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Learning Disabilities

 

Imagine going to work and not being able to do your job. Now imagine that you can't leave your job. Imagine having to do that every day. This is what life is like for children with learning disabilities."


-- Dr. David Urion

Director, Neurology and Learning Disabilities Program,

Children's Hosptial, Boston

 

Learning disabilities can affect how children listen, think, store, retrieve, write, read and communicate information or perform mathematical calculations, and can cause her to have a short attention span without having ADHD.

It is common for children with ADHD to also have learning disabilities. Among the ways that a learning disability can affect the way your child learns is by interfering with the input of information to the brain. This can be a visual perception disability, causing your child to reverse or rotate letters and numbers or to not be able to focus on specific letters and words on a page, or it can be an auditory perception disability, so that similar words sound alike and cause confusion or she may not be able to process words that she hears as fast as people are speaking them.


Learning disabilities can also cause problems with the integration of sensory information, or how the brain processes the sensory data that is sent to it. This can affect the information received from vision, touch, and balance and can affect your child's gross and fine motor skills. Specific integration disabilities include sequencing disabilities, in which your child confuses the sequence of words, letters, math problems, etc. They can also have abstraction, organizational, and memory (affecting visual vs. auditory & short term or long term memory) disabilities.


Children with learning disabilities can also have problems with the way that they output information. These output disabilities can affect the way they talk or the way that they write or draw. Most children with learning disabilities have one or more of the above problems, affecting the way that they input, integrate or output information. These problems can cause them to have difficulty at school, but can also cause problems at home and when they play.

 

Some children with learning disabilities have always had trouble learning new things, while others do well in school at first, but then start to have problems in the as school gets more difficult. Children with learning disabilities may only have trouble with certain subjects, such as math or reading, and may do well in other classes. They will also have normal intelligence and may do well on standardized tests. Children with learning disabilities are often described as not performing up to their potential or "being lazy." Psychological testing is helpful in look for certain learning disabilities so that a modified education plan can be developed.​


What We Do

 

Evaluation is the process for determining whether a child has a disability and needs special education and related services. It’s the first step in developing an educational program that will help the child learn. Our clinicians gather information from a variety of sources about a child’s functioning and development in all areas of suspected disability, including information provided by the parent. The evaluation may look at cognitive, behavioral, physical, and developmental factors, as well as other areas. All this information is used to determine the child’s educational needs.

 

 A full and individual psychoeducational evaluation serves many important purposes:


Identification. It can identify children who have delays or learning problems and may need special education and related services as a result.


Eligibility. It can determine whether your child is a child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and qualifies for special education and related services.


Planning an Individualized Education Program (IEP). It provides information that can help you and the school develop an appropriate IEP for your child.


Instructional strategies. It can help determine what strategies may be most effective in helping your child learn.


Measuring progress. It establishes a baseline for measuring your child’s educational progress. The evaluation process establishes a foundation for developing an appropriate educational program. Even if the evaluation results show that your child does not need special education and related services, the information may still be used to help your child in a regular education program.

 

Some Common Types of Learning Disabilities


Dyslexia (See Dyslexia Assessment Section)– a language-based disability in which a person has trouble understanding written words. It may also be referred to as reading disability or reading disorder.


Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.


Dysgraphia – a writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.


Auditory & Visual Processing Disorders – sensory disabilities in which a person has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision.


Nonverbal Learning Disorders– a neurological disorder which originates in the right hemisphere of the brain, causing problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative and holistic processing functions.​