Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities

To understand learning disabilities, one must first understand different forms of learning. Some people prefer to learn visually, while others learn best through listening. Some people learn sequentially, while others learn simultaneously. According to the book Multiple Intelligences written by Dr. Howard Gardner, there are seven forms of intelligence: Verbal/Linguistic, Visual/Spatial, Logical/Mathematical, Body/Kinesthetic, Musical/Rhythmic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal.

Learning disabilities are more than a learning preference. Individuals with learning disabilities have average ability to learn, but due to a specific weakness in a form of information processing, they display below average performance in a specific academic area. This discrepancy in learning is not due to a general medical condition, family stress or a lack of access to educational resources.

Our state of the art psychoeducational evaluations are customized for each student. We select from an array of tests that measure each of the following types of information processing: auditory processing, visual processing, kinesthetic processing, motor speed, visual-motor functioning, memory, attention, impulse control and executive functions. Information processing weaknesses can also affect emotional stability and interpersonal skills. All of the information is factor analyzed and a comprehensive report is prepared that can help determine eligibility for special education services. Our evaluations are accepted by local school systems, universities and the College Board for eligibility for accommodations on standardized testing.

Most of our clients with learning disabilities require services from a variety of specialists. We serve as care managers between our team of mental health professionals and specialists in the community. This may include physicians, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, special educators and other mental health professionals. Our goal is to educate parents so that they can more effectively advocate for their child with a learning disability.

Dr. Smith: Evaluation of AD/HD and Learning Disabilities

Resources:

The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child’s Learning Disabilities.  Larry Silver, 2006.

Frequently Asked Questions about Development and Learning Disabilities: A Guide to Psychoeducational Evaluations Offered by Family Psychology Associates

What does a comprehensive learning disabilities evaluation include?

The evaluation of a learning disability or dyslexia requires a test of intelligence, a processing measure and tests of academic achievement.  Additional tests include visual-motor functioning, copying/writing and reproducing geometric shapes.  Measures of memory, attention/impulsivity and executive functioning may also be included.  Each test battery is individually designed to examine the specific concerns obtained from parents and teachers.  The results of the tests are analyzed with computer assistance that helps identify patterns of strengths and weaknesses that could identify the best teaching methods for your child.  The results also determine if your child is eligible for accommodations on standardized tests or an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) in school.

  1. Do you review school records?  Yes, we ask that you provide them prior to the Initial Consultation including CTBS or ERB scores as well as conference reports, Benchmark scores or Academic Improvement Plans (AIP).
  2. Do you review previous evaluations from doctors, psychologists or speech, physical or occupational therapists?  Yes, they will be summarized in the history section of our evaluation report.
  3. Do you obtain information from teachers? Teachers may be asked to complete paper and pencil surveys or respond to on-line questionnaires.
  4. Do you have parents complete questionnaires regarding the student’s behavior, social development and independent living skills? Yes, parents complete the same surveys and questionnaires as the teachers, which allow us to compare a child’s functioning at home to the child’s functioning at school.
  5. Do you interview the parents and obtain a developmental history?  Yes the first hour of the Initial Consultation is a parent/child conference with the latter portion of the session conducted while the child completes an activity in a separate room.  This allows the parents to discuss anything that they do not want to discuss in the presence of the child.
  6. Do you interview the child to determine if learning problems could be related to social or emotional problems?  Yes the child is interviewed and a series of questionnaires will be administered based on the results of the interview and the age of the child.

How do you determine if my child has Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?

See our webpage on AD/HD.

How do you diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder?

See our webpage on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

How long does it take to get results of the evaluation and the final report?

A feedback conference is typically conducted 2 weeks after the last test session.  You are provided a Summary of the Test scores in a table format (the Appendix section of the report) and a formal report follows within 3-4 weeks.

Do you share the results with schools or other health care providers?

Evaluation results cannot be shared with any source without your written authorization or Consent to Release information.  You will be provided 3 test reports, 1 for your records, 1 for the school and a third one for your physician or related service provider.

Can the results of the evaluation be used to determine if my child is eligible for special education services through the public school system?

Yes, you can share the test results with your child’s Student Support Team.  They will likely need to gather additional information since they are following the Response to Intervention Process of eligibility determination.  You will need to become your child’s advocate as the school system process can be lengthy.  Your private evaluation can help expedite the process.

Can test results be used to determine if my child is eligible for a 504 Accommodation Plan?

Yes, you should initiate a request for a 504 Accommodation Meeting which typically consists of the school psychologist, social worker, guidance counselor, administrator, teacher and related professionals such as a speech therapist or occupational therapist.  This plan can follow your child throughout school.

Can the results of the evaluation be used to qualify a student for accommodations when taking standardized entrance exams such as the ACT, SAT, MCAT, GRE, or GMAT?

Yes, the student would need to make special application for extended time versions of the test which have specific dates and locations that may differ from standard administration requirements. The referring school must maintain eligibility records to show that accommodations have been in place.

How recent do evaluations have to be in order for a student to apply for accommodations on standardized entrance exams?

This varies per test but generally an evaluation is considered current if it was conducted within the past year.  If a previous history has been already established, test recency can span up to 3 years.  Please consult web sites for specific information for the SAT and ACT committees.  Educational testing services are becoming more specific each year in the determination of who qualifies for accommodations.

How is the cost of the evaluation calculated?

Testing fees are billed at $150 per hour. A partial evaluation is approximately $1700 and a full evaluation averages $2200-$2300 depending on the age of the client.  Please refer to our Psychological Testing Payment Policy for a further description of the fees involved.

How do you arrange for payment?

You will be quoted a fee and specific tests will be discussed.  An initial deposit (50% of the total fee) confirms your appointment and begins the paperwork process that parents and teachers complete.  The remaining 50% of the bill is due on the day you and your child come for the Initial Intake appointment followed by the initial test session.  We can take a credit card for reserving your appointment time.

How are the test sessions conducted?

On the initial visit,, we meet for the first hour and then the parent can leave the child for testing.  We usually have a snack or lunchtime together and your pick-up time will be prearranged. A second test session is usually required for younger children while adolescents typically prefer to remain for most of the school day with an informal lunchtime with the examiner.  This helps us develop a better rapport and allows unstructured time for discussions and spontaneous conversation.