DSM - 5 provides diagnostic criteria for specific learning disability with impairment in reading (dyslexia), math (dyscalculia), or writing.

But other forms of learning disabilities. Nonverbal Learning Disability is one example.

Learning disabilities are diagnosed by a psychologist or pediatric neuropsychologist reviewing clinical, developmental, medical, and educational history, reviewing educational records and/or observations, and attempts at treatment or interventions.

Actual diagnosis involves psychological or pediatric neuropsychological testing incliding but not limited to IQ or cognitive testing, processing skills, as well as testing of achievement.

More comprehensive pediatric neuropsychological testing is often helpful in identifying underlying contributors to a child or adult's learning difficulties such as expressive or receptive language processing difficulties, visual or verbal memory or attention difficulties, sensory integration difficulties, graphomotor difficulties. Visuospatial deficits or constructional difficulties, as well as executive function deficits.

Comprehensive pediatric neuropsychological assessment also will examine psychological contributors to difficulties such as test or social anxiety, mood disorders or op positional defiant disorder and assess behavior and personality factors.

Identifying strengths and weaknesses help identify areas for remediation or ways of compensating for difficulties.

It is important to also consider contributions of any hearing or visual difficulties which can contribute to difficulties learning. This is usually accomplished thought the school or school physicals.

Learning disabilities can often co-occur with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Many common medical conditions such as kidney disease or respiratory conditions can interfere with cognitive processes and children with neonatal or later-acquired concussions, brain tumors, and brain injuries can exhibit complex learning and attention strengths and weaknesses.

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DSM-5 Specific Learning Disabilities

Every child deserves the opportunity to blossom.

Providing Psychological Assessment of Learning Disabilities, Testing for Accomodations, and career counseling for individuals with learning disabilities.

Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida

Main Office:  2121 NW 40th Terrace, Ste B, Gainesville, FL 32605

Satellite office: 3621 NE 8th Place, Ste 3, Ocala, FL 34470      

Call    (352) 336-2888

Ernest J. Bordini, Ph.D.  
Licensed Psychologist
Executive Director

Over 30-years of experience in providing neuropsychological assessments of learning disabilities in the North Central Florida Area.

We perform psychological and neuropsychological assessments of learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and other conditions which may interfere with learning and adjustment in children, adolescents, college students and adults.  We also offer career counseling and assessment services.

Such evaluations are often used for diagnostic determinations, qualifications for services, exceptional student education and for accommodations in school and on tests. We also conduct evaluations for IQ assessment of evaluation of gifted students.

We have more than 30 years of experience in assessing learning disabilities in children, adolescents, college students and adults.

Does you child have dyslexia, dyscalculia or an often-missed nonverbal learning disorder?  See our updated ABC's of Learning Disability Page for DSM-5 Criteria.



  • Excerpts from:

    Assessing Children for the Presence of a Disability
    Betsy B. Waterman, Ph.D.
    NICHCY News Digest Volume 4, Number 1, 1994

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law 101-476, lists 13 separate categories of disabilities under which children may be eligible for special education and related services.

    To determine if a child is eligible for classification under one of these areas of exceptionality, an evaluation, or assessment, of the child must be conducted.

    Assessment in educational settings serves five primary purposes 1. screening and identification 2. eligibility and diagnosis 3. Individualized Education Program (IEP) development and placement 4. instructional planning 5. to evaluate student progress.

    Assessment and Federal Law

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law 101-476, lists 13 separate categories of disabilities under which children may be eligible for special education and related services. These are:

    AUTISM: a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3;

    DEAFNESS: a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information, with or without amplification;

    DEAF-BLINDNESS: simultaneous hearing and visual impairments;

    HEARING IMPAIRMENT: an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating;

    MENTAL RETARDATION: significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior;

    MULTIPLE DISABILITIES: the manifestation of two or more disabilities (such as mental retardation-blindness), the combination of which requires special accommodation for maximal learning;

    ORTHOPEDIC IMPAIRMENT: physical disabilities, including congenital impairments, impairments caused by disease, and impairments from other causes;

    OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENT: having limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems;

    SERIOUS EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE: a disability where a child of typical intelligence has difficulty, over time and to a marked degree, building satisfactory interpersonal relationships; responds inappropriately behaviorally or emotionally under normal circumstances; demonstrates a pervasive mood of unhappiness; or has a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears;

    SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY: a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations;

    SPEECH OR LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT: a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment;

    TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both;

    VISUAL IMPAIRMENT: a visual difficulty (including blindness) that, even with correction, adversely affects a child educational performance

    To determine if a child is eligible for classification under one of these areas of exceptionality, an individualized evaluation, or assessment, of the child must be conducted.

