Specific Learning Disorders in Children

Learning disorders are some of the most common neurodevelopmental LearningDisorders-Main-Landscapeconditions that children face. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the guidebook on classification of diagnoses published by the American Psychiatric Association indicated that the prevalence of specific learning disorders across academic domains of reading, mathematics, and written expression is between 5%-15% in school aged children.

There is significant discussion both in the literature, and among clinicians and researchers, regarding how to appropriately classify and subsequently diagnose a specific learning disorder. Traditionally, it was assumed that a specific learning disorder existed when there was a significant discrepancy between a child’s cognitive ability and achievement in reading, mathematics, or written expression. However, within the US, changes have occurred over the past decade regarding the criteria used for determining a specific learning disorder which is now based on a multi-tier process involving early identification and intervention and the child’s response to the intervention.

Where children might exhibit learning disorders:

According to the DSM-5, there are three specifications of learning disorders that children might exhibit: Specific Learning Disorder With Impairment in Reading, Specific Learning Disorder With Impairment in Written Expression, and Specific Learning Disorder with Impairment in Mathematics. It is quite common for children to exhibit multiple learning disorders.

Potential related deficits:

There are definite concerns with a child’s social, emotional, and behavioral regulation if they have a documented learning disorder. Prior studies have indicated that up to 75% of children with a diagnosed learning disorder demonstrate significant social skill deficits expressed by peer rejection and social isolation.

What can be done:

It is our strong recommendation that in order to most effectively address a child’s specific learning disorder, it is important that the child undergo a comprehensive evaluation in order to effectively classify and make sense of the patterns of difficulty that the child presents with as well as to rule out additional existing factors of concern, and to best determine what specific interventions are warranted. Recommended interventions are specifically based on the area of weakness a child exhibits both across the testing as well as within the child’s academic environment.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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