What Does it Really Mean When the School Says Your Struggling Student Doesn’t Have a Learning Disability?

I recently spoke with a parent who was confused and distraught because he sees his child struggling with anxiety and frustration over school work every day, yet the school testing did not show a learning disability.

Does that mean that the parent is crazy?  Over-protective?

Does it mean that the student really could do the work if he cared enough?

Does it mean that the school is lying so they don’t have to pay for special education services?

No, no, and no.

Patricia Lindamood’s research tells us that about 30 percent of the population have some degree of difficulty with a critical underlying auditory processing skill needed for reading and spelling.  That means that nearly 1 in 3 students in every classroom will have some difficulty with reading or spelling, and that’s related to just one of the many, many, underlying learning skills that need to be in place in order to learn comfortably and efficiently.

Current statistics on dyslexia indicate that one in five students, or 15-20% of the population, has a language-based learning disability of which dyslexia is the most common.

When testing is done at school, it is for the purpose of seeing if students fall within specific parameters that would “qualify” them to make use of public funds for special education services.  The discrepancy between the student’s intellectual potential and academic achievement has to be very, very large.  Only about 5 – 9% of students qualify as having a learning disability.

That means that at least 20 – 25% of struggling students don’t actually qualify as having a learning disability in spite of the challenges that their parents and teachers see.

At Stowell Learning Center, we do what is called a Functional Academic and Learning Skills Assessment.  Our goal is not to diagnose or “qualify” students, but rather to determine the root cause of the struggles with learning or attention that parents are reporting to us.

Brain research over the last 3 decades has shown that with intensive and targeted brain training, the brain can literally re-wire itself.  This is very encouraging.  It means that whether or not your child qualifies as having a learning disability, the challenge can be addressed and permanently changed by identifying and developing the weak underlying processing / learning skills that are at the root of the problem.

Jessica did not qualify for special education services at school, but she was failing History and barely passing several other classes.  As a failing high schooler, she wasn’t feeling very motivated since her efforts rarely paid off.  But the root of the problem wasn’t motivation.  It was weak auditory processing, working memory, and reasoning skills.  With specific cognitive (brain) training to develop those underlying skills, Jessica was able to follow the lectures in class, remember the information, and pull her grades up.  In fact, she ended up with the highest grade in the class in her most dreaded subject – History.

Parents:  The School isn’t lying to you if they say your child doesn’t qualify as having a learning disability.  But you are not wrong about what you see, either.  Struggles with learning and attention don’t have to have a formal diagnosis to play havoc with your child’s school performance and self-esteem.

But there are solutions!  Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by identifying and addressing the weak underlying processing/learning skills that are not supporting the student well enough.

Are you ready for a change?

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night.

For details and RSVP go to www.learningdisability.com

 

 

 

 

 

“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”

We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.

Jill Stowell, M.S.

Author:  At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities

Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers

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