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Help With Specific Learning Disorder

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Specific learning disorder often referred to as learning disorder or learning disability) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins during school-age, although may not be recognized until adulthood. Learning disabilities refers to ongoing problems in one of three areas, reading, writing and math, which are foundational to one’s ability to learn.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Nov 30, 2017
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Linked to Changes in Medication Use Among People with Serious Mental Illness

People with serious mental illness exposed to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of medications are more likely to stop taking their medications than those not exposed to the advertising, according to new research published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

  • Nov 15, 2017
Effective Messages to Fight Stigma

Despite increasing public awareness and discussion about mental illness and substance use disorders, stigma is still a major barrier to many people seeking treatment. New research has identified communication strategies that are effective in reducing stigma and increasing public support for policies and programs benefitting people with behavioral health conditions.

  • Nov 14, 2017
Workers Benefit When Managers Get Mental Health Training

Coping with mental health concerns in the workplace can be challenging for individuals and organizations. More days of work are lost to mental illness than any other chronic health condition, including diabetes, asthma and heart disease. A new study finds that training managers on mental health issues can help.

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Additude: Attention Deficit and Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
  • Tue,  Oct  01 - Thur,  Oct  31
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My daughter (4th grade) struggles with reading. I am concerned she may have a learning disorder. Her teacher tells me not to worry about it. Where do I go to find out if she has a problem that can be addressed?

Learning disorders are present when a significant difference exists between a student’s intelligence and her academic performance. The best way to determine the presence of a learning disorder is to have your child undergo academic testing. (Also be sure to rule out any problems with vision.) Your school district can arrange for testing but children must meet certain criteria. Some parents seek evaluation by psychologists or other educational specialists in the community. I would suggest that you pursue having academic testing to get a clear answer for your concerns. Read More

After several years of struggling in math, my son has been diagnosed as having a learning disability in math. Now what? What type of special services will help him? How can I help him and be sure he is getting the help he needs at school?

Federal law mandates that students who have learning disabilities receive assistance in the public schools. Special services include extended time for tests and projects, which can benefit a student with a learning disability. Individual time with a teacher to help your son with learning in math is often added in school settings. Some schools will provide before and after school tutoring times as well. As a parent, you can help your son by staying in close communication with his teacher to see how he is making progress. You can check in daily with your son to hear his perceptions as to how he is learning. Many communities have tutoring programs in which your child can have additional learning opportunities during his summer break to strengthen his math skills. Get information about and take advantage of the resources in both your school system and your community to help your child. Read More

As an adult, I think I may have had a learning disability in reading – is there somewhere I can go to get tested (just for my own understanding)? And if so, is there anything I can do at this point to make reading easier for me?

The best way to get a clear understanding of your ability in reading as an adult is to have educational testing. A psychologist or educational diagnostician can provide an assessment and clarify whether you have a learning disability in reading. And yes, there are things you can do to improve your proficiency in reading. Having an understanding of the specific difficulties you may have in reading can assist your evaluator in giving you recommendations of ways in which you can improve your reading skills. Read More


About the Expert:

Debra Atkisson, M.D.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Benbrook, Texas

Gina's Story

Gina was 12 years old and finishing 6th grade. Her grades had been straight As in all her classes until 5th grade. Then she began struggling with reading and writing assignments and her grades dropped to Bs. In 6th grade her grades declined further to Cs. Her mother had been working with her at home and had noted that Gina was taking much longer to finish her reading assignments.

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Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

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SEPTEMBER 13, 2018

13 Ways To Be More Inclusive Of Talent With Learning Disabilities


Despite many companies' initiatives to build a more inclusive team, people in marginalized groups are still being left out of the equation. One of these groups is those with learning disabilities, when in fact, many of them meet and even exceed the qualifications of any other top applicant.

JULY 24, 2018

Improving mental health care for people with learning disabilities

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The prevalence of mental health problems among individuals in the learning disability population is more than double that of the general population. Worryingly, studies have shown that we are seeing more children being affected by mental health issues, with 36% of children with a learning disability experiencing psychiatric disorders.

JULY 19, 2018

Does My Student Have a Learning Disability?


Does your student show signs of ADHD — or a learning disabilities? Educators and parents, use this chart to determine which symptoms suggest dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, auditory processing disorder, language processing disorder, and/or nonverbal learning disorder. The chart below lists symptoms of learning disabilities that will give you clues as to the source of your student's challenges. If you notice symptoms, talk with the psychologist and parents about an evaluation.

JULY 10, 2018

What Does A Diverse Workforce Really Look Like? You May Be Surprised!


Plenty of studies show that a diverse workforce leads to business gains, but we're still not embracing a diverse population, often one with hidden disabilities, in large numbers. Many disabilities are invisible so you may not know that 1 in 5 people you work with have a learning difference. The learning disability community—adults with ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and language processing disorders and more— often remain quiet about their challenges and successes because there is an ongoing stigma and a lack of education around the nature of their disabilities.