Learning Disabilities Treatment and Tutoring Programs in Encinitas, CA
Virtual and In-Person Learning Disabilities Tutoring for K-12 Students and Adults
Learning disabilities can affect an individual’s life far beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends, and in the workplace. That’s why it’s important to identify learning disabilities early on and seek help from a tutoring center specializing in learning disabilities.
What Causes Learning Disabilities?
Learning disabilities are due to genetic and/or neurobiological factors that alter brain functions related to learning. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing, and/or math. They can also interfere with higher-level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long- or short-term memory, and attention. It is important to realize that learning disabilities can affect an individual’s life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends, and in the workplace.
Since difficulties with reading, writing and/or math are recognizable problems during the school years, the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities are most often diagnosed during that time.
Early Tutoring for Learning Disabilities Can Prevent Problems
While many children are evaluated and treated for learning disabilities during their early school years, some individuals do not receive an evaluation until they are in post-secondary education or adults in the workforce and have significant difficulties until they receive the proper tutoring. That’s one reason we provide learning disabilities tutoring for adults, too.
Other individuals with learning disabilities, unfortunately, may never receive an evaluation and go through life, never knowing why they have difficulties with academics and why they are having problems in their jobs or in relationships with family and friends.
Expectations for Working with a Learning Disabilities Tutor
A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate evaluation and learning disability-specific tutoring and treatment, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in school, at work, in relationships, and in the community.
Learning Disabilities Are Often Called “Hidden Disabilities”
Generally speaking, people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. There often appears to be a gap between the individual’s potential and actual achievement. This is why learning disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities”: the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.
What Learning Disabilities Aren’t
Learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of intellectual disability; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantages.
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Children who struggle don't just "figure things out on their own." They do need a little extra help to ensure their long-term success.
Our work with your child will begin with a series of assessments that will help us understand their unique challenges and strengths. While many children do come to us after receiving a diagnosis from a psychologist, neuropsychologist, or audiologist, your child does not have to receive a specific diagnosis to take advantage of our services.
We will continue to assess your child during their learning journey to help measure the progress they are making.
Exploring Different Types of Learning Disabilities
“Learning Disabilities” is an “umbrella” term describing a number of other, more specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. Find the signs and symptoms of each, plus strategies to help below.
A specific learning disability that affects reading and related language-based processing skills. The severity can differ in each individual, but can affect reading fluency, decoding, reading comprehension, recall, writing, spelling, and sometimes speech and can exist along with other related disorders. Dyslexia is sometimes referred to as a Language-Based Learning Disability.
Signs and Symptoms
Hyperlexia is a syndrome that is characterized by a child's early ability to read (far above what would be expected at their age), significant difficulty in understanding and using verbal language (or a profound nonverbal learning disability), and significant problems during social interactions. Not all children who can read at a young age have hyperlexia or an associated developmental disorder.
Hyperlexia is typically associated with kids who have pervasive developmental disorders (like autism) or specific language impairment.
Even though children with hyperlexia exhibit word-decoding skills that are advanced, they oftentimes have no comprehension of the words that they read. Instead, their text comprehension skills are correlated with their oral comprehension skills. For example, a child with specific language impairment and hyperlexia may be able to read single words or match words to pictures, but have no ability to comprehend these words.
Although hyperlexia may be the key symptom in describing the learning difference in a child, it is not a stand-alone diagnosis. Rather, it exists on a continuum with other disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, language disorders and nonverbal learning disabilities. Children with hyperlexia may also exhibit other conditions, such as sensory integration dysfunction, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, motor dyspraxia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and/or seizure disorder.
Causes of Hyperlexia in Children
The presence of hyperlexia within the context of another developmental disorder reflects a difference in the neurological organization of the brain. While a cause is not yet known, research in genetics and functional MRI studies may provide some information in the future.
Symptoms of Hyperlexia
We have often been asked why we identify children with hyperlexia if they have other diagnoses or conditions. The most important reason is that these children learn primarily through reading, so the therapeutic and educational programs that we devise for them must take their reading skills into account. The reading skills of these children are their strength, and we use this strength to develop their weaker skills.
Identification of hyperlexia is most important when children are young, because early intervention increases children's chances for success. Since reading is a powerful tool for learning language and social skills, once a child begins to understand verbal language, written language calls are gradually decreased and used only in certain situations when something new or confusing is introduced. Although symptoms tend to decrease over time, the characteristic learning style remains through adulthood.
A Speech Language Pathologist will complete formal and informal language assessments. The assessment will include looking at decoding skills, sight word knowledge, vocabulary knowledge, their ability to respond to answer conversation questions and reading comprehension questions, and other receptive and expressive language skills. An occupational therapist may also complete an assessment specifically looking at sensory processing skills.
