What are some signs of learning disabilities?

Child reading book; text at bottom: 8 Signs of a Possible Learning Problem

Many children have trouble reading, writing, or performing other learning-related tasks at some point. This does not mean they have learning disabilities. A child with a learning disability often has several related signs, and they don’t go away or get better over time. The signs of learning disabilities vary from person to person.

Please note that the generally common signs included here are for informational purposes only; the information is not intended to screen for learning disabilities in general or for a specific type of learning disability.

Common signs that a person may have learning disabilities include the following:

  • Problems reading and/or writing
  • Problems with math
  • Poor memory
  • Problems paying attention
  • Trouble following directions
  • Clumsiness
  • Trouble telling time
  • Problems staying organized1

A child with a learning disability also may have one or more of the following1:

  • Acting without really thinking about possible outcomes (impulsiveness)
  • “Acting out” in school or social situations
  • Difficulty staying focused; being easily distracted
  • Difficulty saying a word correctly out loud or expressing thoughts
  • Problems with school performance from week to week or day to day
  • Speaking like a younger child; using short, simple phrases; or leaving out words in sentences
  • Having a hard time listening
  • Problems dealing with changes in schedule or situations
  • Problems understanding words or concepts

These signs alone are not enough to determine that a person has a learning disability. Only a professional can diagnose a learning disability.

Each learning disability has its own signs. A person with a particular disability may not have all of the signs of that disability.

Children being taught in a second language may show signs of learning problems or a learning disability. The learning disability assessment must take into account whether a student is bilingual or a second language learner. In addition, for English-speaking children, the assessment should be sensitive to differences that may be due to dialect, a form of a language that is specific to a region or group.

Below are some common learning disabilities and the signs associated with them:


  1. Learning Disabilities Association of America. (n.d.). Symptoms of learning disabilities. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from https://ldaamerica.org/info/symptoms-of-learning-disabilities/ 
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). Dyslexia information page. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Dyslexia-Information-Page#disorders-r1
  3. International Dyslexia Association. (n.d.). Dyslexia at a glance. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-at-a-glance/ 
  4. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Learning disabilities. Retrieved August 24, 2018, from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/LBLD.htm 
  5. Patino, E. (n.d.). Understanding dysgraphia. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/dysgraphia/understanding-dysgraphia 
  6. Learning Disabilities Association of America. (n.d.). Dyscalculia. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://ldaamerica.org/disabilities/dyscalculia/ 
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