The term learning disability is used to describe the seeming unexplained difficulty a person of at least average intelligence has in acquiring basic academic skills.

“I know he’s smart,” a parent will say. “But he gets such poor grades.”

Academic skills are essential for success at school and work, and for coping with life in general. The term learning disorder is generally used to encompass a group of disorders and not a single disorder.

The main feature of a learning disability is the distinct gap between the level of achievement (intellectual ability) that is expected and what is actually being achieved (academic performance).

Learning Disabilities

LD generally affects a person’s ability in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, writing and mathematics.

Children with LD process information differently and do not have primary sensory deficits, MR, emotional disturbances or motor handicaps.

Signs of Learning Disability:


  • Late talking most of the time
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word
  • Frequently substitutes related words eg. `table’ for `bench’
  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Likes listening to stories but shows no interest in letters and numbers
  • Does not ask questions and becomes frustrated when questions are asked eg. When asked `when is your birthday’, he may answer `eat cake’
  • Cannot relate events or stories in a logical order
  • Talks little during spontaneous play, answers in single words
  • Trouble learning numbers, the alphabet, days of the week
  • Poor ability to follow directions or routines eg. Left-right confusion
  • Shows significant discrepancy between nonverbal problem solving (eg. Jigsaw puzzles, blocks), and ability to communicate using words

Grades 1-4

  • Puzzling discrepancy between intelligence and written language
  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Confuses basic words (eg. Run, eat, want)
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left) and substitutions (house/home)
  • Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+, -, x, /, =)
  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
  • Difficulty sequencing, planning and organizing writing
  • Bizarre spelling errors eg. `wyt’ for `wait’, `kss’ for `snake’