Learning Disabilities ofAmerica



Signs of Learning Disability

Kindergarten to fourth grade:

  • Has difficulty reading (unable to make connecting between letters and sound, confuses simple words)
  • Consistently makes spelling errors, reverses, inverts letters and numbers
  • Reads very slowly and not smoothly
  • Confuses math signs
  • Difficulty remembering math facts
  • Grasp of pencil is not typical or is difficult (tired or sore hand)
  • Difficulty learning time
  • Poor coordination

Fifth grade to eight grades:

  • Does not like to read out loud
  • Reading is slow and choppy
  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor ability to keep and make friends
  • Low self-esteem
  • I.Q. scores not reflected on report card
  • Unorganized with school work
  • Slow to grasp concepts

High school

  • Avoids reading and writing
  • Avoids homework
  • Below grade level reader
  • Spelling below grade level
  • Unable to comprehend instructions or understand written questions
  • Unable to keep up with school work, even at lowest ability level for grade
  • Difficultly recalling test answers, despite studying them the day prior
  • Frustrated with school

About Learning Disabilities

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. The disability may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.

Every individual with a learning disability is unique and shows a different combination and degree of difficulties. A common characteristic among people with learning disabilities is uneven areas of ability, “a weakness within a sea of strengths.” For instance, a child with dyslexia who struggles with reading, writing and spelling may be very capable in math and science.

Learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of mental retardation; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages.

Generally speaking, people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. There often appears to be a gap between the individual’s potential and actual achievement. This is why learning disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities:” the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.
A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in school, at work, in relationships, and in the community.

In Federal law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the term is “specific learning disability,” one of 13 categories of disability under that law.


Symptoms of Learning Disabilities

The symptoms of learning disabilities are a diverse set of characteristics which affect development and achievement. Some of these symptoms can be found in all children at some time during their development. However, a person with learning disabilities has a cluster of these symptoms which do not disappear as s/he grows older.

Most frequently displayed symptoms:

  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Inability to discriminate between/among letters, numerals, or sounds
  • Poor reading and/or writing ability
  • Eye-hand coordination problems; poorly coordinated
  • Difficulties with sequencing
  • Disorganization and other sensory difficulties

Other characteristics that may be present:

  • Performs differently from day to day
  • Responds inappropriately in many instances
  • Distractible, restless, impulsive
  • Says one thing, means another
  • Difficult to discipline
  • Doesn’t adjust well to change
  • Difficulty listening and remembering
  • Difficulty telling time and knowing right from left
  • Difficulty sounding out words
  • Reverses letters
  • Places letters in incorrect sequence
  • Difficulty understanding words or concepts
  • Delayed speech development; immature speech

Additional information is available on LDA’s website at www.ldaamerica.org

Understanding Symptoms
“Learning Disabilities” is an “umbrella” term describing a number of other, more specific learning disabilities:

Dyslexia - A language and reading disability

Dyscalculia - Problems with arithmetic and math concepts

Dysgraphia - A writing disorder resulting in illegibility

Dyspraxia (Sensory Integration Disorder) - Problems with motor coordination

Central Auditory Processing Disorder - Difficulty processing and remembering language-related tasks

Non-Verbal Learning Disorders - Trouble with nonverbal cues, e.g., body language; poor coordination, clumsy

Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
Reverses letters; cannot copy accurately; eyes hurt and itch; loses place; struggles with cutting

Language Disorders (Aphasia/ Dysphasia) - Trouble understanding spoken language; poor reading comprehension
Learning Disabilities of America