How to Detect Signs of Learning Disabilities in the Classroom

Do you find your children struggling to perform in school? Are they different in reading out pages or writing essays? Is math totally beyond their comprehension? Do they have issues with abstract thinking? To understand the root causes of such difficulties, a psychoeducational assessment is often the first step in identifying learning disabilities and crafting intervention strategies. Here’s how you detect the telltale symptoms of children’s learning disabilities in the classroom.

What Is Meant of a Learning Disability?

A student with a learning disability is not a child lacking intelligence or motivation, and it’s not about children being lazy or dumb. It’s just that such children have their brains wired differently, receiving and processing information and responding differently. “Learning Disability” is an all-encompassing term for many learning issues. 

The most problematic areas in learning disabilities are reading text aloud, writing legibly, crunching math, reasoning and deductive logic, shorter listening spans and speech difficulties. Problems in these areas can make learning new information and developing skills challenging.

Common Red Flags For Detecting Learning Disabilities In The Classroom

Learning disability symptoms vary from child to child; one child might struggle with reading while another struggles with math. One child could find reading an uphill battle; another finds spelling and speech challenging. If consistent unevenness exists in the child’s ability to grasp essentials and learn new skills, interventional therapy in the form of psychoeducational assessment may be required.  

1. Child has trouble focusing on an activity for any length of time

The child’s inability to concentrate on a given task in class is often misconstrued as laziness, forgetfulness, or being willfully disorganized and unmotivated.

2. The child is stressed and frustrated by repetitive work

A child might have a lower frustration tolerance (LFT) level, which makes it angry or put off by routine but repetitive work in class. This behaviour is accepted as a component of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which makes it difficult to sustain interest in any project, and the child constantly appears distracted.

3. The child is extraordinarily persistent in satisfying needs

Insatiable children are dissatisfied with what they’re provided and crave more. Distracted from tasks, these children are focused entirely on fulfilling their needs and become attention-grabbing. They could end up stirring trouble through boredom and frustration.

Their perpetual hunger for new experiences makes these children provoke classmates and, in the process, get labeled as spoiled or disrespectful. 

4. The child suffers from Hyperactive Distractibility

The hyperactive, distracted child cannot pay attention to the assigned project because the child’s energies and attention are constantly challenged and distracted by audio, visual, and social stimuli from the surroundings. 

Children don’t empathize in group discussions or lose track in question-and-answer sessions. On the surface, the child seems disruptive and disinterested in classroom activities.

5. Failures and frustrations create low self-esteem

For a child, school-going is integral to their growth and self-development. Children showing signs of a learning disability often become overwhelmed by repeated failures, lack of sustained success, and constant negative feedback they receive.

Failure and frustration reinforce the feelings in children that they are different or inferior. The children feel their future is bleak. If learning disabilities remain undetected and unremedied, low self-esteem could lead to self-destructive behavior and social isolation. 

6. The child struggles to adapt to challenging situations

Martin Seligman conceptualized Learned Helplessness as a child’s passive and accepting response that throws up its hands when it feels it can’t control the outcome. Children may think that their ability to complete a task or learn a new skill has plateaued, and there’s no point pursuing success, and they give up.

The tragedy of Learned Helplessness is that children may subconsciously reduce their performance levels wherever they face challenging situations, leading to lower self-esteem, disinterest, and laziness. 

7. Sequencing deficit makes child clumsy and awkward

Sequencing deficit is one of the symptoms of learning disability where the child struggles to plan, coordinate, and sequence a task in a particular order that requires motor skills and practice. 

If it is a language class, this child would struggle with individual words in a sentence or mispronounce syllables. While reading, the child might pause as it reflects on a particular word or speak in an illogical way. 

Adults wrongly classify such children as haphazard, slow, disorganized students.  

8. Short-term, long-term memory deficit 

One of the major learning disabilities symptoms is the child’s difficulty remembering simple instructions and following sequential directions. 

Short-term memory comes in handy when the child taps a memory briefly to complete basic classroom tasks like remembering a name, using a brush to draw, or following simple directions to complete a project or do some errand.

In long-term memory, children store information that must be retrieved later at the appropriate time, like being tasked to write a summary of what they learned in the previous session.

A memory deficit seriously impairs the child’s comprehension, ability to read and spell, follow instructions, and complete assignments.


Does your child feel depressed and anxious about their future? As a parent concerned with the child’s well-being, it is imperative to detect and remedy signs of learning disability before they blow out of control.

Ensure to keep tabs on your concerns by sharing conversations with the child’s teachers. Pour over the homework and classroom projects and go through these with the teacher. If you suspect your child has a learning disability, ask the faculty or a counselor to address the disability professionally.