Learning Disabilities (LD)
A Learning Disability can be an incredibly challenging, frustrating condition for a child that impacts their quality of life and ability to function independently later in life. Dr. Cristi Salinas helps determine the most effective approach to diagnosis and treatment for your child.
Types of Learning Disabilities
What Are Learning Disabilities
A Learning Disability refers to a condition that impacts a child’s ability to effectively comprehend information in one or more subjects, typically in an academic setting. Learning Disabilities (LDs) may also interfere with other day-to-day skills such as organization. In addition, LDs may impact other areas, including time planning, abstract reasoning, memory, and overall attention. Learning Disabilities have a significant impact on a child’s life outside of the academic challenges. For example, LDs may cause children to act out or otherwise disengage from relationships with others. Early intervention is critical.
Signs and Symptoms of Learning Disabilities
Because Learning Disabilities themselves have a wide range of impacts, the signs and symptoms vary. According to the CDC, some of the symptoms of learning disorders parents should look for are as follows:
- Difficulty telling right from left
- Reversing letters, words, or numbers after first or second grade
- Problems recognizing patterns or sorting items by size or shape
- Difficulty understanding and following instructions or staying organized
- Difficulty remembering what was just said or what was just read
- Lacking coordination when moving around
- Problems completing tasks with the hands, like writing, cutting, or drawing
- Difficulty understanding the concept of time
Types Of Learning Disabilities
Three common Learning Disabilities impact school-aged children: Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dysgraphia. It is essential to remember that a child may be impacted by one or more of these types of LDs or may have other developmental issues.
Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by difficulty processing language (spelling, connecting letters and sounds, and reading). Dyslexia can result in delays in speech, poor self-expression, slow reading, poor spelling, and trouble following directions. Specific signs include distinguishing left from right, learning foreign languages, learning and recalling vocabulary, and slowness in learning songs.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability characterized by difficulty writing and completing fine motor functions related to writing. The child typically has difficulty holding a pen or pencil and exhibits below-average handwriting. A child with this disorder may even need to adjust their body to grasp a writing utensil. Specific signs of this disorder include not wanting to write or draw, finishing words or leaving them out, and having trouble writing and saying words.
Dyscalculia is characterized by difficulty understanding basic mathematical concepts and computation. For example, a person with this disorder will often not understand fractions, number lines, and positive and negative numbers. Signs include having difficulty verbally explaining math processes, recognizing order in math problems, understanding money, dealing with math word problems, and organizing computation across the paper.
If a child is diagnosed with one or more of the above learning disorders, that child is likely eligible for special education services provided by their school district.
How a Learning Disability is Diagnosed & Treated
The only way to definitively diagnose an individual with a learning disability is by using an evaluation. These evaluations may be provided by a school district or privately by a therapist of the parent’s choosing. If parents disagree with a school’s evaluation, they will often opt for an expert second opinion. (Link to page)
A few types of professionals can assess people for learning disabilities. These include school psychologists, clinical psychologists, and neuropsychologists. An evaluation will look for specific strengths and challenges in reading, writing, and math skills.
Independent Educational Evaluations are private evaluations done by an outside professional—but the school pays for them. This may be an option for families seeking an evaluation for their child.
Evaluations use standardized tests and procedures to help determine what is causing the behavioral issues. Like other evaluations, a critical component is speaking with parents and caregivers about the child, including their medical history.
Once these comprehensive evaluations are complete, recommendations are made to help improve the child’s behavior by addressing the underlying issues.