Learning Disability Symptoms

Many children have difficulty with reading, writing, or other learning-related tasks at some point, but this does not mean they have learning disabilities. A child with a learning disability often has several related signs, and these persist over time. The signs of learning disabilities vary from person to person. Common signs that a person may have learning disabilities include the following:

  • Difficulty with reading and/or writing
  • Problems with math skills
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Problems paying attention
  • Trouble following directions
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty with concepts related to time
  • Problems staying organized

A child with a learning disability also may exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Impetuous behavior
  • Inappropriate responses in school or social situations
  • Difficulty staying on task (easily distracted)
  • Difficulty finding the right way to say something
  • Inconsistent school performance
  • Immature way of speaking
  • Difficulty listening well
  • Problems dealing with new things in life
  • Problems understanding words or concepts

These signs alone are not enough to determine that a person has a learning disability. A professional assessment is necessary to diagnose a learning disability.

Each learning disability has its own signs. Also, not every person with a particular disability will have all of the signs of that disability.

Children being taught in a second language that they are learning sometimes act in ways that are similar to the behaviors of someone with a learning disability. For this reason, learning disability assessment must take into account whether a student is bilingual or a second language learner.

Below are some common learning disabilities and the signs associated with them:



People with dyslexia usually have trouble making the connections between letters and sounds and with spelling and recognizing words.

People with dyslexia often show other signs of the condition. These may include:

  • Failure to fully understand what others are saying
  • Difficulty organizing written and spoken language
  • Delayed ability to speak
  • Poor self-expression (for example, saying “thing” or “stuff” for words not recalled)
  • Difficulty learning new vocabulary, either through reading or hearing
  • Trouble learning foreign languages
  • Slowness in learning songs and rhymes
  • Slow reading as well as giving up on longer reading tasks
  • Difficulty understanding questions and following directions
  • Poor spelling
  • Difficulty recalling numbers in sequence (for example, telephone numbers and addresses)
  • Trouble distinguishing left from right


Dysgraphia is characterized by problems with writing. This disorder may cause a child to be tense and awkward when holding a pen or pencil, even to the extent of contorting his or her body. A child with very poor handwriting that he or she does not outgrow may have dysgraphia.

Other signs of this condition may include

  • A strong dislike of writing and/or drawing
  • Problems wi

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