Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Evaluating Learning Differences

What do you do when you know a child is bright, but their teachers don't seem to realize it? Maybe the marks they bring home don't reflect their true capabilities. Or perhaps they seem to be falling further and further behind their classmates. One possibility is that the child may have a learning disability.

Children with learning disabilities are born with differences in the way they input, process, and express information. An undetected and untreated learning disability can lead to academic problems and low self-esteem. The earlier learning problems are recognized and addressed, the better the prognosis.

If you suspect your child has a learning disability, you can request an evaluation from your school or a private evaluator like a psychologist. If you request an evaluation through your school, it is a good idea to do so in writing so there is a record of your concerns. It is important to realize that school districts differ in terms of their resources for and attitudes toward special education. For more information about how to interact effectively with your school, please visit the Wrightslaw website for education law and advocacy.

A thorough psychoeducational evaluation includes a review of history and records, assessment of potential such as an IQ test, and tests that measure school achievement. When appropriate, your evaluator may also recommend assessments of other areas such as communication, daily living skills, motor skills, and behavior.

Based on the unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses that emerges from an evaluation, recommendations are made for improving your child's learning experience. A thorough and accurate evaluation report can open the door to services children with learning differences need to progress in school. Detecting and addressing learning disabilities early will increase a child's chances for future success.

The website, LD Online, is a good place to start to find out more about learning differences. Please also visit my website for more information and resources regarding a variety of mental health concerns.