Evidence-Based Practice Project

 

Learning Disorders

 

DSM-IV-TR General Description

**DSM-5 infomation at bottom of page

This category consists of three specific disorders and one disorder for unspecified learning disorders. The main feature of a learning disorder is when a child's achievement on standardized test falls well below what is normal for their age, schooling and intelligence. The three specific disorders are Reading Disorder (315.00), Mathematics Disorder (315.1), and Disorder of Written Expression (315.2) . Any learning disorder that does not fit into any other specific learning disorder falls under Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (315.9) .

Reading Disorder (315.00)
The main feature of reading disorder is when reading achievement falls well below what is considered normal after taking into account a child's age, intelligence, and education.

Mathematics Disorder (315.1)
The main feature of mathematics disorder is when mathematical achievement falls well below what is considered normal after taking into account a child's age, intelligence, and education.

Disorder of Written Expression (315.2)
The main feature of Disorder of Written Expression is when writing skills fall well below what is considered normal after taking into account a child's age, intelligence, and education.

Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (315.9)
This category is for learning disorders that a child may have that do not fit in with all the symptoms that are specified for a classified learning disability. This may include problems in every area of school, however a child's achievements on standardize tests may not be significantly below average.

 

Diagnostic Criteria

A child could be diagnosed with Reading Disorder (315.00) if the following symptoms are seen.

    1. The child's reading achievement falls well below what is normal after taking into account a child's age, intelligence, and education according to standardized tests.
    2. If the symptoms in number 1 interfere with school or daily living.
    3. If the child has a sensory deficit (such as vision loss), and the reading difficulties are not justified by the sensory deficit.

A child could be diagnosed with Mathematics Disorder (315.1) if the following symptoms are seen.

    1. The child's mathematical achievement falls well below what is normal after taking into account a child's age, intelligence, and education according to standardized tests.
    2. If the symptoms in number 1 interfere with school or daily living.
    3. If the child has a sensory deficit (such as vision loss), and the mathematical difficulties are not justified by the sensory deficit.

A child could be diagnosed with Disorder of Written Expression (315.2) if the following symptoms are seen.

    1. The child's writing skills fall well below what is normal after taking into account a child's age, intelligence, and education according to standardized tests.
    2. If the symptoms in number 1 interfere with school or daily living.
    3. If the child has a sensory deficit (such as vision loss), and the mathematical difficulties are not justified by the sensory deficit.

 

Etiology

At first 60% to 80% of the individuals that are diagnosed with Reading Disorder are males. However when carefully diagnosed the males and females are found to have Reading Disorder in about an equal amount. Reading Disorder is more common in children with first-degree biological relatives with a learning disability.

There is little to no information on the Etiology of Mathematics Disorder.

There is little to no information on the Etiology of Disorder of Written Expression.

 

Prevalence

While the prevalence of Reading Disorder is difficult to measure, it is estimated in the United States about 4% of school-age children have Reading Disorder.

Mathematics Disorder is difficult to establish because most studies only focus on overall learning disabilities. It is estimated that 1% of school-age children have Mathematics Disorder.

The prevalence of Disorder of Written Expression is difficult to establish because most studies only focus on overall learning disabilities. Disorder of Written Expression is considered rare if the child does not have any other learning disabilities.

 

DSM-5

A fact sheet containing DSM-5 changes to the diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorders can be found at:

American Psychiatric Publishing: Specific Learning Disorders

 

 

 Page Updated on 10/04/13