Symptoms of Learning Disorders in Toddlers and Children
July 21, 2023

Symptoms of Learning Disorders in Toddlers and Children

Learning disorders affect around 1 in 7 children, making their prevalence wide. Being able to recognize the early indicators is helpful in getting your child help as early as possible. Early intervention can put a stop to compensatory habits. The sooner a learning disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better chance your child has to succeed in school and in life.

Description of Learning Disorders

Learning disorders are, simply put, problems with learning. While you may have heard of the widely known example, Dyslexia, learning disorders are not just about how a child reads and writes. There are a multitude of disorders that can cause problems in reading, writing, math, reasoning, listening, and speaking. Importantly, a learning disorder does not equate to cognitive impairment. It does not mean that your child is lazy, unmotivated, or dumb.

Children with learning disorders are just as intelligent as their peers. However, due to different brain “wiring,” these children may need alternative learning tools that will address their unique learning styles. While learning disorders cannot be cured in the traditional sense, children have a much better chance of success if they can understand their setbacks, promote strengths, and address challenges early on.


Symptoms of Learning Disorders

Below, we’ve listed some of the common, early signs learning disorders.


  • Develops speech later than their peers
  • Problems with pronunciation
  • Often cannot find the “right word”; may have a limited vocabulary or slow vocabulary growth
  • Problems rhyming words
  • Heightened difficulty in learning numbers, days, shapes, the alphabet, or colors
  • Unable or reluctant to follow instructions
  • Appears to have motor difficulties with devices like pencils, utensils, buttons, and shoelaces
  • Appears inattentive and restless
  • Difficulty with social interaction

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Early Childhood to Pre-Teen

  • Confuses basic words, particularly verbs
  • Specific letter substitution or reversals
  • Seems to rely more on memorization than reasoning
  • Appears inattentive, restless, and/or impulsive
  • Clumsy
  • Difficulty telling time and dates
  • Trouble with basic math skills
  • Poor handwriting
  • Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
  • Trouble equating sounds with letters
  • Misspells common words when writing; mispronounces common words while reading
  • Cannot follow directions or seems to misunderstand instructions

Learning disorders can be difficult to notice in young children, especially in those who have not reached school age. Most diagnoses will occur once a child does enter school, at which point peer comparison often heightens discrepancies. In addition, since the umbrella of learning disorders is very wide, parents may be confused on exactly what to look out for. Learning disorders can present a unique set of symptoms for each child, which further complicates the matter. Most children have unique developmental hiccups—like mispronouncing a word or sound—that they eventually grow out of. While it may seem overwhelming, don’t be afraid to seek help if you suspect your child is developing differently.




This article is examined by Clinical Child Psychologist and Ph. D. Researcher Kevser Çakmak, and produced by Otsimo Editorial Team.

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This post does not provide medical advice. See Additional Information.