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What is a Specific Learning Disorder?

A specific learning disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect a child’s ability to acquire and apply reading, writing, and math skills.  Children with learning disorders usually have average intelligence but still are not able to acquire academic skills expected for their age, intellectual ability, experience, and education.

What are the types of Specific learning disorders?

Specific learning disorder groups together reading, writing, and math-related difficulties under a single umbrella.  When a child is diagnosed with a specific learning disorder, the particular areas of impairment will be designated in the diagnosis. 

Impairment in Reading includes difficulty in reading fluency, decoding, reading comprehension, recall, and spelling. Dyslexia is sometimes referred to as a language-based learning disability and can affect reading. Children with dyslexia have difficulty connecting letters they see on the page with the sounds they make. 

Impairment in Writing includes problems putting one’s thoughts on to paper, illegible handwriting, and poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Dysgraphia is a term used to describe difficulties handwriting and fine motor skills. 

Impairment in Math includes difficulty with number sense, memorizing math facts, math calculations, math reasoning, and math problem-solving.  Dyscalculia is a term used to describe difficulties in learning number-related concepts or using symbols and functions to perform math calculations. 

How do you treat a specific learning disorder?

While there is no cure for a specific learning disorder, there are many ways to improve reading, writing, and math skills for your child. Early intervention is important to help children overcome their challenges, improve self-esteem, and gain access to tools and accommodations that allow them to be successful in school and later in life. 

The first step is to have your child evaluated. The more you get to know your child’s specific learning disorder, the more you can do to help. Treatment usually includes both strengthening skills and developing a learning strategy that takes advantage of your child’s strengths.

How do you evaluate for a Specific Learning Disorder?

Comprehensive testing is required to diagnose a specific learning disorder.  The evaluation will examine how your child processes information and will assess a wide range of skills and abilities in reasoning, learning, memory, visual and auditory processing, listening comprehension, verbal expression, executive functioning skills, and academic abilities.

You will be provided with a written report that includes testing results, DSM-V or medical diagnosis, recommendations for eligibility for school services, recommendations for parents, and recommendations for services in the community.

How do I get help for my child?

Students with learning disorders are eligible for special education services. Based upon the results of the evaluation, effective interventions that involve intensive and individualized instruction will be developed to help improve your child's learning differences. 

What do I do if I think my child has a learning disorder?

Contact our office to schedule your initial diagnostic interview. We will determine if an evaluation would be appropriate for your child.  


(214) 774-4648

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