The DSM-5 considers Specific Learning Disabilities to be a type of neurodevelopmental disorder that impedes the ability to learn or use specific academic skills (e.g. reading, writing, or arithmetic), which are the foundation for other academic learning.
Learning disabilities negatively affect the following academic skills: oral language, reading, written language, and mathematics. These disorders affect individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking or reasoning.
A. Qualified Professional
- Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of specific learning disabilities (LD) and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so.
- The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification (e.g., licensed psychologist) as well as the area of specialization.
- The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to conduct evaluations, provided that they have additional training and experience in evaluating learning disabilities: clinical or educational psychologists; school psychologists; neuropsychologists; and learning disabilities specialists.
- All reports should be on letterhead, typed in English, dated, signed, and otherwise legible.
B. Currency of Documentation
- To determine reasonable accommodations based on the current severity and manifestations of the learning disability, disability documentation should have been completed within the past 5 years.
C. Documentation Criteria
- Comprehensive documentation including summary of a diagnostic/clinical interview, assessment of the major domains of cognitive and academic functioning, a list of tests administered including all standard scores, expert interpretation of the results, a clear diagnosis and statement of disability, discussion of the functional limitations and academic functioning levels, and recommendations.
- Relevant historical information regarding the applicant's academic history and learning processes in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education must be investigated and documented.
- Psychometric assessments should include (a) aptitude/ cognitive ability, (b) academic achievement, (c) areas of cognitive and information processing.
- A clear diagnostic statement and a discussion of functional limitations due to the learning disability are required.
- The evaluation must document both the nature and severity of the learning disability.
- The evaluator must describe the impact the learning disability has on major life activities, including the significance of this impact on the individual's learning.
- The documentation must include specific recommendations for accommodation(s) as well as a detailed explanation of why each accommodation is recommended.