Who Can Diagnose LD and/or ADHD?
Many professionals are involved in the diagnosis of LD. They include psychologists, educational specialists, and other professionals who work in specialized fields such as speech and language. This table explains the role of some of the professionals who provide services. Recall that many of these professionals can suspect LD and/or ADHD but all are not licensed, or have the needed certifications to diagnose the disorders. It is always important to ask the professional about his/her credentials. When you go to a person in a private practice, not in the school system, it is important to determine if the professional has the needed license to be in private practice and to make the diagnosis of LD and/or ADHD.
Students seeking assessment for a learning disability may contact one of our local community clinicians.
|Professional||Role of Professional||Licensure||Can they diagnose LD and/or ADHD?|
|Clinical Psychologist||Provides assessment of intellectual and emotional functioning. Provides therapy for emotional and behavioral problems for individuals and groups. In general, does not do educational testing needed to diagnose LD.||PH.D. and licensure required in most states for private practice.||LD- Yes, either by doing complete psycho/educational assessment or by including educational assessment of educational specialist. ADHD- Yes. Cannot prescribe medication for ADHD.|
|School Psychologist||Provides assessment of learning and school related problems. Provides therapy that relates to emotional and behavioral problems evolving from school distress. Trained primarily to do both intellectual and educational testing. Can also assess emotional functioning. Usually practice in public school systems. Increasingly in private practice as well.||Ph.D. or MA Licensure in most states if in private practice. School certification within school systems.||LD- Yes. ADHD- No, in general, in schools. This is a medical condition.* Yes, with training, if private practice. Cannot prescribe medication for ADHD.|
|Educational Psychologist||Provides educational testing. Some trained to provide assessment of cognitive, intellectual functioning as well. Important question since test companies define a Level C test which is to be administered by a PhD-trained psychologist or a professional whose training has been approved by the company who produces the test. Many tests of intellectual functioning are Level C tests. Not, in general, trained to assess emotional functioning.||Ph.D. or MA Licensure if in private practice.||LD- Yes, if qualified to do assessment of intellectual functioning or if uses results of assessment done by PhD level psychologist or trained school psychologist. ADHD- Can offer guidance.* Depends on level of training. Cannot prescribe medication.|
|Neuropsychologist||Ph.D. level psychologist who assesses brain processing and functioning. May not be skilled in administering educational tests. In general, does not assess emotional functioning.||Licensure required if in private practice in most states.||LD- Yes, but may need to obtain educational assessment from educational specialist. ADHD- Yes.|
|Psychometrist||Assessment specialist. Often found in school systems, forensic settings, or mental health centers.||Most states do not license for private practice.||LD- Yes. ADHD- In general, no, unless special training.|
|Educational Specialist||Assessment of learning and behavioral problems.||Not licensed||LD- No. ADHD- No.|
|School Counselor||Counseling and help with school problems.||Not licensed for private practice||LD- No. ADHD- No.|
|Vocational Counselor||Employment counseling, assessment for employment.||Not licensed for private practice||LD- No. ADHD- No.|
|Social Worker||Therapy and counseling for emotional and behavioral problem. Help in finding resources.||Licensed in most states for private practice.||LD- No. ADHD- No.|
|Speech and Language Specialist||Specialist diagnosing speech and language problems. These can be a component of a learning disability. Part of a diagnostic team.||MA. Private practice and schools. Licensure and certification may be required.||LD- No. ADHD- No.|
|Occupational Therapist||Specialist working with motor and visual-motor problems. These can be a component of a learning disability. Part of a diagnostic team.||MA. Private practice and in schools. Licensure and certification required in some states.||LD- No. ADHD- No.|
|Psychiatrist||Medical doctor who specializes in the functioning of the mind. Does therapy for emotional and behavioral problems.||State medical board certification required.||LD- No. ADHD- Yes. Can prescribe medication.|
|Physician||Medical doctor||State medical board certification required.||LD- No. ADHD- Yes. Can prescribe medication.|
*According to the US Department of Education, a medical or clinical diagnosis is not required with ADHD. This means that school psychologists may diagnose for school eligibility purposes if they are appropriately trained and experienced in doing so and if the school has a policy that permits it.
About the Author
Kathleen Ross-Kidder, Ph.D. is the Director of LD OnLine (www.ldonline.org), the interactive guide to learning disabilities for parents, teachers and other professionals, and the leading Web site in its field. LD OnLine is a service of WETA-TV-FM, the public broadcasting station in Washington, D.C. Dr. Ross-Kidder is also a faculty member of the Department of Psychology at The George Washington University, a former teacher in both private and public education and a licensed school psychologist who has worked extensively in public education and private practice helping children with learning disabilities and/or ADHD and their parents.
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