What are learning disorders?
Learning disorders are problems with the brain’s ability to get, remember, or use information. These problems make it hard to focus and do well in school.
Children with learning disorders often have normal or high intelligence but have problems with a specific mental skill, such as reading or doing math
Learning disorders are different from intellectual disability Intellectual Disability Intellectual disability is a brain problem that results in lower than normal intelligence. It can happen as your baby's brain develops in your womb. The disability can be mild or more severe... read more (when children are born with lower than normal intelligence that causes problems with all mental skills)
Doctors will send your child for a series of tests to see if your child has a learning disorder
Certain school programs can help with subjects your child has trouble with
Children don't have learning disorders because they're lazy or misbehaving. Something in their brain didn't develop properly. Doctors don't know for sure why this happens, but learning disorders are more likely if:
The mother was sick or used certain illicit drugs during pregnancy
The mother or baby had medical complications during pregnancy
The child had a serious illness (such as cancer) at a young age
Common learning disorders are:
Children who aren't learning at the level appropriate to their age and ability should be tested for learning disorders.
What are the symptoms of learning disorders?
Young children with learning disorders may take longer than usual to learn:
Names of colors, letters, or objects
How to count
How to read and write
Children may also have:
Short attention spans
Trouble paying attention
Speech or language problems
Trouble understanding directions
Trouble remembering things that happened recently
Trouble with hand and finger use, such as printing and copying
Some children with learning disorders become frustrated at school. The frustration can cause behavioral problems, such as being hyperactive, shy, or aggressive.
Children with dyslexia, one type of reading disorder, have symptoms like:
Slow to start talking and naming letters and pictures
Trouble making sounds for words or putting sounds in the right order
Trouble seeing single words in a group or parts of one word
Slow to read out loud
More spelling and writing errors than usual, such as reversing letters in words
How can doctors tell if my child has a learning disorder?
Doctors will test your child’s hearing and eyesight to make sure those aren't the cause of your child’s learning problems (hearing and vision problems aren't learning disorders).
To know for sure, they’ll send your child to a learning specialist (often at the child’s school). The specialist will do a series of intelligence tests and ask your child reading, writing, and math questions.
How are learning disorders treated?
Learning disorders are treated through educational programs that help children with learning disorders. For example, dyslexia is treated with programs that teach children to identify words by paying attention to the sounds. These programs also use audio books, computer screen readers, and other tools.
Some children with learning disorders also have ADHD Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder that makes it hard to focus, pay attention, and sit still. It often causes problems at school and home. ADHD symptoms can... read more (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Medicines that doctors prescribe for ADHD help children concentrate, which may help them learn better.
In the United States, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to test children for learning disorders. It also requires schools to provide free and appropriate education to children with learning disorders.