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How Learning Disabilities Can Look Different in Boys and Girls

How Learning Disabilities Can Look Different in Boys and Girls

Identifying learning disabilities can be difficult. One thing that makes this difficult is that they often manifest differently in boys than they do in girls. As a parent, knowing what signs to look for makes identification easier and allows your child to get the interventions they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Consider this statistic:

During the ‘18-’19 school year, 18% of male students ages 6 to 21 received special services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act compared to 10% of female students.

These findings are consistent with several similar studies.

In other words, generally speaking, boys make up 2/3 of the kids identified as having a “specific learning disability.”

The keyword here is identified. Boys are 66% more likely to be identified as struggling with a learning disability than girls are and it all comes down to the symptoms.

Learning disabilities in boys

First of all, just because a child struggles with a learning disability doesn't mean they’re stupid. Low intelligence doesn’t result in learning disabilities and learning disabilities are often specific to one skill or subject area.

Also, while learning disabilities may go hand-in-hand with ADHD, ADHD isn’t always at play.

When boys struggle with learning disabilities, they’re more likely to act out than girls. This can look like impulsive, disruptive or hyperactive behavior. Because boys are more than twice as likely as girls to manifest symptoms of ADHD, teachers often believe that this negative behavior is related to ADHD instead of a learning disability. In fact, boys are the subjects of 85% of discipline referrals in schools.

However, this disruptive behavior draws attention to an underlying issue, which means boys are more apt to get the interventions they need, even if it’s determined down the road that a learning disability is actually the root cause.

Learning disabilities in girls

While boys are often flagged for ADHD or a learning disability, girls frequently fly under the radar. Why is this?

First of all, when girls battle ADHD, they often go undiagnosed because, unlike their male counterparts, they don't manifest much or any negative behavior. Excessive chattiness is often disregarded as “normal" and girls are left to struggle with attention issues.

A similar case can be made for girls with learning disabilities. Instead of displaying negative behavior, they’re more likely to appear bored. Teachers may even perceive that these girls have mastered the concepts they’re teaching which is why they’re disengaged. Sadly, as a result, girls often don't get the intervention they need which perpetuates their struggles.

Then, over time, when learning disabilities go untreated they can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

Parents of girls need to be even more vigilant in watching for signs of learning disabilities and proactively seek an evaluation and intervention if they have concerns.

Brain training at LearningRx can help your child overcome learning disabilities!

When we learn new information, our brains use cognitive skills to comprehend, interpret and store this information for future use. When one or more cognitive skills are weak, this process can be difficult or impossible and cause a tremendous amount of frustration. It can take the joy out of learning and make school miserable.

Many boys and girls who are diagnosed with learning disabilities are told that they will have to deal with them for the rest of their lives.

At LearningRx, we offer you hope.

Through a thorough cognitive skills assessment, we determine which weak cognitive skills are making learning difficult for your child. Then we boost these skills with fun and engaging exercises that create new neural connections in their brain.

Learn more about the learning process, how learning disabilities can manifest through weak cognitive skills and how brain training can help!