Learning Disorders

From National Institute for Learning Development of Canada

“A learning disability is an area of weakness or inefficiency in brain function that significantly hinders our ability to learn. It is a pattern of neurological dysfunction in the brain that causes a person to have difficulty correctly receiving information (perception), correctly processing information (cognition/thinking), or satisfactorily responding to information (written and verbal expression, visual-motor coordination, memory, etc.).”

Learning disorders usually impact the following areas or skills:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Non-verbal communication

Common learning disorders include:

  • ADHD is a condition that makes it very difficult, if not seemingly impossible for an individual to hold their attention for a typical length of time and may also include an individual’s inability to be still and involve constant moving or fidgeting.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes autism, Aspergers Disorder (no longer a formal diagnosis), childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), and pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). All of these disorders share some of the same symptoms, such as developmental language delays, although they can vary quite a bit otherwise. Studies have been done that show autism spectrum disorders are linked to brain development, more specifically, a combination of brain reductions and brain enlargements in different areas.
  • Dyslexia (this disorder causes problems with word comprehension, reading, spelling, and following instructions)
  • Dysgraphia (inability to handwrite due to fine motor skills issues)
  • Dyscalculia (inability to learn math or understand numbers)
  • Aphasia or Dysphasia (inability to speak or understand spoken communication)
  • Dyspraxia (trouble with motor skills and motor-learning difficulties)

Note: there are other types of learning disabilities and disorders in addition to those listed here.

Learning disorders tend to affect people of average or above average intelligence and are not a sign of laziness.

Symptoms & signs of learning disorders

  • Difficulty reading or reading below grade level
  • Reading comprehension below grade level
  • Consistent spelling mistakes
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Handwriting that’s hard to understand due to words being out of order
  • Difficulty calculating even simple math equations
  • Not remembering common equations
  • Not understanding or using mathematic symbols
  • Lack of fine motor skills
  • Inability to understand non-verbal body language such as facial expressions
  • Not using language appropriately
  • Slow to learn new skills
  • Difficulty learning new rules or routines

When is it time to get help?

If you see that your child struggling in school and you suspect a learning disorder, it’s best to get confirmation and support as soon as possible from a qualified professional (such as a psychologist).

Learning disorder treatment methods

The first step is to diagnose your child’s (or your) situation for confirmation of a disorder. This will help them to receive proper support in school. Depending on the learning disorder, there are various treatment methods and learning plans that have been effective in supporting children who are struggling with reading, writing, math, or communication. A few treatment methods that are effective in treating various learning disorders include:

  • Behavioural therapy tends to view human beings and behaviour with the assumption that humans are a product of their sociocultural conditioning and environment, looking at the current problems and the factors influencing them and emphasizes behaviour changes more than the underlying unconscious processes.
  • Solution focused therapy views people as inherently strong and resilient, and capable of creating change and discovering solutions to their everyday problems.
  • Psychotherapy is a broad term that encompasses numerous styles of therapy and uses verbal or nonverbal communication with a client to help treat psychiatric problems, behavioral issues, personality disorders, and various other types of emotional distress. This form of personal counselling is based on an interpersonal relationship, as opposed to the alternative chemical or physical forms of therapy.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.

Your therapist will talk with you to determine the most effective treatment for you or your child’s unique situation.

What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?

Once a diagnosis is made, then treatment can include strategies to manage the symptoms of the learning disorder as well as to combat any psychological effects of the disorder such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc. People with learning disorders do go on to have promising or even outstanding careers. Online, you only have to search briefly to find famous people past and present who have overcome learning disabilities including: Danielle Radcliffe (dyspraxia), Steven Spielberg (dyslexia), Agatha Christie (dysgraphia), Albert Einstein (ASD), and Leonardo da Vinci (ADHD, dyslexia).

Our team of therapists who specialize in learning disorders would be honoured to work with you and or your child to live with and thrive despite these disorders. Contact us today.


Brooke Hendricks

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Assessments

Loriann Quinlan

Edmonton South, Edmonton West, Online

Adults, Seniors

Terri Mulveney

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Children (3-5), Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), LGBTQ community

Brandi Enns

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality, Assessments

Sabrina Brady

Edmonton Central, Edmonton North, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality, Assessments

Karla Buchholz

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality

Nikesha Deenoo

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Sexuality

Nicole Donovan

Edmonton South, Online, Sherwood Park

Adults, Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17)

Kathryn Maier

Edmonton North, Online

Adults, Children (3-5), Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Families, Assessments

Cody Cobler

Edmonton North, Online

Adults, Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Families, LGBTQ community

Dawn Doucet Banting

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Children (3-5), Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community

Chantelle Owen

Edmonton South, Edmonton Central, Online, Edmonton West

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality

Luke Suelzle

Edmonton South, Online, Edmonton Central

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Families, Couples, Sexuality

Kim Phua

Edmonton North, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality, Assessments

Brilene Wohlgemuth

Edmonton South, Sherwood Park, Online

Adults, Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Families, LGBTQ community, Assessments

Dr. Hendriatta Wong

Corporate Services

Shirley Leonard

Corporate Services

Shaheel Hooda

Corporate Services

Lisa Standeven

Corporate Services

Tara-Lee Goerlitz

Corporate Services

At this time, Insight Psychological does not have therapists who specialize in this specific area, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you! Please contact us to talk with our Intake Personnel to find a therapist that is a good fit for you and your unique circumstances.