Specific Learning Disorder: What to Look For

Signs of a learning disorder usually become apparent when a child begins preschool or elementary school and encounters difficulties with one or more of the core areas of learning—reading, writing and math. Early signs that a child might have a learning disorder that relates to language are difficulties making rhymes, associating sounds with symbols, and sequencing together sounds in the correct order. Late talking and persistent trouble with word retrieval can also indicate the disorder, as can difficulty following directions, difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words and confusion with language patterns.

Signs that a child may have a learning disorder that relates to math include trouble with calculation and difficulty with math reasoning—solving problems. A child with the disorder might confuse basic symbols such as “+” and “-” and make simple computational errors. A math problem might be off by a single digit or the place value might be incorrect. For some children with specific learning disorder, learning a new concept while following a lesson in a classroom might be easy but reproducing and applying new knowledge at home might prove frustratingly difficult.