(also sometimes referred to as learning differences or learning disabilities)

If you’ve noticed yourself or your child struggling in school or work, you may be questioning what is causing these difficulties. A variety of factors impact individual academic and/or work performance including social/emotional stressors, a poor match between learning and teaching styles, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or a specific learning disorder (SLD). The presence of an SLD can be difficult to pinpoint as they often occur in conjunction with other disorders including ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and sensory processing disorders. Oftentimes individuals with SLDs have average to above average intelligence and can mask their learning difficulties in the early stages; however, this makes academics challenging and exhausting, and eventually academic concerns overwhelm the individual. Correct diagnosis is essential for interventions to be targeted and effective. Inaccurate interventions can do more harm than good, leading to increased frustration and feelings of hopelessness within both the individual and the instructors working with them.

Learning disorders are typically undiagnosed or underdiagnosed, and nationwide millions of children and students do not receive the academic support and specialized instruction to achieve academic success. Without the necessary support, a high percentage (18%) of children with specific learning disorders drop out of school prior to completing their high school education. Learning disorders can also be diagnosed as someone pursues higher education or enters the workforce, when demands increase and they are no longer able to compensate for such deficits.

SLDs occur on a spectrum, from mild to severe. Some SLDs are due to biological factors such as genetics or problems during fetal development, while others may occur secondary to specific events in the brain such as a head trauma, stroke, bleeding, or dementia. Trauma, health complications, and nutritional deficits can also contribute to SLDs. Regardless of their cause, SLDs are lifelong conditions. Though an individual may identify skills and tools to compensate for the learning struggles, they never “outgrow” or “cure” it.

To meet criteria for an SLD, symptoms must persist despite targeted interventions to address learning deficits, academic performance is below chronological age, and difficulties are not better accounted for by another reason. SLDs occur across academic areas including reading (dyslexia), written expression (dysgraphia), and mathematics (dyscalculia). Within each subject domain, there are multiple skill sets which may be impacted.

  • Reading: word reading accuracy, reading rate or fluency, reading comprehension
  • Writing: spelling accuracy, grammar and punctuation accuracy, clarity or organization of written expression
  • Mathematics: number sense, memorization of arithmetic facts, accurate or fluent calculations, math reasoning

There are also many processes which may be underlying the deficits including auditory processes, visual processes, motor processes, spatial processes, linguistics, and attention. With all the nuances related to SLDs, a comprehensive assessment will provide the most information to best understand, and gain supports surrounding deficit areas.

To Schedule an Appointment for an SLD evaluation, simply Call Now to speak with a scheduler (919-572-0000; extension 1) or use our convenient online scheduling option by clicking the Schedule an Appointment button at the top right.

In addition to the direct impact of SLDs on academic and work performance, SLDs impact a variety of daily functioning. Lesser-known impacts of SLDs include:

  • Lack of emotional control (anxiety, depression, anger, poor self-image)
  • Few peer relationships
  • Mispronouncing words/confusing words (i.e., pacific and specific) impacting communication
  • Being a slow reader
  • Difficulties managing money
  • Having right left confusion impacting ability to follow directions and navigation
  • Strong subject/task skills (i.e., mathematics) but difficulty with memorization
  • Difficulty with coordination, balance, time, and space
  • Behaviors like acting out or isolating
  • Unique pencil grip
  • Developmental milestones delays
  • Not “getting” the joke/puns/idioms
  • Avoiding reading for pleasure
  • Not understanding words in various context again impacting comprehension of instructions and broader communication
  • Taking a long time to complete assignments/tasks
  • Trouble with rhyming or sequencing
  • No spacing in writing/no punctuation/all large or all small letters

Once a diagnosis is made, informed decisions can be made regarding interventions. Schools and many work environments are often able to provide support and accommodations to maximize the individual’s performance and build on their strengths. For some SLDs, specific intervention programs are supported by research to be effective in addressing skill deficits. Individual and/or group therapy may also be helpful to support the individual as they are working to navigate their environment and build supplemental skills to lessen the impact of SLDs on non-academic/work tasks and relationships.

If you have already been diagnosed with SLD and would like to work with one of our therapists to learn skills or receive support, simply Call Now to speak with a scheduler (919-572-0000; extension 1) or use our convenient online scheduling option by clicking the Schedule an Appointment button at the top right.


Please fill in the information below and we will email you with an appointment date/time.

(We are open 9am-8pm M-F and 9am-5/7pm Saturdays; please feel free to call 919-572-0000 directly during those hours to schedule as well.)

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