Allenmore Psychological Associates remains OPEN. During this period of concern and anxiety having access to quality behavioral health care is important and our staff is dedicated to ensuring your behavioral health care needs are met. In the unlikely event that the WA Department of Health directs us to close we will notify patients via telephone on the day of their appointment (similar to our Snow Day policy). If you are an existing patient who is demonstrating symptoms associated with the coronavirus or impacted by related closures (e.g. cannot find day care due to a school closure) and need to cancel we ask that you inform our staff as soon as possible, APA will not charge you for a late cancellation.

Learning Disorders

Learning disorders result when there is a discrepancy between an individual’s intellectual abilities (IQ) and their academic achievement abilities. Diagnosing a learning disability requires an in-depth evaluation including one-on-one assessment and collecting information about daily functioning. A learning disability assessment typically involves measuring the individual’s IQ and academic achievement with standardized tests. A learning disability is present if the individual’s achievement performance is substantially lower than what would be expected given her or his IQ, chronological age and age-appropriate education. The diagnosis also requires the individual to have significant difficulty functioning in his or her daily life (such as failing grades or poor work performance). Having a learning disorder is not related to whether or not a person is intelligent, rather it means that the person learns differently and needs extra support in learning. Many very bright individuals live with significant learning disabilities. There are a number of different types of learning disorders involving reading, mathematics and written expression. Significant learning difficulty in reading is commonly known as dyslexia, while difficulty with mathematics is called dyscalculia. Learning disorders are more common than many people realize. It is estimated that learning disabilities affect 2 to 10% of individuals in the United States. About 5% of students enrolled in public schools in the United States are diagnosed with a learning disorder.

What are the symptoms or signs of learning disorders?

The most apparent signs that an individual is struggling with a learning disorder involves difficulties at school or work with reading or comprehending information. A child may exhibit attention and concentration problems, get poor grades, dislike school and have trouble making friends. Many times, children with learning disorders do not understand the material presented in class which results in an inability to attend to the teacher or complete the required work. A child with a learning disability may struggle to learn foundational academic skills such as phonics or spelling (dyslexia) or basic arithmetic (dyscalculia). Other signs of learning disorders may include low self-esteem, behavioral problems (such as acting out), and anxiety about going to school (displayed in a pattern of getting sick before school and avoiding going to school).

What can be done to help people with learning disorders?

If an adult or child is struggling with performance at work or school, the first step is to have the individual tested to determine if a learning disorder exists. If you are a concerned parent, you can talk to the school (or the school district if your child is home schooled) and request a learning disability assessment. School district personnel may schedule a meeting with teachers, parents, and the child, if appropriate, to discuss struggles and concerns. An evaluation is typically conducted by a school psychologist and entails the administration of an IQ test as well as an academic achievement test at a minimum. It is important to understand that this process can take several months because of the number of students that require testing and limited resources. Once testing is completed, a meeting is typically scheduled to review the results and discuss recommendations for the student. If the child meets criteria for a learning disorder, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is created with goals for the student and an outline of the supports that the school and teachers will provide.

While public school districts are mandated by law to complete evaluations of children when there is a suspected learning disorder, there are a number of instances when parents look for resources beyond the school district. A common reason is when there is a desire to get a second opinion or have the child’s learning problems looked at by a “fresh set of eyes.” Sometimes parent’s disagree with the results of school evaluations or feel that something important has been missed with their child. An independent evaluation in these circumstances can be helpful. Also some children have co-existing mental health conditions that can significantly impair their learning at school. Conditions such as anxiety and depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder and autism spectrum disorders can significantly hinder a child’s academic performance at school. For many children, treatment of mental health conditions may lead to an improvement in academic performance. School districts not only do not have a legal obligation to diagnosis these conditions, they lack the professional resources to do so. For children with co-existing mental health conditions independent evaluation by an outside professional is essential. Such an evaluation can result in a treatment plan that addresses both the learning disorder and mental health issues, and helps parents advocate for necessary accommodations and proper educational programming in their child’s school district.

Another group of individuals for whom psychological evaluations can be helpful, are older adolescents and adults who have learning problems that were never recognized or assessed when they were in public school. A surprising number of individuals go through school often with poor performance and even fail to graduate from high school because of unrecognized learning disabilities. However, we also see many college students who graduated high school frequently with good grades who are now struggling in college because of undiagnosed learning disorders or mental health conditions. At APA we feel privileged to be a trusted resource for learning disorder treatment as well as learning disability assessment in Tacoma and surrounding communities. We strive provide evaluation and counseling that removes barriers to learning for children, adolescents and adults.

Contact us for help with learning disorders

If you have concerns about yourself or your child having a learning disability, we are here to help you. We have psychologists at Allenmore Psychological Associates who specialize in providing learning disability assessment in Tacoma for children and adults. During your initial visit, one of our psychologists will meet with you to discuss the issues and concerns that lead you to schedule the appointment. At the end of this visit, the psychologist will make arrangements to schedule the testing appointment(s) with you. The evaulation can either be completed in one long session or several shorter sessions depending upon what fits best for the client. After the testing is completed, the psychologist interprets the assessment results and prepares a written report summarizing the results of the testing, as well as conclusions and recommendations. Once the report is completed, you can come in for a feedback session where the psychologist reviews the results with you and answers questions you may have related to the evaluation. Typically the psychologist will have recommendations based upon the assessment results. These recommendations may involve your child’s schooling and/or follow-up counseling treatment options. To learn more about learning disorder services or to schedule an initial appointment with one of the psychologists at Allenmore Psychological Associates, please call (253)752-7320.

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