~ LEARNING DISABILITIES ~
Learning disabilities, learning problems, special learning disorders are all terms to basically describe a student with weak cognitive skills which lead to problems in learning. Depending on which cognitive skill or skills are weak, the challenge manifests in different areas of learning- poor attention, poor reader, poor speller, poor listener, slow worker, can’t memorize math facts ….
But these definitions too often lead to students not getting the help they need or getting the wrong kind of help.
A mistaken understanding of intelligence and achievement testing leads to the misunderstanding of the real issue at hand.
Mistaken Understanding of Intelligence and Achievement Testing
A child is normally classified as LD if his achievement test scores fall approximately two years below the IQ scores. The assumption is that the child has the mental skills needed but performance is lacking. But this is a false assumption that can be devastating!
IQ is an average of numerous subtests that measure different mental skills required for learning success. Some of these subtests may be high and others low. Looking at the average only will mask the low skills that may be responsible for the poor performance.
For example, if your child scored low on a phonemic awareness subtest (a necessary skill for reading and spelling) but high on all the others, his IQ would be considered normal or above. You would be told that because your child has the potential (IQ) he will need either more motivation or additional instruction while completely ignoring the cause of his difficulty - poor phonemic awareness!
The cause will go untreated, and the struggles will continue.
Not ensuring that your child has the adequate underlying learning tools for learning is like asking someone to build a house today with nothing other than a hammer, handsaw, and a screwdriver.