Author: Lea Zweig, Psy.D. and Alexa Rabin, Psy.D.

Issues in Child Psychology: Accommodations for Students Diagnosed with a Learning DisorderSchool can be challenging for any child, but children diagnosed with a learning disorder are likely to face more barriers as they navigate through school. In order to address these obstacles and provide your child with the most appropriate supports in school, it is recommended that your child participate in a psychological evaluation. An evaluation will aid in providing diagnostic information as well as recommendations to help your child be more successful in school. A clinical psychologist who specializes in psycho-educational evaluations can provide the appropriate type of evaluation for your child. Students with learning disorders or attention deficit concerns may also be eligible for accommodations during standardized testing as well; however, in order for a student to be eligible, he or she must meet certain requirements. Typically, a student must currently receive testing accommodations at school, and he or she needs a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation completed within three years of the standardized test date to document current functioning and an up-to-date diagnosis.

Below is a list of common recommendations provided in an evaluation to those diagnosed with a specific learning disorder, processing disorder, and/or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Extended time on exams 

Extended time is the most common recommendation for those diagnosed with a learning disorder, processing disorder, or attention difficulties. Generally, extended time means a student is allowed “time and a half,” or 50% extra time.


Many students show improvement with one-on-one tutoring.  Schools that specialize in working with students with learning disorders usually have smaller classes, small group instruction, or individual instruction with a teacher. Individualized instruction allows the student to review the work with the teacher and ensures he or she is understanding and ultimately mastering each concept. Often, those with learning disorders benefit from learning specific study strategies, as their methods of learning might be different than the average student.

Use of a Note Taker

Students who have a hard time paying attention in class often have difficulty attending to information presented by the teacher and simultaneously taking notes. Some schools will allow the student to choose a classmate who will provide the student with a copy of notes; other schools will assign a student in the class to provide his or her notes. A tutor can also provide guidance in teaching better note-taking strategies as well.

Textbooks and Lectures on Tape

Some students process information better when the information is presented in an auditory, and they can read along with written material simultaneously. There are companies and disability service programs that offer audio books for students in need. During exams, some students are eligible to use the services of a reader or obtain audio-recordings of the exam questions. Some students are recommended to audio record their lectures, in order to listen to the information later at their own pace. A student is typically supposed to inform the teacher before they audio-record a lecture. The link here is a great reference to order Books on tape.

Distraction free testing environment

Testing centers or schools are required to provide a distraction free testing environment to those who are approved for the accommodation. A private room is important for those who need to read out loud during an exam in order to understand what they are reading, or for those who are easily distracted by noise.

Psychiatric Evaluation

A psychiatrist is a physician who typically provides medication for psychiatric conditions as well as ADHD. A psychiatrist can evaluate whether medication is an appropriate option for the student.  Taking part in an evaluation does not mean that the psychiatrist will prescribe medication.  It is good to listen to the pros and cons of taking medication before deciding whether it is appropriate for your child.

These are just a few of the recommendations that psychologists can make for those diagnosed with a learning disorder, processing disorder, and/or ADHD. It is important to get your child tested for a learning disorder if you, or the child’s teacher notices any signs of symptoms that correlate with these diagnoses or if you have any concerns. If you are not sure whether your child needs to be evaluated, it is best to consult with your child’s teacher, school psychologist, or a clinical psychologist to help provide you with some guidance.