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You make decisions based on the information you have. The more information you have before making a decision, the more likely you are to make the right decision. When it comes to caring for your child, you have endless streams of information that you use to make decisions for them. But, while endless, this information comes in pieces, and it doesn’t always lead to understanding. A diagnosis brings understanding to you, your child, and educators, and this understanding can become a powerful tool that helps your child grow in and out of the classroom.
Oxford Languages defines diagnosis as “the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms.” In other words, a professional clinician can look at the pieces of information you and your child give them and figure out if it fits into a diagnosis.
There is a wide range of learning differences and learning disabilities that are diagnosed through a comprehensive learning evaluation. Commonly diagnosed differences and disabilities include: Dyslexia, ADHD, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Executive Dysfunction and Anxiety Disorders.
Many look at a diagnosis as a label that defines someone or puts them in a specific category. At Parallel Learning, we don’t look at a diagnosis as a label, but as an explanation -- something that brings understanding. A diagnosis gives you, your child, teachers, and others a look behind the curtain at the way your child learns, which is also referred to as their learning profile.
A diagnosis is an important step in a life-changing process for a child with a learning difference or learning disability. However, before a diagnosis can be made, a comprehensive learning evaluation must be conducted. Assuming a comprehensive learning evaluation is conducted and a diagnosis is made, here are the ways in which that diagnosis can be powerful for parents, children, and educators.
“After receiving a diagnosis, parents are often relieved and empowered,” says Dr. Craig Pohlman. “When their worries are affirmed, they feel a deeper level of understanding for their child and are more capable of supporting them,” he continues. Dr. Craig Pholman, a licensed psychologist, has led thousands of students through learning assessments, diagnosis, therapy, and advocacy. While Dr. Pohlman diagnoses students when necessary, his approach centers around describing learners in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.
As a parent, you want to understand and help your child through everything in life. A diagnosis raises your awareness of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and gives you understanding of what is at the root of their abilities. This information provides a clearer picture of who your child is on the inside and why.
“After we received our diagnosis, I felt more comfortable advocating for what my child needed,” says Michael, a member of the Parallel team. “I am no longer trying endlessly to explain traits or specific behaviors to help someone, including his teachers, understand his quirks and support him as needed -- we have a diagnosis that is proof of his difference that they will take seriously.”
A diagnosis also helps parents know what type of treatment or support is needed for their child to improve. Part of the process of providing a diagnosis includes recommendations that include specific tools and evidence-based approaches to address areas of weakness.
When your child is ready to hear and understand their diagnosis, this information can help them answer questions they have about themself and empower them to embrace their strengths and work to improve on their weaknesses. Understanding their diagnosis and your efforts to assist them, they may also feel supported in their journey instead of feeling alone and as if they are incapable of overcoming their differences.
After receiving a diagnosis, your child can also receive specialized support, helping them grow, become more confident and independent, and allowing them to take more ownership of their future.
Educators want the best for your child, and a diagnosis gives them information that directly impacts their strategy to help your child learn. While not every teacher can provide one-on-one support, the understanding they gain from a diagnosis can help them advocate for your child and the services they need.
For example, if your child has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), ADHD, or another learning disability, they may be light sensitive, which can impact their ability to learn in the classroom. Whether the child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or not, a teacher may allow them to wear sunglasses, place them in a part of the room where they are more comfortable, or advocate for different lighting in the room. With an IEP, which a diagnosis leads to, a teacher is required to allow for accommodations like those mentioned above that can help your child learn in a way that best suits their learning profile.
A potential diagnosis starts with an evaluation, which provides information that you and your children can use as you best see fit. Remember, decisions are best made when you have information and fully understand that information. The information that comes from an evaluation and a potential diagnosis may be just what you and your child need to understand them and help them grow.