Children learning disorder

Learning Disorders in Children | NCBDDD

Many children may struggle in school with some topics or skills from time to time. When children try hard and still struggle with a specific set of skills over time, it could be a sign of a learning disorder. Having a learning disorder means that a child has difficulty in one or more areas of learning, even when overall intelligence or motivation is not affected.

Some of the symptoms of learning disorders are

  • Difficulty telling right from left
  • Reversing letters, words, or numbers, after first or second grade
  • Difficulties recognizing patterns or sorting items by size or shape
  • Difficulty understanding and following instructions or staying organized
  • Difficulty remembering what was just said or what was just read
  • Lacking coordination when moving around
  • Difficulty doing tasks with the hands, like writing, cutting, or drawing
  • Difficulty understanding the concept of time

Examples of learning disorders include

  • Dyslexia – difficulty with reading
  • Dyscalculia – difficulty with math
  • Dysgraphia – difficulty with writing

Children with learning disorders may feel frustrated that they cannot master a subject despite trying hard, and may act out, act helpless, or withdraw. Learning disorders can also be present with emotional or behavioral disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or anxiety. The combination of problems can make it particularly hard for a child to succeed in school. Properly diagnosing each disorder is crucial, so that the child can get the right kind of help for each.

Treatment for learning disorders

Children with learning disorders often need extra help and instruction that are specialized for them. Having a learning disorder can qualify a child for special education services in school. Schools usually do their own testing for learning disorders to see if a child needs intervention. An evaluation by a healthcare professional is needed if there are other concerns about the child’s behavior or emotions. Parents, healthcare providers, and the school can work together to find the right referrals and treatment.

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Helping children with learning and attention issues

Why Family Health History is Important if Your Child has Attention and Learning Problems

What every parent should know…

Children with specific learning disabilities are eligible for special education services or accommodations at school under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and an anti-discrimination law known as Section 504. The U.S. Department of Education issued a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter providing clarification to both parents and practitioners about ensuring a high-quality education for children with specific learning disabilities, including children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.

Learn more about education services and accommodations

Read the guidelines from the U.S. Department of Justice Disability Rights Section about testing accommodations for individuals with disabilities. [263 KB / 9 pages]

Get help from your state’s Parent Training and Information Center

The role of healthcare providers

Healthcare providers can play an important part in collaborating with schools to help a child with learning disorders or other disabilities get the special services they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has created a report that describes the roles that healthcare providers can have in helping children with disabilities, including learning disorders:

  1. Identifying children in need of early intervention or special education services.
  2. Sharing relevant information with early intervention or school personnel.
  3. Meeting with early intervention or school personnel and parents or guardians.
  4. Using early intervention or school information in medical diagnostic or treatment plans.
  5. Working within an early intervention, school, or school-based health clinic.
  6. Working at an administrative level to improve school functioning around children with special needs.

Types of Learning Disabilities – Learning Disabilities Association of America

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Learning disabilities are due to genetic and/or neurobiological factors that alter brain functioning in a manner which affects one or more cognitive processes related to learning. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math.  They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention.   It is important to realize that learning disabilities can affect an individual’s life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends and in the workplace.

Since difficulties with reading, writing and/or math are recognizable problems during the school years, the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities are most often diagnosed during that time.  However, some individuals do not receive an evaluation until they are in post-secondary education or adults in the workforce.  Other individuals with learning disabilities may never receive an evaluation and go through life, never knowing why they have difficulties with academics and why they may be having problems in their jobs or in relationships with family and friends.

Learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages.

Generally speaking, people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. There often appears to be a gap between the individual’s potential and actual achievement. This is why learning disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities”: the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.

A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in school, at work, in relationships, and in the community.

In Federal law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the term is “specific learning disability,” one of 13 categories of disability under that law.

“Learning Disabilities” is an “umbrella” term describing a number of other, more specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. Find the signs and symptoms of each, plus strategies to help below.

Types of Learning Disabilities

  • Dyscalculia

    A specific learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts.

  • Dysgraphia

    A specific learning disability that affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills.

  • Dyslexia

    A specific learning disability that affects reading and related language-based processing skills.

  • Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities

    Has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language and may have poor coordination.

  • Oral / Written Language Disorder and Specific Reading Comprehension Deficit

    Learning disabilities that affect an individual’s understanding of what they read or of spoken language. The ability to express one’s self with oral language may also be impacted.

Related Disorders

  • ADHD

    A disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, controlling behavior and hyperactivity.

