When undetected and untreated, conditions that affect learning, such as ADHD and dyslexia, can impair functioning and create distress. A thorough psychoeducational assessment can clarify diagnosis, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and provide specific recommendations to address problem areas. An assessment can also help to measure progress and provide documentation for services and accommodations where appropriate.
Learning Disabilities (LD)
Specific Learning Disorders can include difficulties with reading and language (dyslexia), written expression (dysgraphia), and/or mathematics (dyscalculia). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 7.6% of children have a learning disorder of some kind. Dyslexia is the most common type of learning disability. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2.4 million students are diagnosed with LD and receive special education services in the US.
Some Signs of LD include:
• Difficulty with, dislike of, or reluctance to read
• Extremely slow work pace
• Difficulty picking up new concepts
• Odd pencil/pen grasp
• Low achievement in comparison to ability
• Difficulty with, dislike of, or reluctance to go to school
• Poor spelling
• Leaving out words or letters in writing
• Mispronouncing words
• Poor test performance
• Confusing right and left
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
The CDC estimates that 6.69% of children in the US suffer from ADHD. It may be one of the most common childhood mental disorders. The symptoms of ADHD usually begin before age 12, can impair functioning at school, at home, and at work, and often persist into adulthood.
Some Signs of ADHD include:
• Fidgeting or squirming
• Excessive activity or feelings of restlessness
• Frequent interrupting
• Difficulty awaiting turn
• Inconsistent work or school performance
• Easily distracted
• Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
• Easily bored or frustrated
• Poor time management
In addition to learning disorders and ADHD, other conditions such as intellectual disabilities, motor skills disorders, communication disorders, Autism, disruptive behavior disorders, and brain injury can hinder learning and lead to poor academic performance.
How Are Learning Differences Assessed?
At Ochester Psychological Services, LLC a psychoeducational evaluation begins with an Initial Assessment. This is a clinical interview with the client and/or guardian. In addition, the client and/or guardian may complete some forms and academic and treatment records will be reviewed. By the end of the Initial Assessment, a plan will be developed to address the client’s needs. Most clients will be administered an IQ test to determine overall cognitive abilities and an achievement test to determine current level of academic skills. Measures of effort and forthrightness may also be included. Other specialized tests may be administered as needed to provide more detailed information about specific skills in the domains of reading, writing, math, language, memory, motor skills, executive functioning and/or attention. There may be questionnaires to be filled out by teachers or significant others to supplement testing data. A report will be generated integrating data from the interview, records, and the results of the interview, testing, and questionnaires. A feedback session is then scheduled to explain the results and recommendations and to answer any questions.
How Can Assessment Help?
When undetected and untreated, conditions that impair learning can result in reduced school and work performance, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, and impaired social relationships. A well planned and executed psychoeducational assessment can pinpoint strengths and weaknesses and provide specific recommendations to address problem areas. In addition, a current (within three years) psychoeducational evaluation may be needed to qualify for work, school, or testing accommodations. It is important to detect conditions that may impair learning as early as possible, but even when detected later in life, appropriate treatment and accommodations can improve work and school performance as well as boost self-esteem and social functioning.
Preparing for a Learning Disability or ADHD Assessment
When preparing for a learning disability or ADHD assessment, it is important to begin gathering documentation to bring to your Initial Assessment appointment. Helpful documents include school records, IEPs, work samples, relevant medical records, and previous assessment records. It will also be important to be prepared to answer questions about developmental milestones and family history. Records are an important source of information which help determine diagnosis and recommendations.
If you suspect you or your child suffers from a condition that impacts learning, please schedule an initial assessment with Dr. Ochester using her secure, HIPAA compliant online scheduling system so you can discuss your concerns and determine whether an evaluation is the appropriate next step.
- Learning Disabilities Association of America: https://ldaamerica.org/
- International Dyslexia Association: https://dyslexiaida.org/
- CHADD – the national resource on ADHD http://www.chadd.org/
- All Kinds of Minds – advancing the understanding and use of the science of learning in classrooms and schools: http://www.allkindsofminds.org/