The LDA (Learning Disabilities Association of America) defines a learning disability, or a learning disorder, as a neurologically based processing problem. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math. They can also interfere with higher-level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short-term memory and attention. An assessment that is designed specifically to assess for one of more learning disorders is guided by the use of measures to assess your child’s cognitive baseline or cognitive potential and the administration of achievement tests, as standardized measures of previously learned knowledge evaluate and measure areas of strength and weakness in various academic areas. A comprehensive evaluation, however, extends beyond an understanding of discrepancy between a child’s cognitive potential and predicted performance in one or more academic domains to include assessments of related abilities (e.g., language measures can be used to assess how language development affects development of literacy, and measures of motor output can help determine how fine motor developmental and handwriting skills affects a child’s written expression). A thorough learning disability evaluation will therefore help you to understand if indeed your child meets criteria for a specific learning disorder, and if so, what are the underlying areas that need to be targeted in order to close the gap between your child’s cognitive potential and achievement.
Dyslexia is a neurologically based learning disability that is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities. A very thorough caregiver interview, designed to target an understanding of genetic vulnerability and other risk factors and early signs of dyslexia is conducted. Schoolwork samples and school-administered measures of academic proficiency are reviewed. Data from your child’s teachers may be collected. The full day evaluation of your child is based on administration of very specific tests and measures to assess the consistency of your child’s literacy profile with a diagnosis of Dyslexia or other language based learning disability.