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Learning Disability Resource Library

What is a Learning Disability?
How Common are Learning Disabilities?
What is the Most Common Learning Disability?
What to Do When a Child is Having Difficulty in School
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Other Learning Disability Resources

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What is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability is a severe problem in acquiring or using basic academic skills. These skills are important for reading, math, writing, listening, speaking or thinking. The problem cannot be mostly due to something else, such as attention, motivation, hearing or vision problems.

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How Common are Learning Disabilities?
About 5 of every 100 Arkansas students have been found to have a learning disability. More students have learning disabilities than any of the other types of educational disabilities (such as language disorder, mental retardation, hearing impairment and autism).

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What is the Most Common Learning Disability?
Most students with learning disabilities have reading disabilities. Most students with learning disabilities have problems in more than one area. For example, students with reading disabilities often have problems with writing.

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What to Do When a Child is Having Difficulty in School
Not every learning and developmental problem is necessarily a learning disability. Many children are simply slower in developing certain skills. Because children develop at different speeds and levels, sometimes what seems to be a learning disability is actually a delay in maturation.

Parents and professionals should openly discuss their concerns. Clarification and additional information should be sought from school personnel as well as others who are in regular contact with the child. Steps should be taken to accommodate the student in situations where they learn best. If a student's difficulties do not improve, a comprehensive educational evaluation should be arranged by the student's parents or guardian. Evaluations are meant to help identify areas of relative strength and weakness, and to help determine whether the student is eligible for specialized assistance in school.

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Warning Signs and Symptoms
The primary characteristic of a learning disability is a severe discrepancy between IQ and achievement. While there are no single indicators of learning disabilities, there are some common warning signs of a learning disability. The following list can be helpful in determining whether a child has a learning disability and may lead to seeking further assessment. Just because a child demonstrates any of the following traits does not mean the child has a learning disability. Unless a child develops several warning signs consistently and the problems persist over time, there probably is no need for concern.

Preschool age:

  • Speaks later than most children
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Trouble interacting and playing with peers
  • Slow vocabulary growth, inability to find the right word
Elementary and middle school age:
  • Slow to learn connection between letters and sounds
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left) and substitutions (house/home).
  • Slow to remember facts and learn new skills
  • Trouble learning about time and arithmetic
High School age:
  • Continues to spell incorrectly, frequently spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing
  • Avoids reading and writing tasks
  • Trouble with open-ended questions on tests
  • Works slowly
  • Misreads information
  • Weak memory skills
  • Poor grasp of abstract concepts
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Other Learning Disability Resources

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences James L. Dennis Developmental Center:
The Dennis Developmental Center, located adjacent to the ACH campus is an evaluation, referral and treatment clinic which provides quality developmental services for children from birth through school-age, 501-364-1830,

Council for Learning Disabilities
Division of Learning Disabilities
International Dyslexia Association
Learning Disabilities Association of America
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Institute of Mental Health
American Academy of Pediatrics
Arkansas Disability Coalition
Learning Disabilities Association of Arkansas
Family Voice

Arkansas Children's Hospital
1 Children's Way
Little Rock, AR 72202-3591

Call: (501) 364-1801

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