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Learning Disability Assessment

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coldsweat

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The following are questions for people who perform learning disability assessments or who are familiar about the practices for LD assessment in your area.

What is the standard battery that is used in your clinic/district? I know this varies depending on the referral concern, whether the student is an English language learner, and if they have a motor or sensory difficulties. But typically, what is given?

What model or theory is used to diagnose a learning disability in your clinic/district? For example, the DSM defines it as a discrepancy between an area of achievement and overall intelligence whereas others define it as a deficit in achievement consistent with a deficit in a specific cognitive ability.

Also, what are your opinions about the method of LD assessment in your district/clinic?

The reason why I ask is to obtain an idea of practices in other areas and contrast it with my experience. For example, I'm very interested in the cross-battery method developed by Dawn Flanagan, but it's not used in my area and I was wondering if it was popular elsewhere. I haven't learned about the neuropsychological assessment of learning disabilities but I'm also interested in how it works.

Personally, I don't like the LD assessment method in our school psychology clinic because in many cases, part of the battery includes a standard WISC-IV which has debatable construct validity (which is a significant problem for me given my interest in Flanagan's cross-battery approach). But I'm interested in hearing what others think.
 
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IT514

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At my current placement, we basically use a cognitive hypothesis testing approach. We start all batteries, regardless of the referral, with a WISC and a WIAT or WJ. After we have the info from that, parent and teacher interviews, and observations with the kid, we go further and add things like the CTOPP, dyslexia screening test, GORT (because the reading comprehension on the WJ and arguably the WIAT do not compare to real world demands in school...though I would argue they add relevant informantion nonetheless). The test of written expression is also used at times. We also add certain subtests from the NEPSY-II, a continuous performance test, Beery VMI, other questionnaires, etc.

The model or theory really changes a lot depending on which supervisor I am working with. I tend to align myself more with a neuropsychological approach because it how I've been trained in my program. Understanding the underlying neuroanatomy makes things simpler in my opinion and makes me better on cases whcih have a complex medical history and do not respond well to a response to intervention approach. Also, for example, I dont need a factor analysis to tell me that picture concepts on the WISC-IV isnt really a "perceptual" test because in terms of behavioral neurology its a verbally mediated, left hemisphere type of test that could not be more different than the anatomical demands of block design.

I dont know much about Flanagan other than that his/her name is listed on the white paper that the learning disabilities association published on
LD identification and intervention. Jack Fletchers book (2007 i think?) on LDs has also been very helpful.

In the area I'm in now, the public school system basically does a WISC and a WIAT, and re-tests after 3 years...which sucks. Fortunately I work mainly with private schools where we use the approach I outlined above.

I'd be curous to hear others thoughts on the topic as well.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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The model or theory really changes a lot depending on which supervisor I am working with. I tend to align myself more with a neuropsychological approach because it how I've been trained in my program. Understanding the underlying neuroanatomy makes things simpler in my opinion and makes me better on cases whcih have a complex medical history and do not respond well to a response to intervention approach.

This is a major limitation within many school systems because they do not have access to (and/or want to pay for) a neuropsychologist. I worked with young children and adolescents my first few years of training, though I didn't realize how much I was missing because I didn't have a solid foundation in neuroanatomy.

In the area I'm in now, the public school system basically does a WISC and a WIAT, and re-tests after 3 years...which sucks. Fortunately I work mainly with private schools where we use the approach I outlined above.

I'd be curous to hear others thoughts on the topic as well.

Ugh. That would frustrate the heck out of me. I did a year in a school system, though I had free reign to give whatever assessments I wanted. The biggest issue I had to avoid was misinterpretation of my data, as everyone seemed to think they were an expert on psych/cog/neuro assessment. I have a much greater respect for school psychologists after that rotation, as there never seemed enough time in the day to do everything I wanted, and most everyone had an opinion about everything.
 

aagman01

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LD is assessed differently in different states. Some states use specific discrepancy formulas, others have less stringent criteria (e.g. just that there is some sort of discrepancy between cognitive ability and actual ability in a specific domain), and still other states are switching over to an RTI approach. In the district I did practicum in a few years ago, mainly cognitive and academic assessment were conducted, along with other sources of data (observations, FBA, etc.), and basic neuros (NEPSY, WRAML). Practices are very dependent on where you work, though.
FYI....you don't diagnose in the schools.....you classify :laugh:






The following are questions for people who perform learning disability assessments or who are familiar about the practices for LD assessment in your area.

What is the standard battery that is used in your clinic/district? I know this varies depending on the referral concern, whether the student is an English language learner, and if they have a motor or sensory difficulties. But typically, what is given?

What model or theory is used to diagnose a learning disability in your clinic/district? For example, the DSM defines it as a discrepancy between an area of achievement and overall intelligence whereas others define it as a deficit in achievement consistent with a deficit in a specific cognitive ability.

Also, what are your opinions about the method of LD assessment in your district/clinic?

The reason why I ask is to obtain an idea of practices in other areas and contrast it with my experience. For example, I'm very interested in the cross-battery method developed by Dawn Flanagan, but it's not used in my area and I was wondering if it was popular elsewhere. I haven't learned about the neuropsychological assessment of learning disabilities but I'm also interested in how it works.

Personally, I don't like the LD assessment method in our school psychology clinic because in many cases, part of the battery includes a standard WISC-IV which has debatable construct validity (which is a significant problem for me given my interest in Flanagan's cross-battery approach). But I'm interested in hearing what others think.
 
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