How is a child with a Learning Disability diagnosed?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,847
    Dr. Jack Naglieri explains the process of diagnosing a child with a learning disability.

    Jack Naglieri

    Dr. Jack A. Naglieri is Professor of Psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Prior to his current position he was Professor of School Psychology and Psychology at the Ohio State University where he taught from 1982 to 2000. The author of more than 150 scholarly papers, chapters, books, and tests, he has focused his efforts since the late 1970s on reconceptualizing intelligence. He also the recipient of the Senior Scientist Award, and holds an appointment as a senior Research Scientist at the Devereux Foundation's Institute for Clinical Training and Research. Dr. Naglieri obtained his Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Long Island University, Master of Science from St. John's University, and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia in 1979. He worked as a school psychologist in the New York area from 1974-1977. Jack A. Naglieri is also the author of the Cognitive Assessment System (Naglieri & Das, 1997), the CAS Scoring Aide (Naglieri, 2002), the General Ability Measure for Adults (Naglieri & Bardos, 1997), Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (Naglieri, 1996), Devereux Scoring Assistant (LeBuffe, Naglieri, & Pfeiffer, 1996), Devereux Scales of Mental Disorders (Naglieri, LeBuffe, & Pfeiffer, 1994), Devereux Behavior Rating Scales School Form (Naglieri, LeBuffe, & Pfeiffer, 1994), Draw A Person: Screening Procedure for Emotional Disturbance (Naglieri, McNeish, & Bardos, 1990), Draw A Person: Quantitative Scoring System (Naglieri, 1988), Matrix Analogies Test (Naglieri, 1985).

    How is a child with a learning disability diagnosed?

    Dr. Jack Naglieri: Diagnosis of a specific learning disability is in process of being changed. Actually, diagnosis and the definition of learning disability is something that we feel this currently in quite a state of flux about. We used to use a system and in fact still can use a system.

    We will look at a difference between ability and achievement. So we ask the question is the child generally smart enough to learn, but not learning a specific academic skill, so that we say that child would have to have average ability and yet the will below average in some of the area of academics in this case like reading decoding.

    The problem with that definition is; however, the number one, it doesn t tell you what s wrong with the child and number two, it s really inconsistent with the definition of a learning disability. The federal definition of a learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes.

    An ability achievement discrepancy doesn t really address that. Many people myself included have argued that if you are going to diagnose a learning disability, you have to measure those basic psychological processes and there are number of different ways of doing that. And what we are look for is we look to see if the child is typically okay in basic psychological processes except for one area and that one area underlies the academic failure.

    So for example, a child who has trouble with reading decoding what we have seen from research is that, that child also has a specific cognitive processing deficit in an area that allows them to put information in order. So, this is how we make the connection between the definition, processing disorder, and the result of that processing disorder, a failure of working with the information in order.