Contact Us


In many schools and organizations, the term learning disability has been replaced with learning difference. Disability implies a person can’t learn—but that’s not true! One in five kids are diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia. With the right accommodations, resources, and instruction, they thrive!

Students with learning differences are bright! They are creative and intuitive problem solvers who see, hear, and understand the world differently. Learning differences are not the result of low intelligence or poor vision—they are brain-based and biological. Heredity can also play a role, as these challenges often run in families. While some people struggle in only one area, it’s common to struggle in more than one. These difficulties include reading, writing, math, organization, focus, listening comprehension, social competence, or motor coordination.


In a clinical environment, dyslexia is often referred to as a reading disorder. In the public school evaluation and IEP process, it is called a specific learning disability in reading.

Dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language, leading to challenges in identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Individuals with dyslexia struggle with spelling and word recognition, as well as phonemic and phonological awareness. Due to poor word decoding skills, reading comprehension can also be impaired.

These difficulties have no connection to overall intelligence and are quite common. According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, dyslexia affects 20% of the population and represents 80-90% of all diagnosed learning disabilities. Early assessment, identification, and intervention are essential. When students with dyslexia are not identified and do not receive intervention, their reading difficulties continue into adulthood.

An educational evaluation is needed to determine if someone is dyslexic. The evaluation should compare expected and actual reading abilities while noting specific strengths and weaknesses. All aspects of the reading process should be examined to determine where the breakdown is occurring. There are evidence-based interventions that help students with dyslexia find success:

Signs of Dyslexia in Early Childhood

  • May have difficulty pronouncing words such as busgetti for spaghetti, mawn lower for lawn mower, etc.
  • Uses general terms to describe specific objects and/or adds new vocabulary slowly
  • Trouble with the alphabet and letter sounds
  • Difficulty recalling song lyrics, days of the week, colors, numbers, or shapes
  • Struggles to write their name
  • Problems following multi-step directions
  • Slow development of fine motor skills
  • Retells events out of order

Signs of Dyslexia in Early Elementary

  • Loves to listen to stories, but avoids reading on their own
  • Difficulty learning letters and recalling their sounds
  • Substitutes words when reading, and often relies on accompanying pictures
  • Difficulty separating or blending sounds, as well as identifying words that rhyme
  • Frequent errors including reversing, inverting, and substituting letters/words
  • Confuses sight words, such as: at, to, said, and, the, etc.
  • Pencil grip is awkward, fist-like, or tight
  • Poor fine motor skills and coordination

Signs of Dyslexia in Middle Childhood

  • Reading is laborious with long pauses and repetitions
  • Reverses letter sequences: soiled for solid, left for felt
  • Skips over words when reading out loud 
  • Difficulty sounding out new words
  • Trouble describing what they read or answering questions about it
  • Slow to discern prefixes, suffixes, and root words
  • Struggles with spelling; spells the same word differently on a single page
  • Illegible handwriting 
  • Difficulty with planning and time management

Signs of Dyslexia in Older Students and Teens

  • Reads slowly and/or robotically; doesn’t pause appropriately for punctuation
  • Reads word-by-word rather than grouping words/phrases together smoothly
  • Trouble summarizing what they’ve read or answering questions about it
  • Often spells the same word differently within the same body of writing
  • Procrastinates reading/writing tasks
  • Finds school exhausting
  • Many missing or incomplete assignments
  • May not have difficulty in math, but struggles with word problems
  • Trouble learning a foreign language



In a clinical environment, dysgraphia is often referred to as a disorder in written expression. In the public school evaluation and IEP process, it is called a specific learning disability in writing.

Dysgraphia impairs an individual’s writing, including spelling accuracy, handwriting legibility, and the ability to express their thoughts on paper. Dysgraphia causes students to produce illegible or inconsistent writing, omit letters or words, fluctuate in their spacing between words and letters, use an awkward pencil grip/position, tire quickly while writing, and exhibit great difficulty while thinking and writing simultaneously.

