Her problems in school have persisted through the years, but I believe that this year she is having even more difficulty. Some nights I will study for a test with her for hours and she will get all the answers right, but then when she takes the test the next day she gets a D or a F on it. My mom is planning on bringing her to a specialist. Could you give me any information on what my sister may have if she does have a learning disability?
I'd suggest going back to FamilyEducation.com for more information about the often-puzzling problem of learning disabilities. The Schwab Foundation for Learning (http://www.schwablearning.org) is also a helpful site. You can call the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities at 1-888-GR8-MIND and request a free book about learning disabilities, Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources. If you read that book you will find that the term learning disabilities describes a disorder in which a person's brain works or is structured differently. The kinds of problems you describe that your sister has could indeed be a learning disability. These differences in the way the brain works can interfere with a person's ability to think and remember. Learning disabilities can affect a person's ability to speak, listen, read, write, spell, reason, recall, organize information, and do mathematics. Most children with learning disabilities have at least average intelligence. ADHD and learning disabilities often occur at the same time, but the two disorders are not the same.
The only way to identify a learning disability is through a comprehensive evaluation. Once that is done, an individual education plan (IEP) will be drawn up that will set goals for learning. A learning disability can't be cured or fixed, but with the right support and intervention, children with learning disabilities can succeed in school and be successful adults. Many successful people in all professions from actors to writers to businessmen have learning disabilities.
Dr. Mel Levine, a pediatrician, has written a wonderful book for kids about learning disabilities. You might want to read the book, All Kinds of Minds, with your sister and talk about it with her, one chapter at a time.