Learning disabilities are neurologically-based processing issues that can interfere with learning basic skills, such as reading, writing, or math. They can also interfere with higher-level skills, such as organization, time management, and abstract reasoning. Understanding who can diagnose specific learning disabilities is the first step in helping children face unavoidable challenges and adapt to accommodate their disabilities.
Types of Learning Disabilities
The most common learning disability is dyslexia. It involves difficulty with accurate or fluent word recognition, spelling, and decoding abilities. People with dyslexia often struggle with reading comprehension, which can impact broader academic performance. Other common types of learning disabilities include:
- Dyscalculia: pertains to difficulties with arithmetic and understanding numbers. Individuals with dyscalculia might have trouble with basic math operations, organizing problems on paper, and understanding mathematical symbols.
- Dysgraphia: involves difficulty with handwriting and fine motor skills. People with dysgraphia often have illegible handwriting, struggle with spelling, and have difficulty putting their thoughts on paper.
- Dyspraxia: a motor skills disorder characterized by difficulty coordinating movements, leading to problems with tasks like tying shoes, buttoning shirts, or using utensils.
These learning disabilities are not a reflection of intelligence. However, an assessment and diagnosis can significantly improve their ability to receive accommodations and excel academically and in life.
Professionals and Their Roles in Diagnosing Learning Disabilities
Understanding learning disabilities and how to function with them starts with a diagnosis. Professionals bring unique perspectives and skills to the diagnostic process, ensuring access to a comprehensive assessment.
Educational Diagnosticians and School Psychologists
Education diagnosticians use specialized assessments, such as Tests of Dyslexia (TOD™), to determine areas of academic difficulty, while school psychologists evaluate cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects that might influence learning. Together, they interpret data, identify specific learning challenges, and collaborate with educational teams and parents. Their combined insights guide the development of targeted interventions, accommodations, and individualized educational plans to optimize student success.
Licensed psychologists employ a combination of standardized tests and clinical observations to pinpoint specific challenges an individual faces. Their expertise enables them to discern between learning disabilities and other potential issues, such as emotional or attentional disturbances. Additionally, psychologists offer insights into appropriate interventions and treatments tailored to their client’s specific needs. Their assessments identify areas of difficulty and highlight individual strengths, paving the way for a comprehensive strategy that provides the support needed.
MDTs are professionals from various fields, including educators, psychologists, therapists, and medical experts. They collaborate to assess a child’s academic, cognitive, emotional, and physical abilities. By pooling their expertise, MDTs ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s strengths and challenges, leading to accurate diagnoses and effective support plans. Through a team-based approach, MDTs offer a holistic perspective.
Access Assessment To Help Children With Learning Disabilities Improve
Assessments are essential to diagnosing specific learning disabilities and finding the appropriate strategy to help children get the most from their learning experiences.