Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are often diagnosed when children have difficulty writing, reading, understanding math, or deciphering or comprehending languages. They are a group of neurological disorders that are characterised by the brain’s inability to receive, process, store and respond to verbal or written information. These signs are noticed in school, if the child shows consistently poor academic performance and is unable to cope with the coursework assigned to his/her age group.

While most children do experience some level of difficulty with their schoolwork or understanding certain concepts, children with learning disabilities are unable to improve their academic performance even after concerted efforts. It has been observed that while these children have the intellectual ability and potential to perform, they do not manage to achieve academic milestones, through assessments or testing.  They may also exhibit other behaviours which may indicate learning difficulties, such as :

  1. Poor memory
  2. Difficulty paying attention in class, easily distracted
  3. Trouble understanding or telling time
  4. Clumsiness
  5. Unable to follow direction or simple instructions
  6. Disorganised
  7. May be impulsive, and act out in family or school environments
  8. Finds it difficult to express thoughts out loud
  9. Speaks and writes at the level of a child younger than his/her age ( example: speaking in very simple short sentences or leaving out words in a sentence)
  10. Cannot handle changes in routine or schedules

Children with learning difficulties may also show overlapping symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders) , or Dyspraxia.

There are various types of Learning Disabilities that have been identified, some of which are:

  1. Dyslexia: specifically affects reading skills and language comprehension
  2. Dysgraphia: affects writing ability and fine motor skills
  3. Dyscalculia: difficulty understanding mathematical concepts
  4. Non-verbal: difficulty in the interpretation of body language or facial expressions, along with poor movement co-ordination

Diagnosis of a Learning Disability

  • It is important to identify a learning disability as soon as possible in children , as if it goes undetected, it can affect the post academic life of the individual as well, making their progress in the work force or in personal relationships, a struggle. It also increases the chances of the child dropping out of school or college, if the struggle to manage their workload is too overwhelming.
  • If these disabilities are observed at an early age, children , parents and teachers can be provided with the right tools to tackle and overcome the challenges that come with it. Even though it is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured or fixed, children who are provided with suitable support and guidance during their formative years can develop the skills required to succeed.
  • Identification most commonly happens at school, through vigilant observations of the teachers, who must be trained to pick up early warning signs . Assessment and screening is usually done through a series of academic and psychological evaluations, along with a medical examination with the consultation of a paediatric neurologist to help rule out other causes like, developmental disabilities, emotional disorders or brain diseases, while evaluating family and birth history.

Helping Children with Learning Disabilities

  • Some schools do have special educators, school counsellors or school psychologists who are able to work with these children in smaller groups, so that they are able to cover subjects at their own pace, without the distraction of a regular class environment, while at the same time, allowing them to interact with their peers in a regular school atmosphere.
  • Learning Resource Cells (LRC) or Individualised Education Programs (IEP) like this, can have tailor made teaching methods  and syllabi, some with  a reduced number of subjects , suitable for children with disabilities.
  • Assessments can be done with increased time for testing , with accommodations made for writing partners or reading partners (amanuenses) for those who have trouble with dysgraphia or dyslexia.
  • In India, the National institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) offers these provisions for children with learning difficulties, on the basis of applications and medical certificates issued, detailing the difficulties the child is facing, allowing them to appear for written and oral exams with their classmates.
  • There are also many assistive technologies available online as software applications to further help these children, ranging from visual guides for mathematic concepts, to autocorrections , speech to text feasibility for writing as well as organizational tools.


  1. https://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/
  2. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/learning/conditioninfo/diagnosed
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