Learning Disabilities

Does Your Child Have a Learning Disability? Take This Symptom Self-Test

Learning disabilities can impede focus, impair reading, cause social problems, and much more. Use this symptom self-test to better understand the symptoms of LD at different ages and stages, and to gauge your child’s behaviors.

ADHD test for kids: A woman's hand filling out a checklist of symptoms of ADD in children
Hand of woman with ADHD filling out a self diagnosis test

NOTE: This symptom test is not intended to diagnose or to replace the care of a health care professional.

Thirty to 50 percent of individuals with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) have a learning disability (LD). The reverse is also true. Thirty to 50 percent of individuals with LD have ADHD. If a child has been diagnosed with ADHD and continues to struggle academically even with treatment, he may have symptoms of an LD.

LD is a neurologically based disorder that results in problems processing and using information. Different children have different patterns of learning strengths and weaknesses; there is no one profile that describes all children. Here is a learning disability symptom test that will give you clues about whether your child has an LD.

[Try an Interactive Version of This LD Symptom Self-Test]

Learning Disability Symptoms in Preschool

  • My child has communication problems, such as slow language development, difficulty with speech, and finds it hard to understand what is being said or communicating his thoughts to friends, teachers, or family.
  • My child has poor physical coordination and uneven motor development — delays in learning to sit, walk, color, or to use scissors.
  • My child has problems with remembering information, multiple instructions, and routines.
  • My child has delays in socialization, including playing with and reacting to other children.

Learning Disability Symptoms in Elementary School

Kindergarten to Fourth Grade

  • My child has problems with rapid letter recognition and with learning phonemes (individual units of sound).
  • My child has trouble blending sounds and letters to sound out words or remembering familiar words by sight.
  • My child has trouble with reading comprehension, forming letters and numbers, and basic spelling and grammar.
  • My child is challenged when it comes to mastering math skills and doing math calculations.
  • My child has difficulty remembering facts.
  • My child has trouble organizing materials (notebook, binder, papers), information, and/or concepts.
  • My child loses work he has done or forgets to turn it into the teacher.
  • My child has trouble understanding oral instructions and difficulty expressing himself verbally.

Fifth and Sixth Grades

  • My child is challenged when it comes to reading material independently and retaining what he read.
  • My child has difficulty organizing her thoughts for written work.
  • My child has difficulty learning new math concepts and successfully applying them.
  • My child finds it hard to stay organized in school and loses personal belongings, papers, assignments, or forgets to turn them in.

Middle School

  • My child has trouble retaining what was read (reading fluency), organizing and writing answers on papers and tests (writing fluency), and mastering more advanced math concepts.
  • My child has difficulty with organization, developing learning strategies, and time management.

[Quiz: Do You Know the Difference Between ADHD and LD?]

Learning Disability Symptoms in High School

  • My child has increased difficulty with reading assignments, writing papers, and understanding math concepts.
  • My child has increased difficulty with organization and time planning as more independent work is expected.

What To Do If You Suspect a Learning Disability

If you’ve agreed with a majority of these statements, discuss your concerns with the teacher. Most public schools use a three-tier model for evaluating students.

  1. First, the teacher observes your child. If he or she agrees with your concerns, a special education teacher will observe your child in class.
  2. Modified teaching strategies may be tried.
  3. If the special-ed teacher agrees, a formal evaluation should be done to determine if your son or daughter has an LD.

If your child’s teacher does not respond to your concerns, speak with the principal. (If your child is in a private school, you are entitled to speak to the principal of the public school your child would have gone to and request help.)

The principal should set up a meeting of school professionals to discuss your child and your concerns. Ideally, this group of professionals will agree and conduct an evaluation, which might initially consist of observation and trial interventions. If the interventions aren’t successful, a full battery of testing, called a psycho-educational evaluation, should be done.

You may opt to hire your own professional to do a psycho-educational evaluation. If the results confirm your concerns, this professional should meet with the special-ed team back to ask that these findings be reconsidered.

[The 9 Things People with Learning Disabilities Want You to Know]