Learning Disabilities Overview

A learning disability can be defined as the discrepancy between cognitive potential (usually ascertained by the results of an IQ test) and the scholastic results or “school output” of the child. Hence a learning disability is present when, despite a child’s intelligence he/she cannot put this onto paper when writing or spelling or doing maths, or is unable to read and comprehend what was read.

A learning disability is diagnosed by analysing the results of a comprehensive psychometric or neuropsychological assessment, as well as analysis of the child’s school history and current school functioning. Emotional assessment of the child is also a necessary consideration.

Based on the analysis of the results of the assessment, specific learning disabilities can be diagnosed which could include specific diagnoses of dyslexia, dyscalculia, non verbal learning disabilities. Generalised learning disabilities involving difficulties with auditory processing, visual processing, sensory integration or motor difficulties can also be diagnosed.

A thorough psychometric or neuropsychological assessment needs to be completed with a child that is experiencing difficulties. Analysis of these results gives valuable insight into the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of the child which not only pinpoints learning disabilities, but also defines the individualised educational needs from the “gifted” to the “intellectual challenged”.

After assessment, a comprehensive feedback session in which intervention strategies and recommendations are discussed with the parents and appropriate support services (including teachers and professionals networking in the field of learning disabilities) are indicated.