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Learning Disorders & Dyslexia Evaluations

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Is your child having difficulty at school? There are many types of learning disabilities.  Difficulties reading that are beyond what might be expected for a student’s level of development and intelligence may be a Reading Disorder.   Other children may have a Math Disorder or a Disorder of Written Expression.  Problems with learning to read or with math can result from many things.  A neuropsychoeducational evaluation can aid with correct diagnosis, whether your student has dyslexia (reading disability) or other problems that are interfering with his or her learning. Treatment recommendations specific to your student and his or her needs can help overcome or adjust to the learning difficulties.

How Does a Neuropsychoeducational Evaluation Differ from a School Psychological Assessment?

School assessments are usually performed to determine whether a student qualifies for special education programs or therapies to enhance school performance. They focus on achievement and skills needed for academic success. Generally, they do not diagnose learning or behavior disorders caused by altered brain function or development. Assessment can be an important component of an IEP or 504 plan or other school-based assessment process.  Dr. Butryn will work with you and your student to assure accurate and informative testing results.

A neuropsychoeducational evaluation assists in better understanding your student's functioning in areas such as memory, attention, perception, coordination, language, and personality. This information will help you and your student's teacher, therapists, and physicians provide treatments and interventions for your student that will meet his or her unique needs.


A personalized battery of assessment measures is created for each student based on the referral question(s). Common reasons for assessment could include the following scenarios:

  • A student may be having behavioral, social, emotional or academic difficulties and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan is needed.

  • A patient and their physician have questions about intellectual or emotional functioning.

  • Difficulty in learning, attention, behavior, socialization, or emotional control.

  • A disease or congenital developmental problem that affects the brain in some way.

  • A brain injury from an accident, birth trauma, or other physical stress, such as hemiplegia or hemiparesis.

  • Parents have a specially mandated right to explore the possibility of a learning disability for their student.

  • When there is a statistically significant discrepancy between measures of intellectual and academic performance, the diagnosis of a learning disability may be appropriate, along with relevant compensations and accommodations for the student in the academic/school arena.


Dr. Butryn evaluates students from elementary school through college, but transitioning from high school to college is often stressful, especially for those with learning difficulties:

Taking class notes, studying, and sitting for exams come with particular challenges for those with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADD/ADHD, and other learning challenges. Without proper guidance and direction, some students with learning difficulties cannot meet the weighty demands of college; some are put on academic probation, some drop out.

While current law requires high schools to accommodate students with learning disabilities, the rules are not the same for colleges. At best, regulations such as the Americans With Disabilities Act ensure that all students have equal access to education without discrimination. This does not mean that college students with learning disabilities have no options. It does mean, however, that they often have to take the initiative and find out what accommodations are available to them. If you have a learning disability and are in college, we can discuss the common accommodations that may be available to you.


What Is Assessed?

A typical neuropsychoeducational evaluation of your student may assess these areas:

  • General intellect

  • Achievement skills, such as reading, writing, and math

  • Executive skills, such as organization, planning, inhibition, and flexibility

  • Attention

  • Learning and memory

  • Language

  • Visual-spatial skills

  • Motor coordination

  • Behavioral and emotional functioning

  • Social skills


Some abilities may be measured in more detail than others, depending on the student's needs. A detailed developmental history and data from the student's teacher may also be obtained. Observing your student to understand his or her motivation, cooperation, and behavior is a very important part of the evaluation.

What Will the Results Tell Me About My Student?

By comparing your student's test scores to scores of students of similar ages, the neuropsychologist can create a profile of your student's strengths and weaknesses. The results help those involved in your student's care in a number of ways.

Testing may explain why your student is having academic difficulties. For example, a student may have difficulty reading because of an attention problem such as ADHD, a language disorder such as dyslexia, an auditory processing problem such as CAPD, or a reading disability. Testing also guides the pediatric neuropsychologist’s design of interventions to draw upon your student's strengths. The results identify what skills to work on, as well as which strategies to use to help your student.

Testing may help detect the effects of developmental, neurological, and medical problems as well as epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), dyslexia, or a genetic disorder. Testing may be done to obtain a baseline against which to measure the outcome of treatment or the student's development over time.

Different childhood disorders result in specific patterns of strengths and weaknesses. These profiles of abilities can help identify a student's difficulties and the brain areas that are involved. For example, testing may help differentiate between an attention deficit, depression, and anxiety, or determine whether a language delay is due to a problem in producing speech, understanding or expressing language, or other cognitive weaknesses. Dr. Butryn may work with your physician to combine results from medical tests, such as brain imaging or blood tests, to diagnose your student's difficulties.

Most importantly, testing provides a better understanding of the student's behavior and learning in school, at home, and in the community. The evaluation can guide teachers, therapists, and you to better help your student achieve his or her potential.

What Should I Expect?

A neuropsychoeducational evaluation usually includes an interview with parents about the student’s history, observation of and interview with the student, and testing. Testing involves paper and pencil and hands-on activities, answering questions, and sometimes using a computer. Parents may be asked to fill out questionnaires about their student’s development and behavior. Many neuropsychologists employ trained examiners, or technicians, to assist with the administration and scoring of tests, so your student may see more than one person during the evaluation.

Parents are usually not in the room during testing. The time required depends on the student’s age and problem. Make sure your student has a good night’s sleep before the testing. If your student wears glasses or a hearing aid or any other device, make sure to bring it. If your student has special language needs, please alert the neuropsychologist to these. If your student is on stimulant medication, such as Ritalin or Adderall, or other medication, check with the neuropsychologist beforehand about coordinating dosage time with testing. If your student has had previous school testing, an individual educational plan, or has related medical records, please bring or send this information and records to the neuropsychologist for review.

What you tell your student about this evaluation depends on how much he or she can understand. Be simple and brief and relate your explanation to a problem that your student knows about such as “trouble with spelling”, “problems following directions”, or “feeling upset.” Reassure a worried student that testing involves no “shots.” Tell your student that you are trying to understand his or her problem to make things better. You may also tell the student that “nobody gets every question right,” and that the important thing is to “try your best.” Your student will probably find the neuropsychoeducational evaluation interesting, and the detailed information that is gathered will contribute to your student’s care.

Understanding the Differences Between an IEP and a 504 Plan

The Difference Between an IEP and a 504 Plan

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