Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

School Age Children (6–11)

What are learning disabilities and why are they important?

Learning disabilities refer to a biologically based deficit in specific cognitive skills in the face of normal intelligence. For example, some children have particular difficulty in maintaining focused attention (e.g., ADHD), in reading letters in the correct sequence (e.g., dyslexia), or in organizing information in space (e.g., non-verbal learning disability). When these difficulties are undiagnosed, children can have repeated experiences of failure in the classroom. This can lead to low self-esteem and some associated negative behaviors, such as a defensive rejection of criticism.

Some children with undiagnosed learning disabilities feel so bombarded by criticism and feelings of failure that they simply shut out negative feedback, with predictable consequences. Children with learning disabilities may develop disruptive behaviors and have an increased risk of becoming involved in antisocial behaviors in adolescence. To some extent, this is related to biological deficits in impulse control, but it is also related to problematic reactions after repeated experiences of failure.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App