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School-age children, and even teenagers, have a limited range of behaviors available to let the adults in their lives know that something is wrong.  AD/HD, anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties often look the same behaviorally.  A full evaluation identifies the underlying issues causing the distress so that effective interventions can be implemented.

Phone: 650-344-9782

jessica@init4kids.com

What is a learning disability?

All children have strengths and weaknesses.  However, when the weakness is dramatic, as compared to the child’s other abilities and achievement, the student is said to have a learning disability.  There are 2 definitions of learning disabilities that are not completely consistent.  A clinical diagnosis must include a significant discrepancy between a child's cognitive abilities (typically an IQ score) and his or her academic achievement in reading, writing, and/or math.  However, that is not always adequate for a child to qualify for services at a public school.  To be diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability and therefore qualify for Special Education services, a student needs to be performing below grade level, which is typically interpreted at 2 grade levels behind and poor grades and/or low scores on state-wide testing.  And, for schools, a processing deficit (such as auditory, visual, or attention abilities) must be identified as the cause of the discrepancy.

If you have reason to have your child tutored, you have reason to wonder about a learning disability.  Propping kids up by tutoring them regularly, without determining the underlying cognitive or academic weakness or understanding the extent of the limitation, helps a child complete schoolwork, but seldom provides the intervention necessary to teach the child critical skills that are lagging.  A full evaluation is necessary to determine which skills and knowledge are proving troublesome and how to intervene to build proficiency in those areas. 

The consequences of undiagnosed, and untreated, learning disabilities are upsetting for everyone.  Parents often feel that the child is not putting in adequate effort.  Teachers often comment on inappropriate behaviors in the classroom.  But most importantly, the child struggles tremendously and often acts out or withdraws.  At the same time, the student is less available to learn in all subjects, often distracted by thoughts of inadequacy.  These are the children that believe they are “stupid” and their self-esteem plummets.  Many of the negative feelings can be avoided or turned once there is a clear understanding of the child’s true strengths and weaknesses.  Thorough, appropriate recommendations regarding cognitive, academic, and behavioral interventions are key to brightening the future for these children.