Students with dysgraphia have writing skills that do not match their verbal skills, often causing parents and teachers to mistakenly think these students are lazy or lacking motivation. The National Center for Learning Disabilities estimates that 7-15% of children have dysgraphia. Other learning differences like dyslexia and developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia) can also cause a student to face challenges with certain aspects of writing, so an educational evaluation is important.

Evaluations should include assessment of a student’s writing ability, fine motor skills, and academic progress to get a sense of both writing quality and the physical act of writing itself. Remediation, accommodations, and modifications can help students with dysgraphia use their strengths to achieve writing success.

Some general strategies for inside and outside the classroom include:

  • Accommodations and assistive technology, i.e. speech-to-text
  • Modifying expectations or tasks by offering copies of notes and additional time to complete written work
  • Explicit and multisensory instruction for improving handwriting and writing skills


In a clinical environment, dyscalculia is often referred to as a math disorder. In the public school evaluation and IEP process, it is called a specific learning disability in mathematics.

Dyscalculia affects an individual’s ability to understand, learn, and perform math and number-based operations. Dyscalculia causes difficulty with number sense, quantitative reasoning, mental computation, measurements, pattern recognition, telling time, working with money, and fluency of mathematical facts and procedures.

Not all difficulties in math class are caused by dyscalculia. The National Center for Learning Disabilities estimates that 5-7% of children have dyscalculia. Other learning differences like dyslexia, ADHD, and slow processing can also impact a student’s ability to successfully complete certain math problems.

An educational evaluation is needed to determine if someone has dyscalculia. The evaluation should compare expected and actual levels of skill and understanding, while noting specific strengths and weaknesses. Intervention, accommodations, specialized instruction, and extra support can help students with dyscalculia learn how to approach mathematics by using strengths to their advantage.

Some basic strategies for students with Dyscalculia include:

  • Teaching students different ways to approach math facts
  • Introducing new skills with concrete examples before moving to more abstract applications
  • Using graph paper to help line up numbers and problems

Executive Function Deficits

Executive Function (EF) refers to the set of skills that enable people to engage in goal-directed action. EF deficits can impair an individual’s ability to plan, problem-solve, organize, and manage time. Students with EF deficits may struggle to focus, start/complete tasks, follow directions, prioritize, keep track of their materials, and manage their emotions.

An EF deficit is not a stand-alone diagnosis, but often occurs as a result of another disorder. EF deficits are common for students with learning differences. These abilities begin developing in early childhood and continue well into adulthood, but deficits are typically identified when the school environment becomes more challenging and the academic expectations increase (middle school). It’s important to help students build these skills early.

A comprehensive evaluation that assesses multiple areas of learning and thinking can identify EF deficits. Combining this information with input from parents and teachers helps determine where challenges lie and understand what strategies may be effective moving forward.

There are many approaches that may help improve EF deficits, including:

  • Following or creating step-by-step instructions for completing work
  • Using tools like planners, reminder apps, and alarms
  • Preparing and frequently reviewing visual schedules and aides
  • Pairing written directions with verbal explanations whenever possible


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with several areas of functioning or development. ADHD can be predominantly Inattentive, Hyperactive/Impulsive, or a combination of both.  

Typically, ADHD is diagnosed in childhood and occurs in approximately 7% of the population. ADHD is not diagnosed with a single test as there are several common conditions that overlap with the attention and behavior problems often seen in ADHD. These include: learning disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, cognitive dysfunction, and sleep disturbances.  

An ADHD evaluation needs to be comprehensive and include a thorough diagnostic and family history, an assessment of cognitive ability and academic skill development, standardized behavior rating forms completed by parents and teachers, and behavioral observations. Combining this information together will assess whether challenges with attention and behavior are best explained by ADHD or other conditions related to a child’s medical history, environment, or other common childhood conditions.  

Research suggests that the most effective treatment for ADHD is a combination of:

  • Medication
  • Deliberate use of behavioral strategies at the point-of-performance
  • Education about the nature of the condition and access to appropriate accommodations

Get Started

Our community is full of people just like you—parents who hold unwavering belief in their child's bright future.

Request Info Schedule a Visit

Share This Page

Photo Gallery

1 of 22