Specific Learning Disability; 10 Overall facts of learning disability

Specific learning disability (SLD) specifies difficulty for a child to read, write, speak, and doing math. And we are going to see the10 overall facts about specific learning disabilities. A study submitted at the First national conference on mental health, NIMHANS Bangalore says 10% of school-aged students have learning problems in India.

This article is about the myths and facts about specific learning disorders and possible ways to overcome kids with such problems. Definition for specific learning disability clumps 3 different types of Dyslexia (reading disability) Dysgraphia (writing disability), and Dyscalculia (difficulty in doing math) under one roof. These are brain-based neurological disorders.

NIMHANS index of Specific Learning Disability

Nimhans index for assessing the child with SLD is first developed by four people in 1991. This has various parts of testing for reading, writing, and solving problems to identify the area of difficulty. This has 2 levels.

Level 1 test for attention, visual discrimination and memory, auditory memory, speech and language, vasomotor skills, and writing skills.

Level 2 test for language reading, writing comprehension, spelling, perceptual-motor abilities, and arithmetic abilities.

A score below two standards is considered as mild SLD, and below four standards are classified as severe SLD.

What to look for?

If you suspect your child finds difficulty in reading or writing make sure you are noting the problems your child is facing at home. Consult with the child’s class teacher for further clarifications and her concerns towards your child.

Discuss with a child psychiatrist and request an assessment for your child. The early it is identified will help the child to seek special education and cope up without frustration.

Specific Learning Disability


Is SLD in DSM 5 criteria?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) States SLD in 5 and diagnostic code 315.00, 315.1, 315.2 

Summarise as

A pertinacious problem in reading, writing, and mathematical issue for countable school years. E.g. poor reading, lack of clarity in writing, difficulty in numbering, inaccurate mathematical reasoning, and poor memory. The average score will be below the current academic skills.

What are other examples of SLD?

Verbal learning disability, Non-Verbal learning disability, auditory processing disorder, language processing disorder, visual motor, and perceptual deficit.

Difference between intellectual disability and SLD

Intellectual ability states as the score below the IQ level or poor skills for daily activities. SLD refers to weakness in specific areas which need special education and individual planning.

Treatment for SLD

There is no cure only skills to improve learning, writing, and math doings. Identifying the strength of the child and making an individualized plan will help the child better. Repetition of words or daily activities will help the child to memorize. 

Educational resources for SLD

Games with activities in learning

Using crafts, activities, songs, games, and seasonal arts for making students engage in activity and thus increase concentration. Do2Learn is a website that helps with special education resources to guide children with a specific learning disability. This website is specifically designed for students with special needs in learning like Autism disorder, Attention deficit disorder, and other learning defects.

Mnemonic device

It’s a tricky way of remembering words for a better understanding. Framing words like ARITHMETIC (A Rat in the House May Eat the Ice Cream) to memorize difficult words. In some places, music-related teachings are also experienced according to the interest of the child.

Phonics in special teaching.

Phonics simplifies learning. Phonics is a Greek word that means ‘sound’.Understanding letters through phonics is an exercise to the brain. The child can able to decode words and read difficult words. Practice makes them more familiar with words so they can easily able to blend words using phonics sounds. 

Thus reading became fun and improves the concentration level. Children grasp the sound very fast by learning phonics and very fast reading can decipher difficult phrases and paras and make them understand the meaning of the words.

Phonics makes a child recognize syllable structure with vowel sounds. A closed syllable ends with a vowel followed by a consonant and an open syllable ends with a long sound vowel.

How to teach phonics at home?

  • Discuss with a teacher and learn the way she teaches your child
  • Listen to your child while reading
  • Encourage to decode the word and pronounce the phonic sound of the letter when your child stumbles with pronunciation
  • Choose the books with wide print which your child likes most and ask her to read aloud
  • Choose books with more pictures.
  • Make your child feel the joy of reading.
Phonics learning in SLD

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

This helps to make the child understand the interconnections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. The therapist helps the child to improve the problem-solving activity and increase the positive thoughts. This makes a change in behavioural activity.

Strategies in teaching-learning disabled students

  • Assign simple task
  • Give breaks between complicated works.
  • Use pictures, graphics, and drawings while teaching.
  • Repetition of words works better.
  • Make recorded audio and video and ask the child to hear it repeatedly.
  • Speak clearly and steadily.
  • Repeat verbally words written on board and make the child repeat.
  • Direct instructions are good.
  • Use colour coding and mnemonic words.
  • Provide a silent area for reading.
  • Use large printed words with pictures.
  • Assignments should be given in smaller units.
  • Help the students to use phonics to blend words and try to read the words and sentences.
  • Point the headings and summarise the important points in the lesson or book and make the child underline the important keywords.
  • Shorten writing assignments and using wide-lined pages and pencil grips for better holding.
  • Using diagrams for math will help.
  • Repeat the sum unless the student feels comfortable.
  • Guide the student to solve the problem using music teaching for each step.

Celebrities with dyslexia

Kiera Knightley

A British actress and female lead in Pirates of Caribbean have found dyslexic at the age of 6 and she had struggled for reading and her mother helped and supported her to overcome the issue.

Abhishek Bachchan

Son of Amitabh Bachchan is a famous Bollywood actor diagnosed dyslexic at 9 years but persistent practice makes him shine as an actor and a businessman.

Hrithik Roshan

Hrithik Bollywood actor and famous dancer suffered from dyslexia and had difficulty communicating. Determined speech therapy drives him to overcome the difficulty and succeed in his career. 

So don’t stick up with the disabilities. Hard and persistent practice can help you one day to lead in a successful path.


A specific learning disability can’t be cured but advanced techniques and innovative ideas will help to sort the problem. Families with a history of Learning disability can approach clinical psychiatrists for solutions. 

Early identification of Specific learning problems in the children is better to avoid emotional and social behaviours. An individual teaching plan is needed for every child according to their identification of areas of difficulty.

DALI (Dyslexic Assessment for Languages of India)

DALI is designed by National Brain Research Centre and supported by the Science and technology department of India. This is the first assessment tool for dyslexia in regional Indian languages. 

This tool helps the school teachers and psychologists for better assessment in their exposed language. Assessing the student in their mother language will help the students to better understand the question asked and answer appropriately.

 Now, this is available in 4 regional languages Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, and English. Junior screening tool for Class 1 & 2 and middle screening tool for 3 to 5. This contains 9 assessment tools that cover all the types of experiments with reading, writing, and math calculations.

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