Symptoms of Learning Disabilities

The symptoms of learning disabilities are a diverse set of characteristics which affect development and achievement.

Some of these symptoms can be found in all individuals at some time during their development. However, a person with learning disabilities has a cluster of these symptoms which do not disappear as the person ages.

Most frequently displayed symptoms:

  • short attention span,
  • poor memory,
  • difficulty following directions,
  • inability to discriminate between/among letters, numerals, or sounds,
  • poor reading and/or writing ability,
  • eye-hand coordination problems; poorly coordinated,
  • difficulties with sequencing, and/or
  • disorganization and other sensory difficulties.

Other characteristics that may be present:

  • performs differently from day to day,
  • responds inappropriately in many instances,
  • distractible, restless, impulsive,
  • says one thing, means another,
  • difficult to discipline,
  • doesn’t adjust well to change,
  • difficulty listening and remembering,
  • difficulty telling time and knowing right from left,
  • difficulty sounding out words,
  • reverses letters,
  • places letters in incorrect sequence,
  • difficulty understanding words or concepts, and/or
  • delayed speech development; immature speech.


  1. Monica Roman says:

    I have a 5 year old son in kindergarten and diagnosis of ADHD last year. Instead of help from his school, my son gets referral after referral, I get calls from school to pick him up, conference after conference, and I’ve tried to get my son an IEP in place. His doctor has tried serval different medications, most with horrible side effects. His doctor wrote a letter to my sons school requesting the IEP and it did not speed the process up at all. My sons school talks of him not moving forward into first grade in August and I am fed up with it all. I have been at my job almost a year, used all paid time off to leave and get him early from school or stay at home because he was suspended from school. My son has also been kicked out of about four local daycare centers for his behavior. How far do things need to go before we get some real help? Where do I go? Who do I need to talk to? I’ve read books, researched web-sites. I’m at an over whelming loss.

    • ldaamerica says:

      We appreciate you trusting LDA to help answer your question. We will have an expert on the subject post their comment soon.

    • You have to request iep and testing for your child in writing. Go see a psychologist who can test him for learning disabilities. Google examples of letters requesting IEP. Research online. You are the only advocate for your child! It’s sad they ignore you because it’s all about money and the budget. Request in writing that you want your child tested for a learning disability. Again do it in writing!

      • I am 12 and I have a learning disability I took the medicine once that the the doctor had gave me and I got worst .now I can’t focus and think properly. I cry sometimes and ask God why he had to make me like this,it’s like I’m the only retarded one in the classroom ;( i hate the way I am,

        • Tamara, I’ll being praying that you never feel that way again. The Bible says that God knit you together in the womb and made you wonderful. God has a plan for your life you just have to find it.

        • Tamara I Understand What you are feeling I have mild learning disability I’m 29years old now but when I was in school it was horrible I was bullying but I understand how you feel your not alone ok tamara

        • Tamara!

          This is what I know about you from your few sentences. You are very intelligent, you have self awareness and a desire to do well. You have courage to boot. These are qualities that many children without learning challenges don’t have and may never develop. I believe that when we find a closed door it is directing us to look elsewhere. Perhaps you are an artist, musician or have a gift with plants or animals.

          The point I am making is that everyone here has something to work on inside themselves and a gift to develop and share. Our country overemphasizes education in a very narrow format that is not inclusive.

          I understand why you feel so crummy but I see that fire of passion to do well and believe you will begin a journey of discovering your own interests and talents. I believe in you and that your passion to succeed will be realized. Have you explored things like pottery or music or dance or…..there is so much great stuff out there to be explored, Tamara.

          I wish you all good blessings! I believe in you and that like all of us, you will begin your journey of self discovery. You are fortunate to realize early on what is not fun for you. Ask for help when you need it and start exploring your interests. Move your attention away from what appears to be a loss and look for what has been given to you specially and develop that.


        • Your religion is your own meaningful buisness, but I wouldn’t say God made you this way. This implies calculation, as if you were somehow less. In life there is chance. Bad things happen for no reason to good people. It is not our fault these things happen. There is no big bad reason behind it. It just happens. Happy chance and unhappy chance. It’s how we choose to face those bad things that happen to us that makes us who we are, in not letting chance define how we see ourselves and the world. Perhaps some things to think about: What would you like to change in your life, what information do you have to help you now, where might have more information to find, and is anyone around who can stand by you while you make these choices?

