Learning disorders are problems with the brain’s ability to get, remember, or use information. These problems make it hard to focus and do well in school.
Children with learning disorders often have normal or high intelligence but have problems with a specific mental skill, such as reading or doing math
Learning disorders are different from intellectual disability (when children are born with lower than normal intelligence that causes problems with all mental skills)
Doctors will send your child for a series of tests to see if your child has a learning disorder
Certain school programs can help with subjects your child has trouble with
Children don't have learning disorders because they're lazy or misbehaving. Something in their brain didn't develop properly. Doctors don't know for sure why this happens, but learning disorders are more likely if:
Common learning disorders are:
Reading disorders, such as dyslexia
Children who aren't learning at the level appropriate to their age and ability should be tested for learning disorders.
Young children with learning disorders may take longer than usual to learn:
Children may also have:
Some children with learning disorders become frustrated at school. The frustration can cause behavioral problems, such as being hyperactive, shy, or aggressive.
Children with dyslexia, one type of reading disorder, have symptoms like:
Doctors will test your child’s hearing and eyesight to make sure those aren't the cause of your child’s learning problems (hearing and vision problems aren't learning disorders).
To know for sure, they’ll send your child to a learning specialist (often at the child’s school). The specialist will do a series of intelligence tests and ask your child reading, writing, and math questions.
Learning disorders are treated through educational programs that help children with learning disorders. For example, dyslexia is treated with programs that teach children to identify words by paying attention to the sounds. These programs also use audio books, computer screen readers, and other tools.
Some children with learning disorders also have ADHD. Medicines that doctors prescribe for ADHD help children concentrate, which may help them learn better.
In the United States, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to test children for learning disorders. It also requires schools to provide free and appropriate education to children with learning disorders.