Skip to main content

Attentional disorders & learning disabilities vs. developmental delays: An identification dilemma

1 December 1993


This study focused on a first grade child named Alex (not his real name) in order to discern whether his learning problems arose from a learning disability, attentional disorder, or developmental delay. Two main research questions were posed in this study. They focused on whether or not to label a young child with a learning disability so that he/she might receive immediate help, while risking stigmatization, or wait to see if the child's problems .:·are due to a developmental lag, though waiting may cause valuable treatment time to be lost. This study found that focusing on the issue of stigmatization overshadows the real issue. A child who fails to learn at the same rate as his/her peers will probably experience stigmatization anyway. Therefore, the issue should simply be in finding help for the child in need. In addition, this study found that waiting for a child to catch up indeed causes educators to lose valuable time. Even if a child's learning problems stem from a developmental lag, the child will need help anyway in order to develop the skills that are lagging. Therefore, every child should be given the opportunity to receive help as soon as he/she begins to experience school failure. Limitations of this study included the time frame for observation which did not allow for significant generalizations to other students.


Files are restricted to Pacific University. Sign in to view.