Learning difficulties and learning disabilities

About 10% to 16% of learners struggle with their learning. This can be caused by:

  • developmental delay
  • poor coordination involving fine and gross motor skills
  • emotional difficulties or trauma
  • lack of appropriate educational opportunities
  • interrupted schooling
  • health issues.

What is a learning disability

Between 2% and 4% of learners have academic skills that are significantly below expectation for their age and intellectual ability.

Some common learning disabilities are:

  • Dyslexia - issues with reading, spelling and written language
  • Dysgraphia - difficulties with written expression, including spelling, handwriting and written composition
  • Dyscalculia - problems understanding mathematics and quantitative thinking
  • Dysphasia - an oral language disorder which affects speech and comprehension

Talk to your child's teacher

If you have concerns about your child's learning or your child has been identified as having a disability or learning difficulty:

  • organise a time to speak with the teacher
  • take reports and other information about your child to the discussion
  • take a friend or relative to support you if you want to
  • give examples of your concerns
  • plan some agreed actions
  • if you still have concerns, arrange to meet with the kindergarten director or school principal.

The regional education office for your preschool or school has people that can help you with information about support for your child.

Support programs and services

Preschools and schools can support the education of children and students with a learning difficulty through the development of an individual learning plan (ILP).

Schools can also offer modified subjects and special provisions for students doing SACE. Talk to your school for more information.

Out of School Hours Care and Vacation Care services can provide additional staffing to facilitate the inclusion of children with additional needs or disabilities.


Learning and teaching materials and specialised services are available for students with disabilities and learning difficulties from the Special Education Resource Unit. For more information phone 8235 2871

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Page last updated 4 July 2019

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Department for Education
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