Assessments for learning disabilities: How to identify an LD
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a condition that can either prevent or hinder someone from learning basic and life skills. It is a disorder in the basic psychological processes involved in acquiring and using information through language, both written and spoken, and may show up as an inability to think, read, write, spell or listen.
The difficulties faced by a child with a learning disability
A child with a learning disability may face difficulties beyond basic and life skills. The child may experience feelings of frustration, anger, anxiety, shame and low self-esteem brought on by the inability to achieve at school at the same rate as peers. Research has shown that:
- Those with learning disabilities may experience an increased level of anxiety
- Individuals with learning disabilities may be at greater danger for depression
- People with learning disabilities experience higher levels of loneliness
- Those with learning disabilities may have a lower level of self-esteem
- Individuals with learning disabilities are at greater threat for substance abuse
- People with learning disabilities may be at greater risk for juvenile delinquency (though there is some debate here as to how much of this may be led by more able peers)
Potential symptoms of learning disabilities
Below is a list of the potential symptoms of a learning disability. Be aware that not everyone will have all of these symptoms. Also, some symptoms are more common than others, and all people have at least two or three of these problems to some degree. The number of symptoms seen in a particular child is not an indication of whether the disability is mild or severe.
- Poor performance on tests
- Difficulty discriminating size, shape, color
- Difficulty with concepts of time
- General awkwardness
- Confusion when faced with instructions
- Difficulty with problem solving
- Poor short- and long-term memory
- Impulsive behavior
- Low tolerance for frustration
- Excessive movement during sleep
- Over-excitability during group play
- Poor social judgment
- Inappropriate, unselective and often excessive displays of affection
- Inappropriate behavior for situation
There are hundreds of books dedicated to learning disabilities. These are a few of the recommended titles:
- A Good Start in Life: Understanding Your Child's Brain and Behavior from Birth to Age 6 by Norbert Herschkowitz and Elinore Chapman Herschkowitz
- A Mind At a Time by Dr. Mel Levine. "Different minds learn differently," writes Dr. Levine, one of the best-known learning experts and pediatricians in America today.
- A Parent's Guide to Special Education by Linda Wilmshurst and Alan W. Brue
There are also numerous resources online:
- www.ldonline.org. LD OnLine is one of the largest online reference points for information on learning disabilities.
- www.ldworldwide.org. This site is designed to provide current information for kids, teens, young adults and adults with learning disabilities (LD).
- www.mencap.org.uk. Mencap is a UK charity that campaigns for equal rights for children and adults with learning disabilities.