What Are the Signs of a Learning Disability in Adults?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2020
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A learning disability is typically defined as a difficulty or inability to take in and process information in ways that most people do naturally. As a result, learning disabilities can lead to a variety of problems with functioning in everyday life. While this problem is often associated with children, many adults struggle with learning disabilities as well. Some of the most common signs of a learning disability in adults include an inability to concentrate, poor memory, difficulty reading and/or writing and difficulty in relationships.

An inability to concentrate and difficulty retaining information is a very common sign of a learning disability in adults. Individuals with this problem often find it hard to focus on the material they are reading or listening to. As a result, they are usually unable to absorb as much information as a person without a learning disability. Since concentrating and digesting information are vital to learning, this inability often leads to other problems that can affect multiple areas in a person's life.


Poor memory is another symptom that typically results from an individual's inability to concentrate. When important information isn't effectively digested by the brain, it can affect a person's overall memory. In turn, what most people consider basic knowledge might seem extremely difficult to recall for a person with a learning disability. Simple tasks like recalling driving directions or setting an alarm clock can be problematic for some adults with these conditions. As one might imagine, memory issues can make navigating through life quite difficult.

Another sign of a learning disability in adults is experiencing trouble with basic reading and writing skills. While most adults will have some difficulty in spelling large or complex words, a person with a learning disability will have problems with basic words. On top of this, he or she will typically have issues with reading books and retaining the information. As a result, it's hard for some adults with a learning disability to construct a solid vocabulary and understand sentence meaning. In turn, this often makes it difficult to communicate with others.

Additionally, individuals with learning disabilities sometimes find it difficult to form and maintain relationships with other people. Since a learning disability in adults makes it difficult to function normally, it often has an isolating effect on people. These problems often begin during childhood and worsen during the transition into adulthood. In many cases, individuals with a learning disability find it hard to read social cues and communicate effectively. As a result, they may have some issues with socialization.


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Post 3

It's important to note that sometimes learning difficulties are the result of medication or other lifestyle influences. I have been on anti-depressants for about a year now and I've realized that my concentration has gone completely downhill.

I'm much happier and it is a fair enough trade-off to me, but it took me a while to even recognize that was why I was having difficulty with my writing and even with sleeping.

Post 2

@pastanaga - There is some worth to what you're saying, but on the other hand there are definitely people who have measurable difficulty with particular tasks. I don't think it's a good idea to try and chalk it all up to individual differences, because sometimes you've just got to try and figure out how to work with something. Defining it is the first step. Dyslexia, for example, is a learning disability that can be extremely frustrating until it is identified.

Accepting that you just happen to not be good at reading or writing doesn't address the core problem.

Post 1

I don't think it's particularly helpful to think of this as a disability. Everyone learns differently. Everyone is capable of learning in some way. You've just got to figure out which is the best way for you to learn.

It isn't always as simple as that some people learn best when they are reading, and some learn best when they are listening. I've found I learn much more quickly when I'm engaging in discussion. I learned more French in a couple of months spent with a host family than I did in five years of high school lessons. And it was because my host father sat down with me every night with a dictionary and we talked.

I've found the same thing works in a book club. I learned so much more in a relaxed environment where I'm expected to talk, rather than a lecture or in a book.

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