LDA Newsletter

Newsletter – October 2018

This month’s LDA Leader articles:
When Should You Pursue a Cognitive Educational Evaluation, by Barb Talent, Ph.D.
Early Warning Signs of Learning Disabilities, by Karen Thomson, MA


Is your student interested in contributing to the December 2018 Student Issue? If so, you are welcome to contact a St. Louis LDA Learning Specialist or contact us at socialmedia@ldastl.org.

Submission ideas include:
What it is like to live with your learning disability
Positive improvements that I have gained when learning more about my learning disability
Having a learning disability does not slow me down


When Should you Pursue a Cognitive Educational Evaluation

By Barb Talent, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist

The basic answer is—when you have a question.

The purpose of a cognitive educational evaluation is to develop a better understanding of how your child learns, how information makes sense to him or her, and if there is a breakdown, where that breakdown is. The usefulness of an evaluation is based on how well it guides intervention, not in whether it results in a “label.”

The hallmark of a learning problem is unevenness, i.e., an unexpected difficulty in some area of academics. Sometimes a skill in reading, writing, or math is below average on standardized tests or in classroom performance. Sometimes test scores or grades are not below average, but the child’s performance is inconsistent from day to day or between daily work and tests or between one subject and another. Sometimes, grades are good, but the time and effort it takes for the child to achieve those grades is excessive.

Cognitive educational evaluations at St. Louis LDA involve several visits. First, parents meet with one of the evaluators for an hour “intake” meeting to discuss in detail concerns and observations, the child’s history, how a child gets along at home and with friends, as well as what the child likes to do. We want to get a picture of the “whole child,” so learning about the child’s strengths is as important as learning about their challenges.

The testing itself takes about 4 hours, and is divided into two visits. We use standardized tests to assess cognitive abilities, processing skills and academic achievement. The scores on tests are certainly important, but as important to us are the patterns of scores and our observations of the quality of the child’s performance, e.g., how do they manage different kinds of tasks or different difficulty levels, how confident are they as they work on activities, what are their problem-solving approaches, etc.

The last visit is the “report consult” where we talk with parents for another hour and share our conclusions and recommendations. We provide a formal diagnosis of a learning disability where appropriate, but strongly believe that the equally important “diagnosis” is the one that goes beyond the label, and is focused on understanding, on intervention, on how we can help the child.

St. Louis LDA’s assessment team offers licensed psychologists who have years of experience working with students of all abilities. A cognitive educational evaluation could be the key diagnosis for your child that unlocks a wonderful world of learning and knowledge for years to come! For more information on St. Louis LDA’s educational evaluations, please contact info@ldastl.org or call 314-966-3088.


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Early Warning Signs of Learning Disabilities

Karen Thomson, MA
Program and Resource Development

St. Louis Learning Disabilities Association is committed to raising awareness about the early warning signs of learning disabilities and early intervention. This is due to the research-based fact that giving children support early is crucial to a child’s future. Learning disabilities affect one in seven people. To get the right help as soon as possible, parents and educators need to be familiar with the early indicators of a learning disability.

It is well-documented that people with learning disabilities are of normal or above-average intelligence. We all learn in our own unique way, but those with learning disabilities process information differently. Having a learning disability can affect a child’s ability to read, write, speak, do math, and build social relationships.

The sooner a learning disability is detected, the better chance a child will have of succeeding in school and in life. Many children and adults with learning disabilities remain undiagnosed and go through life with this “hidden handicap.” This can lead to poor self-esteem, failure to thrive throughout their educational experience, and later difficulty in the workplace. However, with early detection and intervention, children can learn and implement necessary skills to benefit their learning style.

Below are several early warning signs that are commonly associated with learning disabilities and can be detected during the preschool years and kindergarten.

Early warning signs: Preschool

  • Learning to talk later than other children
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Slow vocabulary growth, frequent inability to find the right word
  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Trouble learning numbers, the alphabet, days of the week
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Trouble interacting with peers
  • Poor ability to follow directions or routines

Early warning signs: Kindergarten

  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Confuses basic words (run, eat, want)
  • Slow recall of facts
  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
  • Impulsiveness, lack of planning
  • Unstable pencil grip
  • Trouble learning about time
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings

Early detection of a possible learning disability is key, so that every child is able to have a successful education. If the educators at your local early childhood center are interested in St. Louis Learning Disabilities Association’s workshop on this and other topics contact us at 314-966-3088 or info@ldastl.org.


Upcoming Events


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