Department of Psychology

Department of

Psychology

Department of

Psychology

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Psychology Clinic Services

Learning Difficulties

Difficulties with Reading & Writing

When children are behind in their literacy skills, we recommend the Orton-Gillingham Approach, which is an effective and evidence-based approach for reading, writing, and spelling remediation. To learn more about the approach, click here.

Services and resources that use this approach:

Difficulties with Mathematics

Research shows that direct, guided explicit instruction on how to solve mathematical problems is the most effective intervention for difficulties in math. There are different math programs that are evidence-based and more information about various programs can be found at:

Other areas of functioning that can affect learning

Sometimes difficulties with self-regulation, hyperactivity, attention, executive functioning, sensory sensitivities, fine-motor issues, or emotional regulation can impact a child’s learning. An occupational therapist (OT) or child and youth mental health services can help build these skills and develop accommodations for home and school that support the application of these skills.

Please visit our resources on how to support children with ADHD symptoms or mental health difficulties.

Advocating for an Individualized Education Plan

For children who are significantly struggling to meet academic, behavioural, emotional, or social expectations, it is recommended to first speak with your child’s teacher about whether an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) might be appropriate. An IEP “identifies the student's specific learning expectations and outlines how the school will address these expectations through appropriate accommodations, program modifications and/or alternative programs as well as specific instructional and assessment strategies”3. A psychiatric diagnosis is not required in order to put an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in place. The process for obtaining an IEP is through an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee.

What is the role of the IPRC?

The IPRC will:

  • decide whether or not the student should be identified as exceptional;
  • identify the areas of the student’s exceptionality, according to the categories and definitions of exceptionalities provided by the Ministry of Education;
  • decide an appropriate placement for the student; and
  • review the identification and placement at least once in each school year.

As per the Ontario Ministry of Education, “When an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) identifies a student as an exceptional pupil, the principal must ensure that an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for that student is developed and maintained. An IEP must be developed with input from the parent(s)/guardian(s) and from the student if he or she is sixteen years of age or older. An IEP must be developed within thirty days of the placement of an exceptional pupil in a particular program. The parents/guardian(s) must be provided with a copy; the student must also be given a copy if he or she is sixteen years of age or older. An IEP may also be prepared for students who require accommodations, program modifications and/or alternative programs, but who have not been identified as exceptional by an IPRC”.

Who is identified as an exceptional pupil?

The Education Act defines an exceptional pupil as “a pupil whose behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities are such that he or she is considered to need placement in a special education program....” Students are identified according to the categories and definitions of exceptionalities provided by the Ministry of Education

References
  • Stevens, E. A., Austin, C., Moore, C., Scammacca, N., Boucher, A. N., & Vaughn, S. (2021). Current state of the evidence: Examining the effects of Orton-Gillingham reading interventions for students with or at risk for word-level reading disabilities. Exceptional Children, 0014402921993406
  • Soares, N., Evans, T., & Patel, D. R. (2018). Specific learning disability in mathematics: a comprehensive review. Translational pediatrics, 7(1), 48.
  • Meeting an Exceptional Student’s Learning Expectations