Specific learning disorder (SLD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose key feature is persistent difficulties learning key academic skills they are taught. A core component of specific learning disorder is the observable presence of learning difficulties in the early developmental years, even in individuals who may not be diagnosed with SLD into their teenage or adult years.
Those with SLD may display low academic achievement in comparison to their same-aged peers or average achievement when there are high levels of effort and support. In children, low academic skills cause significant interference in school performance (as indicated by school reports and teacher’s grades or ratings)15. The learning difficulties associated with SLD must not be a result of other conditions, including intellectual disability, vision or hearing problems, or difficulties speaking/understanding the language. Moreover, in order to receive a diagnosis of an SLD, individuals must display persistent difficulty for 6 months in spite of the use of interventions aimed at addressing their areas of difficulty.
- Difficulty reading.
- Difficulty understanding the meaning of what is read.
- Difficulty spelling.
- Difficulty with written expression (i.e., applying math concepts or solving math problems).
- Difficulty understanding number concepts, number facts, or calculation).
- Difficulty with mathematical reasoning (i.e., applying math concepts or solving math problems).
In order to receive a formal diagnosis of a specific learning disorder, individuals should receive proven and culturally appropriate tests of academic achievement and performance. If you feel a student may display symptoms consistent with an SLD, please consult your student’s school and local school district on their policies regarding assessments and evaluations. It may be useful to document dates, times, and content of the conversations with staff regarding students who could potentially benefit from an assessment referral.