  • Dyspraxia

    A disorder which causes problems with movement and coordination, language and speech.

  • Executive Functioning

    Affects, planning, organization, strategizing, attention to details and managing time and space.

What is non-verbal learning disorder and how to help a child?

Many people think that the term "learning disorder" only covers problems with verbal skills, like reading or writing. But what if your child has good verbal skills and a large vocabulary but doesn't understand when someone is being sarcastic? What if he reads at an advanced level but can't identify key parts of the story?
These are the classic signs of Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD / NLD). Nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD) affects skills such as abstract thinking and organization. NRA affects your child's learning ability, but creates even more problems when it comes to communication. Learn more about NRA and how to help your child. nine0004

What is Nonverbal Learning Disorder?

Learning and attention disorders create difficulties in communication. The NRA affects a child's social skills, but not their speaking or writing skills.

Children with non-verbal learning disorder tend to talk a lot, but they don't always manage to do it in acceptable ways. They often miss important information, don't understand sign language, so it's hard for them to make friends, and there can often be misunderstandings with teachers, parents, and other adults. nine0007

In contrast to children with learning disorders related to speech and writing (dyslexia, dysgraphia), children with NVL have difficulty understanding non-verbal communication. This includes body language, intonation, and facial expressions.

When a classmate says something sarcastic, a child with non-verbal learning disorder may take it literally. He may laugh at something serious because the speaker is smiling. Due to the fact that the child does not understand the non-verbal subtext to words, it is difficult for him to make friends. nine0007

To better understand what NLR is, it is necessary to learn more about learning disorders based on speech developmental problems. Children with these problems have difficulty reading, writing, and speaking. Their speech and language skills are weak and they have difficulty with accuracy and processing speed.

Some children with NDE have good language skills but have difficulty analyzing information and understanding hidden meanings. They may not have problems with written or spoken language, but they take information literally without understanding the subtext. nine0007

The exact cause of NRO is not yet clear, but researchers believe that this is due to a lack of coordination in different brain processes located in the left and right areas of the brain.

Despite growing awareness of this disorder, non-verbal learning disorder is controversial in medical circles. It does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the most recent update of the manual used by therapists to diagnose learning disorders. nine0007

Non-verbal learning disorder may cause learning difficulties, but this does not mean that a child with NVD is not bright. Like most children with learning disabilities, children with LLD usually have average or above average intelligence.

It is also important to know that non-verbal learning disorder is not the same as Asperger's syndrome or autism, although they can also affect social skills and social interaction.

How common is non-verbal learning disorder?

It is difficult to know exactly how many children an NRA has. This is because there is no clear definition of what this category of learning disorder includes. Studies show that the NRA may have 1% of children in the United States. This applies equally to boys and girls. Apparently, NRO is not inherited, as, for example, problems with concentration and dyslexia. nine0007

Non-verbal learning disorder often occurs in people with Asperger's syndrome. In fact, studies show that up to 80% of children with Asperger's have symptoms associated with NRO. People with ADHD may also experience symptoms of NRO, although there are no statistical data on this yet.

What causes NRA?

Experts don't know the exact cause of NRA symptoms. But they are exploring a number of theories related to differences in important brain processes and functions in the left and right sides of the brain. nine0007

There is no consensus among experts as to whether nonverbal learning disorder exists and what are the underlying causes of NLD symptoms. For example, some experts believe that problems may be caused by damage or developmental features of the part of the brain that coordinates the work of the two hemispheres. Others believe that the problems may be related to the frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for executive function skills such as working memory, organization and planning. nine0007

Help your child overcome learning difficulties quickly and permanently!

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What are the symptoms of NRA?

The main symptoms of non-verbal learning disorder include poor social skills, but NVE can manifest itself in other ways. For example, children with NDE may have difficulty with math, reading comprehension, writing, and/or physical coordination. Here are some of the symptoms you may find in your child with NRO:

  • Remembers information but does not know why it is important;

  • Communicates in socially unacceptable ways;

  • Pays attention to details but does not see the big picture;

  • Has difficulty reading;

  • Has difficulty with mathematics, especially with problems;

  • Physically awkward and clumsy;

  • Poor handwriting;

  • Takes information literally;

  • Does not understand intonation, body language, facial expressions;

  • Poor social skills;

  • violates the personal boundaries of others - may stand too close to the interlocutor;

  • Pays no attention to other people's reactions;

  • Changes subject abruptly;

  • Too dependent on parents;

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    Afraid to be in an unusual situation;

  • Has difficulty adjusting to change.

