Learning disorders (LD) occur when a child’s academic achievement in a specific subject is significantly below what would be expected for their age, school experience, and intellectual ability. Learning disorders can occur in reading, mathematics, and writing, with reading accounting for about 80 percent. LD are not obvious, and without proper evaluation, they can easily be overlooked. A review of the child’s report cards and annual academic achievement test scores are a good first step in discovering if a learning disorder exists. A child who has one or more academic areas significantly below his other areas may have a learning disorder. Learning disorders are present in all levels of intelligence. A child with a learning disorder may be gifted, average, or even below average. Because learning disorders are common in children with Asperger’s Disorder, it is important that your child be evaluated.
To determine if a child has a learning disorder, she must undergo standardized academic achievement testing to assess what age level and grade level of learning she has achieved. An IQ test must also be given in order to assess the child’s intellectual capabilities. Generally, if the child has a significant difference between academic achievement and IQ, a learning disorder is diagnosed. Children with Asperger’s Disorder and LD may have deficits in specific cognitive functions such as memory, auditory processing, visual processing, and attention, among others.
Reading disorders, which have also been called dyslexia, manifest in impairments of reading accuracy, speed, or comprehension. Mathematics disorders are displayed by impairment in mathematical calculation or mathematical reasoning. Written Expression Disorder is manifested by impairment in the ability to compose written text due to trouble with punctuation, grammar, organization, spelling, and excessively poor handwriting.
Learning disorders are treated with special education and educational therapy. Some children with a learning disorder remain in the mainstream classroom full time. Others stay mainstreamed but have resource services for one or more hours per week where they are placed with a special education teacher who helps them learn techniques to compensate for their specific learning disorder. More severely learning-disordered children may be placed in a full-time special education classroom or go to a private school that specializes in learning disorders.