  2. Our child has an IEP under other health impairments. She receives speech and language services for expressive and receptive disabilities, she is in pull out Math and Literacy classes. Her range of achievement is from a 3 – 5th grade level in Key Math testing results. On the WCKE math our child scored in the one percentile. In the NWEA district testing 2% . She is receiving an A in her current Sped Math class. She reads fluently and is at about a 4 -6th grade level in Literacy on the WIIAT testing, her lexile level is 411-561. She scores in the 4% for in the area of Language Arts for the WKCE and The 6% for the reading portion WCKE. On the NWEA district test she scored at the 4% range. She is receiving a B+ in her current Lit class. Science grade is a D, in Drawing class a D and in Social Studies a B. She is in the eighth grade. We feel she should be making greater gains and we are not seeing the education transferring into her world outside of the school setting. In the areas of Math, Reading comprehension, Writing. We have seen very good progress in Sp & Lang services. Next year is the leap to high school.
    The other concern is Social peers: I am fearful for the type of kids that she is paired up with at school and has taken to as friends. We noticing our kiddo mimicking some of their adverse behaviors. Many of these kids have a lack of guidance and are not involved in activities, have much broader boundaries, poor attitudes, low motivation, poor self image, no filter in their language and actions, many are EBD… the kids have been grouped together in most classes for three years now. These kids who are accepting of one another, they feel they have to stay together because they are not the popular kids don’t like them and they have each others back. My husband and I are very concerned because these kids sadly have a different life exposures that are unsafe and do not want our child to gravitate to. We have asked for her seating to be with kids that set more positive examples, yet our kiddo feels she has to be with this group. These are the kids she sits with at lunch… when the other students see who she is spending time with they will not accept her into their group. If we lose her to this group of kids then our daughter will be at risk to some very unhealthy life exposures and a very rough path in life. Also her desire to succeed in her education could be greatly challenged. How do we encourage her to make a social group change, these kids she has embraced as her friend group. We are teaching her to recognize the adversities, but now she is upset with me for not liking her friends, that her friends are nice to her and I am being rude in the things I am pointing out.
    Regarding her education – how much gain can we expect to see from year to year? She does not want this but, I am considering home schooling as she does best with one on one and more quality time spent on the necessary subjects and can be taught at her level. Yet our kiddo is very social and this may have an adverse effect too. I feel so distraught and unsure as to what to do so that she is safe and also has the best opportunity for success also to make greater gains educationally. We have had an IEP meeting regarding, They can meet her need educationally but can not help socially as these are her choices.
    Thank You for Your Time & Help

  3. Betsy Hale says:

    Hello! I am a retired elementary school teacher. Presently I volunteer as a tutor in our local library’s adult literacy program. One of my students, Daniel, is struggling with trying to read. He is 37 years old, highly motivated, intelligent, and a very had worker.
    Daniel has not been able to learn to read even at a kindergarten level. He has learned many word attack skills, but is unable to use these skills efficiently. His comprehension, when something is read to him, is wonderful. He always scores at 100% in comprehension this way.
    I have noticed that when he tries to follow a “read-along” from the internet, he has to move his entire head back and forth to follow the highlighted words. He told me he has never been able to hold his head still and follow just with his eyes. Daniel was born with a “hole” in the roof of his mouth. According to his mother, this hole is not a real cleft palate. Daniel’s speaking vocabulary is quite good, but he has a lot of difficulty pronouncing words. His mother has stated that no one has ever seemed able to label Daniel’s disability. Any help from you folks in helping with a diagnosis, or help in pointing me to somewhere that would be of service in my helping Daniel would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    • Betsy, I wonder if he has ever been tested for eye tracking issues? Eye therapy is fantastic and re trains the eye how to move. It would certainly explain his inability to read. I had amblyopia as a child and eye therapy fixed it. My son had a terrible time reading. One he did eye therapy he could track better (he still struggles but it helped immensely). I hope you have found some helps. He is lucky to have you.

    • It Sound like he has dyslexia and might benefit from a multi sensory reading approach like OrtoN-Gillingham, susan Barton or Wilson.

  4. Dear
    i have son 6 years old i am very much upset because i am facing learning problem in my child no body tell me the right direction so that io can focus and do start working on it.
    he can understand the things toilet train and memory is good but very much hyper and from last 3 years he is still in play group i will be very thankful if you people help me ti find out what is the exactly problem going on with my son and what i have to do .

