top of page
Learning to Read

Learning Disability


A learning disability is a neurological disorder. In simple terms, a learning disability results from a difference in the way a person's brain is "wired." Children with learning disabilities are as smart or smarter than their peers. But they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling, and/or organizing information if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways.

A learning disability can't be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong issue. However, with the right support and intervention, children with learning disabilities can succeed in school and go on to successful, often distinguished careers later in life. Parents can help children with learning disabilities achieve such success by encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understanding the educational system, working with professionals, and learning about strategies for dealing with specific difficulties.

Common learning disabilities are:

  • Dyslexia – a language-based disability where the individual has difficulty understanding written words 

  • Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability where one has difficulty solving arithmetic problems and grasping mathematical concepts 

  • Dysgraphia – a writing disability where the person has difficulty forming letters or writing within a defined space 

  • Auditory and Visual processing disorders – sensory disabilities where one has difficulty understanding language despite having normal hearing and vision 

  • Nonverbal learning disabilities – a neurological disorder that stems from the right hemisphere of the brain, causing problems with intuitive, visual-spatial, evaluative, organizational, and holistic processing functions.


When symptoms of learning disabilities are detected early, children have greater chances to receive early intervention and develop the skills needed to lead a productive and successful life. 


  • Speaks later than most children 

  • Pronunciation problems 

  • Difficulty rhyming words 

  • Slow vocabulary growth 

  • Trouble interacting with peers 

  • Difficulty following directions

Grades K-4:

  • Slow to learn the connection between sounds and letters 

  • Confusing basic words (e.g. run, eat, want) 

  • Consistent spelling and reading errors (e.g. letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (home/house)) 

  • Trouble learning about time 

  • Poor coordination, prone to accidents 

Grades 5-8: 

  • Reverse letter sequences (soiled/solid, left/felt) 

  • Slow to learn root words, suffixes, prefixes 

  • Avoids reading out loud

  • Difficulty handwriting 

  • Awkward, fist-like pencil grip 

  • Slow or poor recall of facts 

High school students and adults: 

  • Continues spelling incorrectly 

  • Avoids reading/writing tasks 

  • Trouble summarizing 

  • Weak memory skills 

  • Misreads information 

  • The trouble with open-ended questions on tests

Treatments & Therapies

Treatments and therapies will vary depending on the type of learning disability the child has. Usually, professionals will work with the child to help them learn skills by building on their strengths and developing ways to compensate for the individual’s weaknesses. Children diagnosed with a learning disability may take part in special education services depending on their environment. At schools, they may be assigned Individual Education Plans (IEPs)which are discussed among a team of professionals and the child’s family.


Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario:

Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto District:

Child Development Institute:

bottom of page