Children with ADHD are often misunderstood because of their behavior. Peers and adults may find them strange or immature. Not knowing that the child has NRO, the teacher may think that he is inattentive or cocky.

Symptoms may change with age.

Young children with non-verbal learning disorder may appear bright and precocious because they have good verbal skills. They, like little professors, ask adults a lot of questions and spew out the information received like a fountain. nine0153

Despite their good memory, they may find it difficult to interpret and draw conclusions from what they read.

As children get older, the symptoms of NRO may become more obvious and cause more problems. Children understand that they perceive social situations differently than their peers, but do not know what to do with it. Some develop anxiety that can lead to compulsive behavior, such as touching a doorknob a certain number of times before opening the door. nine0007

The sooner you know about your child's problems, the sooner you can find treatments and strategies to improve social skills and relieve anxiety.

What skills are affected by non-verbal learning disorder?

NLL does not affect all children in the same way, but for most children NLL affects the following skills:

  • Conceptual Skills: Difficulties with problem solving, understanding big concepts and cause and effect relationships. nine0007

  • Motor skills: problems with coordination and movement. This includes gross motor skills (such as running), fine motor skills (such as writing), and balance (such as cycling).

  • Visual-spatial skills: problems with visual images, visual processing and spatial relationships. The child may remember what he heard, but not what he saw.

  • Social skills: Difficulty sharing information in a socially acceptable way. The child may not understand sarcasm or facial expressions, may interrupt the interlocutor in the middle of a conversation. nine0007

  • Abstract and critical thinking: problem with reading comprehension and understanding the "big picture". A child may be good at remembering details but not understanding the larger concepts behind them. You may also have trouble organizing your thoughts.

How to recognize NRA?

Since there is no universally accepted test for HRO, the diagnostic process involves several steps:

Step 1: Get a medical examination. Your child's doctor probably isn't an expert on learning disorders, but you can talk to them about your concerns and find out if a medical condition might be causing your child's symptoms. Your doctor can help you find a specialist, such as a neurologist, for further evaluation. nine0007

Step 2: Get a referral to a mental health professional. Once the medical causes are corrected, your child's doctor will likely refer you to a mental health professional such as a neurologist. The specialist will talk to you and your child about your concerns. He will then administer various tests to assess your child's ability in the following areas:

  • Speech and language: Development of speech in young children; verbal skills, understanding of abstract ideas and context in older children. nine0007

  • Visuospatial Organization: The ability to draw a parallel between visual information and abstract concepts, such as reading a map or telling time by a clock.

  • Motor skills: Fine motor skills such as drawing and writing and gross motor skills such as the ability to throw and catch objects.

The specialist will look at your child's performance in these skills and ask you about the symptoms you have noticed in your child. nine0007

Step 3: Analyze the received information. After collecting all the information, the specialist will look for the strengths and weaknesses that are characteristic of children with ADHD. This will help determine if your child has a disability.

General strengths:

  • The level of intelligence is average or above average;

  • Good verbal skills;

  • Early speech development;

  • nine0002 Good memory and ability to repeat what was said;

  • Learns better what he heard than what he saw.

General weaknesses:

  • Social skills;

  • Balance, coordination, handwriting;

  • Understanding cause and effect;

  • Visualization of information;

  • Activity level (higher at a young age, decreases with age). nine0007

What disorders are associated with NRO?

Nonverbal learning disorder is the disorder most closely associated with problems with social skills. However, there are several other disorders that prevent children from making friends. These disorders are not related, but they may occur together with NMR:

  • ADHD: Children with ADHD may initially be misdiagnosed with ADHD. Both deviations have similar symptoms, such as excessive talkativeness, poor coordination and the habit of interrupting the interlocutor. But ADHD is not a learning disorder. This is a brain disorder that makes it difficult for children to concentrate, think about consequences, and control impulses. nine0007

  • Speech development disorders: these are problems with speech (expressive speech development disorder) and language understanding (receptive speech development disorder). Children with these disabilities find it difficult to understand and use sign language, follow directions, and carry on a conversation. NRO may also resemble some of the symptoms of social communication disorder.

  • Asperger's Syndrome: This is a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to socialize and communicate with others. This is a mild form of autism. Many of the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome and NRO overlap, and researchers suggest that about 80% of children with Asperger's Syndrome also have NRO. But these are two separate disorders. nine0007

"We have the potential to help children who are lagging behind reach the norm and even exceed it!"

Watch part of Dr. Michael Merzenich's TED talk in 2004 where he talks about techniques based on brain plasticity to correct the workings in a child's brain to increase their ability to recognize speech, speak, read and learn successfully.

