The question of who is actually eligible to diagnose learning issues or AD/HD can be quite confusing.  There are many different degrees and titles in the world of diagnosing and treating learning problems and attention deficits.   In this post, we’re going to provide you with some practical answers.

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.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  Yes, either by doing complete psycho/educational assessment or by including educational assessment of educational specialist.
  • Can they diagnose 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.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  Yes.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  No, in general, in schools.   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 M.A.  and licensure required if in private practice.
  • Can they diagnose 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.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  Can offer guidance but depends of level of training.
  • Cannot prescribe medication for ADHD.

Neuro-psychologist

  • 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.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  Yes but may need to obtain educational from educational specialist.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?   Yes.
  • Cannot prescribe medication for ADHD.

Psychometrician

  • Assessment specialist. Often found in school systems, forensic settings, or mental health centers.
  • Most states do not license for private practice.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  Yes.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?   In general no unless they have received special training.

Educational Specialist

  • Assessment of learning and behavioral problems.
  • Not licensed.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  No

School Counselor

  • Counseling and help with school problems.
  • Not licensed for private practice.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  No.

Vocational Counselor

  • Employment counseling, assessment for employment.
  • Not licensed for private practice
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  No.

Social Worker

  • Therapy and counseling for emotional and behavioral problem. Help in finding resources.
  • Licensed in most states for private practice.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose 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.
  • Ph.D. or M.A. Private practice and schools. Licensure and certification required in most if not all states.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose 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 most if not all states.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  No.

Psychiatrist or Child Psychiatrist

  • Medical doctor who specializes in the functioning of the mind. Does therapy for emotional and behavioral problems.
  • State medical board certification required.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  Yes.
  • Can prescribe medication for any condition.

Physician/Pediatrician

  • State medical board certification required.
  • Can they diagnose LD?  No.
  • Can they diagnose ADHD?  Yes.
  • Can prescribe medication for any condition.

Thank you to LDOnline.com and the author Kathleen Ross Kidder for providing this information.