Learning Disorders
Kids & Family Health

How to Spot Learning Disorders

Every child has a unique learning style and pace. However, some children may experience difficulties in processing information, which can harm their academic performance and overall well-being. These challenges are commonly referred to as learning disorders or disabilities.

How do you know if your child has a learning disorder, or is just unique in the way they learn? When do you seek help? How can you provide support? First, we need to know what learning disorders are.

What Are Learning Disorders?

Learning disorders are conditions that affect how individuals acquire, process, organize, and express information. These disorders are not a sign of low intelligence. Rather, they reflect different ways the brain processes and understands certain types of information. Some common learning disorders include:

  • Dyslexia — difficulty with reading
  • Dyscalculia — difficulty with math
  • Dysgraphia — difficulty with writing
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Identifying Learning Disorders

Recognizing the signs of a learning disorder is crucial for development. While each disorder has specific characteristics, there are common warning signs to watch for:

  • Academic struggles — Difficulties in reading, writing, spelling, math, or comprehension that are not in line with the child's age or intellectual ability.
  • Behavioral issues — Hyperactivity, impulsivity, or difficulties following instructions and staying focused.
  • Memory challenges — Difficulty retaining information, forgetfulness, or struggles with organizing thoughts.
  • Poor coordination — Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as handwriting or using scissors.
  • Emotional and social difficulties — Low self-esteem, frustration, anxiety, withdrawal, or challenges in social interactions.

These signs alone do not confirm a learning disorder, but they may indicate the need for further assessment.

When to Seek Help

If you suspect your child may have a learning disorder, it's essential to meet with professionals for an accurate diagnosis. Consider seeking help if:

  • Your child's academic performance lags behind peers despite extra support and effort.
  • Behavioral or emotional difficulties happen often, impacting your child's well-being and social interactions.
  • Teachers or other professionals raise concerns about your child's learning or behavior.
  • You notice a meaningful gap between your child's abilities and achievements in different areas.

Strategies for Support

Once a learning disorder is diagnosed, there are several ways to support and empower children:

  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP) — Work with teachers and school staff to develop an IEP that addresses your child's specific needs. This plan outlines strategies, changes, and support services to ease learning challenges.
  • Specialized instruction — Explore counseling, therapies, or tutoring programs designed for children with specific learning disorders, such as multisensory reading programs for dyslexia.
  • Assistive technology — Use technology that can aid learning and compensate for specific challenges, such as text-to-speech software or graphic organizers.
  • Emotional support — Create a supportive environment at home and school, encouraging open communication and building self-esteem.

You’re Not Alone

Learning disorders can present unique challenges for children, but with early detection and support, they can thrive academically and emotionally. AltaMed has skilled pediatricians and behavioral health professionals who can help. Additionally, AltaMed at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has pediatricians that specialize in developmental and behavioral diagnoses that could assist your child or adolescent. Call us at (323) 669-2113.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

How to Spot Learning Disorders