Learning Disability (LD) is:

  • A disorder which affects the manner in which individuals with average or above average intelligence take in, retain, and express information. Incoming or outgoing information may become scrambled as it travels between the eye, ear, or skin, and the brain.
  • Commonly recognized in adults as a deficit in one or more of the following areas: reading comprehension, spelling, written expression, math computation, and problem solving. Less frequent, but still troublesome, are problems in organizational skills, time management, and social skills. Some adults with LD may also have language-based and/or perceptual problems.
  • Often inconsistent. For example, a learning disability may present problems on Mondays, but not on Tuesdays. It may cause problems throughout grade school, seem to disappear during high school, and then resurface again in college. It may manifest itself in only one specific academic area, such as writing, math, or foreign language.

Learning Disability (LD) is not:

  • A form of intellectual or mental health disability.

Common Characteristics of College Students with LD:


Reading Skills
  • Slow reading rate and/or difficulty in modifying reading rate in accordance with the difficulty of the material
  • Poor comprehension and retention
  • Difficulty identifying important points and themes
  • Poor mastery of phonics, confusion of similar words, difficulty integrating new vocabulary
Written Language Skills
  • Difficulty with sentence structure (e.g., incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, poor use of grammar, missing inflectional endings)
  • Frequent spelling errors (e.g., omissions, substitutions, transpositions, invented spellings)
  • Difficulty copying from a book or the chalkboard
  • Difficulty in writing quickly
  • Poor penmanship (e.g., poorly-formed letters, trouble with spacing)
  • Difficulty organizing and developing compositions.
Mathematical Skills
  • Incomplete mastery of basic math facts (e.g., multiplication tables)
  • Number reversal (e.g., 123 to 321 or 231)
  • Confusion with operational symbols, especially “+” and “x”
  • Difficulty with copying problems from one line to another
  • Difficulty recalling the sequence of operational processes
  • Inability to understand and retain abstract concepts
  • Difficulty comprehending word problems
Organization and Study Skills
  • Time management difficulties
  • Difficulty starting and completing tasks
  • Repeated difficulty recalling what has been taught
  • Difficulty following oral and written directions
  • Lack of overall organization in written notes
  • Short attention span during lectures
  • Inefficient use of library reference materials.