A project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Skip Navigation

Womens Health logo
En Español
divider line

Learning disabilities

People with learning disabilities have normal, or above normal, intelligence. But their brains are "wired" in a way that makes it hard to gain the basic skills needed to do well at some or all of the following:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Math

For instance, some children find reading difficult because they see some letters as reversed or rotated. As a result, they confuse the letters d, b, p, q, and g. Other children have trouble reading because they do not understand the idea that letters in words follow each other in a certain order. They might see the word "dog" and read it as "god."

There are many types of learning disabilities. But learning disabilities are not the same as intellectual disabilities or other disabilities that might interfere with learning, such as ADHD or autism.

Learning disabilities are lifelong issues. But certain teaching strategies can help children with learning disabilities overcome the challenges they face. In fact, having a learning disability has not kept many noteworthy Americans from excelling in science, medicine, business, the arts, and other fields. Some people with learning disabilities reach adulthood without ever finding out they have a learning disability. If you suspect you have a learning disability, talk to your doctor. You're never too old to get help.

Return to top

More information on Learning disabilities

Explore other publications and websites

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Dyslexia (Copyright © International Dyslexia Association) - This fact sheet provides answers for frequently asked questions about dyslexia, including the definition of dyslexia, how dyslexia compares to ADHD, and treatment options. It also provides sources of additional information.
  • LD in Depth (Copyright © LD Online) - This web page links to information about many different kinds of learning disabilities that adults may have.
  • Math and Dyscalcula (Copyright © LD Online) - This website links to a number of resources about math-related learning disabilities, often called dyscalcula.
  • NINDS Dyslexia Information Page - Dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person's ability to read. This online publication offers information about what dyslexia is, treatment, prognosis and the latest research being done.
  • NINDS Learning Disabilities Information Page - This online publication defines learning disabilities and provides information on treatment, prognosis, and current research. It also provides resources and organizations.
  • Nonverbal LD (Copyright © LD Online) - This site is a collection of resources about nonverbal learning disorders, which can sometimes be tricky to diagnose. Here you will find information about how to recognize a nonverbal learning disability and links to more information.
  • Parenting & Family (Copyright © LD Online) - This website provides information to help parents get organized, understand their rights and responsibilities, and provide support for their child with a learning disability at home and at school.
  • Processing Deficits (Copyright © LD Online) - Some people have problems processing visual and auditory perception, making it hard for them to learn as other people do. This page links to information about these processing deficits, including how they affect education, ideas for intervention, and what to do if a problem is suspected.

Connect with other organizations

Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

Return to top