Analysis of “What to Do if You Suspect Learning Disability”

A column in the New York Times talked about how one in seven individuals have a learning disability of some sort. What I found the most disconcerting is that parents who look at this column might look harder for those disabilities with their children, and might be misdiagnosed when it truly might have been just a hard assignment.

Dr. Solomon assessing a child. Photo attributed to Daniel Rosenbaum

A learning assessment for a child can reach up to 5,000 dollars, but the article states that the child’s school, private or not, are required to pay. When schools might want to hand out that sort of money, especially if they have lots of parents coming to them, it’s understandable that they might not move things swiftly along with getting a child tested. The Lesley Alderman, the author of the column, presents two options in this matter of how a parent should go about this.

1) Set up a meeting with a school principal or teacher about the problem.

2) If they are unresponsive, go to the school’s director to make a written complaint to get things going.

But getting an evaluator for a child seems to be tricky. Dr. Solomon for example is one of these doctors, but her evaluation of a child seems like she has alterior motives:

“I recently was testing a very bright 5-year-old who could only pay attention for 10 minutes at a time,” Laura Solomon, a special-education consultant, recently told me. “So we did 10 minutes of testing and five minutes of play. It took us three mornings to finish the tests.”

Aren’t all 5-year-olds spastic and don’t like to pay attention? I feel that bringing attention to things like attention spans for a 5-year-old is almost irrelevant. I’m not a doctor and I don’t have first hand experience with this child, but it seems like this doctor is trying to make something out of nothing. And with concerned parents about their child’s mental health, well I think the side effects of being put on a medication too early might be more detrimental to a child than anything.

I think articles like this that say one in seven of us have a disability and short attention spans for 5-year-olds might mean something other than just being a kid, in short, freak people out. I know that when I hear statistics like this I think to myself, “Could I have a disability?” I would like to think that people wouldn’t misjudge these sorts of things, but coming from a hometown when misdiagnosis were made almost daily, I feel that this could be a threat to children.

This article also didn’t have any links for the author or Dr. Solomon, but only two links [Web site and Wright’] to sites where  parents can find out their state’s laws on this issue.

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