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I am working with a client that has a long history of emotional and behavioral difficulties. To make a long story short, he has significant and mood disturbances and does meet the discrepancy criteria for an LD. Is it appropriate to give an LD diagnosis even in the presence of a severe mood disorder? His lack of achievement in my opinion is better explained by the mood disorder rather than an LD. I know that most clinicians would give the LD diagnosis, but I don’t feel like it is ethical when considering the underlying process.

Thanks for your advice!

Dr. Smith

There is a continuum of neurologically-based disorders that are frequently found together. This continuum includes learning disabilities, ADHD, emotional regulatory disorders (anxiety disorder, depression, anger-control problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder), Bipolar Disorder, and tic disorders.

Thus, the question is not whether your client has a learning disability or a mood disturbance. He might have both and assessing for all possibilities is essential. Should he have learning disabilities, he will need special education services along with accommodations. If he has one or more of the emotional regulatory disorders or Bipolar Disorder, he will also need treatment for these diagnoses.

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