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What Are the Different Methods of Testing for a Learning Disability?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2016
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One method of testing for a learning disability is data collection, which can be done by observing the child in certain environments, interviewing the parent and the child, and obtaining school records and other relevant documents. Another method would involve having a child answer tests such as those that measure his intelligent and emotional quotients (IQ and EQ) and other standardized tests specifically created to determine a learning disability. Testing for a learning disability often consists of different testing methods to properly confirm whether or not the child has a learning disability. According to the US Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), a single test or assessment should not be the only criterion for determining a child’s learning disability; a combination of several tests should be used.

Testing for a learning disability is often requested when a parent observes his child having difficulty in reading, concentrating, or solving math problems. This observation is already a kind of data collection, but a more systematic process is needed to correctly diagnose a learning disability, and the parent can proceed to talking with the child’s teachers and seek child specialists. Previous school records can be examined to see if there are subjects where the child repeatedly fails or receives lower grades. Teachers might adjust their teaching methods when directly interacting with the child, but if signs of severe learning difficulties are still evident, then a formal assessment can be carried out. Child psychiatrists may also interview the child, with or without the parent.

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In the next process of testing for a learning disability, tests that measure the child’s skills and cognitive development are often given not only to determine if the child has a learning disability, but also the type and the severity if he indeed has a learning disability. Aside from evaluating a child’s IQ and EQ, some tests can also be given to assess his cognitive and motor skills, both of which are important in the learning process. Some tests may be in written form; others may be in a performance style where the child is asked to do something. Standardized tests are also given, but results are subject to validation to confirm the diagnosis. US IDEA also states that all tests and materials used in the assessment process should be written in the child’s native language.

These different methods of testing for a learning disability should be conducted under the supervision of a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. Under the US IDEA, school districts are required to give a free assessment to a child, but some parents choose to seek private professionals and evaluators for a more thorough diagnosis. Children and adults may go through slightly similar or different methods of testing for a learning disability based on their cognitive development.

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