21 Learning Disabilities Statistics & Facts (2023)

Did you know once in five children has been diagnosed with a learning disability?

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
October 8, 2023

21 Learning Disabilities Statistics & Facts (2023)

Key Learning Disability Statistics

  1. At least 1 in every 59 children has one or several learning disabilities.
  2. 1 in 5 children in the U.S. have learning and thinking differences such as ADHD or Dyslexia.
  3. 2.8 million kids are actively getting services involving special education as of 2021.
  4. 4 million children younger than 18 have learning disabilities in the U.S.
  5. Over 18% of learning-disabled kids drop out of school.
  6. The most common learning disabilities found in American children are ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia.

Learning Disabilities Prevalence

1. 1 in 59 children has been diagnosed with a learning disability

The prevalence of learning disabilities is greater than you might think. According to research, 1 in 59 children has been diagnosed with a learning disability. This fact means most classrooms have several children struggling to understand information and apply concepts as quickly as their peers.

Unfortunately, a lack of awareness and resources can have severe implications for children with learning disabilities as they grow. For example, the Learning Disabilities Association of America recently published an article stating that children with learning disabilities often struggle to form peer relationships, and are subject to ridicule and bullying. These struggles can lead to low-self esteem, dissociation, and social conflict.

In addition, children who do not receive appropriate services for learning disabilities face health risks. An article published by the American Psychological Association found an increased risk of substance abuse among adolescents with learning disabilities. Because of this risk, it's important to raise awareness of the prevalence of learning disabilities among all social classes, genders, and races.

Key Learning Disabilities Statistics

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 65.6 million individuals have one or more learning disabilities. This total works out to 11.2 million students affected across grade levels.

Many times, a student's struggles first begin in the classroom. In fact, over 8% of students with learning disabilities receive accommodations through the use of IEPs or a 504.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that over 7.2 million students receive special education services. This figure equates to 15% of all public school students. While all public schools must provide services for their students, not every district receives the same funding.

How Common Are Learning Disabilities?

Learning disabilities are extremely common, and children may receive a diagnosis at any age. However, because caregivers and educators are more aware of the signs of learning disabilities, children are usually screened and diagnosed earlier. Access to appropriate services has also become more tangible, which leads to a better outcome for the child.

Although the exact reason behind a child developing learning disabilities is unknown, there are a few common causes. Some children may have inherited their condition from their parents. Others may have experienced an illness or injury before or during birth.

Other incidents can also cause a learning disability after birth. Sometimes, a child's mother may have received poor prenatal care. Some children may experience a head injury, receive poor nutrition in infancy, or have exposure to toxic substances.

Learning disabilities exist across all races, cultures, and genders. They are not more prevalent among those experiencing economic disadvantages. There is no known singular cause for learning disabilities.

Learning Disabilities Prevalence

Though learning disabilities are much more common than initially thought, they vary significantly by type. Breaking down these statistics will help you better grasp the scope of learning disabilities among students across the nation.

Learning Disabilities Prevalence By Type

Disability type Percent
Specific learning disability 33
Speech or language impairment 19
Other health impairment1 15
Autism 12
Development delay 7
Intellectual disability 6
Emotional disturbance 5
Multiple disabilities 2
Hearing impairment 1

Dyslexia, ADHD, and Dysgraphia are the most prevalent learning disabilities.

Dyslexia affects about 15 to 20% of all students in the country. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder comes next at 5-10% of the population.

Dyscalculia affects a child's ability to process math skills. Around 3-7% of children across the world are affected by this learning disability.

Children affected by auditory processing disorder have difficulty processing information audibly. They often do not understand why their brain cannot process information as their peers do. About 3-5% of children struggle with this condition.

Language processing disorder refers to a condition where a person cannot express themselves with language. As a result, they may struggle with verbal communication and instruction or reading comprehension. Approximately 5% of children suffer from some form of a language processing disorder.

Children affected by nonverbal learning disorders struggle with motor, social, and visual-spatial skills. One in one hundred children may receive a diagnosis of NVLD, with boys and girls being affected equally.

Visual perceptual motor deficit disorder affects a child's ability to comprehend the information they visually process. This disability often causes difficulty with reading, drawing, and copying from the board. In addition, children may struggle with letters, symbols, and long or short-term visual memory problems.

