This is a remark about a boy of 14 years old, by a teacher who taught him for some years. The boy was described as bright, intelligent and quick, but had great difficulty in reading and spelling despite the efforts of his teachers. 

Most of the underachievers in our schools are really bright, yet they show difficulty in learning school subjects and are not able to score marks in written examinations because of their difficulties in reading and writing. The academic achievements of these children are far below compared to their intelligence. These children show difficulty in acquiring basic academic skills. This condition is known as Learning Disability or Specific Learning Disability.


Learning Disability (LD) is a Neurodevelopmental Disorder that impedes the development of academic skills like reading, spelling, reading comprehension, writing, arithmetic abilities and mathematical reasoning in spite of conventional instruction, adequate intelligence and intact hearing and vision. The impediment may occur in one or more areas of academic skills with varying range of intensities from mild to severe.

To be more precise, Learning Disability is a neurodevelopmental disorder which impedes the ability to learn or use academic skills which are the foundation for other academic learning.  Significant difficulties persist in one or more of the following academic skill areas:

  • Reading – Word reading, reading fluency, reading comprehension
  • Writing – Spelling , grammar and punctuation, clarity and organisation of ideas in written expression
  • Maths – Numeration , Arithmetic, Mathematical reasoning


  • Learning Disability – LD
  • Specific Learning Disability – SLD
  • Dyslexia
  • Learning Disorder (DSM IV)
  • Specific Learning Disorder(DSM 5)
  • Specific Developmental Disorders of  Scholastic Skills (ICD 10)
  • Mixed Disorder of Scholastic Skills (ICD 10)


“Learning Disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction and may occur across the life span. Problems in self regulatory behaviours, social perception and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not by themselves constitute a learning disability. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (for example sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance) or with extrinsic influences such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction, they are not the result of these conditions or influences”, (NJCLD- US National Joint Committee on LD, 1981, 1988).

Any simple difficulty in learning is not referred to as Specific Learning Disorder. Every learning problem, too, cannot be considered as Specific Learning Disability. It is a specific term to denote specific difficulties in the acquisition and use of basic academic skills. It is a disorder that inhibits or interferes with the skills of learning, including listening, reading, writing, or mathematical ability. Learning Disorders are not primarily due to intellectual insufficiency or due to sensory handicaps, emotional disturbances, or environmental disadvantages. It is an insidious dysfunction of the brain areas concerned with writing system which includes alphabets, words, numbers, and language. People with learning disorder find it difficult to connect the written language with the spoken language.

Specific Learning Disability is a ‘central nervous system’ dysfunction that interferes with a person's ability to store, process, or produce information, and create a "gap" between one's ability and performance. This may happen to a child with average, superior or borderline intelligence. Individuals with Specific Learning Disability can have marked difficulties in certain types of tasks while excelling in others. Children with Learning Disorders exhibits significant discrepancy between the potential for academic achievement and the actual achievement. Usually Learning Disabilities are accompanied by conditions of inattention and hyperactivity. They have difficulty in focusing attention and sustaining concentration. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a most commonly co-occurring disorder along with Specific Learning Disorder. Sometimes it may affect some areas of spoken language and fine motor skills.