What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is defined as “a disorder in which one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language…that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do math calculation” (P.L. 94-192). The most common learning disability is a reading disability (dyslexia) followed by written language and math disabilities.
A learning disability is not the same as Attention Deficit Disorder. A person can have one or both of these problems. If you are unsure whether you or your child has a learning disability or ADD/ADHD or both, you can schedule an initial consultation with me. After learning more about the problem, I’ll advise you about the type of evaluation that seems most appropriate.
Evaluation for a Learning Disability
An evaluation for a learning disability involves a battery of tests that measure any or all of the following abilities:
- Intelligence (IQ)
- Reading, math, writing, spelling skills
- Processing Speed
- Fine Motor Skill
- Study, time management, planning and organizational skills (for adolescents and adults)
In addition, if during the course of testing, I learn or observe behavior that might suggest a problem other than, or in addition to a learning disability (e.g., an attentional dysfunction or emotional problem), I’ll inform you and I may suggest additional assessments.
Findings and recommendations are provided in a written report that is released to parents or adults. Evaluations are not released to schools unless written a request and written authorization is provided. The report includes:
- Specific test scores comparing the individual to standardized norms for his/her age
- Highlights of strengths and weaknesses
- Summary of overall findings
- Diagnosis of problem (if appropriate)
- Recommendations for educational accommodations in school if justified and appropriate according to the law. Schools will consider a psychologist’s recommendations, but they make their own decisions in compliance with various laws and guidelines regarding services they offer students
- Recommendations for appropriate interventions at home and from other professionals/resources
Fees for a learning disability evaluation begin at $1000 and depend on the type of disability suspected and age of child/adult. If an Attention Deficit Disorder is also being evaluated, there is an additional $200 fee. Fees are based on time for review of records, interviews, testing, test supplies, scoring and interpretation of data, report writing, and a follow-up session to discuss findings.
What distinguishes my evaluations from those of other psychologists?
My evaluation assesses areas of concern and does not assess areas that are not problems. Many other psychologists have a standard, one-size fits all evaluation with the same fee for everyone. These evaluations assess multiple areas (e.g. social/emotional/psychological functioning) that may not cause problems. My evaluations assess only what you describe to me over the phone as problem areas and you only pay for the assessment of these areas. If, in addition to a learning problem, you describe a behavioral problem, I will evaluate that. If you don’t describe that as a problem, I won’t evaluate that and you won’t pay for an evaluation of that. With this individualized approach, my fees tend to be lower than fees of other psychologists.
Why won’t my child’s school evaluate him/her ADD or a learning disability?
Under a new policy, it is rare for a school district to evaluate a student suspected of a learning disability. Read about this new policy and the services these students are likely to receive.
If the school evaluates my child, will this be a good evaluation?
The evaluation will be free, but school psychologists are not allowed to make diagnoses. An evaluation will not tell you if your child has a learning disability, dyslexia, ADHD, etc. The purpose of school evaluations is to provide in-school resources, placement or accommodations for students.
Evaluations for educational accommodations in high school, college, & professional school
An evaluation for these purposes is performed according to guidelines established by the Association on Higher Education & Disability to insure that the evaluation is accepted by schools, SAT/ACT Boards and colleges .
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