Children with visual perceptual motor deficit disorder usually have a short attention span. There are eight different types of this condition, each with its own specific concerns and challenges.

Boys are most likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability. Two-thirds of children diagnosed are male. This disparity may be due to how learning disorders affect boys and girls.

For example, boys diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder are more likely to be disruptive in class. In contrast, girls are more often seen "daydreaming" or not paying attention.

Learning Disabilities Prevalence By Race

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Of Students
Total 15%
White 15%
Black 17%
Hispanic 14%
Asian 8%
Pacific Islander 12%
American Indian/Alaska Native 19%
Two Or More Races 15%

The National Center for Education Statistics has found that 15 percent of all students ages three to twenty-one receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act. Of this total, 15 percent of students are white, 17 percent are black, and 14 percent are Hispanic. In addition, 8 percent are Asian, 12% are Pacific Islanders, and 19% are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Asian students are more likely to be diagnosed with autism or hearing impairment. They are also more likely to graduate high school with a regular diploma.

Black students with disabilities are more likely to be diagnosed with intellectual disabilities or emotional disturbances than their peers. They are also most likely to receive a disciplinary removal compared to other students diagnosed with disabilities.

Hispanic students are more likely to be diagnosed with hearing impairment or a specified learning disability than all other students receiving services. Across all races, American Indian and Alaska Native students are most likely to drop out. They are also less likely to be inside a regular classroom with their peers for more than 40 percent of the school day.

White students are much more likely to receive the support they need within a regular classroom for 80 percent of their school day. In addition, they are also less likely to receive a specific intellectual disability diagnosis among all races.

Learning Disabilities By School Participation

Year 80% or more of time inside general classes 40–79% of time inside general classes Less than 40% of time inside general classes
2009 59 21 15
2010 61 20 14
2011 61 20 14
2012 61 20 14
2013 62 19 14
2014 62 19 14
2015 63 19 14
2016 63 19 13
2017 63 18 13
2018 64 18 13
2019 65 18 13
2020 66 17 13

Unfortunately, students with learning disabilities experience a higher dropout rate than their peers. For example, 18.1 percent of children with learning disabilities will likely drop out of school before graduation. This number is much higher than the 6.1 percent of general education students who drop out.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 51.1% of students receiving special education services are due to learning disabilities. It's important to note that learning disabilities are not associated with a lower intelligence quotient (IQ). Most people with a learning difficulty score within the normal range on an IQ test.

Specific Learning Disabilities Statistics

About one-third of students identified with a learning disability end up repeating a grade. Unfortunately, this also increases the risk of dropping out before graduation.

In addition, students with learning disabilities are also more likely to receive a suspension than their peers. For example, 11% of students suspended in 2017-2018 were diagnosed with a learning disability compared to 4% of their peers.

There are disparities among races, genders, and school levels too. According to the Learning Policy Institute, only one in one thousand Asian females were suspended in elementary school. On the other hand, 27% of black boys with disabilities received a suspension in secondary school.

Many therapeutic interventions are effective in helping your child overcome their specific learning challenges. Applied behavior analysis is rooted in research and focuses on helping clients reach their full potential by developing individualized plans to address their strengths and weaknesses.

Some studies have shown remarkable success in using applied behavior analysis techniques with children diagnosed with autism. A study conducted in 1987 at the University of California found that up to 90% of children make exceptional gains in skills through this type of therapy.

A similar study occurred in 2010 with preschool students. These students presented with autism and mild learning disabilities. This study also found similar results when utilizing applied behavior therapy concepts, noting remarkable gain amongst many students at the conclusion.

By becoming more aware of learning disabilities and reaching out for appropriate interventions, programs, and services, you can help set your child up for long-term success.


  1. https://ldaamerica.org/lda_today/the-state-of-learning-disabilities-today/ 
  2. https://www.understood.org/en/articles/learning-disabilities-by-the-numbers 
  3. https://www.brightfuturesny.com/post/healthcare-industry-statistics
  4. https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/special-education-definition-statistics-and-trends/2019/12
  5. https://www.unionrestoration.com/blog/mold-and-learning-disabilities
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440373/ 
  7. https://www.understood.org/en/articles/do-boys-have-learning-and-thinking-differences-more-often-than-girls