces items
  • Impatient
  • Always on the go or “driven by a motor”
  • Fidgeting or squirming

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder which impacts the way in which a child develops. 

What are Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder showcase deficits in social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviors. The disorder has a extensive range of symptoms, language skills, behaviors and cognitive abilities. 

What Does Autism Spectrum Disorder Look Like in a School Setting?

  • Difficulty commencing in a back and forth conversation
  • Struggles to make eye contact
  • Lower displays or aversion to affection
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Difficulty handling minor changes in daily routine
  • Consuming interests in a specific topics 
  • Struggling to recognize emotions of other people or reading their body language
  • Sorts, lines up or organizes toys or objects

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that impacts a child’s ability to process words or numbers. Children with dyslexia put in more effort than their peers to keep up with their work but struggle with reading fluently - with ease, quickly and automatically. 

What are Signs of Dyslexia?

Younger children with dyslexia may struggle with differentiating left from right, a hard time following directions, experience speech delays, difficulty with learning simple rhymes, repeat or leave out short words like “and”, “but”, and “the”.

What Does Dyslexia Look Like in a School Setting?

  • Struggling to copy notes from the board
  • Difficulty learning how to read
  • Reversing letters or numbers
  • Spelling incorrectly or will spell phonetically i.e. “gitar” instead of “guitar”
  • Avoidance in reading aloud in class
  • Tires easily from reading
  • Impacts on reading fluency
  • Struggling with rhyming words 

What is Emotional Disability?

An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors. Behaviors that are situationally inappropriate. A generally depressed mood or unhappiness. Weaknesses in building and maintaining relationships with peers or teachers. 

Link to Connecticut Department of Education Emotional Disability Guidelines

What are Signs of an Emotional Disability?

  • Rebellious Actions
  • Frequent/Unnecessary Arguments
  • Withdrawal from Peers 
  • Inability to Cope with Environment (Anxiety, Mood Swings)

What Does an Emotional Disability Look Like in a School Setting?

  • Truancy or Attendance Issues to Class
  • Aggressive Attitudes or Tantrums
  • Performing Below Grade Level
  • Hostility Towards Authority
  • Immature Behaviors
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Environmental Anxiety
  • Eating Disorder(s)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is a Learning Disability?

A Learning Disability is a term used to describe a variety of learning problems. The disability is in a relation to the way the brain gets, stores, and sends information. 

What are Signs of a Learning Disability?

Some of the symptoms of learning disorders are

  • Difficulty telling right from left
  • Reversing letters, words, or numbers, after first or second grade
  • Difficulties recognizing patterns or sorting items by size or shape
  • Difficulty understanding and following instructions or staying organized
  • Difficulty remembering what was just said or what was just read
  • Lacking coordination when moving around
  • Difficulty doing tasks with the hands, like writing, cutting, or drawing
  • Difficulty understanding the concept of time

Examples of learning disorders include

  • Dyslexia – difficulty with reading
  • Dyscalculia – difficulty with math
  • Dysgraphia – difficulty with writing

Children with learning disorders may feel frustrated that they cannot master a subject despite trying hard, and may act out, act helpless, or withdraw. Learning disorders can also be present with emotional or behavioral disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or anxiety. The combination of problems can make it particularly hard for a child to succeed in school. Properly diagnosing each disorder is crucial, so that the child can get the right kind of help for each.