Learning Disability Evaluation (e.g., Dyslexia)

Learning Disability Evaluation (e.g., Dyslexia)

Dr. Andersen evaluates and identifies children with learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia).  

Is your child struggling academically?  If so, Dr. Andersen can identify why that is and what to do about it.  Depending on if the evaluation is occurring in an outpatient clinic or a school setting, the term referring to a learning disorder may differ slightly.  However, from Dr. Andersen’s perspective a Specific Learning Disability (SLD; a school-based term), Specific Learning Disorder and Dyslexia (both are DSM-V terms) are the same.

Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) is the term the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) uses to refer to a condition characterized by chronic learning difficulties in reading, writing, or math.  The identification of a Specific Learning Disorder requires that an individual has substantial and quantifiably below average academic achievement on standardized assessments (i.e., the tests Dr. Andersen administers).  There are other factors to it (e.g., duration must be at least 6 months, onset must have occurred within the school-age years, and learning difficulties are not better accounted for by something else [e.g., vision and/or hearing impairment, lack of English language proficiency, inadequate education, etc.), but that is the gist of it.

Dyslexia/Dysgraphia/Dyscalculia are alternative terms used to refer to learning difficulties in the DSM-V.  The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) defines dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin.  The evaluation for dyslexia includes assessing an individual’s phonological awareness, verbal (phonological memory), rapid automatized naming, visual spatial skills, executive functions, and reading.  The interested reader can refer to my blog post on assessing dyslexia.  Child with dyslexia certainly require specialized instruction from teachers with specific training to remediate the child’s weaknesses.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is the term used to identify a student with significant learning problems, thus requiring an Individualized Education Program (IEP) per the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).  The federal (IDEA) definition of SLD actually includes the term includes conditions such as dyslexia, among others.  Interestingly, ADE gives public educational agencies (PEAs) in Arizona the choice among three different methods for SLD identification.  In other words, a child may qualify for SLD in one district and then move to a neighboring district and no longer qualify.  Fortunately, Dr. Andersen has worked for three different school districts in Arizona and is familiar with virtually every SLD model any school district in Arizona may use.  Please note that school-based decisions are ultimately up to the school (and parent).  Dr. Andersen diagnoses Specific Learning Disorders and Dyslexia, but cannot unilaterally decide if a child qualifies for an IEP.  That is  school decision.  However, Dr. Andersen can give his impressions and input to help guide you and the school for educational programming purposes.

What Do You Receive with a Learning Disability/Dyslexia Evaluation?

Assessment

  • Interview with the parent(s)/guardian(s) (~1 hour)
  • IQ test (~1 hour) with an examination of your child’s cognitive functioning related to the academic area of concern
  • Academic testing in only one area (reading only or math only or writing only; ~1 hour)

Results

  • Verbal Feedback (~1 hour)
  • Written Report (~5 to 10 pages) with diagnostic impressions and practical recommendations

This evaluation is typically conducted over two sessions.  The first session is for the initial interview and direct face-to-face evaluation with you or your child.  The second session is to provide you with verbal feedback with practical recommendations, at which time you will receive a written report.