Identifying Learning Disorders

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that is used as an umbrella term for a wide variety of problems. However, learning disabilities are not correlated to intelligence or motivation, for those who are diagnosed simply have brains that are wired differently. This difference affects how one receives and processes information and requires one to be taught in a manner tailored to an individual learning style. There are many strategies to assist students in working with their disorders in order to achieve success in school and in life. These are lifelong issues that cannot be cured or fixed, yet learning disabilities do not prevent accomplishments. Individuals such as Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and George Patton all possessed learning disabilities.

General signs of learning disorders differ by age. Preschoolers tend to speak later than most children, have pronunciation problems, struggle with rhyming words, and have trouble interacting with peers. In Grades K-4, students make consistent reading and spelling errors, confuse arithmetic signs, possess an unstable pencil grip, and struggle with learning about time. Those in Grades 5-8 avoid reading aloud, have difficulty with handwriting, have trouble understanding body language and facial expressions, and are slow to learn root words, prefixes, and suffixes. High school students and adults have trouble with open-ended questions, struggle adjusting to new settings, work slowly, and have a poor grasp of abstract concepts.

When to Seek Help
Don’t wait to see if the disorder resolves itself. If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, get him or her tested. The sooner the problem is identified, the quicker your child can fulfill his or her potential. The only “wrong” thing to do is wait. Frustration and failure erodes a child’s self-esteem, and knowing the reason behind the problem eases the mind and allows for a plan to be made to work around or combat the disorder.


Problems with letter and word recognition, understanding words and ideas, reading speed and fluency, and general vocabulary skills

Problems with sequencing information, handling money, recognizing patterns, and understanding concepts related to time

Problems with understanding and interpreting information taken in through the eyes or ears when eyesight and hearing abilities are normal

Problems with understanding spoken language, reading comprehension, or fluency of speech

Problems with physical difficulty of forming words and letters, neatness, accurately copying letters and words, spelling consistency, and writing organization

Written by: Hope Hathcock

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