Learning Disabilities


1 in 10 children and youth live with a learning disability

Did you know?

What Are Learning Disabilities?

LDs – which is short for learning disabilities – affect one or more of the ways that a person takes in, stores, or uses information. LDs come in many forms and affect people with varying levels of severity. Between 5 and 10 percent of Canadians have LDs. LDs are a life-long condition – they do not go away – but can be coped with successfully by using areas of strength to compensate and accommodations such as technology.

A quick example: a student could have an LD that affected her reading-and-understanding. She knows how to read, but the process of decoding the words and sentences takes so much effort that she comprehends little of what she’s read. This student has learned that this is the case, and now records lectures to listen to later, and listens to audio-books on tape and CD. She has compensated by using her strong listening skills.
LDs and their effects are different from person to person, so a person’s pattern of learning abilities need to be understood in order to find good, effective strategies for compensation. A learning disability exists when an individual’s IQ is average or above average but their performance is below average.
Visit LDA Ontario Website

What is NOT a Learning Disability?

Often people refer to learning difficulties as learning disabilities, which creates confusion. Individuals can have learning challenges for a variety of reasons, but a learning disability is something specific. An individual who has difficulty learning does not necessarily have a learning disability. For example, individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability do not have a learning disability. It is important to remember a learning disability is an individual performing lower than their potential. In other words, a child may have an average IQ but have a reading score that’s below average – a discrepancy between achievement and potential.

Co-Morbid Conditions

Comorbid conditions are other conditions that commonly occur alongside a learning disability.


Although Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) itself is not a learning disability, many individuals who have a diagnosed or suspected learning disability may also have ADHD. ADHD is a neurodevelopment disorder that can impact both children and adults. It is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder in children and can cause difficulties with hyperactivity and executive functioning which includes organization, attention, memory, self-regulation, and emotion regulation. ADHD can be managed in children with appropriate accommodations and supports from the school or your child’s healthcare team, and can be managed in adulthood with appropriate supports put in place at work and at home.

For more information about ADHD and available supports, please check out the resource below.

Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada

Mental Health Concerns

Many individuals who have a learning disability may also have mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety. Individuals with learning disabilities are two to three times more likely to experience these mental health challenges, as a result of difficulties at school or in their social relationships. Due to the stress of repeated difficulties with their academic work, many individuals with a learning disability may act out or shut down in order to avoid “looking stupid” in front of others which further exacerbates their mental health challenges.

For more information about the link between mental health and learning disabilities, and for counselling support, please visit the links below.

LDs, Mental Health Counselling SupportLink Between Mental Health and LDs
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