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Does your child have trouble with schoolwork?

  • What are learning disorders?
    • Learning disorders occur when a child or adolescent performs significantly lower on standardized tests than his or her age, level of school instruction, and measured intelligence (IQ).1
    • Learning disorders must interfere with the child or adolescent’s ability to read, write, or accurately complete mathematics problems.1
      • A child diagnosed with a Reading Disorder may have a great deal of trouble with reading accuracy, speed, or comprehension.
      • A child diagnosed with a Mathematics Disorder may have a great deal of trouble with understanding math terms, operations, or concepts, reading or recognizing mathematical symbols, copying numbers, or correctly following mathematical rules or steps.
      • A child diagnosed with a Disorder of Written Expression may have difficulty with writing skills such as frequently making errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation, difficulty organizing paragraphs, or poor handwriting.
    • It is not uncommon for learning disorders to continue into adulthood, although children and adolescents may be able to come up with creative ways to help them overcome their learning disorder.1

  • How common are learning disorders in children and adolescents?
    • Studies have shown that between 2% to 10% of children and adolescents may be diagnosed with learning disorders. However, statistics show that approximately 5% of children in public schools in the United States have a learning disorder diagnosis.1
    • Children with learning disorders also often have low self-esteem and problems relating to others, and almost 40% of children and adolescents diagnosed with a learning disorder drop out of school (1.5 times the average).1
    • Learning disorders are often diagnosed in children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or mood disorders.1
    • Learning disorders are often diagnosed in children and adolescents who also have medical conditions such as lead poisoning, fetal alcohol syndrome, or fragile X syndrome.1

What can I do if my child has been diagnosed with a learning disorder?

    • Visit a mental health professional who can assess your child for a learning disorder. Please click here to learn about mental health providers in your area who can assess for and/or treat learning disorders in children. If you are outside the central MS area, please click on the following link(s) to learn about community mental health resources in your area: http://www.dmh.state.ms.us/pdf/CYSDirectory-Arial-9-15-08.pdf, http://www.nami.org/MSTemplate.cfm?Site=NAMI_Mississippi
    • Often times, a child or adolescent qualifies for a diagnosis of more than one learning disorder.1 As a result, any assessment for learning disorders should cover all three areas of difficulty (reading, writing, and written expression).
    • Learning disorders may share many similar symptoms to other childhood problems, such as vision or hearing problems, mental retardation, developmental disorders, and/or communication disorders.1 Therefore, it is important that in any mental health assessment for learning disorders, other conditions are carefully considered and evaluated and/or ruled out.
    • The Learning Disorders Organization of America (LDOA) is an organization for parents and families of children who have been diagnosed with learning disorders. It provides education and guidance on how to help children with learning disorders in all aspects of their lives. Please visit the LDOA website at http://www.ldanatl.org/.
    • Children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with a learning disorder have certain rights in school as a result of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), passed in 1973. If your child is struggling in school as a result of his or her learning disorder, it is wise to contact your child’s school to arrange special accommodations to help your child succeed academically now and in the future.


1American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed. rev.). Washington, D. C.: Author.


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