Signs of Learning Disabilities

If parents, teachers, and other professionals understand a child’s learning difficulties early, they can provide the right kind of help that could give a child a chance to develop skills needed to lead a more successful education and productive life.

How can I know if my child has a Learning Disability?

It is generally parents who are the first to notice that “something doesn’t seem right”. If you are aware of the common signs of learning disabilities, you will be able to recognize potential problems early.

Little girl in grass with bubbles

Learning Disability Warning Signs Checklist

The following is a checklist of some characteristics that may point to a learning disability. Most people, will from time to time, see one or more of these warning signs in their children. This is normal.

If, however, you see several of these characteristics over a long period of time, consider the possibility of learning disability.

Common Signs in Preschool

  • Speaks later than most children
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word
  • Difficult rhyming words
  • Trouble learning numbers, alphabet, days of the week, colours, shapes
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Trouble interacting with peers
  • Difficulty following directions or routines
  • Fine motor skills slow to develop

Common Signs in Grades K-4

  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Confuses basic words (run, eat, want)
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d); inversions (m/w); transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (house/home)
  • Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+, -, x,=)
  • Slow to remember facts
  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
  • Impulsive, difficulty planning
  • Unstable pencil grip
  • Trouble learning about time
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents

Common Signs in Grades 5-8

  • Reverses letter sequences (soiled/solid; left/felt)
  • Slow to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other spelling strategies
  • Avoids reading aloud
  • Trouble with word problems
  • Difficulty with handwriting
  • Awkward, fist-like, or tight pencil grip
  • Avoids writing compositions
  • Does not develop math fluency
  • Slow or poor recall of facts
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Trouble understanding body language and facial expressions
  • Significant social misinterpretation

Common Signs in High School, College & University

  • Continues to spell incorrectly, frequently spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing
  • Avoids reading and writing tasks
  • Trouble summarizing
  • Trouble with open-ended questions on tests
  • Weak memory skills
  • Difficulty adjusting to new settings
  • Works slowly
  • Poor grasp of abstract concepts
  • Either pays too little attention to details or focuses on them too much
  • Misreads information

If after reading this list you have concerns, seek the professional opinion of a Child Psychologist.

Contact Toronto Psychological Services