What is a learning disability?
Is your child struggling to meet grade level standards in school despite increased academic support from their teacher? Specific learning disabilities (SLDs) are neurologically based and marked by substantial deficits in acquiring academic skills, especially those related to reading, mathematics, and writing. Between 8% to 10% of children under the age of 18 in the U.S. may have some type of learning disability.
When it comes to learning disability warning signs there is not a one size fits all list. Some children appear to have obvious learning challenges early in their academic careers, others may acquire compensatory skills to mask their condition. Additionally, learning disabilities tend to coexist with other conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, communication disorders, and even giftedness.
Why schedule an educational evaluation?
A comprehensive psychological evaluation is needed to determine if an individual meets diagnostic requirements for a specific learning disability. A diagnosis of a specific learning disability can provide clarity, normalize experiences, and inform strategies to improve academic performance and satisfaction with schooling. Youth with learning disabilities typically require specialized instruction that is more intensive in nature and modified to meet their unique learning needs. They may also benefit from accomodations, such as extended time on tests, in order to showcase their true abilities. A comprehensive educational evaluation will help pinpoint areas of strength and weakness, provide a better understanding of your child's experiences, identify strategies to improve academic success, and possibly help foster their emotional functioning. Additionally an evaluation may help your child obtain eligibility for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and individualized support in the school-setting.
For emerging adults transitioning to college or the workplace, having a clear understanding of their learning needs can inform study strategies and may provide eligibility for classroom and workplace accommodations. Recommendations yielded from the evaluation can also provide adults with research-based tools to improve their confidence, performance, and productivity.
What does an educational evaluation include?
To start the evaluation process we will meet for an intake session. I will gather information about a child's presenting difficulties and strengths. This will include a comprehensive social and developmental history. A detailed review and analysis of your child's educational history and achievement is a critical component of determining a diagnosis. This detailed intake process allows me to select the appropriate assessments for your child and to determine what other informants (e.g., teachers, coaches, additional caregivers) should be included in reporting data.
During the intake session, I will also be able to provide you with a written individualized assessment plan and the timeline for completing the evaluation.
During the assessment portion, in addition to interviews about your child's academic, social, and behavioral functioning, I will ask that caregivers, teachers, and relevant informants complete behavior rating scales that compare your child’s performance with the expected norms for youth your child's age. In sessions with your child, I will ask your child questions verbally, have your child complete questions via paper-pencil or an iPad, and complete hands-on-tasks that assess components of learning and intellectual ability.
Feedback and Consultation
Once I collect data from direct and indirect measures this information will be synthesized into a comprehensive written report. The report will include your child’s educational and social-developmental history, a synthesis of your child's response to academic interventions provided by their school, and observations. It also features a summary and explanation of data gathered from direct assessment measures, diagnostic impressions, and recommendations for school, home, and social-emotional development. I will also set up a time for a feedback and consultation session to discuss the findings of the evaluation and address any questions you may have. Additionally, I can offer consultation with your child's educators to assist in planning for an appropriate course of instruction and support.