I'm looking for an adjective to describe a person with a learning disability. I've thought of using "learning disabled", but I don't like the sound of it. I've also thought of using "learningly disabled", but that sounds even stranger and spellcheck seems to think that "learningly" is not a word. Example:

The notion that ________ persons simply need to try harder is despicable.

I could just use "disabled", but I'd rather specify what kind of disability (you wouldn't tell a double amputee to try harder, for example). I'd also rather not change the wording to "persons with learning disabilities"; it's too cumbersome. Any ideas? Alternatively, is there a word that can be used without an adjective to describe the learning disabled? I'm using first person plural, so "the learning disabled" won't work.


By "learning disability", I mean something like dysgraphia or dyscalcula. I'm not referring to serious developmental or physical disabilities. I also don't mean people just who learn "differently". Everyone learns a little bit differently; people with LDs often learn just fine, but we have trouble demonstrating that learning, at least in my experience (I have dysgraphia). Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. For a more detailed defenition, see this website.

  • Very politically correct people sometimes use "differently-abled."
    – SAH
    May 26, 2016 at 5:05
  • @SAH I actually find that somewhat offensive and rather comical. I have an LD, and I prefer to not deny the problem. Pretending a problem doesn't exist doesn't make it go away. As for "abled", I find it rather comical to call a disability an ability. I know other people that prefer euphamisms though
    – cat40
    May 26, 2016 at 21:17
  • I think some of the issue is that "learning disabled" is a very broad category; you could use "neuro-atypical", but that excludes certain categories of people, as an example. So... are you really looking for something to represent every type of person who learns differently to the modal student, or is there any nuance here? May 26, 2016 at 22:25
  • I'm looking for learning disability as in something like dysgraphia or dyscalcula, as per this definition. I'm not referring to more serious developmental disabilities or physical disabilities. I'll add a more expanded definition to the question. Thanks for pointing that out.
    – cat40
    May 26, 2016 at 22:29

3 Answers 3


Dyslexic / dyslexia.
Dyscalculic / dyscalculia.
Dysgraphic / dysgraphia.
Dyspraxic / dyspraxia.

Unless the disability is specific, I don't know a word for that.

But there's "learning-disabled persons" on Google and a lot of scholarly articles using such terms.

In the right contexts, LD can be used, for example, from ldaamerica.org

"75% – 80% of special education students identified as LD have their basic deficits in language and reading"


The Wikipedia article on learning disabilities repeatedly uses "individuals with learning disabilities."

In my opinion, this phrase does not sound cumbersome. It sounds better than "persons with learning disabilities." Further, it sounds fine when substituted into your sentence:

The notion that individuals with learning disabilities simply need to try harder is despicable.

Another option is "people with learning disabilities." This sounds better than "persons with learning disabilities" (in my opinion).

  • I agree it's not cumbersome used once. However, I intend to use it multiple times in rapid succession. It's comparable to "he/she" instead of "it" ("He/she should get his/her values in line so that he/she will be no longer behind in his/her classes"). I also don't really like the way it sounds.
    – cat40
    May 26, 2016 at 0:30
  • 1
    Fair enough if just don't like it. I would never use it in quick succession. I'd use the pronoun "they" for subsequent sentences.
    – DyingIsFun
    May 26, 2016 at 0:37
  • My thought as well... once you've defined the set of people (in this case, people with learning difficulties of whatever form), then you can simply refer back using "these people", "they", or similar. Indeed, a simple "people" probably works in context because you've already excluded folks of other abilities. May 26, 2016 at 22:21
  • That makes sense, although I'd probably use "we"/"us" for the pronoun.
    – cat40
    May 26, 2016 at 22:44

Learning disabilities could be caused by a lot of reasons. If it is caused by slow cognitive development, you could consider using "mentally challenged" which is

a euphemism for mentally retarded or disabled


  • 2
    Hello, Rathony. You didn't answer to the question. There are, of course, many sub categories and specific names, but OP asked about "learning disability" in general. Also, learning-disabled persons are not necessarily mentally retarded.
    – NVZ
    May 26, 2016 at 6:53
  • Yeah, not a fan of this - I have some experience of learning/developmental differences, and "retarded" is not a word I'd use, even if it didn't come with pejorative overtones. May 26, 2016 at 22:23

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