Should My Child Get a Learning Disability Test?
If your child has consistently struggled in school, particularly if he or she often does well in some subjects but has difficulties in other subjects, it is possible that a learning disability (LD) is the culprit. Many children, particularly very bright children, are able to compensate for learning disorders for a period of time. In these cases, people can often get all the way through high school or even into college without their underlying learning challenge being recognized. Because there are several different types of specific learning disabilities, the signs of learning challenge can be quite varied. It’s important to get a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation to get the right diagnosis.
In some children, the warning signs of an learning disorder (LD) look very much like ADHD. For example, having a short attention span, having trouble completing or following directions, becoming easily distracted, and trouble with organization. Quite often, ADHD and learning challenges occur together. Unfortunately, ADHD treatment does nothing to help remediate the deficits associated with specific learning disabilities, nonverbal learning disorders, and more. So, if your child was previously diagnosed with ADHD and medication does not seem to be helping his or her school performance substantially, you may wish to consider getting learning disability testing to look more closely at your child’s symptoms.
In other children, the warnings signs are often subtle or are deemed to be “developmentally appropriate.” In gifted children in particular, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and other learning challenges can be masked for a long time. However, if you or your child experience any of the following issues, a learning disorder evaluation should be considered:
- Discrepancy between abilities outside of learning environment and performance in classes. For example, a child with an advanced vocabulary who shows deep understanding of concepts, but is unable to memorize facts.
- Delayed speech development
- Trouble sounding out words, particularly when this persists into upper elementary school or middle school
- Missing words or skipping lines when reading – needing to re-read passages
- Trouble memorizing basic math facts (e.g. multiplication tables)
- Difficulty telling the time or learning right from left
- Resistance to a particular subject – e.g. a child who is bright and capable, but resists reading, says “I hate writing,” or has unusual difficulty grasping certain subjects.
- Reading at an advanced level, but failing spelling tests.