Learning Disorders

Learning Disorders


A learning disorder is defined as a difficulty in an area of cognitive functioning in which two conditions are met:

  1. The child’s achievement level is below what’s expected for his age, educational level and level of intelligence (most children with learning disorders have normal intelligence).
  2. The difficulty is not caused by:
  • a sensory disturbance, such as hearing or visual loss
  • a primary neurologic disorder
  • a psychiatric disorder
  • some form of social deprivation or failure to attend school

There are four types of learning disorders:

Reading disorders

  • A reading disorder may be suspected when a child reads below the expected level for his age, grade in school and intelligence. Children with a reading disorder may:
    • read slowly
    • have difficulty with word recognition
    • confuse words that look similar
    • have difficulty understanding what they read

Disorders of written expression

  • A disorder of written expression is characterized by difficulty with skills related to writing, such as:
    • Spelling
    • Handwriting
    • organizing paragraphs
    • composing written information
    • understanding grammar and punctuation

Mathematics disorders

  • A mathematics disorder may be present when a child has problems with skills related to numbers. These may include:
    • counting
    • copying numbers correctly
    • adding and carrying numbers
    • learning multiplication tables
    • recognizing mathematical signs
    • understanding mathematical operations

Learning disorders not otherwise specified (LD NOS)

  • Learning disorders not otherwise specified may affect problem solving, and mimic or exacerbate other types of learning disorders. Examples of LD NOS include problems with:
    • switching between tasks
    • monitoring one’s own performance
    • memory

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