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Red Flags: Types of Learning Disorders in Teens & Their Symptoms

Learning disorders in teens are not uncommon. However, teens will hide their difficulties with school until they are beyond assistance. Learning disorders can do more than hurt a teen’s school work. They can be a lifelong battle. Teens who experience learning disorders are more likely to have difficulties in their jobs or relationships with family and friends. The federal government only recognizes a handful of learning disorders in teens. Some of these disorders can be combined with other disorders or exacerbate symptoms of certain mental illnesses.

Learning disorders are usually identified when children are in grade school. Teachers notice their students struggling with paying attention, organization, or a specific skill. However, there are some students who slip through the cracks because they can compensate for their short comings in other areas. For example, a student who struggles in math may excel in reading. Those students become teens who struggle more in certain subjects and realize they need help. Early intervention of learning disorders is key to helping teens succeed in school, at work, and in relationships.

learning disorders in teens
Signs of Learning Disorders in Teens

Teens can be difficult to understand, especially when they don’t express themselves. Many don’t ask for help because they don’t know what they need or that anything is wrong. Teens feel embarrassed to admit they have a learning disorder and don’t want their peers to know. There are signs to look for that indicate your teen may have a learning disorder. Establish good communication with your teen’s teachers as they notice where your teen is struggling and can give insight into what may be happening. However, a doctor must officially diagnose your teen with a disorder to get assistance.

The signs of a learning disorder in teens can be confused with “typical teen” behavior. It is important to know what to look for aside from that behavior. Teens with learning disorders may struggle in school. This is the number one sign of a learning disorder. Teens who experience learning disorders can be highly unorganized, have difficulty paying attention, or have difficulty communicating with parents and peers. More common signs that a teen experiences a learning disorder are trouble remembering important details, acting out in class, and even difficulty stay on task.

Types of Learning Disorders
  1. Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder in teens. In basic terms, dyslexia is the inability to process written words and the complexity of language. Each teen may experience different levels of dyslexia, but it can affect reading comprehension, recall, spelling, and reading fluency.
  2. Dysgraphia is another language-based learning disorder that affects handwriting. It may also affect fine motor skills and is typically diagnosed in early childhood. Teens may experience extremely illegible handwriting, poor spacing, poor spelling, and the inability think and write at the same time.
  3. Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects a teens ability to understand numbers. Teens who experience this disorder have difficulty with math symbols, remembering math facts, organizing numbers, and may have a hard time counting.
  4. ADHD is a disorder that includes difficulty paying attention. This disorder can be paired with another more specific learning disability which makes that disability more challenging to overcome. Teens who have ADHD may also have a hard time controlling their behavior and become trouble makers to hide their original disorder.
  5. Autism is not a learning disorder. However, it is classified as a disorder that can be affect learning abilities. Autism affects social skills, the ability to comprehend complex queues, and sometimes includes poor auditory or visual processing.

The key to helping your teen to overcome their learning disorder is to recognize their symptoms. Make sure you ask your teen how they are doing in a certain subject. If they are struggling, trying to understand why by gathering information from their teacher or even their school work. Once a learning disorder in your teen has been identified, you can get them the help that they need to overcome it and be successful.

To learn more about learning disorders in teens, click here.