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Specific Learning Disorder

  • About

    • ‘Specific Learning Disorder’ means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.

    • It exists in varying degree of mild, moderate and severe. • The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.


    • As per rough estimate 12 to 15 % of all school going children in India has Specific Learning Disorder.


    1. Number sense

    2. Memorization of arithmetic facts

    3. Accurate or fluent calculation

    4. Accurate math reasoning

    Specific learning disorder with impairment in reading includes possible deficits in:

    • Word reading accuracy

    • Reading rate or fluency

    • Reading comprehension

    • Specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression includes possible deficits in:

    • Spelling accuracy

    • Grammar and punctuation accuracy

    • Clarity or organization of written expression


    Preschool Children

    - May talk later than most children

    - May be slow to add new vocabulary words

    - May have trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, colors, shapes, how to spell and write his or her name

    - May have trouble interacting with peers

    - Fine motor skills may develop more slowly than in other children

    - May have difficulty telling and/or retelling a story in the correct sequence

    - Often has difficulty separating sounds in words and blending sounds to make words

    - Trouble learning common nursery rhymes

    - Mispronounced words

    - Difficulty in pronouncing words correctly or expressing ideas clearly

    - Difficulty in listening and following multi-step directions or routines

    - Difficulty in remembering names, symbols, or lists

    Kindergarten-4th grade

    - Has difficulty decoding single words (reading single words in isolation)

    - May be slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds

    - May confuse small words  (“at” for “to”, “said” for “and”, “does” for “goes”)

    - Makes consistent reading and spelling errors 

    - Letter reversals  (d for b as in, dog for bog)

    - Word reversals  (tip for pit)

    - Inversions  (m and w, u and n)

    - Transpositions (felt and left)

    - Substitutions  (house and home)

    - May have trouble remembering facts

    - May be slow to learn new skills; relies heavily on memorizing without understanding

    - May have difficulty planning, organizing and managing time, materials and tasks

    5th-8th grade

    - Reading below grade level

    - May reverse letter sequences - "soiled" for "solid," "left" for "felt"

    - May be slow to discern and to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other reading and spelling strategies

    - May have difficulty spelling; spells same word differently on the same page

    - May have trouble with word problems in math-

    - May have difficulty with written composition

    - May have difficulty with comprehension

    - May have trouble with non-literal language (idioms, jokes, proverbs, slang)

    - May have difficulty with planning, organizing and managing time, materials and tasks

    High School and College

    - May read slowly with many inaccuracies continue to spell incorrectly

    - May avoid reading and writing tasks

    - May have trouble summarizing and outlining

    - May have trouble answering essay or open-ended questions on tests

    - May have difficulty learning a foreign language

    - May have poor memory skills

    - May work slowly

    - May pay too little attention to details or focus too much on them

    - May misread information

    - May have an inadequate store of knowledge from previous reading

    - May have trouble with planning, organizing, and managing time and tasks

    Whom to approach if you see the signs

    As per the availability of the professional, parent can approach a school counselor who after screening the child will guide them to either a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist for diagnosis. In case of counselor not being available in school, parents can approach a counselor outside for screening and guidance.


    • While a certain number of students struggle due to basic genetic limits and others struggle because of poor or inadequate instruction, the largest single cause of learning struggles is weak underlying cognitive skills.


    • As the causes of the SLD are neurological in nature we cannot pinpoint the exact cause but giving them ample social, language and physical exposure and stimulation may contribute to lessening its impact

    Expected Challenges


    Anxiety is the most frequent emotional symptom reported by dyslexic adults. Dyslexics become fearful because of their constant frustration and confusion in school. They are at higher risk of developing intense feelings of sorrow and pain.


    Many of the emotional problems caused by dyslexia occur out of frustration with school or social situations. Social scientists have frequently observed that frustration produces anger. This can be clearly seen in many dyslexics.

    Poor Self Image

    The dyslexic’s self-image appears to be extremely vulnerable to frustration and anxiety.


    Associated Conditions

    • The most common coexisting conditions are Dysgraphia and ADHD that co-exist along with Specific Learning Disorder.


    Conventional Treatment

    • The majority of children diagnosed with dyslexia will only need to miss a few hours of their regular school classes each week to receive specialist educational support, which may consist of one-on-one teaching or small-group classes.

    • In some cases, if the dyslexia is severe, moving the child to a specialist school may be advised. Unfortunately, such schools are not available in Hyderabad.

    The Orton Gillingham Approach is considered the best method for intervention for students with SLD. It’s essential features are:

    1. Personalized

    2. Multisensory

    3. Diagnostic and Prescriptive

    4. Direct Instruction

    5. Systematic and Structured

    6. Sequential, Incremental, and Cumulative

    7. Continuous Feedback and Positive Reinforcement

    8. Cognitive

    Early Intervention

    It is important for family members and the person with dyslexia to remember that dyslexia is not a disease. Early Intervention reduces the struggle and frustration and student can catch up with age and grade appropriate performance. The pace and the extent of improvement depend on various factors.

    There is currently no "cure" for dyslexia. There is, however, a range of specialist and well targeted interventions that can help children and adults improve their reading and writing skills.
    Children can continue in regular school and avail the concession given to them by all the boards: SSC, CBSC, ICSC and IB
    Severely involved students may take up non reading & writing areas for employment and mild to moderate students can take up any conventional jobs depending on their interest.

    Success stories

    Famous people with dyslexia
    Alexander Graham Bell - inventor of the telephone.
    Lewis Carroll - author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
    Richard Branson - businessman, founder of the Virgin Group, which consists of over 400 companies.
    Albert Einstein - physicist who developed the general theory of relativity.
    Leonardo da Vinci - painter, scientist and mathematician.
    Jules Verne - science-fiction author.
    Tom Cruise - actor.
    Steve Jobs - co-founder of Apple Inc.
    John Lennon - musician, one of The Beatles.
    Jay Leno - talk show host and comedian.
    Jamie Oliver - celebrity chef.
    Keanu Reeves - actor.
    David Rockefeller - businessman and philanthropist.
    Steven Spielberg - film director


    SLD Support Groups Country level experts or organizations known for SLD Maharashtra Dyslexia Association Alpha to Omega Learning Cente




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