    The IDEA specifies a number of requirements regarding evaluations of children suspected of having a disability.

    These requirements are briefly summarized as follows:

    Before a child is evaluated for the first time, the school district must notify parents in writing. Parents must give written permission for the school system to conduct this first evaluation (known as a preplacement evaluation).

    Evaluations must be conducted by a multidisciplinary team (e.g., speech and language pathologist, occupational or physical therapist, medical specialists, school psychologist) and must include at least one teacher or specialist who is knowledgeable about the area of the child's suspected disability.

    The assessment must thoroughly investigate all areas related to the child's suspected disability.

    No single procedure may be used as the sole criterion for determining a child's eligibility for special services or for determining his or her appropriate educational placement. Rather, the evaluation process must utilize a variety of valid assessment instruments and observational data.

    All testing must be done individually.

    Tests and other evaluation materials must be provided in the child's primary language or mode of communication, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.

    All tests and other evaluation materials must be validated for the specific purpose for which they are used. This means that a test may not be used to assess a student in a particular area (e.g., intelligence) unless the test has been designed and validated through research as measuring that specific area.

    Assessments must be conducted in a nondiscriminatory way. This means that the tests and evaluation materials and procedures that are used may not be racially or culturally discriminatory (biased) against the child.

    The evaluation team must ensure that any test used is administered appropriately by a person trained to do so, that the test is being used for the purposes for which it was designed, and that the child's disability does not interfere with the child's ability to take any test measuring specific abilities (e.g., the child's visual impairment affects his or her ability to read and correctly answer the questions on an achievement test). [34 CFR Sections 300.530-300.532]

    Other Assessment Questions

    During the assessment process, we often ask questions such as:

    How can we help the child to do his or her work?

    How can we manage the child's behavior, or teach the child to manage his or her own behavior?

    How can we help the child to be neater, faster, quieter, more motivated?

    In what physical environment does the child learn best?

    What is useful, debilitating, or neutral about the way the child approaches the task?

    Can the student hold multiple pieces of information in memory and then act upon them?

    How does increasing or slowing the speed of instruction impact upon the child's accuracy?

    What processing mechanisms are being taxed in any given task?

    How does this student interact with a certain teacher style?

    With whom has the child been successful? What about the person seems to have contributed to the child's success?

    What is encouraging to the child? What is discouraging?

    How does manipulating the mode of teaching (e.g., visual or auditory presentation) affect the child's performance?
    Learning Styles

    Learning styles theory suggests that students may learn and problem solve in different ways and that some ways are more natural for them than others. When they are taught or asked to perform in ways that deviate from their natural style, they are thought to learn or perform less well.


    Primary areas in which students are assessed are: intelligence, language, perceptual abilities, academic achievement, behavior, and emotional/social development.

    When the disability is related to a medically related condition (e.g., sensory deficit, orthopedic impairment, arthritis), assessment information from physicians or other medical practitioners needs to be included as well.

    More than one assessment technique should be used in any given area, and the assessment team should clearly understand that each area encompasses more than one ability.

    Other aspects of behavior may be important to assess as well. Adaptive behavior is a frequent focus of assessment, and is a required area of assessment when a classification of mental retardation is being considered for a student.

    The IDEA specifies "deficits in adaptive behavior" as one of the two characteristics necessary for a student to be classified as having mental retardation (the other characteristic being "significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning" [34 CFR Section 300.7(b)(5)].


  • We feature assessment using the Wechsler Scales (WAIS-IV, WISC-V) and Woodcock-Johnson Battery (WJ-IV), with additional neuropsychological tests of functioning for assessment of language, perceptual-motor skills, coordination, attention and memory.
  • This site is intended for educational purposes only. Consult with a licensed professional before making any diagnostic or treatment decisions about yourself or your child.