What are the Signs of Learning Disabilities in Children?

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  • Written By: Jami Yontz
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2018
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Recognizing the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities in children is very important for parents, teachers, and pediatricians. By getting the help the child needs early, it is much easier to correct some developmental issues and to support the child's needs as they age. Signs of learning disabilities in children are showcased through the child’s language and math skills, social and emotional behavior, listening and thinking skills, and motor skills. Parents and educators can reference a developmental milestones chart to evaluate the child for learning disabilities.

Math and language difficulties are common learning disabilities in children. Children can have trouble understanding the meaning of words or phrases, have trouble differentiating between the sounds of letters and combining these sounds into words, or difficulty organizing thoughts and transferring these ideas into cohesive sentences and paragraphs. These difficulties may be because the child has trouble hearing the words correctly, which is directly related to both a child’s ability to understand the meaning of the word as well as the child’s ability to answer questions about what the speaker has said. Math difficulties are shown through the child’s inability to understand measurements, time and money. It is also showcased if the child has problems memorizing equations or performing simple counting exercises.


The signs of a social or emotional disability is evident in children who have difficulty expressing emotions, and it can be seen in children who express emotions that are too extreme for the situation. Children who have trouble interpreting and processing other people’s emotional state may also have a learning disability. Other signs of a disability include the inability to make consistent eye contact, or a child that is uncomfortable with touch.

The inability to listen and comprehend has been shown to be a sign of learning disabilities in children. Some children with hyperactivity are unable to focus and can become easily distracted. Children who have trouble staying organized or are constantly losing items may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), though some physicians do not consider ADHD to be a learning disability.

Parents and child caregivers should pay attention to the developing motor skills of children. Children who have balance issues, lack hand-eye coordination, or have difficulty writing could have a developmental disorder. Parents should consult a pediatrician or psychologist who can evaluate the child in comparison to a development milestones chart to determine if the child might have a learning disability.



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