Learning disabilities are common among children with autism. Although autism itself is not a learning disability, it can significantly affect a child’s ability to process and retain information. And as a result, hinders their academic and social progress.

Below, we’ll discuss the relationship between autism and learning disabilities. We will also offer insights into what you can do to help children with autism deal with a learning disability.

What Is a Learning Disability?

A learning disability is a lifelong disorder generally characterized by difficulty learning and processing information. It is estimated that around 4 in 10 people with autism also have a learning disability.

This condition affects people in different ways. Some of its most common challenges include the following:

  • Interacting with others
  • Controlling behavior
  • Adapting behaviors to different situations

Types of Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities can make it hard for affected people to learn and process information. Here are some of the most common types of learning disabilities.


Dyslexia is a language-processing disorder. It mostly affects a person’s reading ability due to difficulties associating speech sounds with letters and words. People with dyslexia also often have trouble with writing and reading comprehension.  


Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects an individual’s ability to understand and perform mathematical calculations. People with dyscalculia struggle with numbers, math concepts, and reasoning.

Affected individuals may also have difficulty counting money, reading clocks to tell time, and identifying patterns.


Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to write. It is mostly characterized by poor handwriting and difficulty translating thoughts into writing.


People with the condition may also struggle with letter spacing, spatial awareness, motor planning, and trouble thinking and writing simultaneously.

Aside from the types of learning disabilities, it’s also useful to learn about the common symptoms of learning disabilities in autism.

Common Symptoms of Learning Disability in Autism

There are many signs and symptoms that can indicate a learning disability in people with autism. One of the most common indicators is having an IQ below 70. It affects 1 in every 100 people.

People with such low IQs are said to have impaired intelligence. It can present itself in various ways. Some of the most common include a reduced ability to function independently and adjust to the expectations of a typical social setting.

Children with autism who also have a learning disability also exhibit a few other common behaviors and conditions. These include the following:

  • Self-injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Stereotypical behaviors such as body rocking

How Do the Symptoms of ASD and LD Overlap?

Despite being two unique conditions, the symptoms of ASD and learning disabilities often overlap. For example, both can affect a person’s ability to communicate, learn, and interact with others.

Certain learning disabilities like dyslexia also display similar symptoms to autism. For instance, people with dyslexia can experience visual and auditory difficulties. This is similar to the hypo and hyper activities in people with autism.

Here are a few other ways the symptoms overlap.

Both Are Lifelong Conditions

Autism and learning disabilities are lifelong conditions often diagnosed in childhood. That means affected persons don’t typically show any signs of change. They also don’t develop throughout their lives.

Neither Has a Cure

There is no cure or one-size-fits-all solution for autism disorder and learning disabilities. However, various treatments can improve your child’s ability to function and cope with their disabilities. This gives them a chance for a semblance of normal life in the future.

Both Can Significantly Affect a Person’s Life

Autism and learning disabilities can affect a person’s life in various ways. They can hinder the ability to communicate, learn, and interact with others. The conditions can also cause ongoing challenges with processing and interpreting sensory information.

Ultimately, this causes many other issues, including difficulty with social interactions. However, it is important to note that every person is unique and may experience different challenges.

Early Detection Is Important in Both Cases

Early detection of autism and learning disabilities can be beneficial for several reasons. For starters, it allows for early intervention. This typically involves a range of treatments and therapies, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy. The interventions can help a person with autism or learning disabilities learn new skills and cope with challenges.

Early detection can also allow for the implementation of accommodations and support. Examples include extra time on tests or the use of assistive technology. These help persons with autism and learning disabilities succeed in school and other areas of life.

People with autism and learning disorders also have a few other common challenges. These include emotional dysregulation, sensory processing issues, and trouble with social skills.

What Can You Do About Learning Disabilities?

You can do several things to help people with autism deal with learning disabilities. For example, people dealing with both conditions benefit from early detection. Therefore, if you notice that your child, who is also diagnosed with autism, has difficulty learning and processing information, you should see your doctor to get a diagnosis.

You can also help people with autism and learning disabilities by:

Offering Accommodations

Accommodations like extra time on tests or the use of assistive technology can help people dealing with autism and learning disabilities. Examples include keeping up with their peers and managing their lives. It also gives them a chance to succeed in life.

Providing Educational Support

Educational support, such as tutoring or a special education program, can help people with autism and learning disabilities develop the skills necessary to live normally and even succeed.

Providing a Supportive Environment

Providing a supportive environment like a welcoming and inclusive classroom or workplace can help a person with a learning disability feel more comfortable. It can also help them participate better in social situations.

Joining the Intellectual Disability Register

Joining an intellectual disability register can benefit people with learning disabilities in several ways. For example, it gives them access to specialized services tailored to meet their specific needs.

Being on an intellectual disability register can also help improve the coordination of care for people with learning disabilities. For instance, it lets healthcare professionals know when they need to adopt suitable support and care for such individuals in medical situations.

Besides that, it can also provide a way for individuals to advocate for their rights and needs. They could also get an opportunity to connect with others with similar experiences.

The Bottom Line

Despite being two distinct conditions, autism and learning disabilities display similar symptoms that affect people differently. In both cases, early detection paves the way for beneficial interventions. These include speech, occupational, and behavioral therapy, which can help individuals learn new skills and cope with challenges.

If you are concerned about autism or a learning disability in someone you know, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional. They’ll give you a proper evaluation and provide appropriate support and accommodations.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.


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