When a student is struggling in school, especially when that struggle is in a specific subject area, it is important to determine if these struggles are caused by a learning disability or academic gaps.
A learning disability is really an inability to learn or extreme difficulty in learning something due to a processing deficit. When this is the case, the processing issue has to be addressed first before learning can effectively take place. Sadly, this is not how the schools typically handle learning disabled students..
Learning gaps are literally gaps in the foundation of learning. The process of learning in school is similar to building a 13 story building. As the building is being constructed, each floor of the building must be solid enough to support the next level. If there are holes in the construction, then adding the next level can be challenging. In order for that building to stand tall and strong when you add the 13th level, all the floors need to be sturdy and stable. Academic gaps are gaps that need to be filled and are there because something was missed. It has nothing to do with how the student learns or processes but instead, it is about missing instruction. Gaps are present for any of the following reasons:
Excessive absences due to illness
A teacher who has missed part of the year for illness, baby, etc
A change in teachers
Untreated Attention deficit
The gaps can be filled. Sadly, this is also not something the school will typically do for a student but there are lots of great resources outside of school that parents can access to fill academic gaps. The most important thing to know is what those gaps are!
Through a comprehensive evaluation, we are able to identify gaps in learning and help families find the right services to get their students solidify their academic foundation.