A summary view of a learning disabled child

The present evaluation suggests that this nine year old male patient’s history of academic underachievement is a consequence of an undiagnosed phonetic learning disability.  Though the examinee works slowly and can remember somewhat less information than others his age, these intellectual weaknesses do not explain his academic difficulties, which are significant enough to have resulted in failure and retention in first grade.

Firstly, and most obviously, the patient performed within the Low Average range on a measure of word reading.  Secondly, his reading speed was slow and his pronunciation halting.  Thirdly, his errors were sometimes grossly distorted. For example, he read school as sky and phonograph as paragraph.  Also, the patient performed still worse on a measure of pseudoword decoding that more purely measures phonetic ability. In this instance, when required to read fake words as if they were real words, the patient read mib as meeb and poon as poan.  In addition, many of his errors distorted non-words into real words: droy became during and dreep became drip.  Whether reading real words or fake words, the patient seems not to rely on phonetic cues.  Fourthly, he never, even when encouraged, attempted to sound out unfamiliar words. Instead, he stared at these words and eventually came up with an answer, which he would then sometimes change multiple times.  Fifthly, his vocabulary is weaker than his other verbal cognitive abilities, a state that often arises in older children with unremediated learning problems.  This happens because the learning disabled child absorbs very little new vocabulary from reading, leaving conversation as the main avenue through which to learn new words. Lastly, unlike his depressed reading skills, his math skills are within normal limits.  This shows that he is capable of learning and that his current academic problems cannot be explained primarily as the result of intellectual, psychiatric, attentional, behavioral or motivational factors.

Dr. Steven C. Hertler
10 Sycamore Avenue
Ho Ho Kus, New Jersey 07423

Second Location
218 Lorraine Avenue
Upper Montclair, New Jersey 07043