Learning Disabilities Information Sheet

A learning disability is a permanent disorder of neurological origin that affects the manner in which individuals with normal to above average intelligence receive, retain, express, and perceive information.
An individual with a learning disability may have deficits in one or more of the following, commonly recognized areas:

  • Reading
  • Written expression
  • Oral expression
  • Math computation and concepts
  • Problem solving
  • Following instructions
  • Organizational skills
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Short-term memory

Deficits of Some Common Forms of Learning Disabilities:  Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Math

Reading Skills

  • Slow reading speed and difficulty in modifying reading rate in accordance with how difficult material is
  • Poor comprehension and retention
  • Difficulty identifying important points and themes
  • Poor mastery of phonics, confusion of similar words, and difficulty integrating new vocabulary

Written Language Skills

  • Oral expression that is comparatively much better than written expression
  • Difficulty with sentence structure, including run-ons, incomplete sentences, and incorrect grammar
  • Frequent spelling errors, such as omissions, additions, reversals, transpositions, and misuse of homonyms (specialized and foreign vocabulary are particularly problematic)
  • Inability to copy correctly from a book or the blackboard
  • Writing slowly
  • Poor penmanship, including over large or cramped handwriting, incorrectly formed letters, and incorrect spacing and capitalization

Spoken Language Skills

  • Delays or repeated starts in speaking
  • Grammatically incorrect English
  • Difficulty in finding the right words to express ideas that her or she seems to understand
  • Word reversals such as “attack a heart” for “a heart attack”
  • Inability to concentrate on and understand spoken language
  • Written expression that is comparatively much better than oral expression

Math Skills

  • Incomplete mastery of the basic  facts, such as mathematical tables
  • Reversal of numbers
  • Confusion of operational symbols, especially  + and x
  • Copying numbers incorrectly from one line to another
  • Difficulty recalling the sequence of operations
  • Difficulty understanding word problems


A learning disability is often inconsistent. It may present itself one day and not another and it may manifest itself in one specific area or academic subject. The effects of a learning disability are unique to the individual and may range from mild to severe. Learning disabilities may also be present along with other disabilities.

It can be very frustrating for the individual and they may need assistance in learning to compensate for their disability and to effectively explain the accommodations they may need in the classroom.

Comprehension and retention of class material is more likely when there is clarity, repetition, variety, and flexibility in teaching styles.

A learning disability is not:

  • A form of cognitive impairment
  • An environmental disadvantage
  • An emotional disturbance


sources: PASS Office, Plymouth State University