Symptoms of Learning Disabilities

Student working on school writing, working on an assignmentThe symptoms of learning disabilities are a diverse set of characteristics which affect development and achievement.

Some of these symptoms can be found in all children at some time during their development. However, a person with learning disabilities has a cluster of these symptoms which do not disappear as s/he grows older.

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.

  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. :(

  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.


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