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Learning Disabilities

Meet the Experts

In the process of helping a child struggling to learn, parents and teachers often encounter a wide range of perspectives and opinions. In this section, experts representing a range of backgrounds and perspectives respond to a variety of frequently asked questions. Their responses illustrate many of the commonalities and differences among learning disability experts. Find the best route for your own child with the wise advice of these knowledgeable and experienced experts.

candaceCandace Cortiella is the Director of the Advocacy Institute, a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the lives of people with learning disabilities through public policy and other initiatives. She serves on the Professional Advisory Board of the National Center for Learning Disabilities and writes regular policy-related articles for The mother of a young adult with learning disabilities, she lives in the Washington, D.C., area. She spoke with us in June, 2003.

gailGail Grodzinsky, Ph.D. received her Master’s degree from New York University, her Ph.D. from Boston College (Department of Counseling, Developmental Psychology and Research Methods) and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Hospital. Her interest in pediatric neuropsychology was a natural path following her career as a learning disabilities specialist in public schools (New York and Massachusetts). Her interest in assessment and educational solutions for children with developmental disorders led to numerous publications on executive functions in ADHD and learning disabled boys (many co-authored with Dr. Russell A. Barkley). She also contributed the School Setting Report in The Consumer-Oriented Neuropsychological Report (2001, Armengol, Kaplan, & Moes, Eds.). Dr. Grodzinsky is a frequent guest speaker at the Harvard Medical School Cambridge Series and the University of California San Diego Medical School on ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NLD) and Subtypes of NLD. In addition to her active independent practice providing neuropsychological evaluations for children and adolescents, she offers consultation and in-service workshops to many school systems in New England. She spoke with us in June, 2003.

sheldonSheldon Horowitz, Ed.D., is the Director of Professional Services at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). Prior to his arrival at NCLD, he directed hospital-based evaluation and treatment programs in psychiatry and developmental pediatrics as well as taught at the primary, secondary, and college levels, and he served as a consultant to school districts throughout the New York City metropolitan region. He has published in the areas of fetal alcohol effects in children, language-based learning disabilities, disorders of hyperactivity and attention, and has authored a number of Web sites in the area of learning disabilities. Dr. Horowitz is a regular presenter at professional conferences and is frequently cited in the popular press on topics including parenting children with learning disabilities and other special needs, attention deficit disorder, assessment and evaluation, research-based interventions, parent advocacy and special education policy reform, and learning disability throughout the life span. He spoke with us in June, 2003.

davidDavid Urion, M.D., is the Director of the Learning Disabilities/Behavioral Neurology Program at Children’s Hospital, Boston. The program provides consultation for children with complex learning disorders as well as neurologic management of attention disorders, Gilles de la Tourette’s syndrome, language disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. The program has one of the few post-residency fellowship training programs in child behavioral neurology in the United States. Dr. Urion is also Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, where he also serves as the Director of the Division of Service Learning. He spoke with us in June, 2003.

cherylCheryl Weinstein, Ph.D. , is board-certified in clinical neuropsychology and is in private practice in the Boston-Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, area. Her primary focus is on the development of treatment-oriented neuropsychological evaluations for learning-disabled sixteen-year-olds to middle-aged adults. She looks at the influence of medical disorders (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis) on young adults through to the geriatric population, with a focus placed on “good cerebral hygiene” as part of the treatment plan. In addition, Dr. Weinstein has served as past president of the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society, is involved in the training of neuropsychology fellows in a major Harvard teaching hospital program, and is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. She spoke with us in June, 2003.

  • jc

    Our daughter in first grade was referred by her pediatrician to a developmental optometrist. She is struggling in school with basic skills. She was diagnosed with visual discrimination, visual closure, horizontal and vertical tracking, and visual motor and precision learning disabilities. The developmental optometrist and her pediatrician recommend intervention with vision therapy and screening for auditory processing disabilities. The school district, however, says that she is not eligible for an IEP or 504 Plan because it is district policy that she needs to show that she is at least 2 years behind grade level and her overall percentile rank is above 50% because she scored very high in two areas and skilled in some areas that averaged out to 52%. They dismiss the fact that she has only been in school for one and a half years. The developmental optometrist and her pediatrician tell us that there are legal complications for them to represent her and state her case with the school district since they work with the district, but we have permission to use their written referrals and correspondences. I thought a disability is a disability. How can formulas, quotas, and standardized guidelines used by a school district overrule a diagnosis and determination whether or not a child with special needs is eligible for help? We have been told that our district fights qualifying children for Special Education because of the cost.

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