Learning Disabilities

1Learning disabilities include many types of difficulties in which students are struggling to learn. They can include reading difficulties (Dyslexia), math difficulties (Dyscalculia), and/or writing difficulties (Dysgraphia), exclusively or in combination. Many children with specific learning disorders (SLD) such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia are very bright, yet struggle with schoolwork. Homework can be extremely frustrating for both the student and parent. Some children with reading difficulties may process information more slowly than their peers. This may be related to recent brain research explaining how individuals with reading difficulties may use a more distributed yet less efficient route during reading tasks, thereby slowing down their reading efforts, (van der Mark et al., 2011).

Children and adolescents who are struggling to learn need comprehensive assessment to determine their areas of strength and weakness and provide recommendations for treatment to help them succeed in their school, home, and social environments. Results from the assessment are used to create Individual Education Plans (IEP) or 504 plans, if applicable, with school personnel. 

StepStone assessments for students with learning difficulties include the areas of general cognitive and information processing (i.e. intellectual abilities), academic functioning, as well as specialized academic testing in their area of weakness. Results of these specialized academic assessments for Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia are compared to see how well the student is performing given his or her areas of cognitive strength and weakness. Testing for attention, language and/or memory difficulties can also be completed during this process, depending on specific areas of struggle. Students with learning or attention difficulties often experience additional emotional and/or behavioral difficulties related to the amount of struggle they are experiencing. Assessment measures are therefore completed by the parent, teacher, and student to assess any areas of emotional or behavioral difficulty

During these assessment sessions, students will sit at a table with the clinician while they complete each activity. They will use an iPad, will write in various workbooks, and answer questions that the clinician may ask. Some of the activities are challenging while others are easier. Many students find most of the activities to be enjoyable. Breaks are taken whenever necessary. Clinicians strive to ensure the process is a positive experience for the student.

van der Mark, S., Klaver, P., Bucher, K., Maurer, U., Schulz, E., Brem, S., . . . Brandeis, D. (2011). The left occipitotemporal system in reading: Disruption of focal fMRI connectivity to left inferior frontal and inferior parietal language areas in children with dyslexia. NeuroImage, 54, 2426-2436. doi

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash 

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