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Specific Learning Disorder Testing

Do you feel like you or your child may have an undiagnosed learning disorder?

Learning disorders are estimated to occur in up to 15% of school-aged children, and because these are considered a “neurodevelopmental disorder,” this means that they are lifelong and can impact people throughout their childhood into adulthood. The three most common forms of learning disorders are related to problems with reading (dyslexia), problems with writing (dysgraphia) and problems with mathematics (dyscalculia). When it is determined that someone meets criteria for a specific learning disorder (i.e., dyslexia, dysgraphia and/or dyscalculia), they may have the opportunity to access different resources and supports to assist in their learning and overall functioning in various areas of their life. The sooner the detection, the sooner you or child can receive remediation to reduce further issues later on.


What are the common warning signs me or my child as a learning difference?

A specific learning disorder in reading (i.e., dyslexia) is the most common learning disorder.

Common warning signs of dyslexia, which often begin in preschool and kindergarten, include:

  • Have trouble writing clearly (make errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, messy handwriting).

  • Take a long time to finish their reading (slower reading rate), other homework or complete tests.

  • They avoid reading aloud.

  • Use the wrong words -- like "furnish" instead of "finish" or "lotion" for "ocean".

  • Can't remember the names of words, so they might say "um" or "uh" a lot.

  • Problems taking notes or copying things down.

  • Struggle with doing math, learning another language or remembering numbers such as passwords or pin numbers.

  • Trouble staying organized and meeting deadlines.

  • Difficulty reading and pronouncing new words.

  • Have problems learning the connection between letters and sounds.

  • Difficulty rhyming.

  • Poor comprehension and retention of material read.

  • Difficulty interpreting charts, graphs, scientific symbols.

  • Difficulty with complex syntax on objective tests.

  • Display resistance to reading activities.


Common warning signs of a specific learning disorder in mathematics (i.e., dyscalculia):

  • Have difficulty doing and completing basic math operations (i.e., addition, subtraction, is 9 more than 6, etc.).

  • Have difficulty aligning problems, number reversals, confusion of symbols.

  • Struggle reading and comprehending math word problems.

  • Have difficulty understanding concepts of time and money.

  • Have difficulty understanding estimating things.

  • Struggle to link a number (1) to its corresponding word (one).

  • Have difficulty understanding fractions.

  • Have difficulty understanding graphs and charts (visual-spatial concepts).

  • Problems with counting or losing track while counting (i.e., money or making change).

  • Difficulty remember phone numbers or ZIP codes.

  • Struggle to tell time or read clocks.

  • Might have a lot of anxiety about numbers/math (i.e., panic at the thought of math homework).

  • Often count on their fingers longer than typical compared to their peers.

  • Have poor strategies for monitoring errors in their work.


Common warning signs of a specific learning disorder in written expression (i.e., dysgraphia):

  • Have unclear, irregular, or inconsistent handwriting, often with different slants, shapes, upper- and lower-case letters, and cursive and print styles.

  • Write or copy things slowly.

  • Display cramped grip, which may lead to a sore hand

  • Difficulty spacing things out on paper or within margins (poor spatial planning).

  • Frequent erasing.

  • Inconsistency in letter and word spacing.

  • Poor spelling, including unfinished words or missing words or letters.

  • Unusual wrist, body, or paper position while writing.

  • Problems in organization and sequencing of ideas.

  • Poor sentence structure.

  • Incorrect grammar.

  • Frequent and inconsistent spelling errors.

  • Difficulty taking notes.

  • Poor letter formation, capitalization, spacing, and punctuation.

  • Inadequate strategies for monitoring written work.


In order to be diagnosed with a specific learning disorder, a person must meet four criteria.

  1. Have difficulties in at least one of the following areas for at least six months despite targeted help:

    • Difficulty reading (e.g., inaccurate, slow and only with much effort).

      1. Including difficulty pronouncing and/or sounding out words, rhyming words, learning the connection between letters and sounds, reversing letters, and/or resistance to reading.

    • Difficulty understanding the meaning of what they have read.