As with all individuals, children with hyperlexia have a wide range of skills. Treatment will be dependent upon the severity of the cognitive, language learning, and/or social disorder associated with the hyperlexia. Therapy will involve using your child’s strengths to build weakness. This means that language learning can be supported by written language and once a child begins to understand verbal language, written language can be used less frequently. Other areas of weakness, like social skills, will be explicitly taught and practiced.
Write, write, write, because the child with hyperlexia will read, read, read.
-Susan Martins Miller
Oral/Written Language Disorder and Specific Reading Comprehension Deficit
Individuals with Oral / Written Language Disorder and Specific Reading Comprehension Deficit struggle with understanding and/or expressing language often in both oral and written forms.
These individuals often exhibit Specific Language Impairment related to deficits in semantic (meaning of words) processing and syntactic (how word order relates to meaning) processing.
Semantic processing relates to encoding the meaning of words. Syntactic processing relates to the understanding of the order of words and how that can change meaning. For example, the sentences “The blanket is on the baby” and “The baby is on the blanket” use the same words, but have different meanings.
Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NVL or NVLD)
A disorder which is usually characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual-spatial and social skills. Typically, an individual with NLD (or NVLD) has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language, and may have poor coordination.
Signs and Symptoms of Non-verbal Learning Disorder
Strategies for Non-verbal Learning Disorder Treatment
Auditory Processing Disorder (ADP)
Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, this is a condition that adversely affects how sound that travels unimpeded through the ear is processed or interpreted by the brain. Individuals with APD do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. They can also find it difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, to make sense of the order of sounds, or to block out competing background noises.
Signs and Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder
Strategies for Auditory Processing Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.
Formerly referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, it is not currently recognized as distinct medical diagnosis.
Some people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. The light touch of a shirt may chafe the skin.
Others with sensory processing disorder may:
Sensory processing problems are usually identified in children. But they can also affect adults. Sensory processing problems are commonly seen in developmental conditions like autism spectrum disorder.
Sensory processing disorder is not recognized as a stand-alone disorder. But many experts think that should change.
Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder may affect one sense, like hearing, touch, or taste. Or it may affect multiple senses. And people can be over- or under-responsive to the things they have difficulties with.
Like many illnesses, the symptoms of sensory processing disorder exist on a spectrum.
In some children, for example, the sound of a leaf blower outside the window may cause them to vomit or dive under the table. They may scream when touched. They may recoil from the textures of certain foods.
But others seem unresponsive to anything around them. They may fail to respond to extreme heat or cold or even pain.
Many children with sensory processing disorder start out as fussy babies who become anxious as they grow older. These kids often don't handle change well. They may frequently throw tantrums or have meltdowns.
Many children have symptoms like these from time to time. But therapists consider a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder when the symptoms become severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life.
Causes of Sensory Processing Disorder
The exact cause of sensory processing problems has not been identified. But a 2006 study of twins found that hypersensitivity to light and sound may have a strong genetic component.
Other experiments have shown that children with sensory processing problems have abnormal brain activity when they are simultaneously exposed to light and sound.
Still other experiments have shown that children with sensory processing problems will continue to respond strongly to a stroke on the hand or a loud sound, while other children quickly get used to the sensations.
Treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder
Many families with an affected child find that it is hard to get help. That's because sensory processing disorder isn't a recognized medical diagnosis at this time.
Despite the lack of widely accepted diagnostic criteria, occupational therapists commonly see and treat children and adults with sensory processing problems.
Treatment depends on a child's individual needs. But in general, it involves helping children do better at activities they're normally not good at and helping them get used to things they can't tolerate.
Treatment for sensory processing problems is called sensory integration. The goal of sensory integration is to challenge a child in a fun, playful way so he or she can learn to respond appropriately and function more normally.
One type of therapy is called the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based (DIR) model. The therapy was developed by Stanley Greenspan, MD, and Serena Wieder, PhD.
A major part of this therapy is the "floor-time" method. The method involves multiple sessions of play with the child and parent. The play sessions last about 20 minutes.
During the sessions, parents are first asked to follow the child's lead, even if the playtime behavior isn't typical. For example, if a child is rubbing the same spot on the floor over and over, the parent does the same. These actions allow the parent to "enter" into the child's world.
This is followed by a second phase, where parents use the play sessions to create challenges for the child. The challenges help pull the child into what Greenspan calls a "shared" world with the parent. And the challenges create opportunities for the child to master important skills in areas such as:
These interactions will help the child move forward and, DIR therapists believe, help with sensory issues as well.
An inefficiency in the cognitive management systems of the brain that affects a variety of neuropsychological processes such as planning, organization, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space. Although not a learning disability, different patterns of weakness in executive functioning are almost always seen in the learning profiles of individuals who have specific learning disabilities or ADHD.
