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Specific Learning Disorder

Specific learning disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders that are typically diagnosed in early school-aged children, although may not be recognized until adulthood. They are characterized by persistent impairment in at least one of three major areas: reading, written expression, and/or math.

An estimated five to 15% of school-age children struggle with a learning disability An estimated 80% of those with learning disorders have an impairment in reading in particular (commonly referred to as dyslexia). Dyslexia is highly prevalent affecting 20% of the population. Dyslexia affects males and females equally. There is a high comorbidity of specific learning disorder with other neurodevelopmental disorders (such as ADHD) as well as anxiety.

Specific skills that may be affected include word reading accuracy, spelling, grammar, or calculation. In addition, fluency in reading and mathematics may be noted. Difficulties with these skills often cause problems in learning subjects such as history, math, science, and social studies and may impact everyday activities and social interactions.

Learning disorders are categorized as mild, moderate, and severe. Accommodation and support services align with the severity to facilitate a person’s most effective functioning.

Learning disorders, if not recognized and managed, can cause problems throughout a person’s life beyond having lower academic achievement. These problems include increased risk of greater psychological distress, poorer overall mental health, unemployment, underemployment, and dropping out of school.

A note on terminology: Specific learning disorder is a medical term used for diagnosis. It is often referred to as a “learning disorder.” “Learning disability” is a term used by both the educational and legal systems. Though a learning disability is not exactly synonymous with a specific learning disorder, someone with a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder can expect to meet the criteria for a learning disability and have the legal status of a federally recognized disability to qualify for accommodations and services in school. The term “learning difference” is a term that has gained popularity, especially when speaking with children about their difficulties, as it does not label them as “disordered.&rdquo


To be diagnosed with a specific learning disorder, a person must meet four criteria.

  1. Have difficulties in at least one of the following areas for at least six months despite targeted help:
    • Difficulty reading (e.g., inaccurate, slow, and only with much effort).
    • Difficulty understanding the meaning of what is read.
    • Difficulty with spelling.
    • Difficulty with written expression (e.g., problems with grammar, punctuation, or organization).
    • Difficulty understanding number concepts, number facts, or calculations.
    • Difficulty with mathematical reasoning (e.g., applying math concepts or solving math problems).
  2. Have academic skills that are substantially below what is expected for the child’s age and cause problems in school, work, or everyday activities.
  3. The difficulties start during school-age even if some people don’t experience significant problems until adulthood (when academic, work and day-to-day demands are greater).
  4. Learning difficulties are not due to other conditions, such as intellectual disability, vision or hearing problems, a neurological condition (e.g., pediatric stroke), adverse conditions such as economic or environmental disadvantage, lack of instruction, or difficulties speaking/understanding the language.

A diagnosis is made through a combination of observation, interviews, family history, and school reports. Neuropsychological testing may be used to help find the best way to help the individual with a specific learning disorder.

Types of Learning Disorders: Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia

Dyslexia is a term that refers to difficulty in acquiring and processing language that is typically manifested by the lack or proficiency in reading, spelling and writing. People with dyslexia have difficulty connecting letters they see on a page with the sounds they make. As a result, reading becomes slow and effortful and is not a fluent process for them.

Problems in reading begin even before learning to read. For example, children may have trouble breaking down spoken words into syllables and recognizing words that rhyme. Kindergarten-age children may not be able to recognize and write letters as well as their peers. People with dyslexia may have difficulty with accuracy and spelling as well. It’s a common misconception that all children with dyslexia write letters backward or those who write letters backward all have dyslexia.

People with dyslexia, including adolescents and adults, often try to avoid activities involving reading when they can (reading for pleasure, reading instructions). They often gravitate to other mediums such as pictures, video, or audio.

Dysgraphia is a term used to describe difficulties with putting one’s thoughts on to paper. Problems with writing can include difficulties with spelling, grammar, punctuation, and handwriting.

Dyscalculia is a term used to describe difficulties learning number-related concepts or using symbols and functions to perform math calculations. Problems with math can include difficulties with number sense, memorizing math facts, math calculations, math reasoning, and math problem-solving.

Treatment: Getting Help

Though there is no “cure,” specific learning disorders can be successfully managed throughout one’s life. People with specific learning disorders can go on to become skilled learners and may be able to build on strengths that often are associated with their learning differences. People with dyslexia, for example, are often particularly creative and able to think outside of the box.

Having a learning disorder does not mean a person is limited in their choice of career or the opportunities for success.

Early intervention is key for people with specific learning disorders. If problems are identified early, intervention can be more effective, and children can avoid going through extended problems with schoolwork and related low self-esteem.

Special education services can help children with learning disabilities improve reading, writing, and math. Effective interventions involve systematic, intensive, individualized instruction that may improve the learning difficulties and/or help the individual use strategies to compensate for their disorder. Education for a person with learning disabilities often involves multimodal teaching – using multiple senses.