    • Difficulty with spelling.

    • Difficulty with written expression (e.g., problems with grammar, punctuation or organization, messy handwriting).

    • Difficulty understanding number concepts, number facts or calculation.

    • Difficulty with mathematical reasoning (e.g., applying math concepts or solving math problems).

  2. Have academic skills that are substantially below what is expected for the person’s age and cause problems in school, work, or everyday activities.

  3. The difficulties usually start during childhood; however, some people do not experience significant problems until later in life when academics (i.e., college), work and/or typically daily demands are greater.

  4. Learning difficulties are not due to other conditions, such as intellectual disability, vision or hearing problems, a neurological condition (e.g., pediatric stroke), adverse conditions such as economic or environmental disadvantage, lack of instruction, or difficulties speaking/understanding the language.


How do you assess for a learning disorder?

At Greenleaf Psychology, a diagnosis is made through a combination of direct observation, clinical interviews, and targeted testing assessment both neuropsychological functioning and academic functioning. We understand that a specific learning disorder often co-occurs with other mental and medical health conditions like ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety, and depression, and we believe that assessment of learning disorders is best done when we can evaluate both neuropsychological and academic functioning. At Greenleaf Psychology, we require both a full neuropsychological evaluation be completed alongside the academic evaluation. We do this because we believe using direct information from the brain and other neuropsychological data helps us fully understand the persons academic and overall functioning.


Our academic testing battery uses the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement (4th edition) and the Feifer Assessments of Reading, Writing and Math. Most schools require a broad reading score to compare with the student’s IQ or age/grade, which is why a traditional achievement test like the WJ-IV is needed. This allows us to see how reading is going and then Fefier Assessments help us understand what is driving the reading, writing and/or mathematics problem. These two measures work together and when used alongside an interview regarding the persons learning history and our NPE, this allows us to look at you or your child holistically: we look at the brain, we look at neuropsychological functioning and we look at their academic abilities. This approach allows us to see two things:


Where you or your child is performing compared to their peers


Why you or your child is performing the way that they are based on the underlying neuropsychological processes.


To fully answer both questions when there are any suspected learning issues, we need the additional information from the academic testing alongside our NPE to be sure regarding the presence or absence of a learning disorder. This allows us to give you more accurate recommendations for treatment and interventions in the home, schools, universities, and workplaces. In the event there is not an underlying learning disorder, the testing allows us to fully understand you or your child’s personal strengths and weaknesses, and you will still receive individual recommendations to help with you or your child’s performance and ability to meet future goals.


What will I receive at the end of the evaluation process?

In addition to a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, each academic evaluation report includes specifically selected recommendations tailored to the person presentation, which may include classroom, workplace and/or testing accommodations, general reading, writing and/or mathematics considerations, specific reading, writing, or mathematic intervention program recommendations, and specific learning strategies.


Our academic evaluation when used alongside the neuropsychological evaluation at Greenleaf Psychology will be sufficient for schools, universities, employers, and testing centers for accommodations as applicable.


How do I schedule an academic evaluation?


If you would like to be evaluated for a learning disorder at Greenleaf Psychology, you will first have a full neuropsychological evaluation and then you will have separate testing appointment dedicated to learning disorder assessment with one of our Licensed Psychologist who specializes in psychological and educational assessment. Each of these evaluations can be scheduled at the same time. You will then receive a separate report with the academic testing results that will integrate the data from the full neuropsychological evaluation as well as individualized recommendations that will be tailored to you, and all based on the data from both evaluations. 


If you choose to undergo both academic testing and neuropsychological testing at the same time, we will be able to offer you preferential scheduling.


*If you have undergone a full neuropsychological assessment within one year, you are eligible to add on this service without an additional neuropsychological evaluation.


The fee for our academic evaluation is $1800. We do not to accept insurance for academic testing. Our office can help you submit a claim to insurance for possible reimbursement. It should be noted that most insurances do not reimburse for learning disorder testing because they believe it is an education issue rather than a medical issue.

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