Diagnosing a Learning Disability
A language delay is often the first sign of a language-based learning disability. Unlike a language delay, though, a language-based learning disability is not often diagnosed until a child has been in school for at least two years. A child with a learning disability does not lack intelligence. Rather, many children with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence, but they learn differently.
Language-based learning disabilities are difficulties with age-appropriate and grade-level reading, spelling, and/or writing. Other difficulties and problems include:
- Expressing ideas clearly;
- Understanding questions and following directions;
- Connecting letters and sounds;
- Remembering and concentrating;
- Repeating or copying information;
- Learning the alphabet;
- Understanding number concepts;
- Understanding that numerals represent quantities;
- Forming letters or remember which letters stand for which sounds;
- Reading grade-level text;
- Understanding what she reads;
- Mixing up the order of letters in words while writing;
- Mixing up the order of numbers in math calculations;
- Telling time, and;
- Controlling behavior.
An SLP can evaluate spoken and/or written language for children who may have a language-based learning disability. The SLP will use diagnostic methods for preschool children and different tests for older children. For all children, the SLP will provide a complete language evaluation, including articulation and executive function, or the ability to plan, organize, and pay attention to details. This evaluation will provide a diagnosis of a learning disability versus language delay.
If a learning disability is diagnosed, the SLP is one member of a team of teachers, special educators, and others to develop strategies and techniques for learning in the classroom. To accommodate a child’s individual comprehension needs, for instance, the SLP may work with the teacher in presenting new material to her. The SLP may also assist the child in planning and organizing written assignments.