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What Is a Mild Learning Disability?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 17, 2024
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A mild learning disability is a specific problem with academic performance that appears in students who otherwise have average or close to average intelligence. This level of learning disability can often involve difficulties with reading comprehension, mathematical computation, or correct mental processing of verbal instructions. Someone with a mild learning disability usually completes school or work tasks poorly and carelessly despite scoring well on standard intelligence tests. This type of learning disability can sometimes be challenging to correctly diagnose because its symptoms can be subtle and can also mimic those of other unrelated disorders.

Unlike the case with a severe learning disability, most people diagnosed with a mild learning disability are generally independent and able to function well in their day-to-day lives without assistance. Their main struggles often come in the forms of failure to grasp key concepts and apply required knowledge to correctly completing their jobs or school work. A child with a learning disability typically falls behind classmates in terms of academic benchmarks, and this situation can worsen if allowed to continue without intervention. This kind of learning disability in adults can also significantly limit their prospects for college education or professional career opportunities.

Signs of learning disabilities are often first pinpointed with Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests results. Special education professionals generally designate an IQ range between 50 and 70 as indicative of a mild learning disability. In some cases, people with above average intelligence can also have one of these learning disabilities. These people can sometimes be gifted in one concentrated area but have noticeable learning difficulties in other areas. An example can be high-level math skills paired with below-average reading or verbal skills.

Other common effects of a mild learning disability include reduced capacities for proper social interaction with others and low self-esteem. A mild learning disability can hinder communication skills in both children and adults. This also can lead to higher rates of depression from frequent feelings of failure or of not measuring up to others' standards. Individuals with depression stemming from a mild learning disability are sometimes at higher risks for additional problems, such as substance abuse or alcoholism. Adults with this level of learning disability can also have histories of frequent job changes due to problems completing assigned tasks, working in teams, or prioritizing their daily work loads.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon996171 — On Jul 19, 2016

I have a mild learning disability. Now as an adult, I am dealing with depression and the loss of my mother back in 2013.

What have I learned from my disability? I don't use it to make people feel sorry for me. I embraced it as a challenge course. Now I am going for my GED to finish high school. I never was told to get a GED, so they sent me to a community college with no idea to get a GED. I was taking basic classes. Now I am 25 and back on track. This fall is my second year to take my GED called level 2.

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