To properly diagnose a true learning disability, several other possible problems or causes must be ruled out. Among these exclusion factors are the following.
This can usually be ruled out if the child's IQ is 70 or higher on the Wechsler Scales or any other standardized measure of intelligence.
Primary emotional issues
Sometimes serious emotional issues, which lead to increasing levels of tension, can mirror learning disability symptoms. However, these are learning problems, not learning disabilities, if the primary causes are determined to be emotionally based. In such a case, the patterns of academic difficulties may be inconsistent, indicating the effects of ongoing anxiety and stress.
Problems in acuity
Any mechanical difficulties with the eye and ear must be ruled out, and should be done first, prior to any other evaluation. Screening can be done in school and, if need be, substantiated by a doctor's exam. If acuity is causing the distorted perception, then the child cannot be considered truly learning disabled. A child with LD has intact acuity, and the perceptual distortion occurs in the internal psychological processes involved in the learning process.
Poor teaching or inadequate schooling may cause severe learning problems that can be misinterpreted as a learning disability.
A student from a foreign country may experience learning problems as a result of confusion. If this is found to be the case, it is not a true learning disability. If this student were to be taught and tested in his native language, he would exhibit no learning problems. However, be careful here to determine whether cultural confusion is the only factor. Some students would (or did) have difficulty in their native land as well, which suggests there may be a learning difficulty at play.
If a child does not possess a serious emotional disturbance, but is simply unmotivated for school, this is not a true learning disability. However, note that lack of motivation can actually be a symptom of a true learning disability.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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