  5. I’m 17 almost 18 years old and in highschool, I’m a triplet so my brother use to have a really bad learning disability in reading and just had issues tying his shoes in 1st grade. I’ve been failing every since going to highschool and barely passing the class every year. Not because I’m lazy or don’t want to do the work but because I truly can’t stay focused or let alone understand an assignment, and takes me like 1-2 hours to do a complete assignment correctly . But, 10th grade I failed almost everything and paying attention was a problem, my mom just started to put two and two together because I never and didn’t know how to ask for help. Sadly, now I will NOT be graduating with my other two siblings and I’m embarrassed when people start to find out… I cry a lot when I can’t handle school work, and all I want to do is graduate and go to Cosmetology school, that’s all I’m good at anyways and I love doing my boyfriend’s hair and my friends and families hair and/or makeup. But, in order to go to school for becoming a hairstylist or Cosmetologist I need to graduate highschool and by the looks of things it’s not happening. Im suppose to being in 11th grade and I cant even pass the classes I need to to become a senior next year. Hate my life right now. :(

    • I hope all is well for you. Don’t give up …it takes us longer to accomplish then others but the end of the day it’s completed.

  6. I have problems that I have even at53 and learning and you know people mean well when they say God made in his image and I was wonderfully made what dam joke

  7. Is it common for symptoms to present later in life? Say 11-13 years old? My son has had continual issues in school but his elementary school offered so many “retakes” of bad grades it totally caused horribly inflated grades which in turn made it appear there were no issues. I have been dealing with his teachers for 3 years and have always been told, “things will get better”. Well this year he started middle school and it has been a nightmare. I have requested he be tested for learning disabilities but his school is putting me off.

  8. Estella Galarza says:

    I’m fifteen and I have been experiencing strange Things in my chemistry class. When we take notes on a unit, the teacher asks for us to highlight/ underline or bold certain words or phrases, and I can’t seem to be able to read the notes anymore. I focus all my attention on the bright color and the more and more I look at the notes, the more and more I just see crazy letters and symbols. I am still able to do the work, just at a slower rate with more focus on directions than the work itself. I have also been struggling with memory. I can’t remember most of my day, such as what I ate, whether or not I used the bathroom yet, or who I’ve talked to. I’ve talked to a few people about this, but none have an exact idea of what it could be.

  9. Morgan brewer says:

    Hey I’m 16 and I have 7 of these symptoms should I have a test done? I’m have in difficulties in school.

  10. Hi, Im 13 and have a learning Disability and my classmates say that its not fair that we get to do 10 out of 20 words of our vocb test. And my friend said that people in my class (IEP class) was slow and that made me cry i told her i have an iep but she just said that no i don’t i just don’t like to do the work but i try i just don’t understand it an i said i was going to go back to the 2 grade should i? I mean i don’t no how to maltaply or division and i forgot how to add an sub. Im really woryed im going to be in high school in a year with an 1.0 gpa while everyone has a 3 or an 4.0 an i get really depressed about my learning disability and fusrated plz help!!!!

  11. paulette giesbrecht says:

    My daughter has all the above symptoms. I have home schooled her now up to grade 8. I saw all these issues but had a spouse tell me it was genetic. What a sad state. He was all ego and not logical. He could not accept her as a person. He wanted her to fit his image.
    Now I can truly see what has transpired. I will help her thru spec ed and God knows it will be a journey but I walk it with her. I know her better than anyone. I see her soul. It’s beautiful.
    She however has amazing abilities with God. Very spiritually inclined. This is the side of her wisdom. She will prevail because of what God intends. I am her guide but she is in God’s hands. I love her dearly. She will be a great woman one day. Spec ed is not a disease, societal demands however is. Peer pressure is the greatest crippling tool in the world. To everyone on this site, you will over come. You are looking to learn but need a mentor to accept you. Please do not rate yourself against an institution. Find yourself. Be yourself. Put your roots deep into the universal laws of self awareness. You are very intuitive. That is what no one has probably told you. Very brilliant with humanity. Blessings

    • Ms. Claborn says:

      Hello Paulette,
      It’s wonderful that your daughter has a great mother like you. You’re accepting and love her unconditionally. Some people are in denial because they’re afraid of accepting the truth. I know it was a lot of work home schooling her until 8th grade. I commend you! I’m happy that you seeked professional help. Your daughter will do great things in life. Your words has touched me. I was just reading comments and I came across yours. If only more people were as compassionate and understanding as you. The world would be such a better place. Everyone struggles with something. With faith in God any obstacle is possible to overcome. You should be a mentor. God bless you and your daughter. I’m majoring in Human Services. I’m going in the Social Work field. I want to impact as many lives as possible.

    • Thank you so much! I needed that 😊❤

  12. stacy river says:

    Hello im 25 since I was a child I wanted to be a nurse when I graduate I study medical assistant but I fail in that I never gave up and i tried to pursue my dream achieve every goal but it seems I keep failing at them I cant keep a job or last long becuse I have trouble in retaining information focus or remembering things and im giving up on my self I dont know how to be that strong motivated girl

    • Wow you sound just like me! Im a visual learner and hands on. I’m also trying to get my RN thankfully I am now a LPN ounce a cna. Have trouble remembering things but I know what I want and won’t give up. Try davinci-laboratories-behavior-balance-dmg-liquid and download memory apps and just do some memory exercise. You’ll become a nurse one day. I’m notsure where you reside but schools in Alabama and fl has less requirements.

