All educators are aware of the potential for learning disabilities and differences in students, but the ability to correctly identify and diagnose those traits is another matter entirely. A correct diagnosis is the key to properly addressing the needs of any student with a learning disability. Younger children in the earlier stages of social and emotional development tend to be more challenging to diagnose. The earlier professionals can identify learning disabilities in students, the sooner systems can accommodate their needs and adapt to their development.
Educational diagnosticians take on the critical function of recognizing these learning differences among students and helping to ensure their accommodation. The Master of Education in Special Education with Educational Diagnostician Certification online program from Lamar University imbues graduates with the specialized skills and knowledge to assess and implement learning structures to appropriately assist exceptional students.
What Are Learning Disabilities?
Learning disabilities occur “due to genetic and/or neurobiological factors that alter brain functioning in a manner which affects one or more cognitive processes related to learning.” Sometimes these traits present issues that can last a lifetime, which makes it crucial to recognize the disabilities as early as possible. The earlier the issues are addressed, the sooner people can develop strategies and habits to manage the fallout in the day to day.
Unfortunately, some individuals may never receive an evaluation or a diagnosis, and their struggles with certain topics or skills could follow them into adulthood while they remain completely unaware of any disability. The National Center for Learning Disabilities notes that the longer students with learning disabilities go without the proper support — even at younger ages — the more at risk they are to fall behind or have to repeat a grade, which can lead to more chronic issues like social struggles or absenteeism.
These missed diagnoses also underscore the need for educational diagnosticians, as they can help to ensure that all children receive proper assessment and monitoring for learning disabilities and get a fair chance at their education.
Common Learning Disabilities and Diagnoses
Some common specific learning disabilities (SLD) are dyscalculia and dyslexia, which affect a person’s ability to read and understand number- and language-based skills respectively. Dysgraphia is another SLD that affects a person’s fine motor skills, like handwriting. Although not an SLD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is another learning difference that can have a dramatic effect on students’ ability to perform in the classroom.
A variety of factors affect a student’s behavior. Discerning the differences between learning disabilities and learning challenges (a temporary issue) can be very difficult without the proper education. Even across different cultures, children are raised and socialized differently, so an educational diagnostician needs to be able to delineate between differences in culture or identity and a real struggle with learning.
Not all teachers are experts in identifying specific learning disabilities or in forming curricula that can be comprehensively accommodating. However, stepping in to close the gap are educational diagnosticians. They can offer best practices and reference materials that will help teachers better understand and fulfill the varied needs of their exceptional students.