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Learning Disorders

What are learning disorders?

A student may have a learning disorder if his/her achievement in reading, writing, or mathematics falls below what is expected for the child's age, grade level, and intelligence. To be called a learning disorder, the problems must have a negative impact on the person's academic success or another important area of life requiring math, reading, or writing skills.

What are the different types of learning disorders?

There are three major types of learning disorders:

  • Reading disorder
  • Mathematics disorder
  • Disorder of written expression

What signs are associated with learning disorders?
In addition to the problems associated with the specific type of learning disorder, many students also suffer from:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Socialization problems
  • Increased dropout rate at school

Learning disorders may also be associated with:

  • Conduct disorder
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Depression

Do learning disorders affect males, females, or both?

Learning disorders can affect both males and females. However, in the United States more boys than girls are diagnosed with learning disorders.

At what age do learning disorders appear?

Although learning disorders are most likely present when a child is quite young, the specific type of learning disorder is usually diagnosed in early elementary school when reading, math, and writing begin to be used in the classroom.

How prevalent are learning disorders in our society?

About five percent (5%) of students in the United States have learning disorders.

How are learning disorders diagnosed?

Because standardized, group testing is not accurate enough for this purpose, it is very important that special, psychoeducational tests be individually administered to the child to determine if he/she has a learning disorder. In administering the test, the examiner should give special attention to the child's ethnic and cultural background.

How are learning disorders treated?

Learning disorders are treated with specialized educational methods. In addition to special classroom instruction at school, students with learning disorders frequently benefit from individualized tutoring which focuses on their specific learning problem.

What can people do if they need help?

If you, a friend, or a family member would like more information and you have a therapist or a physician, please discuss your concerns with that person.

Source: John L. Miller, MD

Reviewed by athealth on February 5, 2014.