What is a Learning Disability?
Learning disability experts state that many issues are often faced in the assessment of learning disabilities because of the vagueness that exists in what defines a learning disability. Therefore it is important to understand what a learning disability is and then how it can be identified or assessed in children or adults. This article will drive you through all the needed information and steps in an organized way. So, firstly what is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a dysfunction or disability to perform learning tasks in a standard way or with a standard pace such as difficulty in learning to read, write, reason, spell or recall and so on. This is majorly due to neurological and developmental issues. It is usually held that children with learning disabilities are not as smart or capable as normal children of their age. But this isn’t true! Children with learning disabilities can be as smart as other children but sometimes even smarter.
Learning disabilities have a huge prevalence around the globe. About 15% population of America also suffers from learning disabilities but if the learning disability assessment is done in time with an optimistic attitude the suffering can be lessened to an extent where there is no suffering at all.
There are many types of learning disabilities. The most prevalent of all is difficulty with reading as almost 80% of the people having learning disabilities face difficulties in reading. However, attention disorders are also often confused with learning disabilities such as Autism, ADHD or intellectual disabilities. It should be clear that such disorders are frequently comorbid with learning disabilities but not a part of these. Before we get to the learning disability testing, here’s a list of major types of learning disabilities.
Dyslexia can also be termed as reading disability or disorder in which a person has difficulty understanding written words. Similar looking alphabets are often confused. The person will find it difficult to read, write, spell or comprehend the material. This also affects speech. This disorder is language-based and often comorbid with other learning disabilities.
Dysgraphia is a similar disorder with an inability to write properly instead. A person suffering from this find it difficult to space or compose words or to write and think at the same time along with messed up handwriting.
This is difficulty in understanding and solving numerical or arithmetic problems.
Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
Difficulty with higher verbal skills, individual finds it challenging to perform tasks that require visual-spatial or motor-skills.
Auditory Processing Disorder
This disorder affects the auditory perception of individuals. People with APD have difficulty in recognizing articulate speech and have difficulty in interpreting all kinds of sounds entering the auditory system.
Language Processing Disorder
Another type of APD is LPD in which the individual’s ability to incorporate phonemes (sounds of speech) and morphemes (meanings of words) is affected. The individual is unable to interpret language properly. And there are many other such disabilities but there are many associations and programs too that help you through it all, such as Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). National Institute of Health reports that around 67% of students with learning disabilities show significant improvement and progress after receiving treatment. But to prepare a treatment plan learning disabilities diagnosis and assessment is needed first.
The whole assessment process involves steps as screening, evaluation, diagnosis and recommendations or treatment. Mostly schools or parents are the first to notice these learning disabilities. Once it is identified that the child is facing learning difficulty, following professionals are recommended.
Below is the list of professionals who are qualified for carrying out the assessment of learning disabilities.
- School or Educational Psychologist
- Educational Consultant
- Educational Therapist
- Learning Disability Psychologist or Specialist
- Occupational Therapist
- Clinical Psychologist
- Speech and Language Therapist
Usually, these professionals are trained to test learning disability. First, they do the overall screening and evaluation which involves initial case study or taking the client’s history as well, then they conduct tests for learning disability for diagnosis. Following tests used for learning disabilities diagnosis:
These are the combination of IQ as well as other cognitive tests such as;
- Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WIPPSI)
- Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test
- Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS)
- Differential Abilities Scales (DAS)
- Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities
- Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (CTONI)
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
- Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (WJ)
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
- Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT)
- Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA)
Visual-Motor Integration Tests
Supplementary tests used by professionals for evaluation such as;
- The Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test
- The Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration.
The tests also assess learning disabilities. These tests include;
- The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF)
- Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation
- The Test of Language Development
You can also use these free online subjective tests to get an idea: https://www.lexercise.com/tests. These tests can used in the assessment of learning disabilities. In General perception, learning disabilities cannot fixed. Through a specific way of treatment, we see some significant improvement in the concern peoples. One of the reasons why people avoid psychological testing for learning disabilities is the cost. So, here’s a general idea for you about the cost of psychological evaluation and psychological testing for learning disabilities.
Where it depends upon where you are getting yourself or your child treated. Any professional offering the treatment, the cost usually ranges between $500 to $2500. Many support programs are present in the US that will cover costs such as IDEA. Some insurance policies also provide support in the process. Remember one thing that a great therapist is not necessarily a great evaluator so always choose carefully. Good luck!