Important Parent Information

Early diagnosis of a child's learning disability and timely intervention by parents, teachers or doctors can significantly improve his or her self-esteem, academic achievement, and ability to form and maintain relationships.

Adults should familiarize themselves with the warning signs of learning disabilities. The list on the right provides a range of characteristics that could indicate the presence of learning disabilities in a child. Most people will be able to answer "yes" to one or more of them, but this does not necessarily indicate the presence of learning disabilities. However, if a child exhibits several of the following characteristics, it is often a good indication that he or she may have one more learning disabilities.

This list was compiled by Learning Disabilities Worldwide from information provided by the American Council on Education, the National Adults Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

The Warning Signs of Learning Disabilities


  • May have poor reading ability or poor comprehension
  • May often misread information
  • May have problems with syntax or grammar
  • May confuse similar letters or numbers, reverse them, or confuse their order
  • May have difficulty reading addresses, small print and/or columns


  • May have difficulty writing ideas and/or organizing thoughts on paper
  • May reverse or omit letters, words or phrases when writing
  • May have problems with sentence structure, writing mechanics and organization
  • May frequently spell the same word differently in a single document
  • May read well but not write well (or vice versa)


  • May have difficulty with arithmetic, math language, and math concepts
  • May reverse numbers
  • May have difficulty with time sequencing, and problem solving


  • May be able to explain things orally, but not in writing
  • May have difficulty telling or understanding jokes or stories
  • May misinterpret language or have poor comprehension of what is said
  • May respond in an inappropriate manner, unrelated to what is said, or only respond partially to what is said


  • May not respond to sounds of spoken language, or may consistently misunderstand what is being said
  • May be bothered by different frequencies of sound (i.e., music, vacuums, loud noises) or may be overly sensitive to sound
  • May have difficulty in differentiating sounds that occur simultaneously


  • May acquire new skills slowly
  • May have difficulty following directions, especially multiple directions
  • May experience visual spatial confusion (i.e., confuse right and left, up and down, under and over, behind and between)
  • May get lost in large buildings
  • May seem unaware of time or sequence of events


  • May perform similar tasks differently from day to day
  • May have trouble dialing phone numbers or holding a pen/pencil
  • May have poor coordination, be clumsy, unaware of physical surroundings, or have a tendency to hurt his/her self


  • May be able to learn information presented in one way, but not in another
  • May find it difficult to memorize information (i.e., phone numbers, days of the week, or months of the year)
  • May be unable to repeat what has just been said


  • May have difficulty following a schedule or being on time
  • May have trouble learning about time
  • May have difficulty organizing belongs


  • May have difficulty with social skills
  • May misinterpret non-verbal social cues
  • May experience social isolation
  • May not use appropriate eye contact


  • May have short attention span or be impulsive
  • May have difficulty conforming to routines
  • May be easily distracted
  • May experience stress on extended mental effort