Common Disabilities in School Children in America

Disabled five year old boy using a bus lift for his wheelchair

Most schools in America have students with disabilities. In fact, a recent study has shown that the disabilities are on the rise across the board. However, not all schools are well equipped to cater to the needs of these kids.

One of the reasons is the broad spectrum that these disabilities cover. Getting experts who can help these children at schools can often be unattainable due to the budgetary restrictions. However, many parents of such children are doing their best to fight for their children’s rights. Companies like offer their help to such parents both in counseling them as well as in representation. Here are some of the most common disabilities of school children in the USA.

Dyslexia and Dyscalculia

These two conditions are connected in their theme, which is the inability or difficulty in reading what has been written down, which can seriously hinder their education. Dyslexia is a condition which causes students (and even adults) to be unable to read and write words and sentences. As many as 15% of students suffer from dyslexia to a certain degree.

On the other hand, dyscalculia makes it difficult for learners to process numbers and other mathematical expressions. It is a bit less common than dyslexia, with about 5-6% of students afflicted with this condition.

Down Syndrome

This condition has become something of a poster example of mental disability, particularly because the mental disability is usually accompanied by some characteristic physical traits like short stature and slanted eyes.

It occurs when an additional copy of chromosome 21 is copied from one of the parents, which results in additional material in the brain. Not only is it the most recognizable disability, it is one of the most prevalent disabilities out there as well, with one in 700 children suffering from it. The degree of mental disability is impossible to determine and can vary greatly from person to person.


Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder is a relatively new term which groups together children who have a hard time focusing for extended periods of time and children who are unable to sit still and have the need to move around at all times. This disorder can make it difficult for these children to progress at school as they get bored during class and can display disruptive behavior.

This disorder has been on the rise lately and as many as 9% of all children in their teens display some degree of ADHD, and more than 4% still present those symptoms well into adulthood.


Autism has had a lot of media attention in the last decade or so, particularly due to the uncorroborated and unfounded connection to vaccines. There has been no scientific connection between the two, but autism has become increasingly prevalent in school children in America. In fact, one in 70 children has some kind of autism.

Autism can be discovered as early as 2 months old, but can also present as late as 2 years old. Children suffering from autism largely focus on their inner life and don’t particularly like interacting with the outside world, which hinders their education if it is not adapted to them.

Cerebral Palsy

This condition typically happens due to an abnormal development of the brain or some kind of physical damage to the brain, especially the centers for movement and coordination. Cerebral palsy is typically diagnosed around year 2 or 3 and can affect as many as 10000 children each year.

Not only do children with cerebral palsy have difficulty moving and coordination, a large percentage of them have speech and language problems which just make their education much more difficult.

Even though these children have issues, they still need to have access to proper education, which is why parents and various organizations continually try to be involved with schools and help them help children, either by advocacy or through public speaking about issues.

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