Specific learning difficulties are usually disorders of the central nervous system that interfere with one or more basic learning functions.

Collecting Information

Child judges depth, distance, or size incorrectly – or can’t match clues from different senses.

Storing Information

Memory may be poor in certain areas; child may not be able to remember sequences of sounds, how sounds match with letters.

Sorting Information

Child can’t perceive small details or class similar objects together, confuses sizes.

Expressing Information

Child may have trouble translating what he/she knows into speech, writing, or physical activity.

Some learning disabilities are mild (child will probably overcome them with minimal assistance) while others are relatively severe (child will need extensive specialised help). Most learning disabilities are discovered when school problems occur, when a child isn’t able to participate in class activities or complete schoolwork consistently.

Common learning disabilities affect…


Brain can’t control speech muscles, so child can’t reproduce sounds accurately. He/she can’t perceive sounds or their order in a word, so can’t repeat them correctly.


Words and letters are confused – may be reversed. Child can’t build words from letters, or translate letters into sounds.


Child cannot copy a visual image. He/she may be able to tell shapes apart but can’t draw them.


Child is unable to understand and use number concepts. Child may reverse the order of figures, fail to understand the order involved in counting, etc.

Other problems

Short attention span and the effect of the difficulties on self-esteem, motivation and behaviour; often compound learning disabilities. Without specialised help, several disabilities may overlap and make schoolwork impossible.

Learning disabilities….an all too common problem.

Estimates vary, but in various forms they may affect up to 10% of all school children.

  • Most have average, nearly average, or above-average intelligence.
  • Most have no noticeable physical handicaps.

Untreated, learning disabilities can

  • prevent a child from mastering the basics
  • damage a child’s self-image and self-confidence- with lifelong effects

Better understanding of the problem can lead to earlier detection and help for the child.