Questions About Learning Disabilities

From Tutoring to Time-Outs, Real Questions from Real People

You’ve noticed by now that learning disabilities can be very specific to the individual. While there are some common traits that allow them to be classified, not every child with the same learning disability behaves in exactly the same way.

We’ve given our website visitors the chance to tap into our experience and expertise by asking questions about learning disabilities on our website. Here are their real questions and our answers.

We welcome your questions as well.


Q.

How is a LD determined by the school other than just comparing him to other kids and their abilities? My kid is in an IEP & I don’t think it helps him

A.

The best way to determine whether your child has a learning disability is to have an evaluation done by a licensed school psychologist. If your child has an IEP, more than likely an evaluation was done. You can ask your school if one was done and request to get a copy of the evaluation including all sub scores. Many times they will give you a composite score which is an average, but the sub scores are what tell the picture of what is going on. Some school districts also use standardized testing as a means of determining eligibility for an IEP. You will need to research what your state’s laws say regarding the IEP process and determination of LD qualification.

An IEP can be a good thing if it is written correctly. The IEP is to be a guide for how assistance and accommodations in the classroom will be directed. Often times they put the onus on the child with no direction on how these goals will be achieved. If you can get an advocate to go with you when you have your IEP meeting, this can help insure you are getting a well designed IEP that will benefit your child’s individual needs.

Q.

Does the testing have to be done by the school or can it be done privately. I don’t have much faith in the in school testing especially where attenti

A.

You can have testing done privately, but depending on who does the assessment may have an impact on whether the school will accept it or not. Some districts will require they do the testing no matter what.

Having the school do it can take up to 4 months. By law if you request testing, they have 60 school days to comply with the request. Having the testing done independently at least lets you know what is going on and you can make decisions before more time lapses.

Please understand, there are changes in the law as of July 1st, 2010. Even if your child tests with a disability, the school does not have to grant an IEP. The school is obligated to try 3 different methods and measure whether improvements are being achieved before they create an IEP. If your child is in the elementary grades, this has proven to work. If your child is in middle or high school it is a different scenario.

This is a very brief overview of this, so please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.

Q.

I am considering homeschooling my child because she is having a hard time learning in school and the school is giving up on her. What should I do?

A.

Homeschooling can be a good option. The key to success is whether you can work well together or find it to be a struggle. In the State of Florida, there is an organization called Florida Parent Educators Association (FPEA). Please check their website as they list all the various homeschool co-ops in the state of Florida. You can reach out to some of the co-ops and discuss with them the pros and cons.

Many children thrive in a homeschool environment, but if the struggles continue, you may need to see if a specific learning disability is causing those struggles.

Q.

How is what you do different from tutoring?

A.

We do provide limited tutoring services, but the difference simply is tutoring is subject based where the bulk of our services focuses on brain training. Learning disabilities are neurologically based and tutoring will not make any difference in how the brain processes information. Brain training focuses on the way information is processed and helps to create neuro pathways that will enhance how the brain then processes information.

Q.

My child is very active. Does that mean he has ADHD?

A.

Absolutely not! Children can appear to be very active for a number of reasons. Sometimes really smart kids are bored in a traditional class setting and will act out for that reason. Some children have Sensory Processing Disorder and find the physical act of sitting a difficult task. They will wiggle and squirm in their seats just to try and get comfortable. In younger children it can be symptomatic of a Central Auditory Processing Disorder. What is important is to try and understand the reason for the activity. Getting input from multiple sources can be very helpful.

If you have a teacher that is pushing you to put your child on medication, it is in your best interest to seek other opinions. Ask to come visit the class and observe what is going on and definitely seek out the advice of outside sources. Even if ADHD is the correct diagnosis, there are alternatives to medication that can be done, but exploring all possibilities is the best option.

Q.

Is a 504 Plan better than an IEP?

A.

First we need to look at what is a 504. A 504 is a civil rights law that was designed to protect students with disabilities against being denied an education because of their disabilities. The problem is, a 504 does not guarantee your child will have an educational program designed to address your child’s specific educational needs. It provides limited protections for parents such as notification of changes or modifications of the 504. The school can update and change without a parent’s knowledge.

An IEP is designed to address the specific educational needs of the student and spells out what is going to be done to achieve those educational needs. You have more rights as a parent that have to be met including notification of meetings and changes desired in the IEP. You as the parent have the right to request meetings to make modifications as changes arise as well. All the considerations under a 504 are covered in an IEP.

Q.

Why don’t the schools provide this service?

A.

The schools and the teachers working with learning disabled students do a fantastic job with the resources they have. The problem is each student with a learning disability is unique, and the schools just don’t have the manpower or resources to provide individualized approaches that some students may need. We like to think we can partner with the schools and supplement needed assistance to help students be successful.

Q.

How long does it take to do your programs?

A.

Every disability we encounter is individual and unique, as such, we cannot predict how long it will take to complete the program(s). Be assured, every program is designed for the individual’s specific needs, and we do whatever is possible to ensure efficient success. On average, our programs range from 4 months up to 1 year depending on the scope and complexity and frequency of sessions per week. In severe cases, it could be longer.

Q.

What is brain training?

A.

Brain training is exercises for the brain. Depending on what cognitive skill is being worked on, different activities will address visualizing, sequencing, problems solving skills to name a few. Brain training stimulates and in many instances improves neural pathways improving various cognitive skills.

Q.

Do I have any options if my child’s school refuses to test her?

A.

First of all, your school can not refuse to test your child. What you have to do is put your request in writing specifying that you want them to do testing including IQ and academic assessments. Be specific about the reasons for testing, such as struggles with reading, poor grades in specific subjects. Give as much information as possible. I recommend that you make two copies of the letter and hand carry to the school. Have the school stamp the received date on both copies, keeping one for yourself. IDEA (No Child Left Behind) specifies 60 days to comply with the request, but states have the ability to modify as they deem fit. In Florida, where we are located, they specify 60 school days to comply with the request. It is important to keep track of the time and follow up with them as the “due” date approaches.

Q.

My twins have been refused to be tested since 6th grade now 8th. They make A’s and B’s so therefore they refuse. We explained we spend many hours helping with homework.

A.

You are well within your rights to request testing, but it must be in written form. You must be specific as to the reason for the request and would include specific details. Once you have it in writing, in Florida the district has 60 school days to comply with the request. Depending on the time of year, the process could take up to 4 months to complete.

If you could call me at 407-796-4062, I would like to discuss with you as understanding what you are experiencing at home, I can assist you with more specifics to be outlined in the letter.

Q.

What is the government doing to help disabled kids? Is homeschooling better than public/private schooling for disabled kids?

A.

It depends on where you live. Unfortunately the states are the ones who are responsible for implementing No Child Left Behind legislation. Some states are very good in providing services and others aren’t. Private schools that specialize in students with learning disabilities can be a viable option, but you have to do your homework on the schools themselves as they can vary in quality as well. Some families have opted for the home school option, but only if you have a good working relationship with your child. Home schooling can allow for you to do things more at your child’s pace, but there are state regulatory requirements that have to be made. If home schooling, it is advisable to work with a homeschool co-op or alternative school to have that paper trail compliance. I would be happy to discuss this with you further. Just submit a contact request and we can talk further. There is no charge for consultations.