Symptoms of Executive Functioning Disorder
Some people describe executive function as “the management system of the brain.” That’s because the skills involved let us set goals, plan, and get things done. When people struggle with executive function, it impacts them at home, in school, and in life.
There are three main areas of executive function. They are:
Executive function is responsible for many skills, including:
Executive functioning skills usually develop quickly in early childhood and into the teen years. But they keep developing into the mid-20s. When kids are younger, some may lag behind peers for a while. As they get older, though, they may have fewer challenges as teens and young adults.
Learn more about the different areas of executive function.
Signs of Executive Functioning Issues
Trouble with executive function can affect people in different ways. The difficulties often look like the signs of ADHD. That’s because ADHD is a problem with executive function.
People struggling with executive skills may:
How does it relate to ADHD?
ADHD is a developmental impairment of executive function that can cause hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.
Symptoms of ADHD can vary in type and severity, but may include:
People with executive function issues may have ADHD. However, ADHD is not the only condition that can affect executive function.
Possible Causes of Executive Functioning Issues
There’s been a lot of research into what causes trouble with executive function and ADHD. Here are two main factors:
Trouble with executive function often occurs with learning challenges.
Learning disabilities don’t always involve a problem with executive function. But it’s not uncommon for kids with dyslexia or dyscalculia, for example, to also have trouble with executive skills. Learn how problems with executive function can impact reading and math.
Slow processing speed isn’t a problem with executive function. But it can cause trouble with it. Learn more about slow processing speed.
Diagnosing and Treating Executive Functioning Issues
There’s no diagnosis called executive function disorder. But there are specific tests that look at a wide range of executive skills. These skills include:
Testing should be done as part of a full evaluation that looks at many areas of learning and thinking. These evaluations, which schools do for free, are often done by psychologists. But there are other types of professionals who do this type of testing.
Some of these same professionals offer treatments and approaches like:
A specific learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts. Individuals with this type of learning disability may also have poor comprehension of math symbols, may struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, have difficulty telling time, or have trouble with counting.
Signs and Symptoms of Dyscalculia
Strategies for Dyscalculia
A specific learning disability that affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills. Problems may include illegible handwriting, inconsistent spacing, poor spatial planning on paper, poor spelling, and difficulty composing writing as well as thinking and writing at the same time.
Symptoms of Dysgraphia
A disorder that includes difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior and hyperactivity. Although ADHD is not considered a learning disability, research indicates that from 30-50 percent of children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability, and that the two conditions can interact to make learning extremely challenging.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that becomes apparent in some children in the preschool and early school years. It is hard for these children to control their behavior and/or pay attention. It is estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or approximately 2 million children in the United States. This means that in a classroom of 24 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD.
ADHD is not considered to be a learning disability. It can be determined to be a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), making a student eligible to receive special education services. However, ADHD falls under the category “Other Health Impaired” and not under “Specific Learning Disabilities.”
Many children with ADHD ¬ (approximately 20 to 30 percent) ¬ also have a specific learning disability.
The principle characteristics of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. There are three subtypes of ADHD recognized by professionals. These are the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type (that does not show significant inattention); the predominantly inattentive type (that does not show significant hyperactive-impulsive behavior) sometimes called ADD; and the combined type (that displays both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms).
Other disorders that sometimes accompany ADHD are Tourette Syndrome (affecting a very small proportion of people with ADHD); oppositional, defiant disorder (affecting as many as one-third to one-half of all children with ADHD); conduct disorder (about 20 to 40% of ADHD children); anxiety and depression; and bipolar disorder.
Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
A disorder that affects the understanding of information that a person sees, or the ability to draw or copy. A characteristic seen in people with learning disabilities, such as Dysgraphia or Non-verbal learning disability, it can result in missing subtle differences in shapes or printed letters, losing place frequently, struggles with cutting, holding pencil too tightly, or poor eye/hand coordination.
Signs and Symptoms of Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
Strategies for Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
Three types of memory are important to learning. Working memory, short-term memory and long-term memory are used in the processing of both verbal and nonverbal information. If there are deficits in any or all of these types of memory, the ability to store and retrieve information required to carry out tasks can be impaired.
How Does it all Work Together to Learn?
One reads a sentence and holds on to it. Then the next and the next. By the end of the paragraph, he pulls together the meaning of the full paragraph. This is working memory. He continues to read the full chapter and to study it. Information is retained long enough to take a test and do well. This is short-term memory. But, unless the information is reviewed and studied over a longer period of time, it is not retained. With more effort over time, the information might become part of a general body of knowledge. It is long-term memory. If there are deficits in any or all of these types of memory, the ability to store and retrieve information required to carry out tasks can be impaired.
A disorder that is characterized by difficulty in muscle control, which causes problems with movement and coordination, language and speech, and can affect learning. Although not a learning disability, Dyspraxia often exists along with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or ADHD.
Signs and Symptoms of Dyspraxia