However, medications may be indicated for comorbid disorders such as ADHD and anxiety. Research has shown that the most effective treatments for reading disorders are structured, targeted strategies that address phonological awareness, decoding skills, comprehension, and fluency. Treatments for writing problems are in two general areas: the process of writing and the process of composing written expression. Treatment for dyscalculia often includes multisensory instruction to help kids understand math concepts. Accommodations, like using manipulative and assistive technology, can also help kids with dyscalculia.

Students with specific learning disorders often benefit from accommodations, such as additional time on tests and written assignments, using computers for typing rather than writing by hand, and smaller class size. Successful interventions, strategies, and accommodations for a child may change over time as the child develops and academic expectations change.


I realized I had bipolar disorder when my son was about 6 months old. I was feeling very good at one time, able to accomplish so much. I slept little and still had so much energy. My mind was constantly going. I would get upset easily at my husband for small things and be a different me infact unusual me. I finally was reading an article about bipolar and what the symptoms were. I recognized that this was me. I went to my friend and she suggested me to prefer Shanti Home. Then Shanti Home gave me with the right guidance and medication to help me be balanced.


I am Garima Bajaj daughter of Mrs. Santosh Kapoor My mom is the best mother a person can ever dream of. She is a kind soft-spoken, humble and loving lady. My mother had 2 daughters me and my younger sister Meenu Kapoor, who is in the USA. As a child my whole world revolved around her, she was there for me every time I needed her. She taught us to be good human beings, and never to give hope before trying. Whatever I am today, I am because of her. It is difficult for me to find words to express what she is to me. She ran a primary wing school, that school was doing quite well, looked after us, her husband and she did all her tasks with perfection. My father died when she was 56 years, and that was a major setback in her life. From the outside she looked strong as she had to take care of her younger daughter, she had to marry her, but inside she took a lot of tension, which I think affected her memory loss problem. After my sister got married, she was left all alone, that thought that all have gone leaving me alone was a major cause of her Dementia problem. I sold her house in Amritsar and bought her a flat in Gurgaon near my house so that she does not feel lonely, she never complained but she missed Amritsar, which also triggered her memory loss problem. She was not able to take care of her house, so I brought her to live at my place. Initially, I was not aware of the disease and the problems related to them, as the disease progressed problems related to the disease came up, and her behavior changed, she became hyper, was restless the whole day, and repeated the same thing again and again. Then I came to know about Shanti Home. It was a place for dementia patients. I talked to the doctors they were all very helpful to me. They suggested I keep her there for some period as these patients need a lot of care and monitoring which is not possible at home, so I kept her there, she was given good care at Shanti Home, her behavior also improved, there the patients are made to do a lot of activities which keep their mind involved which is very helpful for them, they have a specific area for these brain activities, this is a boom for these patients, I especially thank all the doctors at Shanti Home for their help and support, it has been a great help to me, I think Govt must also take some steps to help fight against this deadly disease. Regards Garima Bajaj

Mrs. Santosh Kapoor (Garima Bajaj)

I have been their patient for one year. They are always thorough and great listeners.

Fatima Sheikh

Easy to talk to and thorough, making for a really good experience overall.

Sanket K

The doctor was very thorough and spent time listening to me as well as conducting a complete exam. She clearly cares about her patients. I am very confident in her

Swati Verma
Swati Verma

In November 2014, I had the privilege to visit Shanti Home Psychiatric Care and Rehabilitation Center. I was very keen on this visit and it was a very pleasant experience for me. The Rehab home is very well equipped with trained staff, a fully functional kitchen serving nutritious meals (planned by nutritionist) to residents, surrounded by a well-maintained garden. The center has lots of activities and the daily schedule is carefully planned to provide stimulation to enhance cognition, expedite healing, teaching vocational skills so that after discharge from home the person is able to fulfill a useful role in society. Activities also included personality and linguistic skills development along with yoga, aerobics, etc. skillful use of music therapy; physiotherapy, etc. has also been incorporated. I was very happy to see the availability of doctors round the clock which ensured proper medical care. Skilled psychologists, psychotherapists, and Occupational Therapists are providing their best under the guidance of learned and eminent psychiatrists from Delhi. But the thing which made the biggest impact on my mind and heart was the human touch at the center which could be seen in the overall attitude of the staff and the environment of the rehab home. I was pleasantly surprised that even the supporting staff was attending to residents with respect and was trying their best to put a smile on residents’ faces. And then I realized why it can truly be called a (rehab) HOME. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit this home and spending a few hours with its loving family

Dr Rashmi Moghe Hirave

Our son was suffering from Schizophrenia, and depression and was a chain smoker. We had been to many psychiatrists, psychologists, and healers over the last six years. Finally, we admitted him in Shanti Home, Greater Noida. His recovery has been phenomenal in just three months and our son seems a ‘totally new person to us. We owe deep gratitude to the team under Dr. Rupali for providing us hope when all around us was gloomy. We have cherished our relationship with Shanti Home and with each of the doctors, psychologists, and all. While we will still be coming back regularly for counseling, the bond of trust will be everlasting. Thanks again to the entire team and with best wishes.

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