Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Learning Disabilities - Do I Have One?

Learning Disabilities - Do I Have One?

Many people are confused about learning disabilities. How do I know if I have one? Can I have a disability as an adult that was never noticed when I was a child? Where can I get an LD diagnosis?

Someone who is LD usually has average to above average intelligence, but for some reason, that person is not able to perform academically at the level indicated by the IQ. Many times testing will reveal some data that are above ability and some data that are considerably lower than the person's ability. Often the individual struggles with reading, writing, or math. Spelling can be a challenge. Sometimes getting thoughts on paper can be a struggle.

For the current definition for children in K-12, individuals can go to the Department of Education website (see link below) and look closely at the complete Federal guidelines for the latest information on the Identification of Specific Learning Disabilities (IDEA). IDEA no longer requires a significant discrepancy between ability and achievement for children in the K-12 system, but it looks more closely at the child's struggle academically and the child's Response to Intervention (RTI) in eight different areas - oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skills, reading fluency skills, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, and mathematics problem solving. You should also explore your state and school district's specific guidelines and procedures for assessing a learning disability.

Sometimes an adult can have a disability that was never noticed as a child. I once asked high school students when they first found out about their disability. Several of them were identified when they were young children. They were tested early and placed in special education classes when they were in kindergarten or first grade. Another group of students were identified around fourth grade, and several others were identified around seventh or eighth grade.

The work in the classroom really changes at those grade levels. When children reach each of those academic levels, they are expected to produce a larger body of work that involves many more complex reading, writing, and math skills. Because someone with a learning disability usually has an average or above average IQ, that individual finds ways around the complexities of the class work. Attending college brings a new level of work to adults that often frustrates people and brings back old challenges and issues that were long forgotten!

It is very possible for individuals to have been living with a learning disability all of their life without any type of formal diagnosis. Those who suspect a learning disability will need to obtain a diagnosis through a Psychological Evaluation. The personnel at your local high school or college Disabilities Office should be able to suggest a professional who can discuss current assessment guidelines and testing resources.

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