Skip to main content

Prevalence of Specific Learning Disabilities Among Primary School Children in a South Indian City



To measure the prevalence of specific learning disabilities (SpLDs) such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia among primary school children in a South Indian city.


A cross-sectional multi-staged stratified randomized cluster sampling study was conducted among children aged 8–11 years from third and fourth standard. A six level screening approach that commenced with identification of scholastic backwardness followed by stepwise exclusion of impaired vision and hearing, chronic medical conditions and subnormal intelligence was carried out among these children. In the final step, the remaining children were subjected to specific tests for reading, comprehension, writing and mathematical calculation.


The prevalence of specific learning disabilities was 15.17% in sampled children, whereas 12.5%, 11.2% and 10.5% had dysgraphia, dyslexia and dyscalculia respectively.


This study suggests that the prevalence of SpLDs is at the higher side of previous estimations in India. The study is unique due to its large geographically representative design and identification of the problem using simplified screening approach and tools, which minimizes the number and time of specialist requirement and spares the expensive investigation. This approach and tools are suitable for field situations and resource scarce settings. Based on the authors’ experience, they express the need for more prevalence studies, remedial education and policy interventions to manage SpLDs at main stream educational system to improve the school performance in Indian children.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 2
Fig. 3



Specific learning disabilities


Intelligence quotient


  1. Thacker N. Poor scholastic performance in children and adolescents. Indian Pediatr. 2007;44:411–2.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Karande S, Kulkarni M. Poor school performance. Indian J Pediatr. 2005;72:961–7.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Karande S, Mahajan V, Kulkarni M. Recollections of learning-disabled adolescents of their schooling experiences: a qualitative study. Indian J Med Sci. 2009;63:382–91.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Lyon GR. Learning disabilities. Future Child. 1996;6:54–76.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Wright-Strawderman C, Watson BL. The prevalence of depressive symptoms in children with learning disabilities. J Learn Disabil. 1992;25:258–64.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Karande S, Mehta V, Kulkarni M. Impact of an education program on parental knowledge of specific learning disability. Indian J Med Sci. 2007;61:398–406.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Shaywitz SE. Dyslexia. N Engl J Med. 1998;338:307–12.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Winters CA. Learning disabilities, crime, delinquency, and special education placement. Adolescence. 1997;32:451–62.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Karande S, Kumbhare N, Kulkarni M, Shah N. Anxiety levels in mothers of children with specific learning disability. J Postgrad Med. 2009;55:165–70.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Karande S, Kulkarni S. Quality of life of parents of children with newly diagnosed specific learning disability. J Postgrad Med. 2009;55:97–103.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Kulkarni M, Kalantre S, Upadhye S, Karande S, Ahuja S. Approach to learning disability. Indian J Pediatr. 2001;68:539–46.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Hammill DD. On defining learning disabilities: an emerging consensus. J Learn Disabil. 1990;23:74–84.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Karande S, Kulkarni M. Specific learning disability: the invisible handicap. Indian Pediatr. 2005;42:315–9.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Crawford SG. Specific learning disabilities and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: Under-recognized in India. Indian J Med Sci. 2007;61:637–8.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Demonet JF, Taylor MJ, Chaix Y. Developmental dyslexia. Lancet. 2004;363:1451–60.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Ramaa S. Two decades of research on learning disabilities in India. Dyslexia. 2000;6:268–83.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Rutter M. Children’s behavior questionnaire for completion by teachers; preliminary findings. J Child Psychol Psychiatr. 1967;8:1–11.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Narayanan J. Grade level assessment device for children with learning problem in schools (GLAD) Secunderabad: National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (NIMH); 1997.

  19. Goel SK, Bhargava DM. Handbook for Seguin Form Board. Agra: National Psychological Corporation; 1990.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hirisave U, Oommen A, Kapur M. Psychological assessment of children in the clinical setting. Bangalore: National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences; 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Stata/SE 9.2 for Windows [computer program]. TX 77845 USA: StataCorp LP; 2007.

  22. Prasad B. Social classification of Indian families. J Indian Med Assoc. 1968;51:365–6.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Prasad B. Changes proposed in Social classification of Indian families. Indian Med Assoc. 1970;55:198–9.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Mittal SK, Zaidi I, Puri N, Duggal S, Rath B, Bhargava SK. Communication disabilities: emerging problems of childhood. Indian Pediatr. 1977;14:811–5.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Shah BP, Khanna SA, Pinto N. Detection of learning disabilities in school children. Indian J Pediatr. 1981;48:767–71.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Ramaa S, Gowramma IP. A systematic procedure for identifying and classifying children with dyscalculia among primary school children in India. Dyslexia. 2002;8:67–85.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Agarwal KN, Agarwal DK, Upadhyay SK, Singh M. Learning disability in rural primary school children. Indian J Med Res. 1991;94:89–95.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Shaywitz SE, Shaywitz BA. Dyslexia (specific reading disability). Biol Psychiatry. 2005;57:1301–9.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors acknowledge the support by children and teachers of various schools in conducting this study, inputs from various faculty members of J.N. Medical College, Belgaum including Dr. N.S. Mahantshetti, Head of Department of Pediatrics during the progress review and Mr. Mohammad for support in the field. The authors specially thank Mr. R.S. Hegde, Clinical Psychologist for his contributions in conducting IQ tests and Mrs. Chandana Billur for helping in the procedure. The authors acknowledge the contributions from the faculty members of Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences for providing training and tools.


VVM: Conducted the study and drafted the manuscript; VDP: Conceptualized the study, contributed as a principal guide and reviewed the manuscript; NMP: Contributed as a co-guide and reviewed the manuscript; VM: Study design, statistical analysis, and revised the manuscript. All authors have approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of Interest


Role of Funding Source


Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vijayalaxmi V. Mogasale.



$$ n = \frac{{4pqD}}{{{d^2}}} $$

prevalence of learning disability (15%)




allowable error 20% of p


design factor (2)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mogasale, V.V., Patil, V.D., Patil, N.M. et al. Prevalence of Specific Learning Disabilities Among Primary School Children in a South Indian City. Indian J Pediatr 79, 342–347 (2012).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Learning disability
  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Scholastic backwardness