How can professionals help with NRA? nine0009

There are a number of treatments and educational strategies that can help your child manage the symptoms of NRO. These include:

  • Social skills training groups where children are taught how to behave in social situations, such as how to greet a friend, join a conversation, and recognize and respond to teasing.

  • Parental support from a psychologist is needed to help parents learn how to cooperate with teachers and help children improve their social skills. nine0007

  • Occupational therapy helps reduce fear of the unknown, improve coordination and improve fine motor skills.

  • Cognitive therapy helps to cope with anxiety and other types of mental disorders.

  • Talk to teachers about how to help your child do well in school.

What can you do at home?

Parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging, but there are many things you can do at home to help your child cope with symptoms and learn social skills. You can also try some of the behavior experts' strategies. These steps can help you make positive changes in your child's life and in your family life:

  • Think about how you speak. Remember that children with NRA are not good at understanding sarcasm and intonation, and they are likely to take what you say literally. For example, if you say, “If I see that thing in your hands again…,” he may continue to play with the prohibited item, turning away so that you cannot see it. Give clear instructions such as, "Please don't touch this thing."

  • Help with transitions. Children with NRO tend to dislike change because it is difficult for them to understand it. They may not have the abstract thinking skills needed to imagine what's next. You can prepare your child for routine changes by using logical explanations. Instead of saying, “We're going to have dinner with grandma soon,” try, “We're going to have lunch at grandma's house tonight because it's her birthday. We leave in an hour." nine0007

  • Watch your child. A child with NRO may be shocked by sudden external stimuli such as noise, smells, sounds, and temperature. Try to avoid situations that may trigger shock reactions in your child.

  • Arrange meetings with friends. Help your child find friends with similar interests, whether it's a love of comics or cooking. Invite friends over for a social experience in a familiar environment. Think about what the children will do, offer them games so that they do not sit idle. It is also best to invite guests at times of the day when the child is usually well-behaved. nine0007

Practice using the Fast ForWord neurological online method. It is also called "Brain Fitness". By studying Fast ForWord at home, your child will train brain areas responsible for key executive functions, reading, speech skills, concentration skills, develop memory and other important cognitive skills necessary for successful learning and socialization. Thanks to these activities, more than 3 million children in the world have left special education.
classes! nine0377

What can make learning easier?

There are many ways to support your child with NRO:

  • Take notes. Monitor the child's behaviors and symptoms, when and where they occur. Your observations will be valuable information for professionals who can help your child.

  • Tell your child's doctor about your findings to discuss possible next steps. This may include a referral to a psychologist who can conduct a comprehensive assessment and develop a treatment plan. nine0007

  • Talk to your child's teacher to find out what problems your child is having at school. Ask what methods of assistance have been used and which ones are most effective. Discuss with teachers if the child needs special education.

  • Contact other parents. Discuss your observations with parents who have experienced similar problems, perhaps they can share their successful experience with you.

  • nine0141

    Non-verbal learning disorder can cause both social and academic problems for your child and there is no proven cure. But there are many approaches, treatments, and strategies that can help your child develop social skills and overcome adversity. By learning as much as possible, you can better help your child.


    Sign up for trial online classes using the Fast ForWord method, don't put off helping your child! nine0377

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    What is a learning disorder and how can you help?

    Learning Disabilities: Learning problems make it difficult for a child to read, write, or do simple math. How to understand the signs and what you can do. nine0007

    In our country they are called ignorant, lazy, accused of lack of diligence and diligence. Parents of such students enter the school with a guilty gait and their heads drawn into their shoulders. Like their children, they live in stress and blame. In Europe and the USA, categories of children who have difficulties at school are grouped into the group “children with learning disabilities” and alternative methods of working with them are offered.

    Today we will talk about what it is and how we propose to deal with it. nine0440

    Many children with learning disabilities, also called learning disorders , experience difficulties in school long before they are diagnosed. This can affect a child's self-esteem and motivation. Understand how to recognize the signs of a learning disorder and what you can do to help your child.

    What is a learning disorder?

    Learning disorder is an information processing problem that prevents a person from learning a skill and using it effectively. Learning disorders usually affect people with average or above average intelligence. As a result, the disorder manifests itself in a gap between expected skills based on age and intelligence and academic achievement. nine0007

    Common learning disorders affect a child's ability to read, write, math, or non-verbal skills.


    Reading learning disorders are usually associated with difficulties in understanding the spoken word as a combination of individual sounds. This can make it difficult to understand how a letter or letters represent sound and how letter combinations form a word.