  13. Zona MacIntyre says:

    My daughter has many of the above symptoms and just finished her first semester of college with a 2.17 gpa. She has indicated that college is too hard for her and that she feels stupid. She says she tries hard and studies but still has trouble passing tests, focusing, retaining information that she has learned, and basically reading comprehension. She wants help, but I’m not sure what to do for her. Do colleges have resource centers that can test for learning disabilities and help students? I looked online at the college she was attending and didn’t find anything, but maybe I’m not looking for the right thing. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  14. Jamie Thomas says:

    I am a school counselor and there is a student at our school that cannot read. He has been tested in the past and has an IEP saying that he is a non-reader. He is 18 years old but hasn’t been diagnosed with a specific disability. He tries so hard but its like something isnt’ connecting for him to read. He’s said he’s had many teachers and people try to help but he just cannot get it. He will be graduating in the summer and he’s freaking out about what he’s going to be able do because of his not being able to read. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions as to what to do? Please help. Thank you.

  15. Zachery Walter says:

    Can someone please tell me whats wrong with me I don’t no my doctors can’t figure it out nobody can figure it out I want to do school work but for some reason I can’t make myself do it and I get farther behind and teachers would Call me names and please I’m 13 years old and I can’t figure out what’s wrong with me

  16. I’m 47 and as of today I have yet completed my GED….I have difficulty
    concentrating….comprehension, math, articulating, anxiety presenting a simple presentation. By not completing my GED I have this huge load weighing on my shoulders. I want to advance and go to college. Just wish my parents were more involved (Hispanic culture) they thought I was lazy and shouldn’t have this issue….For instance by dad was upset and didn’t understood why I was failing English, his response was >> what you can’t speak English <<<
    It was tough for me growing up…kids picking on me and as today I'm trying four times harder . I'll practice on one word and say it out loud over over till I was able to articulate the word perfectly… crazy huh. Example: decondsation… easy right. Not for me. I need help… is there a program or something for me.

  17. Hi my name is bobby, and I have a learning disability, everyday I wake up get on my knees and pray about my situation I just want to be a normal kid who can learn at a normal level just like every other normal student in my class my faith wasn’t always strong in god but everyday I pray, pray and pray I never stop praying cause I know god will reward me at the end I’m crying out loud wanting professional help from someone I don’t want to keep being like this for the rest of my life I want god to move on my behave harder I cry cause I just want to be a normal human being I’m tired of going through motions I want to be able to breath fresh air I want to be free from this disease, the devil has brought up on use I always dreamed of being a farmer, cooker, producer of movie and make my own music how I’m gone do that with this disability I’m diagnose with I don’t catch on fast as others I don’t comprehend well I don’t want to go out there and mess up and cost someone their life because I didn’t listen I can’t communicate the proper way with another individual i don’t make good friends I’m horrible when it comes down to having a girlfriend I have ppl who makes fun of me well you know what I’m a eagle who fly high with his wing spread wide you guys are chicken who’s talking a bunch of gibberish if whoever reads this plz take it to heart just let resonate thanks for your time

  18. My 10 year-old grandson is exceptionally bright and wonderful in math. He can read but cannot spell. When my daughter got to talking to him about failing his spelling test she came to realize that he see’s words differently. He see’s the first and the last letters in the correct order but the letters in the middle are jumble. So reading isn’t a problem because he “knows” what the words are. My daughter and I don’t know what this is. My daughter has tried working with his teacher but she really is not a nice person and continually ridicules my grandson.My daughter has gone to the principal (who didn’t have the time to meet with her) and the vice-principal who said, it would just take too long to test him. I know that it is mandated by law to have these children tested with in 10-days. How do I get them to do their job so we can help my grandson?

  19. Yolanda Martinez says:

    I have a daughter that is36 years old has been in and out of trouble for years has a learning disabilities right now they have her in a mental hospital by court order because they want to send her to prison because she took her cell phone into her cell I’ve asked for help over and over but nobody would help my question is can they do that I know my daughter won’t service.

  20. Colin Brietzke says:

    I appreciate this work is too good.According to me it has becoming profession which are learning by most peoples.Disability child’s should need proper care.It is great help if we learn totally about it.By good treatment we can give them better care.Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] with reading, writing and/or math are recognizable problems during the school years, the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities are most often diagnosed during that time. However, some individuals do not receive an evaluation […]

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