Learning Disabilities

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a learning disability as: “any of various conditions (as dyslexia) that interfere with an individuals ability to learn and so result in impaired functioning in language, reasoning, or academic skills and that are thought to be caused by difficulties in processing and integrating information.”

We find in our society that there are many differing levels of learning disabilities. One person may be severely dyslexic and another may just be mildly dyslexic. This can be said about most learning disabilities. We also know that many people may struggle in learning things but may never be diagnosed with an actual learning disorder.

The key with learning disabilities is to identify them as early in life as possible and then to seek out the right kind of help. The National Institute of Health showed that 67 percent of children who were at risk for reading problems became avid readers when given the right help in the early grades of their education. This is proof of the progress that can be made if parents, teachers, and other caretakers just watch children carefully and try to identify where the child may need extra help.

Here are some signs to look for at different ages so that you may get a child the help that they need:


  • trouble relating to friends of the same age
  • has problems pronunciating words clearly
  • vocabulary isn’t growing quickly
  • has fine motor skill difficulties
  • has trouble following directions
  • has trouble with routine
  • is easily distracted or seems “busy” all of the time
  • speaks later than most children his/her age
  • has trouble rhyming words
  • difficulty in learning preschool subjects like shapes, colors, letters, and numbers

Kindergarten to 4th Grade:

  • can’t seem to grasp learning to tell time
  • seems clumsy or accident prone/uncoordinated
  • mixes up number sequences and math symbols
  • depends on memorization and has a hard time with new concepts
  • has difficulty with spelling words (root words, prefixes, suffixes)
  • regularly transposes the same letters (b/d)
  • seems very impulsive, does things haphazardly
  • does not grip pencil or other writing utensils well

5th Grade to 8th Grade:

  • Avoids reading aloud
  • Reverses letters in words
  • Strange pencil grip
  • Does not like and/or has difficulty with handwriting
  • Trouble recalling facts
  • Does not make friends easily
  • Trouble with word problems
  • Has difficulty picking up on other’s body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions

Grade 9 to Adulthood

  • Difficulty spelling, does not seem to show improvement
  • Slow worker
  • Difficulty summarizing stories, concepts or facts
  • Has trouble filling in the blanks
  • Does not grasp abstract concepts
  • Hard time remembering in general
  • Seems not to focus on information details or misreads information

If a parent/teacher or someone close to an individual picks up on these warning signs they can get them the help they need. Teachers are valuable resources as are school counselors and tutors. There are people who specialize in learning disabilities that you can find within your community. Just remember, most of these learning disabilities can be worked with if the individual gets the help that they need. Schools can help you put together an IEP (Individualized Education Program) that will be of great help.