It needs to be pointed out that ALL the above diagnostic methods are prone to error in several important ways:
First, psychological problems can mimic LD‘s. Therefore, an evaluation looking for emotional difficulties such as depression, anxiety disorders, and adjustment problems should really be done alongside any LD evaluation. While almost always included as part of a team evaluation in a medical setting, schools or private “LD specialists” often omit this. In older children, it can often be difficult to tell “what came first, the chicken or the egg” when evidence of both LD and an emotional problem is found. In many ways this is a false dilemma, however, since in such situations it is necessary to address both problems simultaneously in order to “break the cycle & help the child”.
Another factor to think about when student is having difficulty is the standards of the school system compared to the child’s abilities. While it is nice to think of “national norms” in terms of things like reading acquisition, the truth is there are many communities across America that deviate from the norm considerably both in the average academic attainment of their students and in the content of their curriculum. This can affect students in a number of ways. First of all, when a child moves from one community to another, trouble can arise if the curriculums are too different in either direction. Some such children essentially skip a grade, find themselves behind, and start having trouble where before they had none. This can be misconstrued as an LD at times. Conversely, children who move to a “slower” district can sometimes develop behavioral difficulties because they become bored and under-challenged. Another artifact produced by this variability between community curriculums has to do with a bright child who nonetheless has an LD. Such a child is far more likely in an accelerated curriculum to be identified and given some help. Such a child in a slower curriculum setting is apt not to be seen as having a problem. Conversely, a child of low-average intelligence who is unfortunate enough to be living in an accelerated community may be misidentified as having a LD when he really has none. The simple fact is that moving can be both disruptive and helpful for different children. A good match between the child and his school system is often times more important than all the SPED assistance in the world.