Undiagnosed Learning Disabilities and Low Literacy Rates in the U.S.

Learning to read is something most people in the U.S. don’t remember well. It’s a rite of passage, marked by the joys of circle time or the frustration of fumbling over your words. While many people take for granted their ability to skim through a magazine in the checkout line, others struggle to put their thoughts to paper or to interpret articles, books, and other media.


For adults and young people living with Specified Learning Disabilities (SLD), literacy is a challenge that doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. Unlike their peers, those with SLDs face staggeringly high rates of language and reading deficits.

Undiagnosed Learning Disabilities Books

Awareness is key to changing the statistics surrounding literacy among those with Learning Disabilities (LDs). Among U.S. children enrolled in special education classes, 75%-80% experience their main deficit in language and reading. Literacy struggles negatively impact people of all ages when SLDs go undiagnosed.


Young elementary-aged children spend a great deal of time practicing the foundational skills that form the basis of their later success as readers, critical thinkers, and informed members of society. Yet, many children never get the help they need when their SLD remains undetected. This is particularly important because as many as 60% of adults with significant literacy deficits in the U.S. live with an undiagnosed Learning Disability (LD). With intervention, these statistics can change.

Undiagnosed Learning DisabilitiesIf you’d like to spread awareness about the effects of undiagnosed LDs on literacy outcomes in children and adults, visit the National Center for Learning Disabilities website and browse the “Advocacy” tab for more information about how you can make your voice heard. Demystifying LDs and SLDs is critical to helping those who live with learning differences. Instead of shrouding diagnoses in shame, we must work together to destigmatize LDs and improve literacy outcomes for millions.


As an adolescent woman whose parents migrated to gift me a better education, I continue to see the disparity between my own education and that of my cousins back home. It is truly education that paves the way for girls and boys to escape poverty and build themselves a better life, not only for themselves but for the people around them.


Learn how you can impact positively the education of children in disadvantaged communities here.

Written by: Alex Blum


1. https://ldaamerica.org/support/new-to-ld/