    Problems with working memory - impaired ability to retain and manipulate information in the moment - may also play a role. nine0007

    Even when basic reading skills are mastered, children may have difficulty with the following skills:

    • Reading speed at the level of age norm
    • Reading comprehension
    • Accurate retelling (cannot remember what they read)
    • Conclusions based on reading
    • Spelling

    Reading learning disorder is commonly referred to as dyslexia, but some professionals may use the term to describe only some of the information processing problems that can make reading difficult. nine0007


    Writing requires complex visual, motor and informational skills. Violation of learning in writing can cause the following:

    • Handwriting difficulties. Slow handwriting that requires considerable effort. Illegible handwriting

    • Difficulty in expressing thoughts in words

    • Difficult to understand, poorly organized written text, without paragraphs or indents

    • Problems with spelling, grammar and punctuation

    Learning problems? Get recommendations for school teachers.

    Reading skills. age stages.

    Signs of dyscalculia at different ages.

    Learning disorders. Tips for parents.


    A math learning disorder is called dyscalculia. Such a violation can cause problems with the following skills:

    • Understanding number and quantity, their differences and connections
    • Ability to solve mathematical problems
    • Storing basic calculations
    • Use of mathematical symbols such as plus, minus, equal, greater than, less than signs.
    • Understanding task texts
    • Organization and recording of information when solving a mathematical problem (short condition, question, answer)


    A child with learning disabilities in nonverbal skills appears to develop good basic language skills and strong memory skills in early childhood. Difficulties are observed in visual-spatial, visuomotor and other skills necessary for social or academic functioning. nine0007

    A child with learning disabilities in non-verbal skills may have problems in the following areas:

    • Interpretation of facial expressions and non-verbal cues in social interactions
    • Proper use of speech in social situations (may speak out of place)
    • Physical coordination
    • Fine motor skills underlying writing skills
    • Attention, planning and organization
    • Fluent reading and understanding. Difficulties with writing thoughts, usually appearing in higher grades

    What causes learning disorders?

    There is no consensus on what exactly can cause learning problems. We only note the obvious factors that can affect the development of learning disorders:

    • Family history and genetics. A family history of learning disorders increases a child's risk of developing a learning disorder.
    • Prenatal and neonatal risks.
    • Severe fetal developmental disorder, exposure to alcohol or drugs before birth, preterm birth, and low birth weight may be associated with learning disabilities. nine0080
    • Psychological trauma or abuse in early childhood can affect brain development and increase the risk of learning disorders.
    • Physical injury. Head injuries or infections of the nervous system may also play a role in the development of learning disorders.
    • Environmental exposure. Exposure to high levels of toxins such as lead has been associated with an increased risk of learning disorders.

    What are the signs of a learning disability? nine0009

    Your child may have a learning disability if he or she:

    • Is not learning to read, spell, write, or do math according to developmental milestones
    • Poor understanding and following instructions
    • Forgets what he/she was just told
    • Lack of coordination when walking, playing sports, or difficulty holding the handle correctly
    • Forgets to write down or loses homework, textbooks or other items
    • Difficult to understand the concept of time and order
    • Resists homework or activities that include reading, writing, or math. Unable to complete homework without significant assistance
    • Shows defiance, hostility, or emotional overreactions at school, or while doing homework or reading.

    Seek help early

    Early intervention is important because the problem can snowball. A child who did not learn to count in elementary school will not be able to do algebra in high school. nine0007

    Without reading, a fundamental learning skill, they will find it difficult to master the humanities in high school, as well as technical texts such as problem statements.

    Children with learning disorders may also experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, chronic fatigue, or loss of motivation. Some of them may act in ways that distract attention from their problems at school - goofing around, being the "class clown".

    Diagnosis of learning disorder and need for intervention services is based on test scores, teacher feedback, parent or guardian input, and performance analysis. A diagnosis of severe anxiety or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder also has a large impact on learning opportunities. These factors contribute to delays in the development of academic skills. nine0007

    In our center we offer specialized intensive courses on the correction of basic learning problems: reading, writing handwriting, mastering mathematics, the concepts of time and organizational skills.

    Some children benefit from working with a neuropsychologist and exercise therapist. Occupational therapy can improve the motor skills of a child with coordination and writing problems. A speech therapist can help address language skills.
    Sometimes your child's doctor may recommend medication for depression or severe anxiety. Medications for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder may improve a child's ability to concentrate at school. nine0007

    It is very important that you help your child understand in an easy to understand way what extra activities are needed and how they can help.

    Learn more