Does my child have a Specific Learning Disorder? (Part 2)

Does my child have a Specific Learning Disorder? (Part 2)

In Part 1, it was acknowledged that a Specific Learning Disorder is considered to be a type of neurodevelopmental disorder that negatively affects a child’s ability to learn.

Parents often state that there child may mix up letters and/or jumble their sentences. Perhaps they have trouble with numbers, time, symbols or maths. For instance, they may often confuse addition for subtraction.

A psychoeducational assessment administered in an educational psychology clinic can assist in determining if these symptoms are as a consequence of a Specific Language Disorder or an alternative developmental/psychological condition.

Prior to a psychoeducational assessment being completed, it is appropriate to determine if there are any medical factors that may affect your child’s learning. For instance, clarify that they do not have any eyesight or hearing problems which may negatively affect their learning potential.

Following determination that there are no significant medical conditions that are affecting learning, a psychoeducational assessment can evaluate a number of reasons behind your child’s poor reading, spelling, writing, reading comprehension or maths ability.

For example, your child may have difficulties with reading, spelling, writing or maths as a consequence of having difficulties with understanding language. If a child suffers from a language disorder, often parents report, “If I do not say something a certain way, they do not understand me”. A psychoeducational assessment will often demonstrate that a child in this situation has a significantly weaker verbal intelligence than practical intelligence.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – 5th Edition, which I use within my practice, has the following scales: Verbal Comprehension (Verbal IQ) and Visual Spatial, Fluid Reasoning (Practical IQ). However, it is important to understand that some language knowledge is also required for completion of the practical measures.

If your child demonstrates these strengths and weaknesses on intelligence testing with impaired academic performance, a referral to a speech pathologist would be necessary to determine if a language disorder is present.

Alternatively, your child may suffer from poor academic performance as a consequence of having overall difficulties in functioning, such as intellectual disability.

A learning difficulties assessment can be useful in identifying working memory difficulties (ability to hold and manipulate information in your mind) or a lower processing speed (how fast your child can work with information) which can contribute to learning difficulties that your child may be experiencing.


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