Home > School and Learning > Learning Differences > Diagnosing Lds > Letter Recognition Problems and LD
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Letter Recognition Problems and LD

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Jerome J. Schultz, Ph.D.

Q: A friend of mine has a kindergartner who doesn't recognize letters yet, except for two in his name. He did not start school too early and a psychological evaluation does not reveal any mental deficits. His scores were not scattered enough between the WPPSI and achievement testing to determine a learning disability. He passed visual and auditory screenings as well as language testing. What other areas do they need to examine? Do they need to wait another year so the spread between IQ and achievement scores is bigger? Thanks for any info.

A: Although a large difference between IQ and achievement is often viewed as a classic hallmark of a learning disability, recent research tells us that we shouldn't equate this "gap" with learning disabilities. There are a lot of reasons that children have uneven profiles, and we know that many children without any evidence of learning disabilities often exhibit this discrepancy. For this reason, many professionals in the field of LD are calling for an end to the use of the "discrepancy formula" as a way to determine learning disabilities. So waiting for a bigger spread to occur is not the solution.

There certainly are reasons to be concerned if there is large gap between how a child performs on tests that are designed to measure school performance (e.g., achievement tests) and tests that are supposed to measure intellectual capacity (e.g., IQ tests). But it's just not appropriate to leap to the conclusion that learning disabilities are the cause without more careful analysis of this child's performance. This is especially true in kindergarten. First of all, the range of children's pre-academic and academic skills is very wide in the early grades, since children develop at such different rates. Because of this, it's inappropriate to give much significance to achievement tests results at this age, since so much of the variance in scores is due to difference in development, and not to "problems." Furthermore, IQ tests, even though they are well-respected tools, are least valid when used with very young children for the same reasons.

It is important to note how well young children are acquiring readiness and early learning skills, and to look for the early indicators of learning disabilities. Clearly, difficulty recognizing letters could be a cause for concern, but more information is needed in order to diagnose LD. Don't forget to identify this child's strengths. He might be gifted verbally, but relatively slow to develop visual perceptual skills required for letter identification. For a very helpful selection of resources and checklists that will help your friend and her child's teachers determine whether or not the child has a learning disability, I encourage you to go to: LD Online.

More on: Expert Advice

Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!