Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Identifying Learning Disabilities
Learn how to spot the signs

by Angela Arlington

September 01, 2012

Learning disability is a general term that describes specific kinds of learning problems. A learning disability can cause a child to have trouble learning and using certain skills. These skills can vary from child to child, but can include any of these major areas: reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and math.

Lesa Paddack, the Parent Liaison for IN*SOURCE at the Department of Education, commented, “Children with learning disabilities have an average to above average IQ, but they have difficulty being able to produce grade level work because of the challenges associated with their disability.”

Possible Signs of a Learning Disability

Relating To a Task:

• Low tolerance for frustration

• Can't begin to organize a task

• Varies greatly in performance from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour

• Usually slow or seldom finishes a-task

• May not act on verbal directions

• Difficulty in sequencing

• Achievement is low in some areas and high in others


• Difficulty in copying from the board

• Can't find place on printed page

• Can't see familiar things on a page

• Often does not recognize the same word if presented differently

• Reversals of orientation of letters, or sequencing of letters in words

• Inverts when reads or writes; i.e. b-d, was-saw

• Difficulty in understanding the meaning of words

• Difficulty with rhyme

• Persistent spelling errors

• Difficulty in learning and remembering printed words

Hand Movement:

• Holds chalk or crayon in awkward position

• Can't follow dotted lines

• Can't follow lines on paper

• Cramped or illegible handwriting

• Handwriting is often slow or labored

• Loses place while writing

• Defective written composition

Educational Evaluation

Parents need to have an educational evaluation done to determine what type of learning disability the child may have. If the child is under 3 years old, they can be evaluated through the Indiana First Steps Program. If they are older, then parents can request their local school system to do an educational evaluation.

Paddack added, “If the parent is unhappy with the test results, they may get a second opinion from an outside professional or ask for an Independent Educational Evaluation. It is important to collect data before and during an evaluation to see what areas the child is struggling in- reading, writing, and/or math.”

Indiana’s Special Education Rules, or Article 7, lists specific learning disabilities as being neurological in origin and having a continuum of severity. Article 7 can be downloaded on the Department of Education’s website at It can also be downloaded at IN*SOURCE’s website at Both the Department of Education’s website and IN*SOURCE’s website provide information for families about special education services and help answer questions that parent’s may have.

Types of Learning Disabilities

Reading disabilities are characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Reading disabilities will also present as difficulties in basic reading skills, reading fluency skills, and reading comprehension.

Written expression disability is a complex domain that requires integration of oral language, written language, cognition, and motor skills.

Math disabilities affect the ability to perform mathematical computations and reasoning and will show as difficulties in mathematical calculation and problem solving.

Oral expression disabilities are characterized by deficits in using expressive language processes to mediate the learning of reading, writing, spelling and/or mathematics.

Listening comprehension disabilities are characterized by difficulties in using receptive language processes to mediate the learning of reading, writing, spelling and/or mathematics.

Help Outside of School

In the Indianapolis area there are organizations and programs that provide tutoring, alternative learning programs, and testing services for learning disabilities. Some of these places include Brain Balance, Dyslexia Institute of Indiana, Lindamood-Bell Learning Center, Linder Learning Center, Masonic Learning Center, Minds-In-Motion, and Sylvan’s Learning Center.

Resources for Parents and Professionals:

International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with dyslexia, their families and the communities that support them:

Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) is a national organization of parents, professionals and individuals with learning disabilities:

LD OnLine offers information for parents, teachers, and other interested professionals in the areas of learning disabilities, legal issues, current research, instructional strategies, and personal stories:

National Coalition on Auditory Processing Disorders, Inc (NCAPD) includes a state-by-state referral network: provides detailed information about learning to read and strategies for supporting struggling readers at home, at school, and in the community:

Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic), provides information on over 80,000 recorded textbooks and other classroom materials, from 4th grade through postgraduate levels, available for loan: