Because these terms – dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia – are familiar to the public, they are sometimes overused. Parents usually want to know if their child’s struggles with reading means they have dyslexia. However, there are a lot of reasons a child might be behind in reading.
To make matters more challenging, public school staff do not typically use the terms dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia, and staff may even say they don’t evaluate for these disorders. This can cause confusion for parents who are attempting to advocate for a child in public school. There are resources available for individuals struggling with these issues at every stage of life, but it can be difficult navigating the terminology. Whether you are trying to address concerns you have for yourself or your child, finding information should not be troublesome. Hopefully, this blog can help clear up your confusion.
According to Education Regulations…
In the education regulations for special education services, a “specific learning disability” is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes. The disorder may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. Conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia (developmental delay in language acquisition) would fall under this umbrella. You can see how “specific learning disability” covers a wide range of conditions.
As I’ve mentioned in some of my other blogs, public schools evaluate students who are falling behind their peers for special needs services. They do not have the time or resources to diagnose every student. If your child has been denied an evaluation or if you are hoping to gain more insight into your child’s academic struggles, you will need to seek an evaluation with a private educational psychologist.
Demystifying Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia
While people usually have a general idea about what these disorders entail, here is an explanation to clear up any misinformation.
Putting it simply, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia are learning disabilities. Dyslexia can involve a number of reading challenges, including decoding, sight-word identification, rapid naming abilities and visual deficits. Dysgraphia affects writing ability. It can manifest as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Dyscalculia affects the ability to understand, learn, and perform math and number-based operations.
A disorder in reading, writing or math does not sufficiently describe the struggle that an individual may be experiencing.
One person identified with dyslexia may have difficulty grasping sound symbol relationships while another may be very strong in grasping phonics but cannot read the word “the” because their learning disability impacts sight-word reading ability. Therefore, a simple test for dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia or any other learning disability is not sufficient.
How to Identify Dyslexia, Dysgraphia or Dyscalculia
If you believe that you or your child has a learning disability, the first step is to do a psychoeducational assessment.
This assessment should evaluate the following:
-cognitive ability (intellectual functioning)
-sensory motor processing
The results of the assessment should give you a thorough understanding of you or your child’s challenges and where these trials come from. You should also receive clearly stated recommendations for ways to address or accommodate the areas of deficit and/or weakness.
If I can be of further assistance in understanding you or your child’s specific struggles, please contact me.